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Apple's Expansion Into India May Continue With iPad Production Change

SlashGear 12/6/2022 Nadeem Sarwar
iPad Air M1 © Mr.Mikla/Shutterstock iPad Air M1

Apple is reportedly planning to shift a portion of iPad production away from China and aims to instead assemble the tablets in India. Citing sources close to the Indian government, CNBC reports that the talks are currently underway with government officials, but nothing has been finalized yet. The move isn't surprising, as Apple has been slowly moving away production of Macs, iPads, and iPhones to other countries like India and Vietnam in the past few years due to supply challenges and geopolitical factors.

A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple had "accelerated plans to shift some of its production outside China," with India and Vietnam being the prime targets. The key objective was to reduce its reliance on Foxconn, the primary assembly partner for Apple which remains firmly seated in China. The recent violent protests at Foxconn's largest manufacturing facility in China that disrupted production in a major fashion, as well as the strained geopolitical ties between U.S. and China, are being cited as key reasons for Apple diversifying its production into other markets like India.

However, this isn't the first time that we're hearing plans about iPad production moving beyond China. Reuters reported in November 2020 that Apple asked its key supplier to move a small portion of iPad and MacBook production outside China, and Foxconn reportedly obliged with a $270 million investment toward building a production facility in Vietnam. In January 2021, Nikkei Asia reported that Apple was moving a significant chunk of iPad production to Vietnam.

India Is Important, But China Remains The Key

Apple started assembling iPhones in India in 2017, with the iPhone SE being its first. In 2020, Apple started manufacturing the iPhone 11 in India, marking the first time that a high-end Apple smartphone was being rolled off an Indian assembly line. Another landmark was achieved with the iPhone 14 in 2022, which was the first time that Apple started manufacturing a new iPhone in India in the same calendar year as its launch.

Aside from making a current-gen iPhone via Foxconn in India, Apple also diversified its portfolio of contract manufacturers in the country by offloading some of the orders to Pegatron, reports Bloomberg. Foxconn, meanwhile, has quadrupled its workforce in India to handle the iPhone shortage. According to a Reuters report, JP Morgan estimates that Apple will move nearly 25% of iPhone production to India by 2025. As for the iPad and Apple Watch, Vietnam is expected to bag 20% of the net production volume. The company is also mulling Malaysia and the U.S. as possible production sites.

Apple is reportedly wary of the supply disruptions caused by COVID-19-related challenges in China, which have already derailed the iPhone 14 Pro market availability. However, China will continue to be a major player in Apple's design and manufacturing operations. Cheap labor, coupled with the availability of talent and established channels that convert product blueprints into assembly plans, make China the only place where manufacturing will remain concentrated for the foreseeable future.

Read this next: The Evolution Of The iPhone From 2007 To 2022

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