This move marks a sign that the tech giant is continuing to accelerate steps to diversify production despite hopes that tensions between the United States and China will ease under recently-inaugurated President Joe Biden.
The article published by Nikkei Asia indicates that some sources believe iPad production will begin in the nation as early as the middle of the year, marking the first time that the world’s largest tablet maker will build a significant number of the devices outside of China.
Furthermore, sources indicate the California tech giant is also striving to ramp up iPhone production in India, its second-largest production base for the iconic device. Indeed, there are even plans to start producing the latest iPhone 12 series, the company’s first 5G smartphones, in India as soon as the first quarter.
According to sources of the Japanese media outlet, Apple is also attempting to boost production capacity for smart speakers, earphones, and computers in Southeast Asia as part of its ongoing diversification strategy.
Moreover, the article states that Apple has relocated some production of the Mac mini, one of its desktop computers, to Malaysia. In addition, the company is also set to move some of its MacBook production to Vietnam this year, although the majority of its computer production will remain in China for the time being.
Nikkei Asia notes that Apple’s suppliers have been working to meet their client’s demands for more diverse production bases. As a key supplier, Foxconn, formally traded as Hon Hai Precision Industry, injected a sum of US$270 million in order set up a subsidiary in the country late last year. This was part of efforts by the Taiwanese company to expand its production capacity locally.
“Luxshare Precision Industry, a new iPhone assembler that is also a key supplier of AirPods, is ramping up its capacity in northern Vietnam for the HomePod mini to solve supply constraints for the popular device,” according to Nikkei Asia.
The Japanese financial outlet indicate that Goertek of China, a key assembler of Apple AirPods, requested that all of its suppliers evaluate the feasibility of moving production to Vietnam as early as late 2018, with the firm being the first Apple supplier to confirm plans to shift production.
The article also outlines that in 2019, Apple asked multiple suppliers to study the cost implications of moving between 15% and 30% of production outside of China for a wide range of product lines. In line with this, their AirPods series, which ship approximately 90 million units annually, first went into trial production in Vietnam in the summer of 2019, with mass production following in 2020.
“A portion of production of AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and the HomePod mini were also allocated to Vietnam last year. Apple began making the iPhone 11 in India in 2020,” the article adds.
According to Nikkei Asia, Apple did not respond to its request for comment.