Apple has advised one of its Chinese AirPods assemblers to make a major investment in an iPhone and MacBook metal casing provider, a move the company hopes will create a formidable alternative to another of its longtime suppliers, Taiwan’s Foxconn, Nikkei Asian Review reports citing “multiple sources.”
Luxshare-ICT, a fast-rising Chinese tech company known for its aggressive growth strategy, has been in talks with Catcher Technology, the world’s second-largest metal casing provider, for more than a year and has recently entered a deeper round of negotiations, said one of the people who is familiar with the situation.
The deal, if realized, would give Luxshare the ability to produce high-quality metal casing as well as access to smartphone assembly know-how, which would take it a step closer to becoming the Chinese version of Foxconn — a single company with operations that span nearly the entire electronics supply chain. Such a move could ultimately help Luxshare grab a share of iPhone production, which ships around 200 million units each year.
Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, has long been Apple’s biggest supplier, accounting for more than 50% of iPhone production since the device’s debut in 2007. Sources say the U.S. company is keen to reduce this heavy reliance.
MacDailyNews Take: This is all a bit nebulous as the report states, “Catcher said it does not have concrete plans at the moment to sell its Chinese assets or jointly invest with other companies.” And, any firm looking to replicate Foxconn has a very, very long way to go. That said, increasing competition among suppliers is (and always has been) a goal of Apple’s as competition brings down component and assembly costs like nothing else can.