As U.S.-China tensions continue to escalate, Apple is set to invite mainland Chinese company Luxshare into the exclusive iPhone assembly club, marking the biggest change to Apple’s iPhone production model in years.
Luxshare Precision Industry Co. struck a deal to acquire Wistron Corp.’s iPhone unit and become the first mainland company to assemble Apple’s marquee device. It’s another win for a company that went from making cables and antennas to AirPods, sending its shares higher by as much as 7% Monday while Wistron fell up to 10%.
The introduction of a homegrown Chinese star helps Apple scores points with Beijing, at a time Washington officials have accused it of kow-towing to the Chinese government. It also shakes up Apple’s supply chain by threatening to wrest business away from longstanding partners Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. and Pegatron Corp. Pegatron fell almost 4% while Hon Hai, known also as Foxconn, closed 1.4% lower.
Apple, which exerts enormous influence over major changes among its primary suppliers, has sought a mainland Chinese partner in part to broaden its production sources during a bruising U.S.-China trade war.
From Foxconn to Pegatron and Quanta Corp., the mainly Taiwanese contract manufacturers to the world’s biggest electronics brands are exploring ways to shift production away from China — averting rising tariffs — and move up the value chain. Assembling iPhones requires hundreds of thousands of workers, often culled from a volatile and constantly shifting pool of migrant labor, eating into margins.
MacDailyNews Take: As long as it’s manageable and maintains quality, the more diversity of iPhone (and other product) assembly Apple can introduce, even in mainland China (in order to assuage CCP authorities), the better. So, welcome to iPhone assembly, Luxshare.