Google Inc. scored a lot of warm fuzzies among proponents of American labor and manufacturing when it was revealed—or more likely pointed out in a carefully orchestrated PR play—that it's Nexus Q streaming media player is manufactured right here in the Silicon Valley.
The story, written by New York Times technology writer John Markoff, turned some heads because, well, that just doesn't really happen anymore. The Silicon Valley, once a bustling technology manufacturing hub, has long since shipped nearly all of the actual making of products to lower cost geographies, most of them in Asia.
It's a nice story for those who still believe that high tech manufacturing can thrive in the U.S. once again. Though it's almost certain that Google's PR types spoon fed Markhoff the story, the company isn't shouting from the rooftops about it while waving an American flag. There are probably several reasons for that, with one being that while the Nexus Q is an intriguing product, it was clearly the warm-up act for the headliner announced the same day, the Nexus 7 tablet. That, of course, is made in Asia by Asus. Still, Google got just props for kicking the tires on Made in the USA.
But what about Google's acclaimed frenemy just a few miles to the south, Apple Inc.? (Yes, the same company whose iPads, iPhones, iPods are famously built in China by Foxconn.) Could Apple have a story that appeals to Americans who yearn to see more products from American companies built domestically?
You wouldn't think so. But an article that appeared this week on AppleInsiderobserved that some of Apple's key component suppliers have over the last year started beefing up production in the U.S. The story went on to speculate that this could be "a sign that more of the iPhone is already made in America than one might think."
The story is mostly about how several chip makers have been building and expanding U.S. fabs, including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Texas Instruments Inc., Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., Maxim Integrated Products Inc. and Avago Technologies Ltd. Parts from all four companies have been found in teardowns of Apple products, but as the story notes, Apple is not one to say a great deal about its suppliers.
The Appleinsider story also notes that Apple CEO Tim Cook recently mentioned the A5 processors built by Samsung for Apple at Samsung's fab in Austin, Texas, and the iPhone's Corning Gorilla Glass, which is made in Kentucky.
It's encouraging that there has been an uptick in new semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the U.S., but don't expect to see a "Made in the USA" sticker on an iPhone anytime soon. The story concludes with research from IHS iSuppli, which estimates that the Samsung-built processor accounts for about 12 percent of an iPhone bill of materials (BoM), with the Gorilla Glass accounting for about 0.6 percent. Components supplied by the rest of the chip companies mentioned account for just over 2 percent of the BoM—combined—according to IHS.
That's true. But that is where they build the processors for Apple.
I've heard in the past that Apple insisted that Samsung build a fab in the U.S. to make its processors. That doesn't make a lot of sense to me since the processor are shipped to Asia, where the products are assembled.
Last week it came out that Apple bought 300 acres of land in Austin to expand its facility there. Apple plans to hire another 3,600 employees there.
I don't know of any semiconductor company that still assembles their products in the US. There may be a few exotic packages that are done in the US, but all of the high volume packages are assembled and tested in Asia. Many of the wafers are processed in the US, but there are fabs all around the world. I would not be surprised if half of the wafers are processed in Asia especially with the foundries such as TSMC.
The Olympic uniforms incident is merely a "scandal" but the "reality that is difficult for some to accept".
Apple products are all labeled "made in China". And so are pretty much everything you can get from Walmart, Target, BestBuy... and the list goes on.
It sort of make sense to have some of components of Apple products made outside of the US. But I see that it is a serious problem when you have even shrimp at Walmart coming from some Asian countries.
If it is cheaper to raise, keep, process, and then ship a pack of shrimp from the other side of the globe, and then put it in the frige at Walmart for sell and make profit, there is something seriously wrong about the economy here!!!
It is either that the retail price of the shrimp is insanely priced, or that the industry here is way behind so that they can not compete on the efficiency and cost at all, or both... But at the end, you can only do so well for so long without manufacturing. The problem now is that the US is not any more manufacturing and actually physically producing goods as much as how it used to, and how it should...
No - there's something pretty much right about the economy. Americans are busy doing much more high value things than assembling iPads or packing shrimp. Diverting them from those high-value things to those lower value things would be a backward step not progress.
From what I understand about tarrifs, even if all the components are made in the US and elsewhere and the product is assembled in China, it still is subject to tarrifs as if it is 100 percent made in China. So that would mean, an iPad, iPod and iPhone, even with 100 percent non-China parts, but assembled in China would stil be made in China according to the law ... Right?
"built by Samsung for Apple at Apple's fab in Austin, Texas"??? something is not adding up here...it is either Samsung's fab or Apple's, not both...I suspect it is Samsung's, I am not aware of any Apple's silicon fabs...kris
@kris- you are absolutely right. That is my mistake. As you surmised, it's Samsung's fab in Austin, not Apple's. I have made the correction.
Interestingly enough, it came out last week that Apple bought a large amount of property in Austin to expand its operations there. But I highly doubt that a chip fab is part of the plan.
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