High tech manufacturing is not the candidate’s area of expertise.
On Monday, Tim Cook’s supply chain joined the list of things Donald Trump has promised to fix—alongside the VA, the Mexican border and Obamacare. In case you missed it, this was the soundbite from his MLK day speech that caught the attention of the Twittersphere:
“We’re going to get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries.”
It’s a simple idea. President Obama had the same thought five years ago.
What would it take, he asked the ailing Steve Jobs in 2011, to make iPhones in the U.S.? Why can’t that work come home?
Jobs was blunt. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he told the President according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning report in the New York Times that Donald Trump must have missed.
“The entire supply chain is in China now,” a former high-ranking Apple executive told the Times. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”
From the same article:
“Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.
“In China, it took 15 days.”
How would Trump fix that? He did not say.
Apple (AAPL) did not respond directly to Trump’s remarks. Instead, it pointed reporters to its latest job-creation report:
“As of December 2015, Apple is responsible for creating and supporting 1.9 million jobs. Nearly three-quarters of those jobs—1.4 million—are attributable to the iOS ecosystem. Our spend and investment with thousands of US-based suppliers supports 361,000 jobs, and we now directly employ more than 76,000 people in the US, representing nearly two‑thirds of Apple’s worldwide team.”
Some of those numbers feel a bit inflated. This is more concrete:
It’s a video that went viral in 2013. It shows aluminum casings being manufactured in Elk Grove, Ill., for Mac Pro computers that are assembled—albeit in relatively small numbers—in Ft. Worth, Texas. Donald Trump must have missed it.
This is not the first time Apple has found itself in the candidate’s crosshairs. See “Here’s What Donald Trump Tweeted About Apple.”