From a note to clients by analyst Daniel Ives that landed on my desktop Tuesday:
Tomorrow President Trump will visit Apple’s tech manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas along with CEO Tim Cook in what we would characterize as key strategic visit for the company. We note that in September Apple announced that it will commit to building its redesigned Mac Pro after securing tariff exemption on a majority of its requests from the Office of the US Trade Representative. Of these exemptions include partially assembled main circuit boards and graphics cards which contain chips from Intel, Nvidia, and AMD and we note that Apple uses Intel’s Xeon in its new computer.
This week’s visit by Trump speaks to the careful balancing act that Cook and Cupertino find themselves in around ramping up US production for some core products, while making sure its golden jewel iPhone manufacturing footprint in China with Foxconn remains teflon-like during this US/China trade battle.
Herein speaks to why Cook has become so crucial in these China negotiations, which appear to be heading down the path for a Phase 1 agreement, as Cupertino more than any company out there has the most to lose if this tariff war does not see a truce going forward and remains the poster child of this current trade situation.
My take: It’s all about the optics. For Dan Ives, who likes his metaphors, here’s a question: Does anybody really believe that Apple’s assembly plant in Austin is anything more than window-dressing?