As it looks to significantly reduce its reliance on China, the company is reportedly exploring moving some iPad production to India. CNBC says Apple is having “ongoing discussions with officials” about producing the iPad in India, although “no concrete plans have been made.”
Apple already assembles certain models of the iPhone in India, including the latest iPhone 14 and multiple older models that it still sells. Currently, the iPad is made primarily in China, with some production also happening in Vietnam, according to a Nikkei Asia report earlier this year.
India could be the next country in which some iPad hardware is produced, according to that CNBC:
India is exploring options to bring some of Apple’s iPad production to the country from China, according to two sources close to the Indian government. The tech giant is said to be holding ongoing discussions with officials. No concrete plans have been made, but if successful, it would expand Apple’s footprint in the country.
However, sources caution that a lack of highly skilled talent and individuals with expertise in building highly complex devices like the iPad could slow down these plans in India. The foreign policy backdrop also doesn’t help, with growing tensions between India and China. The two countries have squared off in recent years over territorial disputes resulting in escalated military presence at the India-China border.
Expanding additional iPad production outside of China would be a major step in Apple’s roadmap of dramatically reducing its reliance on the country. A report from the The Wall Street Journal on Saturday said that Apple is advancing its plans to diversify its supply chain. In particular, Apple is pushing its suppliers to do more NPI (new product introduction) work outside of China.
Moving NPI work outside of China would help build up advanced manufacturing ecosystems in countries like India. Currently, the lack of more advanced manufacturing processes in other countries is the biggest bottleneck for Apple’s work to move out of the country.
Currently, China is Apple’s biggest production hub for most of its products, although it has taken some strides to change that. In addition to iPhone production in India, some models are also produced in Brazil. Apple’s partners Luxshare and Inventec are located in Vietnam, where AirPods and HomePod products are produced.
Continued COVID-19 lockdowns in China have significantly impacted production over the last year. In early November, Apple warned that shutdowns at primary assembly facilities in Zhengzhou, China is having a significant impact on the availability of iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max this holiday season.
But beyond those supply chain issues, Apple’s broader relationship with China is under increased scrutiny. Most recently, the company was criticized for limiting AirDrop functionality in the country after protesters used the tool to share information critical of the local government. If Apple wasn’t as reliant on China for production, it would, perhaps, be more willing to push back against these types of demands.
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