Apple’s suppliers are an essential component of its success, using sophisticated logistics networks to deliver parts on time and to the correct locations.
Apple prioritizes quality, technological ability and scale when selecting new suppliers. They also strive to reduce reliance on one country for production purposes.
Foxconn is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and an important Apple supplier, operating globally from Taiwan. Their diverse product portfolio spans mobile devices, computers and TVs; Foxconn also manufactures various electronic components used by leading technology companies like Apple, Dell and Amazon.
Foxconn factories have long been the target of criticism by labor protection groups for poor working conditions and worker abuse, including 14 apparent suicides in China alone during 2010. Foxconn responded to these allegations by installing suicide nets and increasing employee welfare, as well as diversifying production locations to lessen reliance on China.
The company boasts facilities in China, Brazil, Czech Republic, India and Vietnam and holds more than 83,500 patents for research and development purposes. Their core competencies lie within cloud computing, mobile devices, IoT and big data; environmental sustainability initiatives; electric vehicle, digital health technology as well as robotics are at their center.
Foxconn produces electronics for many clients, such as Apple, Samsung, Sony and Nokia. Their Chinese plants produce over one million products daily to satisfy demand. More recently, however, Foxconn has begun diversifying its product range; for instance partnering with Fiat and Yulon to manufacture electric vehicles; developing its own technology to increase efficiency and cut costs; as well as initiating open collaboration in the EV industry with initiatives like MIH Alliance which offers software and hardware tools allowing developers to create innovative EV solutions.
Wistron Neweb Corporation is a multimillion-dollar corporation that develops electronic components for numerous popular devices, such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and smart home appliances. They also make WiFi modules, so it is not unusual to find Wistron Neweb Corporation devices connected to your network. If an unidentified Wistron Neweb device appears and appears unneeded to you then simply turn off linked devices step-by-step until the Wistron Neweb device goes away from your Wi-Fi connection; this method should help pinpoint its source!
Apple announced Monday it has placed Wistron on probation and won’t award them any new business until they take “complete corrective actions” after employees and independent auditors found violations at its plant in southern India. Employees and auditors found Wistron violated its supplier code of conduct by failing to implement appropriate working-hour management processes, leading to delays in employee pay.
Wistron’s decision to leave India comes at a time when Apple is expanding local manufacturing and opening retail stores there; their shipments under their “Made in India” banner rose 162% year-on-year according to market research firm Counterpoint.
However, it remains uncertain how the coronavirus outbreak will alter these plans. It could delay transfer of materials to Wistron’s facility in Karnataka due to delays caused by this virus; and its absence would make meeting Apple’s high-margin requirements challenging; leaving Wistron exposed against competitors like Foxconn and Pegatron that have more effective systems for forecasting demand and shipping products around the globe.
LG Corporation, also known as Lucky Goldstar in South Korea, is one of the country’s major conglomerates. Its subsidiaries produce electronics, chemicals, and other products used globally in homes and offices; with LG Electronics as its flagship brand. Other products produced include appliances, home theater systems and batteries for electric vehicles as well as batteries used to power other consumer devices manufactured at LG’s many worldwide factories.
LG is well known for its longstanding history of innovation, and its engineers are known for pushing the limits of technological potential. More recently, they have expanded into new product categories including electric vehicles and renewable energy projects; for instance, LG and General Motors recently joined forces to produce electric vehicle components, while investing in solar and wind projects as part of a joint venture agreement.
Bloomberg reported in April that LG Display will supply OLED screens for Apple’s forthcoming iPhone models. Apple is expected to release an updated iPhone X with 5.8-inch and larger 6.5-inch OLED models this fall; additionally, an cheaper iPhone XR with an LCD “Liquid Retina” display will also be released at that time.
LG claims its OLED screens are more reliable than those from Samsung; however, issues with Pixel 2 XL’s display indicate LG has still got some work to do in this department.
LG was fined $585 million by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2008 for illegally fixing prices of TFT-LCD displays used in computers, televisions and cellphones – the second-largest criminal penalty ever assessed by them. Since then LG has made efforts to repair relations with labor unions.
Sharp has an established history of innovating LCD technology, but also has an unstable financial record. We reported in March 2013 on issues surrounding their high-resolution indium gallium zinc oxide screen technology which caused Apple production delays and cost them potentially millions in sales revenue.
Sharp has recently found itself beleaguered by an intensifying U.S.-China trade war, causing profits to take a significant hit and sending its stock tumbling by 14% on Friday. Though they announced an investment into Vietnam to reduce tariff impacts, its shares still declined dramatically.
According to The Elec, Apple will no longer source camera modules from Sharp. Their O-Film division was previously one of Apple’s main suppliers of triple lens and time of flight (ToF) cameras; LG Innotek and O-Film jointly made up approximately 50% of Apple’s camera modules; however O-Film was recently dropped due to allegations that it used forced labor for its products production.
LG Innotek is expected to become Apple’s main supplier for their iPhone 15 Pro Max folded periscope camera, thus replacing Sharp as part of Apple’s supply chain. Foxconn, with their dedicated camera business unit, will take over any remaining rear wide camera module orders placed by Sharp as well as any front facing module orders for Sharp’s cameras.
Sharp is currently in talks with Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry about splitting off its LCD panel business as an independent entity, under an arrangement where Hon Hai would invest alongside Japan’s government-funded Innovation Network Corp of Japan – this funding unit already invested in Japan Display which was formed through merging three other LCD manufacturers that experienced declining output and struggling finances.
Corning is one of Apple’s 9,000 US suppliers across 50 states and supplies glass for every generation of iPhone, Apple Watch and other devices and wearables as well as specialty materials and equipment. Headquartered in Harrodsburg, Kentucky – where it makes a significant economic contribution – Corning hosts its GlassFest festival to honor its rich glass history each year.
In 1947, Dr. Donald Stookey made an unexpected discovery while heating photosensitive glass in a laboratory oven. To his amazement, it crystallized into milky-white from thermal expansion and did not shatter when dropped – an important milestone towards creating glass-ceramic material destined to revolutionize manufacturing of glass production while giving rise to an entirely new product line known as CorningWare.
Corning became profitable during the dot-com boom, expanding its fiber optics business through acquisitions and research funding. Unfortunately, when dot-com stocks collapsed they saw their profitability suffer greatly – dropping as low as $1 per share by 2002 despite continued innovation and investment into technology research and development.
Corning’s primary products today are smartphone and tablet displays. Their latest innovation, Ceramic Shield, provides tougher protection from damage than any other material on the market and could potentially reduce environmental waste caused by replacing damaged screens. Furthermore, Apple funding will allow Corning to pursue even further innovations in glass technology such as creating foldable devices with flexible glass that require them to bend to accommodate foldable displays – something no other smartphone currently does.
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