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You can take the Apple factory out of China, but can you take China out of Apple?
Apple has been busy lobbying states in India to change their labor laws to more closely resemble China's, and it's going pretty well. The move to India is crucial to Apple's plans to spread out its supply chain and become less reliant on China and comes as the iPhone maker slashes costs to keep from falling into the same black hole that swallowed its Big Tech compatriots.
Apple's Indian Summer
The onset of the pandemic was an uncomfortable lesson in diversification for Apple. China was one of the first countries to lock down and iPhone production lines fell silent, inspiring the company to start considering other countries as alternative production hubs. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that Apple was fast-tracking its plans after workers exhausted by China's zero-covid policy clashed with police at a factory nicknamed "iPhone City."
Apple is eyeing India and Vietnam to be the two new nodes in its supply web, and while it's keen to reduce its dependence on China it also wants to export some of its labor practices:
- Apple and its supplier Foxconn successfully lobbied the Indian state of Karnataka to raise the maximum duration of a factory shift from 9 hours to 12 hours, and to push the upper limit on overtime from 75 to 145 hours per 3-month period, the Financial Times reported.
- Now The House That Steve Jobs Built is pushing for similar reforms in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu. Sources told Bloomberg that Apple's emphasis is on flexibility, allowing factories to run two 12-hour shifts rather than three 8-hour ones.
While Apple is working hard to tighten its belt to avoid the multiple rounds of high-profile layoffs that have plagued Amazon and Meta in recent months, it's clearly investing heavily in India. Bloomberg reports it's in talks to build accommodation for female workers near its new facilities as a way to side-step concerns around women's safety while commuting to work.
Bridge of Spyphones: Apple won't be able to dodge its Russia problem, however. While government workers in various Western countries have been told to delete TikTok from their phones, Russians are being told to throw out their phones altogether. A Russian outlet reported Kremlin officials working on next year's presidential election were instructed to throw out any iPhones by April 1 over concerns they could be vectors for Western espionage.