Obama to Jobs: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

We often find ourselves wondering why tech companies move jobs overseas and into factories like Foxconn instead of building their products at home. It’s not only on our minds either. According to the New York Times, President Barack Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to make iPhones in the United States. As it turns out, that won’t be happening any time soon. For the most part, we’re quick to assume that it has a lot to do with labor costs, but an interesting article over at the New York Times points out that Apple has more than one reason for relying on companies like Foxconn abroad, and it isn’t just the cheap labor.

From the article:

[quote]Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts … Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight … A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.[/quote]

Think about that for a second. Would you or your neighbour wake up in the wee hours of the morning just to appease some foreign company’s last second whims? Heck, in some cases there may even be laws against that kind of request in the westernized world. We’re not trying to say it’s the right approach, not even close, but we are trying to say that there’s a lot more to the equation than we often think about when it comes to these sorts of things.

The article over at The New York Times is a long one, but we recommend reading it. It’s pretty interesting.

Read How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work over at The New York Times

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