Welcome to our weekend Apple Breakfast column, featuring all the Apple news you missed this week in a handy bite-sized summary. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes well with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, but it’s cool if you want to read it over lunch or dinner too.
When the chips are gone
When Donald Trump ran for office in early 2016, he vowed “that Apple would build their goddamn computers and things in this country instead of other countries.” This vague, half-developed plan was widely ridiculed for seeming impractical: You can’t just tear down a complex overseas supply chain and start from scratch in an area with almost none of the required skills and infrastructure. But publicly, Apple has welcomed the idea politely.
Perhaps looking for a patriotic cover against accusations of leftist bias – the largest company in the world can’t afford to alienate half of its home market – Apple is rather enthusiastic about the idea of some hardware in the US Despite Trump’s comments, the company was already making one of its “damn computers” on American soil: the Mac Pro, proudly produced in a factory in Austin, Texas. But it’s important to emphasize that the Mac Pro is a niche product made in small numbers, so it’s much easier to build at home than, say, the iPhone.
Similarly limited in scope is this week’s announcement that supplier TSMC (based in Taiwan) will start making Apple chips in an Arizona factory. Again, we are not talking about manufacturing genuine Apple products, just one part. But it’s something. TSMC makes chips for iPhones, iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, and, well, pretty much everything Apple sells, so the company could start declaring that some of these devices are “(Partly) Made in America” .
But not yet. Because the first caveat to this positive-sounding story is the time frame. The factory won’t open until 2024, which obviously precludes the first runs of the iPhone 15, the Apple Watch Series 9, and the next generation of Macs and iPads. TSMC and Apple rushed to break the news, but the effects of the move are still a long way off.
Even when the factory is running, not all of the chips Apple uses are made; it just won’t have the capacity. Nor will it be set up for the 3nm manufacturing process that the company is expected to switch to in 2023. Operating at 5nm or 4nm, the factory will have to focus, at least initially, on legacy chips that aren’t nearly as important as a new A-series CPU. If you buy an iPhone 13 or 14 in 2024, you might find that the processor is built in Arizona, but that’s unlikely to apply to an iPhone 15 or 16. And it’s more likely that the factory will make fewer chips for a small price. number of Apple Watches and Apple TVs.
Ultimately, the problem with Apple’s “Made in America” plans is that the company isn’t really motivated to bring its production home, and won’t benefit in practice. It makes sense to do most of the manufacturing in China, Vietnam, and India because labor is cheaper in those countries, labor laws are often less favorable to workers, and existing factories are set up to make tech products on a large scale. Apple didn’t set up a complex international supply chain for fun; instead, each link in the chain is the optimal choice for legal, economic, talent or tax reasons. Moving some of it to the US means higher costs and lower profits – and probably higher prices for consumers. What Apple really wants is good PR about job creation and chip making in the US. The Arizona plant has already made those headlines and should bring in the jobs. But if people reading those stories think the iPhone 15 will be powered by a US-made chip, they’re sadly wrong.
Of course, the Arizona factory could be the start of a huge shift. It’s possible that financial incentives promised by successive governments (including the CHIPS bill signed into law in August) will see Apple pull significant parts of its supply chain back to the US. But this will happen if and when it benefits Apple, and not a moment sooner.
Trending: Top stories of the week
The Mac fell short of expectations, but still blew us away in 2022, says Jason Snell.
Apple could actually doomed if Tim Cook can’t fix his biggest iPhone problem.
We can see 5 reasons why you want that update to iOS 16.2 immediately.
To beat Google in the speaker warApple needs to deploy its secret mini-weapon.
Apple has updated its pricing tiers, meaning iOS apps can now cost as little as 29 cents, or as much as $10,000.
Apple used illegal tactics to deter shopkeepers from joining a union, according to the National Labor Relations Board.
The latest feature of Apple Music is perfect for you holiday karaoke parties.
A simple trick made Michael Simon’s Safari go-to Mac browser once again.
The rumor mill
Apple is reportedly working on a foldable screen, but it won’t be an iPhone.
The long awaited Apple Car project according to reports, has become a lot less ambitious and has been delayed even more.
And while we are pessimistic, Apple’s mixed reality headset may arrive later than we thought.
Podcast of the week
In the latest episode of the Macworld Podcast, we discuss some of the highs and lows for Apple in 2022.
You can watch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.
Software updates, bugs and issues
Apple has brought end to end encryption to almost any iCloud service, including backups.
After a year in limbo, Apple has quietly killed off its controversy CSAM photo scanning feature.
Google Chrome now uses less battery and runs smoother on your Mac.
iOS 16.2, which shipped to developers this week and may have been released to the public by the time you read this, brings Sing Apple Music and the Freeform app.
But why does Apple’s latest music feature have such high system requirements?
And the release of macOS Ventura 13.1 seems obvious.
And with that we are done for this week. To receive regular raids, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest news items. See you next Saturday, enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay Appley.