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Apple's supply chain - from phones to face shields

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 07 April 2020, 6:42 pm

The Apple rumour mill seems certain that we can expect a new iPhone (probably 12) in September, or maybe a bit later. Despite repeated disruption to its global supply chain, Apple is apparently on track to deliver the annual update to its iconic device.

Earlier in the year, it looked as if the company's reliance on China as its primary manufacturing hub could be the iPhone 12's undoing, when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the country long past the lunar new year. But, as we all know only too well, the deadly disease has since spread across the entire world. Now China is getting back to the work, while much of the rest of the world is in lock down.

Still not completely out of the woods, reports suggest that production for the iPhone 12 - which is expected to be the first to enable 5G capability - will begin in May, ahead of the launch later in the year. And while the main manufacturing hub is in China, the engineers are based in Silicon Valley. Communication via VC isn't the same as getting on a plane to explain in person how to implement new product specifications.

Making the device is one thing, getting it sold is another. Around two-thirds of the sales force is based in US and Europe, and neither region is faring too well, with sales of smartphones already taking a hit. No doubt weighing on Apple's mind, and on the minds of every business everywhere, is who will have the money to be pay for such items?

It's hard to feel too worried for a company that has $200 billion in the bank, although they may be using some of it to manufacture face shields for medical teams treating Covid-19 patients. The latest Apple product is a transparent plastic face shield that packs flat for distribution and can be assembled in less than two minutes. CEO Tim Cooks says Apple will ship more than a million shields this week, and a million a week in the US and beyond from now on, for the foreseeable.

Other tech companies like Tesla are delivering products to counter Covid-19, while in New Zealand Cactus Outdoors is an example of a company that has turned its attention to making face masks to fight the pandemic. While Cactus Outdoors is a specialist outdoor clothing manufacturer, we can claim a tech connection because its director and spokesperson Ben Kepes is a well-known tech commentator. 

 


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ash tyio 26 April 2020, 2:41 am
ash tyio 26 April 2020, 2:42 am

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