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Made-in-India iPhones surge as Apple moves away from China

India-made iPhones surged in volume and value last year, as Apple moved to shift some production away from China in a bid to diversify its supply chain.

In 2022, the shipment volumes of iPhones made in India grew 65 per cent year on year, while their value gained 162 per cent, according to a report published by market research firm Counterpoint last week.

As a result, Apple last year accounted for 25 per cent of the value of India’s total smartphone shipments, up from 12 per cent in 2021, according to Counterpoint.

China produces up to 85 per cent of iPhones globally, but is at risk of losing its dominance as Apple takes steps to shift more of its manufacturing supply chain outside China.

Apple is among the global tech brands seeking to decrease their reliance on China for production amid rising geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, and following severe production disruptions in the country during three years of stringent Covid-19 control measures.

In 2020, the Indian government launched a US$6.65 billion plan that offered global smartphone makers incentives to relocate their manufacturing to the country.

Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group is reportedly planning to invest about US$700 million on a new plant in India to boost local production, raising concerns among Chinese social media users that mainland China was at risk of losing its primary role in Apple’s manufacturing supply chain.

Separately, last month Reuters reported that Foxconn won an order to make AirPods for Apple and plans to build a factory in India to produce the wireless earphones.

One source with direct knowledge of the matter said Foxconn will invest more than US$200 million in the new India AirPods plant in the southern Indian state of Telangana.

India is expected to assemble up to 50 per cent of Apple’s iPhones by 2027, up from fewer than 5 per cent at present, Taiwan’s DigiTimes Research forecast in January. That will put it on par with the scale of production in mainland China, the report said.

India’s confidence in attracting more electronics manufacturing to the country reflects the damage done to China’s reputation by Taiwan-based Foxconn’s recent troubles on the mainland.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, scrambled to restore full production capacity at its manufacturing complex in the central city of Zhengzhou, home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, following severe disruptions that included worker protests that turned violent and the exodus of tens of thousands of employees amid a Covid-19 outbreak that started last October.

In 2022, the total value of shipments of smartphones made in India grew 34 per cent from the previous year, according to Counterpoint.

“Overall, 2022 has been a good year in terms of manufacturing and localisation in India,” wrote Counterpoint research director Tarun Pathak. “The increasing exports from Apple, Samsung and other OEMs drove the locally manufactured shipments in 2022 and somewhat offset the impact of the local demand decline.”

While gaining in value, last year the shipment volume of smartphones made in India declined 3 per cent, the result of “softening of consumer demand due to macroeconomic headwinds, especially in the second half of the year”, Counterpoint said. South China Morning Post

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