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By Dan Moren for Macworld
Apple’s holiday iPhone shortage is a symptom of a much larger problem
Apple is a bit like Superman. Wait, wait, hear me out. Sure, it only gets a chunk of its power from the yellow sun (thanks, solar), and maybe not even its rumored smart glasses could disguise it as Clark Kent, but the company certainly isn’t short on superpowers: selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products, commanding a prominent position in multiple technology markets, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, etc.
But just as Superman has his kryptonite, Apple too has one large weakness that can bring the company to its knees: its overreliance on China. Yes, the region provides a big chunk of the company’s sales, but even more to the point, it’s the epicenter of Apple’s global manufacturing and assembly. And when that’s threatened–by political issues, supply chain problems, or COVID-related conundrums–it can put a serious dent in the company’s bottom line.
You need look no further than the recent communique from Cupertino, explaining that its most expensive (and presumably most profitable) iPhone models would take a sales hit due to a pandemic-related factory shutdown. Recently, though, Apple has started to move to correct this reliance on China, looking to bring manufacturing to a number of other places. It’s a good long-term decision, but it won’t happen fast, and there are going to be plenty of challenges along the way.