With truly worldwide demand, the release of a new iPhone is now a global event for Apple, but for reasons besides just making fans of the product happy.
In order to produce and eventually distribute umpteen millions of their products, Apple relies on a massive global supply chain. Technology like the iPhone includes hundreds of component parts and materials which need to be sourced from many different suppliers in order to be cost-efficient.
These days, the possibility for extremely fast and efficient global shipping means that Apple can effectively rely on companies the world over for their needs. The current iteration of the iPhone combines the efforts of suppliers and manufacturers from 31 countries on 5 continents to get the final product on shelves around the world.
What may be more surprising than the scale of the production supply chain itself is how much Apple relies on it. Most of us know that iPhones are assembled in China under the assumption that the main reason is cheap labor. In fact, the main reason for China being Apple’s manufacturing hub is the supply chain. According to one estimate, using American labor would only add $4 to the cost of an iPhone, but moving manufacturing away from China would cost Apple $4.2 billion. Based on the flow of materials, manufacturing in China makes the most sense.
But even though manufacturing takes place overseas, the US still sees massive benefits from the iPhone. Beyond people directly employed by Apple, Apple and its devices support hundreds of thousands of other workers, including countless app developers and over a quarter of a million people working along the supply chain.