The next generation of AirPods may have components that are produced in India. In the latest instance of Apple continuing to gradually decrease reliance on its China supply chain, a key supplier of the Cupertino tech giant has begun making components for AirPods in India.
According to a new report by Bloomberg – which cites people who are familiar with the matter – the India unit of Apple-supplier Jabil has commenced the shipping of plastic bodies or enclosures for AirPods to overseas markets – namely, China and Vietnam. The wireless earphones are then assembled in those markets before they are sold to consumers across the globe. According to its website, Jabil’s unit in India employs more than 2500 workers in its 858,000 sq. ft. facility, which is based in Pune. The Apple-supplier itself is a US-based manufacturing services company.
Apple declined to comment on the matter.
This development marks the first instance of Apple relying on Indian suppliers to produce components for its wireless Bluetooth earbuds. The Cupertino-headquartered tech behemoth has already been manufacturing iPhones at Taiwanese firm Foxconn’s factory in India since 2017, and in recent times, has been focussing more on its “make-in-India” strategy. The company more recently started working on its newly launched iPhone 14 line ups as well, a first for Apple which has so far been manufacturing older models in India.
Its push to expand production in the world’s second-largest smartphone market comes amidst its efforts to distance itself from China, where supply chain disruptions, US trade restrictions, pandemic-induced shutdowns, and other hindrances have adversely affected its production in China over the past year. And the AirPods are the second – and far from being the last – Apple product to be partially manufactured in the country. In the future, iPhone maker Apple also intends to move the production of iPads and MacBooks to India – which will further decrease its reliance on China and enable it to deepen its footprint in the Indian electronics market. Furthermore, it looks to increase India’s production to 25%in the next few years, the majority of which will be occupied by iPhones.
Of course, there are additional incentives for Apple to shift its production to India. Apple’s “make-in-India” strategy aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on the growth of the nation’s manufacturing sector. This includes the provision of financial incentives and government support for expansion projects. With this playing in Apple’s corner, wholly India-made AirPods may soon cease to be a pipe dream. “Making enclosures is typically the first step for full-fledged production of AirPods,” said Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint. “Now that Apple has won initial approval for some suppliers including Luxshare, they are obviously building a supply chain for the end product.”