Foxconn and Apple Come (Back) to America


Boy, am I glad that the current issue of our magazine came out a week ago, rather than a week or two from now. Today we hear that:

In case you might possibly want a little context on developments like these, I give you Charles Fishman's "The Insourcing Boom," about the factors that a company like Apple -- or GE, which Fishman examines at length -- weighs in deciding whether to shift assembly back to a high-wage home-market company. And also my "Mr. China Comes to America," about some of the deliberations going on within Foxconn as it considers how to handle a younger, more sophisticated, more demanding, overall less compliant work force in China -- while also responding to ever-faster cycle times in product development, which make it more attractive to have designers, engineers, and production workers located close together and close to their markets.

Why do I mention this? Because the point of a magazine like ours is to give you advance warning of, and context for, items you're going to see playing themselves out in the news; and this turns out to be a particularly tidy example.

Also, the Bloomberg story quotes Louis Woo of Foxconn, who also plays a featured role in my story. Tim Culpan of Bloomberg quotes Woo thus:

"Supply chain is one of the big challenges for U.S. expansion," Woo said. "In addition, any manufacturing we take back to the U.S. needs to leverage high-value engineering talent there in comparison to the low-cost labor of China."

There is a lot about America's job-creation problems -- and potential -- in those two sentences. For a guide to what lies behind them, I gently re-direct your consideration to the December issue of our magazine.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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