Foxconn and Apple Come (Back) to America

By James Fallows
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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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/12/foxconn-and-apple-come-back-to-america/265976/