Apple's Secrecy Standards Complicate iPhone 14 Production in India
Apple will begin iPhone 14 production in India about two months after the first wave of devices are released out of China as manufacturing partners try to replicate the complex iPhone supply chain operation in another country for the first time.
Bloomberg reports that Apple has been working with suppliers to ramp up manufacturing in India and "shorten the lag in production of the new iPhone from the typical six to nine months for previous launches, according to people familiar with the matter."
However, Apple and primary iPhone assembler Foxconn have "ultimately determined a simultaneous start in India and China isn't realistic this year, although it remains a long-term goal," according to the report's sources.
Apple is said to be seeking alternatives to China amid the country's clashes with the U.S. government and strict lockdowns that have disrupted supply chain operations. To that end, Foxconn has reportedly been studying the process of shipping components from China and assembling the iPhone 14 devices at its plant outside the southern Indian city of Chennai.
Aside from the massive issue of organizing coordination between hundreds of suppliers, one of the big challenges the manufacturer is said to have faced involves finding ways to maintain Apple's high standards for secrecy.
Local executives in India reportedly looked at the possibility of "entirely cornering off one of Foxconn's multiple assembly lines, sequestering workers and scrutinizing all possible ways in which the security around the device could be compromised."
Apple is also said to be concerned about Indian customs officials who often unseal packages to check if imported materials match their declarations, which could jeopardize the company's stringent product secrecy controls.
Given the high possibility of leaks and other operational challenges, Apple and Foxconn therefore have this year decided against a simultaneous launch in China and India, and the first iPhone 14 models from India are likely to be finished in late October or November, following the initial September release.
Apple is aiming to announce the iPhone 14 on Wednesday, September 7, with retail employees said to be preparing for a new product release on Friday, September 16, which suggests the new iPhone and Apple Watch models could see a release on that date. Apple plans to release a total of four iPhone 14 models, including a 6.1-inch iPhone 14, a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max, a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max.