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.

iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb
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.

Related Roundup: iPhone 14
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

CarlJ Avatar
22 months ago

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.
Reminds me of a story that’s been going around programmer/sysadmin circles since time immemorial (in internet time, that’s since the 50’s/60’s) - I grabbed this copy from a 1991 Usenet posting ('https://groups.google.com/g/alt.folklore.computers/c/YyHfdWL7htc/m/0lYLNohW8ksJ'):

I heard this story from someone who worked for a French company, they had a problem with a program on punched cards written for them by a US subsidiary. The programs never worked when loaded in France but the US systems house swore blind that they did at their end. Eventually, in exasperation, someone followed the working set of cards from the US to France. At French customs, they observed a customs official remove a few cards at random from the deck. Apparently, the French customs are entitled to remove a sample from any bulk item (such as grain), so a few cards from a large consignment shouldn't matter, should it?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bLackjackj Avatar
22 months ago

Local executives in India reportedly looked at the possibility of "entirely cornering off one of Foxconn's multiple assembly lines, sequestering workers
Absolutely absurd! It's only a phone, not a product that is going to change the world as we know it. Sequestering workers? Are they supposed to not have contact with anyone for fear of revealing a smaller notch or x zoom. My goodness,..grow up!
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bluecoast Avatar
22 months ago
I think that Apple's culture of secrecy is getting a bit silly when it's such a mega-corp. It's the behaviour of a cult rather than one of the biggest publicly traded companies in the world.

This culture started when Apple was far smaller in the 00s and the secrecy meant that the launch day impact gave them millions of $US free marketing.

Nowadays, people know most of the details of the iPhone before it comes out anyway (if you look hard enough).

I get that this secrecy culture will be important for new products - such as the Car and the AVR/VR products - but seriously: is there anyone in the world who is going to be surprised that Apple is going to launch new iPhones in September?

Anyone who is vaguely interested knows that there will be an iPhone 14 Plus and that the Pro models will have always on displays etc. etc.

And given Apple's size - and the importance of the iPhone in the wider culture - they're practically guaranteed wall to wall coverage on the day and the day after the iPhones are revealed, attempts at secrecy or not.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
22 months ago
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.

Apple could confuse potential leakers by shipping tons of the same processors as last year's model, since nobody thinks Apple would charge $1,000 for a new phone with an older chip. :cool:
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
petsk Avatar
22 months ago
How about moving production to US and Europe instead and keep your little secrets.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yellow8 Avatar
22 months ago
Logistic nightmare! Must be hard to pull off..
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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