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Apple’s Week Was All About China Fears—And Donald Trump

June 15, 2019, 1:30 PM UTC

If there’s one word to describe the most important headlines about Apple this week, it’s China.

This week, Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, Hon Hai Precision, known better as Foxconn, floated the idea of Apple moving its iPhone production outside of China in response to trade war concerns. It was followed by a report on Thursday that said Apple CEO Tim Cook met with President Donald Trump this week to discuss China and trade. Meanwhile, Trump is considering adding $300 billion in new tariffs to China-made products that could increase iPhone production costs by up to 14%, according to analysts. Needless to say, the stakes are high for Apple in China.

This is Fortune’s weekly Apple news roundup. You can check out last week’s news roundup here.

But China wasn’t the only Apple headline this week. We heard that Apple ruffled some feathers at Google with its new Sign In with Apple service, and the U.S. Justice Department said existing laws could be used to investigate and accuse Apple and other tech heavyweights with antitrust violations.

Read on for more on those headlines and others in this week’s roundup of the biggest Apple news:

  1. Speaking to investors this week, Hon Hai Precision semiconductor chief Young Liu said that the company could move all iPhone production from China to another country. Liu cautioned, however, that Apple hasn’t requested that and didn’t say where production would go if Apple did approve such a move.
  2. Fortune this week talked to analysts about the feasibility of Apple moving its iPhone production out of China. They both agreed the move would be too costly, could create political upheaval, and would take too long. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told Fortune that when it comes to producing iPhones in China, “Apple’s hands are tied.”
  3. Tim Cook and Donald Trump met this week to talk about the China problem, Reuters reported. White House spokesman Judd Deere told Reuters that Cook talked to Trump about “trade, U.S. investment, immigration, and privacy.”
  4. There was a bit of bad news for Apple’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) division this week. Researcher IDC said that Apple’s iPhone shipments to the region in the first quarter fell 3.3% year over year to 83.7 million. Apple’s 18.6% EMEA market share was its lowest in five years, according to IDC.
  5. Apple’s mobile deals with Comcast and Charter include requirements to sell large quantities of iPads, CNBC reported this week, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the deals. Charter and Comcast both operate mobile networks atop Verizon’s and wanted to sell iPhones to their customers, according to the report. In order to do that, CNBC said, Apple required them to sell a specific number of iPads. Apple declined a CNBC request for comment about the matter.
  6. Speaking to tech news site The Verge this week, Mark Risher, who leads Google’s product management division, said that he was peeved by Apple’s argument last week at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) that its universal sign-on service, Sign In with Apple, is more secure than Sign In with Google. Risher insisted that Google’s alternative is secure and said that his service sets “a very high bar.” It sounds like the Sign In war is starting.
  7. The U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said this week that the U.S. already has “the tools we need to enforce the antitrust laws in cases involving digital technologies.” The comment was a response to questions some politicians and lawyers have had about the applicability of laws, like the Sherman Antitrust Act or the Clayton Antitrust Act, that are more than 100-years old and were envisioned before Apple, Google, and others were founded. Delrahim said the acts would certainly apply to technology companies. Delrahim didn’t say, however, whether the Justice Department would investigate big technology companies, including Apple.

One more thing…Apple is eyeing the possibility of acquiring Intel’s smartphone modem business, tech news site The Information reported this week. Apple could look to acquire Intel’s German modem business to help it design new chips exclusively for its iPhone.

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