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Apple’s China Problem Is All Anyone Is Talking About

June 22, 2019, 1:30 PM UTC

Apple has a China problem.

This week, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple had asked its contract manufacturers to evaluate shifting as much as 30% of its iPhone production from China to other countries. It was the latest in a string of recent reports that call into question whether Apple should—or even could—move iPhone production from China to escape tariffs being considered by the Trump Administration.

But Apple hasn’t said a word publicly about the topic, creating uncertainty about its plans.

In addition to the China news, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors this week that Apple may debut three new iPhones next year. His report came around the same time a study that said that office workers worldwide feel more productive on a Mac than a Windows PC.

Read on for more about Apple’s week:

Apple is considering a big move

China The week’s biggest news came from Nikkei Asian Review, which reported that Apple has asked manufacturing partners to assess moving up to 30% of Apple’s iPhone production from China. The move is a response to the U.S.-China trade war, according to the report, and Apple’s fear that its iPhone manufacturing costs will rise significantly if the U.S. imposes $300 billion in new tariffs on China-made products.

Or maybe not

After the report, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives cast doubt that Apple would be able to move such a big part of its iPhone production from China. He told investors in a note that Apple would only be able to shift up to 7% of its production from China within the next 12 to 18 months, at best. Ives added that Apple reliance on China is such that it’s difficult to move substantial manufacturing elsewhere.

Best Buy is Apple’s new best fix-it friend

Hoping to make it easier for Apple users to get their devices fixed, Apple said that it will add nearly 1,000 Best Buy retail locations to its list of Apple-authorized repair locations. Best Buy technicians at those locations will be Apple-certified and any fixes they make will be covered under Apple’s product warranties. Previously, Apple customers were required to either bring their devices to an Apple Store or a third-party authorized technician. In some areas, there were few authorized technicians.

Are you not satisfied?

Market research firm Jamf reported the results of a new study recently about satisfaction among corporate workers with Apple devices. The company found that 97% of respondents who moved from a Windows PC to a Mac believed they were more productive on Apple computers. Ninety-five percent said the Mac made them more creative.

Apple Watch Vs. Android

Apple Watch will remain the most popular smartwatch through 2023, IDC predicted this week. The researcher said that 131.6 million wearables will ship to stores in 2023, and Apple Watch will account for 25.9% of all those shipments. Competing Android devices from device makers including Samsung and Huawei will account for the remaining share, but none of them will come close to matching Apple, according to the report.

Tim Cook’s Glassdoor ranking rises

Job review site Glassdoor this week released its annual list of top CEOs, ranked by whether employees approve of the job that they’re doing. Apple CEO Tim Cook was ranked No. 69 with a 92% approval rating. It was bad news for Cook, who continues to see his approval rating slip. In 2012, he was first on Glassdoor’s list with a 97% approval rating and then hovered around No. 10 in subsequent years. But his showing this year was better than in 2018, when he was ranked No. 96.

Three new iPhones coming in 2020. Maybe

TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said this week that he expects Apple to introduce three new iPhones in 2020 with screen sizes of 6.7 inches, 6.1 inches, and 5.4 inches. Kuo, who cited unnamed sources, but is one of the more accurate Apple predictors, said that the 6.7-inch and 5.4-inch models would each support high-speed 5G connections that carriers like Verizon and AT&T are rolling out.

One more thing

Apple is trying a few new things in its Apple Stores, Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac reported this week. The report said that Apple is adding new displays inside stores about iPhones that that more completely describe their features. Apple Watch display tables have also been changed to make it easier to find a watchband that goes with a particular Apple Watch face, according to the report.

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