China’s Ascendant Apple Notebook Supply Chain: Taiwanese Firms Shift to Secure Orders

2023-09-12 Consumer Electronics editor

The Chinese supply chain, led by Luxshare Precision, has secured Apple AirPods and iPhone assembly orders, while another ODM manufacturer Wingtec Technology, is gradually taking a slice of Taiwan-based orders. This development is poised to impact orders from Apple’s notebook computer between Taiwanese and Chinese factories, creating a ripple effect within the whole supply chain.

TrendForce’s Perspective:

  • Taiwanese Manufacturers Face Reallocated Apple Notebook Orders as Chinese Suppliers Strengthen Their Position

Regarding Apple, MacBook assembly was primarily handled by Taiwanese manufacturers Quanta and Foxconn until 2022. With Chinese firm Wingtec progressing from small-scale trial production to mass production of M1 MacBook Air, according to reports in Chinese media, Wingtec’s Yunnan Kunming factory has also received 3C quality certification for M2 chips. This confirms that Wingtec Technology will take on a portion of the future MacBook Air orders. As Foxconn secures the production of larger MacBook Pro models, this shift will primarily affect Quanta’s share in producing Apple computers. Wingtec is set to become the first Chinese factory to manufacture complete Apple MacBook Air units. If Wingtec consistently meets Apple’s product quality requirements and secures additional orders, the fourth quarter of 2023 will become a battleground for Taiwanese manufacturers defending their orders for Apple notebook computers.

  • The Taiwanese factories are accelerating the relocation of Apple notebook order production bases to Southeast Asia.

Given the slower recovery of the COVID-19 situation in China, rising labor costs, production capacity constraints, and restricted order volumes approved by customers, various electronic contract manufacturers have shifted their production focus to Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Configuring production capacities for new and existing models, operating new factories, and rapidly transitioning supply chains are challenges of Taiwanese factories.

As Apple’s revenue from notebook computer products gradually contracts, the company is actively pressuring contract manufacturers to lower their product quotes. Additionally, China faces difficulties in recruiting workers, with local manufacturing labor transitioning into service-oriented roles such as live streaming, food delivery, and ride-hailing. This labor shortage has prompted Apple to actively demand that Taiwanese contract manufacturers accelerate the adoption of automation equipment to streamline factory operations, increase production output, and reduce labor costs. In light of the pressure from Apple’s orders and the emergence of the Chinese notebook computer supply chain, Taiwanese factories need to undergo further transformation to maintain their alignment with Apple and offer greater productivity and price advantages.

(Photo credit: Apple)