[News] Foxconn Faces Chinese Tax Investigation, May Shift More iPhone Orders to Rivals

Chinese media reported on the 22nd that China’s regulatory authorities are conducting investigations into Foxconn’s factories in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Henan, and Hubei. This comes at a time when Apple’s iPhone 15 series is in full production and seeing high shipment volumes. The investigation may potentially impact the production capacity of the iPhone 15. Market rumors suggest that Apple is considering gradually shifting orders to competitors, which could benefit companies like Luxshare Precision and Pegatron.

According to Taiwan’s Commercial Times, in response to the recent tax inspection, Foxconn emphasized on the 22nd that it would actively cooperate with relevant agencies in their operations. Major suppliers for iPhone 15 lenses, Largan Precision and Genius Electronic Optical, declined to comment on the situation with individual clients but emphasized that their current shipments are not affected.

Influenced by strong competition from Chinese smartphones, including Huawei, and concerns about overheating issues, the appeal of the iPhone 15 has waned, and the highly anticipated iPhone 15 Pro Max’s popularity has declined. In the Asian market, waiting times for the sought-after titanium alloy casing iPhone have been substantially reduced. Shipping times have decreased to approximately two weeks, while in-store pickup can be as fast as three days. Signs of cooling demand are also appearing in Europe and the United States.

Tech industry insiders note that even though demand for the iPhone 15 has decreased, Apple is still considering expanding its supply chain to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

In addition, samples of iPhone 16 components and designs are in the sampling stage, with plans to finalize them by January of next year. The recent tax inspection controversy involving Foxconn, combined with the fact that its competitor, Luxshare, has obtained the assembly NPI (New Product Introduction) for the 2024 iPhone 16 Pro Max, further strengthens Luxshare’s presence in the iPhone business. Its share of manufacturing is expected to increase significantly next year.

Furthermore, Luxshare has already become the primary assembly factory for Apple Watch and AirPods, and in 2020, it acquired two iPhone production lines from Wistron. Luxshare is also a major producer for Vision Pro, representing Apple’s accelerated localization efforts and a move away from its dependency on Foxconn.

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(Photo credit: Apple)


[News] China Lost 180 Million Orders from the Rise of India’s Mobile Phones Manufacturing

Source to China Times, as India continues to solidify its position in the global mobile phone manufacturing supply chain, industry analysts predict significant shifts in production dynamics. Apple, for instance, is expected to move 25% of its production to India by 2025, in addition to Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo, which have already established manufacturing operations in the country. This trend has led to a scenario where India has substantially reduced its reliance on importing mobile phones from China, posing a substantial challenge to Chinese smartphone manufacturers and potentially resulting in the loss of annual orders for up to 180 million devices.

TrendForce believes that while Apple has such plans in place, the actual execution and achievement of these goals may face challenges.

The typical process of an iPhone involves design work at Apple’s headquarters in the United States, the use of main chips from American chip manufacturers and foundry services from TSMC, key components supplied by companies in Japan and South Korea, and the provision of remaining parts by Chinese manufacturers. The final assembly takes place at Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou, China, before the phones are air-shipped to destinations worldwide.

Since September of the previous year, an increasing number of consumers have noticed the label “Assembled in India” on the packaging of their iPhone 14 devices. This indicates that a growing proportion of Apple’s phones are being produced in India. Apple’s plan to shift 25% of its production to India by 2025 aligns with this trend.

Meanwhile, Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi, OPPO, and vivo are also actively manufacturing in India, and Samsung currently produces all of its flagship phones in the country. These developments are reshaping the landscape of mobile phone trade between China and India. In 2014, China exported a staggering 180 million phones to India annually. However, as India’s mobile manufacturing ecosystem matures, its reliance on importing complete phones from China has dwindled.

Data from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) reveals that, following Indian Prime Minister Modi’s “Make in India” push in 2015, India’s share of globally manufactured phones surged to 11%, surpassing Vietnam and making it the second-largest mobile phone manufacturing country after China. Additionally, statistics show that from 2014 to 2022, India’s cumulative mobile phone production exceeded 2 billion units, with a CAGR growth rate of 23%. (Image credit: Apple)

(Source: https://www.chinatimes.com/newspapers/20231004000745-260309?chdtv)

The Repair Market Drives 2023 Smartphone Panel Growth, Estimated at 300 Million Units

In 2023, driven by the demand from the repair market and the surge in the second-hand smartphone trend, the shipment volume of smartphone panels is expected to increase by 8.7% to reach an estimated 1.85 billion units. According to further estimates by TrendForce, the demand for panels from the repair market alone is projected to reach 300 million units, accounting for 16.2% of the overall shipment volume.

Playing a crucial role in the smartphone repair market is undoubtedly the iPhone.

TrendForce analysis reveals that half of the smartphone repair market size comes from the Chinese market, with approximately half of that market size originating from the repair of iPhone second-hand devices. When examining the iPhone repair market, models from 1 to 2 years prior to the current year play a pivotal role in meeting demand.

From a component perspective, the prices of TDDI for repair purposes generally tend to be slightly higher compared to those offered to brand customers, with a premium ranging from about 5-10%. However, these prices can exhibit more significant fluctuations based on market conditions, including increased pricing during shortages and more room for price adjustments in times of oversupply.

Regarding panel supply, Chinese panel manufacturers, rather than Taiwanese counterparts, dominate the repair market supply due to easier access to the South China market.

The specifications for repair panels are relatively diverse, with HD/FHD and OLED panels being used in the repair market. Notably, the A-si 900RGB specification, positioned between HD (1280×720) and Full HD (1920×1080), faces slow adoption in the new product market by smartphone brand customers. Consequently, panel manufacturers are prioritizing supply to the repair market. The primary aim of this supply strategy is to focus on iPhone repairs, providing a broader range of specifications and price combinations for iPhone repair services.


India Defers Import Restrictions on Electronics, Divergent Approaches by Taiwanese and American Brands

According to reports in the Indian media, India has decided to delay the implementation of import restrictions on electronic products such as laptops, tablets, and servers. This delay pushes the commencement date to November 2023. As a result, Taiwanese, American, and Chinese laptop manufacturers are now reevaluating their production strategies in India and expediting their applications for importing electronic goods.


BYD’s Acquisition of Jabil’s China Factory: Expanding Beyond iPhone Casings into EMS Orders

Last month, the primary iPhone casing supplier, American company Jabil, announced that it had reached a preliminary agreement with China’s prominent EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) firm, BYD, to sell its Mobile Business Unit for $2.2 billion. The completion of the subsequent transaction will depend on due diligence findings and final agreement terms.

TrendForce analysis reveals that as Jabil’s main focus in its Mobile Business Unit is iPhone casing manufacturing, the successful conclusion of this deal would leave iPhone casing supply primarily in the hands of Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers, potentially bolstering China’s position in the supply chain.

Furthermore, BYD’s acquisition of Jabil’s China Metal Business not only marks its formal entry into the iPhone supply chain, expanding its presence, but also signals its aspirations to become a supplier in the iPhone assembly business.

Jabil’s main production facilities for its Mobile Business Unit are located in Wuxi and Chengdu, China. Wuxi primarily handles iPhone aluminum frame manufacturing, while Chengdu focuses on stainless steel components. This year, the iPhone 15 Pro features a titanium alloy frame for the first time, and Jabil is a key supplier for this component.

In terms of operational performance, Jabil’s Wuxi facility, due to its smaller scale compared to Foxconn and Lens Tech, and lower product prices, has underperformed expectations. Conversely, Chengdu, responsible for high-end metal components, has superior technical capabilities and better performance.

Considering Jabil Group’s global footprint and the configuration of its key customer supply chains, the company had been seeking a buyer for some time. Initially, Luxshare was a contender in the acquisition, but a consensus on the purchase price was not reached, leading BYD to secure the deal at a higher price.

TrendForce believes that BYD’s acquisition presents an opportunity to replicate Lens Tech’s experience in acquiring the Catcher’s Taizhou factory in 2020, becoming a direct supplier of iPhone casings. Given Jabil’s involvement in both high-end and low-end iPhone casing businesses, BYD might even be in a position to directly compete with Foxconn for high-end orders. This move would make it difficult for Lens Tech, which still lacks a high-end product line and advanced manufacturing processes, to join the ranks of high-end product suppliers.

In the long term, TrendForce believes that BYD, which is already an iPad EMS supplier, aims to leverage its position in critical components to venture into iPhone EMS business in the future, expanding its EMS business footprint.

(Photo credit: BYD)

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