New Apple CEO Tim Cook will make no changes to its outsourcing recipe.
That’s my take, based on an assessment of the iPhone maker’s balance sheet.
Cook, of course, has been named to succeed Steve Jobs, who has been fighting a particularly deadly form of cancer.
Foxconn is telling reporters the change at the top won’t impact the companies’ relationship. I couldn’t agree more. It can’t. Much like the US-China relationship, Apple needs Foxconn, and Foxconn needs Apple. Apple carries some $11 billion worth of outstanding off-balance sheet commitments for outsourced manufacturing and components, plus another $1.6 billion committed to manufacturing equipment, presumably for the Foxconn-run plants.
Why would Apple commit all that cash to equipment purchases, when it does not have the internal capacity to build product itself? Because it owns the machines in the Foxconn plant. Although Foxconn has moved much of its Shenzhen campus operations inland to take advantage of lower labor costs, rumor has it the site remains open solely for the benefit of Apple. Apple is said to pay Foxconn roughly $6 for every finished working assembly.
With demand for Apple’s iPads, iPhones, Macs and iPods cresting, it couldn’t leave if it wanted to. If anything, Foxconn is in better position to absorb the loss of Apple than the other way around.