Why Cook Won’t Change Apple’s EMS Recipe

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.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (pcea.net). He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow