Buying iPhones and AirPods could get easier as Apple suppliers scramble to exit China

AirPods 3 lying on table out of charging case
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Apple continues to put pressure on its suppliers as the company works to reduce its reliance on Chinese manufacturing.

A new report claims that one vital Apple partner is readying a huge investment in Vietnam, while expansion in India is also on the table. Goertek builds AirPods for Apple, and the company is keen to make sure that it doesn't have all of its eggs in a Chinese basket.

One Goertek executive says that representatives from multiple companies are applying pressure to ensure that they don't need Chinese manufacturing to the extent that saw the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing lockdowns grind local factories to a halt.

$280 million and counting

Bloomberg reports that Goertek is set to invest $280 million in a new Vietnam plant while there could also be a further expansion into India. Deputy Chairman Kazuyoshi Yoshinaga says that companies regularly ask how quickly Goertek can move out of China.

While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted worldwide manufacturing, the way the Chinese government handled local infections caused particular problems for companies like Apple. Plants owned by iPhone 14 assembler Foxconn were badly affected by local lockdowns and high infection rates — an issue that meant buying Apple's best iPhones became almost impossible towards the end of 2022. Stocks were badly affected because the iPhone 14 Pro plant in Zhengzhou simply couldn't stay open long enough to build the handsets Apple needed.

That, coupled with ongoing concerns surrounding relations between the United States and China have Apple and other companies nervous.

Bloomberg reports that "nine out of 10 of Apple’s most important suppliers may be preparing large-scale moves to countries like India," but the Goertek exec thinks it'll happen quicker.

The same executive believes that 90% of Chinese tech manufacturers are looking to expand their operations beyond their home country, whether that's in Vietnam or India.

Foxconn, the troubled iPhone assembler, is said to be looking to expand its own Indian operations.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.