Apple is giving engineers in China more responsibility over manufacturing processes

Apple is giving engineers based in China more responsibility in managing its hardware manufacturing processes, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. Before the pandemic, Apple frequently sent US-based engineers to the country to help oversee development, but the report says the company now leans more on China-based engineers given increased border restrictions due to COVID-19.

However, Apple’s US-based engineers are still involved with overseas development efforts remotely, according to The Wall Street Journal‘s report:

The iPhone maker has also adopted some technology, including live-streaming, that helps staff based at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., remotely follow what’s happening on China’s factory floors, the people said. Apple has used iPads to communicate and augmented-reality tools to help technical experts in Cupertino check factory issues, one of the people said.

And “key decisions” and product design still take place primarily at Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Apple is famous for its supply chain mastery, and many of the factories it relies on for manufacturing are based in China. But the global chip shortage and COVID-19-related disruptions, including lockdowns in China, have thrown some major wrenches into the company’s operations — so much so that CEO Tim Cook said in the company’s Q2 earnings call that it expects a revenue hit “in the range of $4 billion to $8 billion” in the current quarter.

Rumors suggest the company is working on many new products for this year, including the iPhone 14 lineup, a redesigned MacBook Air (though reports differ on if it will have an M1 or M2 processor), and the second-generation AirPods Pro. It’s unclear whether the development of these products has been slowed down despite Apple’s adjustments. And, if disruptions continue, there’s always the chance Apple may release some of them later than expected.

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