President-elect Trump this week spoke to Tim Cook on the phone, and asked the Apple CEO to bring more of its manufacturing back to the US.
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"I said, 'Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you're making your product right here,'" Trump told journalists from the New York Times yesterday, according to a transcript of the conversation.
Trump said he promised Cook and other tech companies incentives for manufacturing stateside, including "a very large tax cut for corporations."
According to Trump, Cook responded with "I understand that."
The revelation comes after Nikkei last week reported that Apple in June asked Foxconn and another Taiwanese iPhone assembler Pegatron to look into what it would take to make iPhones in the states. "Foxconn complied, while Pegatron declined to formulate such a plan due to cost concerns," according to Nikkei.
In 2011, Steve Jobs reportedly scoffed at the idea of bringing iPhone production to the US when asked by President Obama what it would take to make that happen. "Those jobs aren't coming back," Jobs said at the time.
In 2012, Cook announced plans to bring some parts of Mac production to the US; Apple reportedly invested more than $100 million as part of that effort.
Trump, meanwhile, made manufacturing a key part of his campaign, vowing to stop US corporations from shipping their jobs overseas. "We're going to bring jobs back, big league. I've spoken to so many companies already, I say, don't plan on moving your company, 'cause you're not going to be able to move your company and sell us your product," Trump told the Times this week.
On the campaign trail, Trump called for a boycott of Apple over its encryption fight with the FBI. "Tim Cook is looking to do a big number, probably to show how liberal he is. But Apple should give up, they should get the security or find other people," the president-elect said during a February rally in reference to Apple's refusal to create an iOS backdoor for the FBI. The agency eventually gained access to the iPhone in question on its own.
In a post-election memo to staff, Cook did not address manufacturing. Instead, he discussed concerns about Trump's rhetoric. "Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world — regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love," he wrote.
For now, overseas production seems to be working well for Apple. Strategy Analytics this week reported that Apple captured a record 91 percent share of all smartphone profits worldwide during the third quarter. "Apple's ability to maximize pricing and minimize production cost is hugely impressive and the iPhone continues to generate monster profits," Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.
Huawei, Vivo and Oppo were the next three most profitable smartphone vendors globally during the quarter, but they were "a long way behind Apple," Sui said.
Trump, meanwhile, said he also got a "great call" from Bill Gates, who was in Washington, D.C. this week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, along with his wife Melinda Gates, from President Obama.
For more, see what PCMag's Evan Dashevsky and Juan Martinez have to say about Trump's call with Cook in today's episode of Random Access, embedded above.