The first of three “big, beautiful” plants President Donald Trump claims Apple CEO Tim Cook recently promised to build on US soil in the near future is indeed getting made. Only it’s technically not an Apple-operated factory, and it’s unlikely to accommodate any actual iPhone domestic production, at least to begin with.
Instead, Taiwan-based Foxconn, which is Cupertino’s most critical device assembly partner, as well as the world’s single largest contract electronics manufacturer, plans to use its upcoming 20-million square foot Wisconsin facility mainly for LCD panel development.
All current iPhones and iPads, of course, sport liquid-crystal displays, but the former family is expected to start a move to OLED technology this year, and possibly leave LCDs behind altogether by the end of 2018. 2019, at the latest.
Foxconn subsidiary Sharp should ultimately get with the times and make a similar transition soon, though the Japanese brand’s big-screen TVs will probably continue to rely heavily on the “old” gold standard of color reproduction, brightness and clarity.
Enter this long-in-the-works $10 billion US investment, which Donald Trump adamantly proclaimed would have never happened under a different POTUS at a typically bombastic White House event on Wednesday. Trump may have even picked the perfect spot for the mammoth construction himself, although Foxconn CEO Terry Gou announced no clear location just yet. He merely smiled, waved and highlighted his satisfaction with a deal offering the company no less than $3 billion in incentives including tax breaks and subsidies.
Gou also appeared to hint at additional investments of an identical nature down the line, aiming to change the sorry state of American TV manufacturing “starting today in Wisconsin.”
Still, it could take up to four years for this first plant to be erected, at which point Foxconn is looking to employ more than 10,000 people. A great potential start indeed, but there’s a long way to go for the US to catch up to China’s domination in the consumer electronics production industry.