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3 reasons Apple’s supply chain is broken 

Apple’s broken supply chain system – the closed loop system

Supply chain

As you’ll know if you read my blogs regularly, I have been ordering some new Apple gear recently. Over past weeks, I have talked about the supply chain system issues and global chip shortages. As it turns out, these are not just words on a page, but are an actual ‘thing’, with human costs attached!

Real-world examples

After months of deliberation, in March, I finally decided to put my money where my mouth was, and order a Studio Display and a highly spec’d 16” MacBook Pro . I was ordering at the end of March, and at that point, my due dates were early May for the MacBook and mid-June for the display. Not perfect, but hey…no point stressing over it, right? Orders placed, just a case of being patient, and waiting for the “it’s on its way” email. Well, I did get an email, on the first due date, 4th May. Heading to my inbox with anticipation was a mistake though! The date for the MacBook was now July! That would have been around a 12-week lead time (and only an estimate). The current due date for the display is anywhere from 30th May – 15th June. I wouldn’t be surprised if that gets bumped back yet, too.

Let’s take a look

Looking at Apple’s site today, here are some examples of the earliest  delivery dates currently expected;

– 10.9” iPad Air, Wi-Fi, 64GB – 14th June 

– M1 Ultra Mac Studio, 48-core GPU & 64GB unified memory – 5th July 

– Base M1 Pro 14” MacBook Pro – 5th July 

– Base M1 MacBook Air – 29th June 

…you get my point! We live in an age where we expect same day, or at worst, next day delivery, yet with Apple, we are waiting over a month for a basic M1 MacBook Air. With the advent of Apple Silicon, we are seeing some of their best ever products. It’s truly a halcyon period for the company. The speed, efficiency, and productivity of the current range is amazing. And, they have listened as well. We now have ports galore, MagSafe, HDMI ports, SD card slots…we finally have all that we have asked for, but for one crucial little point. We can’t actually buy them! I got lucky with my MacBook and found the only one in the UK and took delivery of it last week. No such joy with the display, though. For that, the wait continues. 

Jon Prosser this week made a valid point, that the only way to get products now, is to wait for the next event. The moment they are announced on-stage, hit the ‘buy now button, or wait, and wait, and wait….

The human cost

I have been as precious as the next person, in my safe, cocooned little world, constantly refreshing my order page, and looking to see when my products are on the way. This week, though, videos have emerged online, of the awful human cost attached to the supply chain. We saw workers at Quanta in China, who assemble MacBooks for Apple, almost rioting to try to break free from their working restrictions. China invoked something called a ‘Closed-Loop’ system in an effort to boost productivity. With COVID-19 still a very real, and present threat in China, they, all but, force the workers to stay locked in the production facility for months at a time.  Rather than testing everyone on arrival each day, they think it more effective, to not let anyone out! Can you imagine how that must feel? You are going to work – not jail! The job itself, must be tedious, but then to locked down….

The answer?

I have no idea, to be frank. Maybe Apple should be looking at other production facilities around the world. Perhaps, they have been guilty of placing all their eggs in the China basket. One thing must be for sure though, now these videos have broken out, Apple & Tim Cook cannot turn a blind eye any longer. Cook used to be the Chief Operations Officer. His job was to ensure supply of product. It is more than possible, many of these contracts had Cook’s input. They have a forceful environmental and humanitarian image. Now has to be the time to come forward and been seen  to be working toward stopping these outrageous working practices.

Be patient

So, when you are fretting over the delivery of your iPad, MacBook or Studio Display, go take a look at the Quanta videos, and take a reality check. We are lucky and privileged to be buying these products at all. I have been as guilty as the next person for wanting my products NOW, but when you witness the human cost, you know what, waiting does not seem such a bitter pill to swallow.

Getting involved

There are a number of ways to stay in touch with me. You could join my Discord Server here (https://discord.gg/tmMZPqhp) or, even, join up for my weekly newsletter. Every Sunday, I send out a free, newsletter video, chatting about what has been going on. You can add your name to the list here https://talkingtechandaudio.com.

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