Peter Griffin, Contributor. 27 April 2021, 9:59 am
Facing regulator scrutiny of its App Store policies and growing tech rivalry between the US and China, Apple is doubling down at home with plans to add 20,000 jobs across the US.
Apple in 2018 unveiled plans to spend US$350 billion creating new jobs, new premises and innovation infrastructure that would cement its leadership in phone and computer hardware and software. That commitment has now been topped up to the tune of US$80 billion over five years, the centrepiece of which is a new campus Apple will build in North Carolina’s Research Triangle.
More than US$1 billion will be spent on the campus which will create 3,000 jobs in the state. Apple said it is nearing completion of its Austin Texas campus, which also involved a US$1 billion investment and would make additional investments in people and infrastructure in Colorado, Massachusetts, Washington and Iowa.
The diversification of its operations away from Silicon Valley will please governors and state representatives who are increasingly active in pursuing tech companies for anticompetitive practices. Apple’s move to North Carolina, in particular, is symbolic of that struggle – its new campus will be near that of major games maker Epic Games, which is locked in legal action with Apple over its App Store policies, which Epic Games alleges unfairly forces it to use Apple’s payment platform. A court case on the issue kicks off next week.
An artist’s impression of Apple’s soon to be completed Austin campus
Beyond the Valley
The spread of the investments helps Apple attract the best talent from across the country – the eye-watering rents in the San Francisco Bay area have been a turn-off to tech workers, and certainly has a political angle.
But the innovation and manufacturing spending also points to the areas of technology Apple sees as increasingly important to its future. Apple still relies heavily on Chinese companies for the assembly of its devices. But its investment in manufacturing suggests it sees increasing scope to do more manufacturing at home, particularly of the high-value technology components.
With tensions over Chinese companies such as Huawei, which is currently banned from collaborating with US tech companies, Apple is no doubt also sensing an opportunity to be at the heart of a bolstered US tech ecosystem, which has fallen behind in areas such as 5G infrastructure and next-generation computer chip design.
Some of the other innovation and manufacturing investments Apple plans to make as part of its US$430 billion investment plan (read the whole list here):
Indiana: A new $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund investment to open a state-of-the-art facility and distribution centre in Clayton, which will be operated by XPO Logistics, will accelerate delivery timelines and personalization. The award is expected to create around 500 jobs at the facility.
Kentucky: Corning was the first recipient of an award from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund, and has received $450 million to support research and development into state-of-the-art glass processes, equipment, and materials. These awards led to the creation of Ceramic Shield, a new material that is tougher than any smartphone glass. Apple’s investment has helped support more than 1,000 jobs across Corning’s US operations in Kentucky and other facilities.
Texas: Apple began working with II-VI in Sherman, Texas, in 2017 as part of the company’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund. The laser technology that II-VI manufactures in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois are integral components that help power Face ID, along with Memoji, Animoji, and more.
Iowa: The design process is underway for Apple’s new data centre, which is expected to create over 500 construction and operations jobs in Waukee. Apple is supporting community infrastructure programs, including the creation of Triumph Park, a 66-acre recreation area.
California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Washington: Apple is spending tens of billions of dollars across these nine states in silicon engineering and 5G technology – two pivotal fields shaping the future of next-generation consumer electronics. With the launch of the 5G-enabled iPhone 12 lineup and the new iPad Pro, Apple has helped expand and expedite 5G adoption across the country, driving innovation and significant job growth among companies that support 5G innovation and infrastructure. The company also recently expanded its New Silicon Initiative – designed to prepare students for careers in hardware engineering and silicon chip design – to engineering programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country.