As China continues to recover from its COVID spikes and lockdowns, Apple has asked suppliers to shift more iPad production to Vietnam.
China's zero-tolerance coronavirus measures have been effective, but the disruption caused by mass factory closures is continuing. With over half of Apple's main suppliers around the Shanghai region affected, iPad production has been hit and the company is reportedly working to compensate.
According to Nikkei Asia, Apple is moving some iPad production away from China, and to Vietnam. The publication claims this is the "first time ever" that Apple has done this.
However, Apple asked Foxconn to move iPad and MacBook Pro production from China to Vietnam in 2020. And a previous Nikkei report from January 2021 says that Apple was planning to move a significant proportion of iPad manufacture there.
That particular report claimed that Apple's move of production could happen by the middle of 2021. Nikkei Asia says that a COVID surge in 2021 delayed the plans.
Nikkei Asia also says that alongside current plans to move production, Apple has worked with China's BYD company to build iPad production lines in Vietnam. This is expected to be operational soon, but may initially produce only a small number of iPads.
At the same time, Apple is reportedly also asking many component suppliers to build up their stock inventories. Generally, Apple avoids tying up capital in inventory, but the aim now is to protect against future shortages and supply problems.
More unspecified sources have told the publication that Apple is particularly looking to suppliers to secure supplies of certain processors, for the forthcoming iPhone 14.