Hundreds of millions of iPhones have been produced in China to date. It's a scale that was unimaginable just a decade ago and is now almost taken for granted, as is the situation in which they're produced.
It all centers on Zhengzhou, a city of six million people in an impoverished region of China. Running at full tilt, the factory here, owned and operated by Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn, can produce 500,000 iPhones a day. Locals now refer to Zhengzhou as "iPhone City."
The local government has proved instrumental, doling out more than $1.5 billion to Foxconn to build large sections of the factory and nearby employee housing. It paved roads and built power plants.
It helps cover continuing energy and transportation costs for the operation. It recruits workers for the assembly line. It pays bonuses to the factory for meeting export targets.
All of it in support of iPhone production.
There's been a lot of talk about the cost of iPhone production, both in regards to jobs in America, where Apple is headquartered, and the impact on the lives of the factory workers in China.
It's an incredibly complex situation, though, that's seldom been treated with anything approaching the nuance or insight needed to really understand what makes manufacturing in China so advantageous and what price is paid beyond the manufacturing, by everyone.
The Times does a good job digging deeper, and also looking at the politics and the rising tide of nationalism in both the U.S. and China, and what that might mean for the future.
Imagine a world where Apple had to build every iPhone sold in every country in that country? Or where every iPhone is built in a giant undersea facility, in International waters, by a robot workforce?
Check out the Times piece and let me know what you think.