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The iPhone Economy

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

There are numerous reasons for the transformation, however the need for an “unscratchable” glass screen might be the single most important reason it happened almost overnight.  The story goes… in 2007, a little more than a month before the scheduled release of the iPhone, Steve Jobs called a meeting to discuss the prototype of the device he’d been carrying in his pocket.  Mr. Jobs angrily held up his iPhone  and pointed out all of the tiny scratches distorting the view of the plastic screen.  He then pulled out a set of keys from his iconic jeans and shifted the collar of his black mock neck shirt, stating that people will carry this phone in their pocket along with their keys.  “I won’t sell a product that gets scratched,” he said.  “I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.  And the rest is history.  Plane tickets were booked to China, the only place this could be accomplished, and the rise of foreign manufacturing of Apple products began.

Check out the NY Times article on “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work” for more information.