Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products. * * *Not since some decades ago, anyway.
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
Some other points in the article bear thought: America needs more engineers, and the Chinese government subsidizes costs for many industries. But the bottom line seems to be that with armies of indentured laborers, China makes it possible for Apple to make last-minute decisions (having insufficiently thought out its product) and still get its product out on time.
Read the whole article; it's also discussed at TNR (which latched onto the same quote I found so remarkable).