Tripp Mickle and Peter Nicholas, Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Trump, in a 45-minute interview with The Wall Street Journal, said Mr. Cook promised him Apple would build “three big plants, beautiful plants.” Mr. Trump didn’t elaborate on where those plants would be located or when they would be built.
“I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he’s promised me three big plants—big, big, big,” Mr. Trump said as part of a discussion about business-tax reform and business investment. “I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward.”
This is purely my own speculation, but I doubt Trump is representing Cook’s comments accurately, which should come as no surprise. Consider which one of these scenarios is more likely:
Apple, which owns a single factory of its own, in Ireland, is planning a radical change to its supply chain and manufacturing processes by quadrupling their factory ownership; or,
Cook told Trump that their primary contract manufacturer is looking at three factory sites in the U.S. to make products for Apple and, potentially, other companies.
I’m not a gambler, but the second scenario sounds far more likely to me. Not only is it consistent with Alex Webb’s report for Bloomberg yesterday, it also fits with previous geographic expansions by Foxconn in Brazil and India, and Flextronics — another one of Apple’s contract manufacturers — in the U.S..
Furthermore, I’m surprised anyone in tech continues to associate with Trump. I understand that Cook probably felt compelled to placate Trump’s incessant whining about China and delay the implementation of a potential import tariff, but Trump frequently does not accurately represent what he’s told. That’s another reason I doubt it’s the first situation: like everyone else, Cook knows that Trump cannot keep his mouth shut, and — without pretending that I know at all what Cook’s thoughts are — I doubt that he’d want an unpopular president spoiling such a significant announcement.