Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group have faced criticism from labor- and worker-rights groups for the conditions at facilities where Apple products are made. Cook defended Apple’s practices, including enlisting the Fair Labor Association to audit Foxconn’s factories.
“We’re doing a number of things that I think are really great, really different, and industry-leading,” Cook said. “No one is looking at this as deeply as we are or going as deep in the supply chain.”
Foxconn itself has operations in the U.S. The company, which has 1.5 million of its global 1.6 million workforce in China, runs facilities in California as well as Houston, said Louis Woo, a spokesman. U.S. factories mostly make servers while larger operations in Mexico assemble consumer electronics such as TVs, he said. Woo declined to comment on Apple’s plans or specific clients and was unable to immediately say how many employees Foxconn has in the U.S.
Other companies that have said they’ll shift production back to the U.S. from overseas include Caterpillar Inc. and General Electric Co. Google Inc. this year delayed a wireless media device that it had pledged to build in California.
Cook, in the interview, also addressed his recent decision to revamp Apple’s management team to improve cooperation among groups. Senior Vice President Scott Forstall, a main architect of the iPhone software that’s now on more than 400 million Apple devices, was fired in October amid complaints that he clashed with other senior executives.
“These moves take collaboration to a whole different level,” Cook said, without discussing specific executives. “We already were -- to use an industry phrase that I don’t like -- best of breed. But it takes us to a whole new level. So that’s what it’s all about.”