Why your iPhone is ‘Designed by Apple in California,’ but made in China

Ian Sherr
2 min readAug 5, 2021


Robert Rodriguez/CNET

It seems pretty straightforward why Apple doesn’t make phones in the US. Labor costs are higher here, regulations are different and it’s much easier to find thousands of people in China willing to work a manufacturing line.

But when I started digging into it, there’s way more reason than that.

Apple’s approach to manufacturing tells a much larger story about work in America today. It’s about how we look at ourselves and our country, and what we want to be.

It’s about apprenticeships, and whether we train and retrain the right people for the right jobs.

It’s about how we inspire our kids to think about their careers. It’s about government action in some ways, and lack of it in others.

It’s about American pride in what we build, and whether you and I are willing to “do the legwork” to seek out and support businesses making stuff in our backyard, rather than merely ordering whatever online or from the big box store down the road.

Over the coming weeks and months, CNET is going to publish a series of stories about American manufacturing — what we still make here, why we do it and what it means.

Today we started with a story I wrote about what we can do to bring American manufacturing back.

You can read it here:


There’s a ton of fascinating and fun pieces planned. I hope you enjoy.



Ian Sherr

Editor at Large @cnet, formerly at WSJ, Reuters, AFP. Now, doomscroller covering Apple, Microsoft, gaming, VR, internet troubles. Say hello.