India’s Quiet Push to Steal More of China’s iPhone Business

India is quietly grabbing from China more manufacturing of Apple’s iPhones and other electronics gear.

It is happening in South Indian industrial areas on muddy plots that were once farmland.

In Sriperumbudur, people call Apple “the customer,” not daring to say the name of a company that prizes its secrets.

But some things are too big to hide. Two gigantic dormitory complexes are springing up from the earth. Once finished, each will be a tight block of 13 buildings with 24 rooms per floor around an L-shaped hallway. Every one of those pink-painted rooms will have beds for six workers, all women. The two blocks will house 18,720 workers apiece.

It’s a ready-made scene from Shenzhen or Zhengzhou, the Chinese cities famous for their iPhone production prowess. And it’s no wonder.

Sriperumbudur, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is the home of the expanding Indian fortress of Foxconn, the Taiwanese-based company that has long played the largest role in producing iPhones. And as recently as 2019, about 99 percent of them were made in China.

A building under construction with cranes and people working on top.
New dormitories in Sriperumbudur will house more than 37,000 workers. Atul Loke for The New York Times

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