Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) manufacturing returning to the U.S.? Major Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry recently announced that it was considering opening a plant in Arizona, where it would manufacture panels for large-screen TVs, reports Reuters. Hon Hai Precision Industry, also called Foxconn, is perhaps best known as the maker of Apple’s iPad and iPhone products.
“Arizona has offered us very good commercial conditions,” said Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou via Reuters. “The U.S. market is huge.” The Taiwanese manufacturer’s announcement led some commentators to speculate that Hon Hai’s potential Arizona factory might be related to Apple’s recent partnership with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT).
As reported by Bloomberg, Apple is opening a plant in Mesa, Arizona, that will produce sapphire, an extremely hard and scratch-resistant material used as a protective cover for the iPhone’s camera lens and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Seeking Alpha noted that the sapphire facility will be owned by Apple while GT Advanced Technologies will own and operate the furnaces.
However, Gou dismissed speculation that the two facilities were related. “These are two separate things,” noted Gou via Reuters. “I only learned about it after reading newspapers.” Although Gou denied any connection with the Cupertino-based company, it should be noted that any deal between Hon Hai and Apple would likely be confidential anyways.
Apple’s sapphire plant is not the only manufacturing facility that will be supplying Apple in the southwest U.S. According to the Austin American-Statesman via MacRumors, Apple supplier Flextronics (NASDAQ:FLEX) has recently renovated its Austin, Texas, facility in order to make a “next generation desktop computer.” Although Flextronics refused to disclose further details about the computer, it is widely believed to be Apple’s redesigned Mac Pro.
Time will tell if Hon Hai’s Arizona panel-making facility is similarly related to a new Apple product. Could the large panels be intended for the long-rumored “iTV?” Here’s how Apple has traded over the past week.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)