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Long before Tim Cook became Apple’s boss, when his job was to wring costs out of the company’s supply chain, he learned of a problem with a supplier in China. “This is really bad,” he told his staff. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes later he saw one of his executives sitting at a table. “Why are you still here?” he asked quietly. The executive stood up, drove directly to San Francisco’s airport and bought a ticket to China.

在成为苹果公司的老板很久之前,当蒂姆库克的工作还是为了在公司的供应链中挤出成本时,他了解到了一个中国供应商的问题。“这很糟糕,”他告诉他的员工。“得有个人在中国处理这事。”三十分钟后他看到他的一个经理正坐在桌旁。“为什么你还在这儿?”他轻轻地问。经理站起身来,径直驱车前往旧金山的机场并买了飞往中国的机票。



Mr Cook’s bet on China extended beyond its factories to its consumers. Sales to the region have risen from next-to-nothing in 2010 to $52bn last year, or almost a fifth of Apple’s revenues. Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, “Tim Apple” (as America’s president once called him) has jetted to Washington and Beijing to try to ease rising trade tensions between the two superpowers. Horace Dediu, a technology analyst, says Mr Cook “knows how to navigate the political mind”.

不仅在工厂上面库克把宝押在中国,还有苹果公司的顾客。对中国地区的销售从2010年的几乎为零,增长到去年的520亿美元,几乎是苹果总收入的五分之一。自从2016年特朗普当选以来,“蒂姆•苹果”(因为美国总统曾这么称呼他)已经乘飞机去往华盛顿和北京以试图缓解两个强权之间日益升温的贸易紧张局势。贺拉斯•德度,一个科技分析师,评价库克“了解如何引导政治大脑”。

Given his reputation as a logistical mastermind, it is worth asking why he has ignored the first rule of supply-chain management: the risk of keeping too many important eggs in one basket. In Mr Cook’s case, that basket is China. The trade bust-up is getting uglier. If it leads to an anti-American backlash in China, it could spell trouble for Apple—and for Mr Cook personally.

考虑到他拥有一个非常具有逻辑性的策划大师的声誉,值得询问忽略了供应链管理的第一规则:将许多鸡蛋放在一个篮子里的风险。在库克的例子里,那个篮子就是中国。贸易的激烈争执正变得更加丑恶。如果这场政治争执导致了中国偏移向了反美,那么其可能会对苹果、以及库克自己招致麻烦。

Mr Cook’s lobbying has helped Apple avoid direct hits from Mr Trump’s tariffs, already imposed on $250bn-worth of Chinese imports. But its shares have fallen by almost 12% in the past month. On June 1st, after The Economist went to press, China was expected to retaliate with tariffs on $60bn of American goods, including components for Apple devices. Mr Trump has threatened a levy of 25% on $300bn more of imports if trade talks do not produce a breakthrough. This would cover the iPhone, by far Apple’s biggest source of revenue. Morgan Stanley, a bank, estimates that it could add $160 to the cost of a $999 iPhone xs. Apple could absorb the cost or pass it on to buyers. Either way, profits would suffer.

库克的游说已经帮助苹果避免了招致特朗普关税的直接打击,特朗普的关税已经施加在价值2500亿美元的来自中国的进口货物上了。但是过去一个月其份额已经降了几乎12%。六月一日,在经济学人杂志付梓之后,中国被猜测会采取报复,将对600亿美元的美国产品施加关税,包括苹果设备的部件。如果贸易谈判没有产生突破,特朗普威胁会对300亿或是更多的进口品施加25%的税。这一措施将会覆盖苹果手机,其也是目前为止苹果最大的利润来源。摩根士丹利银行预估这将会给价值999美元的苹果手机XS增加160美元的成本。苹果可以吸收这部分成本或者将其转嫁给消费者。不管怎样,利润都会受损。

A more immediate threat may be a Chinese reprisal for the Trump administration’s decision in May, on national-security grounds, to stop American companies from supplying Huawei, China’s tech champion (and the biggest seller of smartphones in China), with chips, software and other technology. A Chinese consumer boycott of Apple products could accelerate their shift towards other, cheaper brands. Because of the trade tensions, Citi, a bank, has halved its forecast for iPhone sales in China in the second half of this year, from almost 14.5m to 7.2m units.

一个更即可的威胁可能会是中国对特朗普政府在五月的决定所作出的报复行动,特朗普以国家安全为由,禁止美国公司向华为(中国的科技冠军同时也是中国智能手机最畅销的厂家)芯片、软件和其他技术。一场中国消费者对苹果产品的抵制可能会加速他们对其他更便宜品牌的转移。由于贸易紧张局势,花旗银行已经将对苹果手机在中国下半年的销售预期砍半了,从1450万部降到720万部。



One fix would be for Apple to develop another indispensable product that no self-respecting affluent Chinese consumer could do without. For all his success, Mr Cook has not yet managed this. Another would be to develop services that do not need production in China. Apple’s much-trailed announcement in March of new video-streaming, payments and other services shows it is trying. They may prove a hit, but would be no substitute for the iPhone. Mr Cook must be hoping that he has not miscalculated the risks to the supply chains he has so intricately engineered.

一个解决办法是苹果公司开发另外一个不可或缺的产品,没有一个自尊富裕的中国消费者会离得开。尽管他取得了许多成功,他还没能做到这一步。另一个办法是开发一些不需要中国产品的服务。苹果在三月关于视频流、支付和其他一些服务的很滞后的通告显示出它正在为此努力。这些服务可能会大受欢迎,但它们不能取代苹果手机。库克一定希望他没有错误估计这个他自己复杂地设计出的供应链所面临的风险。