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Tim Culpan

Apple’s US Chip Move Is as Much About Marketing as Technology

The iPhone maker is eager to crow about US-manufactured chips. But it’s more for show than a real move back to America.

A symbolic gesture.

A symbolic gesture.

Photographer: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg

You can just picture it now. It’s 2025 and Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has just taken the stage to announce the company’s latest gadget. It’s faster, more powerful, and in every way better than the previous iteration. And, one more thing: it features chips made in the US of A. The crowd applauds.

Apple, its key component supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., US Congress, and the Arizona state government have been working up to this moment since early 2020. Dozens of press releases have been written, billions of dollars spent, and numerous speeches given lauding America’s return to chip supremacy. Having once been a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing, the world’s great superpower ceded control to Taiwan, which plays host to more than 90% of the planet’s leading-edge capacity.