COVID-19 lockdowns in and around Shanghai have severely impacted production for the MacBook Pro, to the point that 14-inch and 16-inch versions have been delayed to as far as August.
In response, Quanta Computer – the sole supplier of high-end MacBook Pro models – is looking into moving production to another location, according to DigiTimes, via MacRumors. One such location being investigated is the Chongqing factory, which is currently unaffected by the lockdown and would significantly decrease the lead times.
The decision to relocate production sites is an important one. During a recent earnings call, the tech giant stated that “supply constraints would disrupt its revenue for Q3 2022 by as much as $4 to $8 billion.” The Mac Observer notes that most of these logistic issues are because major manufacturers in Shanghai are only operating at 10 to 20% capacity thanks to labor shortages due to the strict lockdowns affecting the factories’ ability to operate.
Analysis: Will it be enough?
Though moving factories could help alleviate some of these production woes, it’s not a cure-all. Quanta can’t simply relocate all its Shanghai workers to Chongqing for instance. There’s also the issue of exposure risk, which could sideline even more workers.
Another significant issue is the ongoing global chip shortage, also caused mainly by the pandemic. Even if the labor shortages are remedied, the component supply issue means that the MacBook Pro supply most likely won’t be at normal levels.
It isn't clear how long this might take in terms of a transition, since the labor issue and component issue are two discrete things. Even if one clears up, the other might continue to delay shipments considerably, making this fall's release schedule even more up in the air than before.