What's Up With Apple: Foxconn to Build Cars, Apple Brand Loyalty, Legal Win in France

In early 2017, just a few days after Donald Trump was inaugurated, Taiwan-based manufacturing giant Foxconn announced that it planned to build a factory in the United States. A year later, Trump joined now-former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and others to break ground for the plant after the state agreed to chip in $3 billion to get the deal rolling. The site remains empty except for a few shovel holes, but that may be about to change.

On Tuesday, Foxconn, the world’s largest maker of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, said it may use the Wisconsin site to build electric vehicles (EVs). The company’s chairperson, Young Liu, said that the company will decide by July whether to build the plant in Wisconsin or at a site in Mexico. Liu did not say that the plant would build Apple Cars. In fact, he referred to the Apple Car project as “a rumor.”

Liu has learned over the years that Apple doesn’t like leaks, a lesson that Hyundai-Kia hadn’t learned, and it may have cost the Korean automaker a shot at building the rumored Apple Car.

Foxconn already has signed manufacturing agreements with China-based EV startup Byton and U.S.-based Fisker to build EVs for the global market.

Everyone knows that Apple customers are loyal to the brand, but it can be hard to put a number on that loyalty. A new survey by SellCell, a website for selling used smartphones, indicates that nearly 91.9% of iPhone owners plan to buy another iPhone when they make their next upgrade. That’s an all-time high, beating the 91.4% score posted in 2019.

According to a report in MacRumors, brand loyalty plunged among Samsung owners, falling from 85.7% in 2019 to just 74% in the new survey.

Nearly two-thirds of iPhone owners (65%) said they like the iPhone best or have never had a problem with it. A fifth (21%) say they are locked into the iPhone ecosystem, and switching to Android is too much trouble for another 10%.

More than a third of iPhone owners (38%) who do plan to switch say they are doing so because another brand has better technology, and more than a quarter (28.4%) say they prefer the design of another brand. About half of those who say they’ll switch plan to go with Samsung and half say they’ll go to Google’s Pixel phones.

The head of the French competition authority, Isabelle de Silva, rejected on Wednesday a complaint from advertising firms and publishers to block Apple’s new transparency tracking feature as anti-competitive. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the ruling, de Silva said that Apple’s plan “doesn’t appear to be abusive.”

She continues, “We can’t intervene just because there might be a negative impact for companies in the ecosystem. At this stage, we haven’t found flagrant examples of discrimination.”

The regulators plan to continue investigating whether Apple’s planned transparency feature could be “self-preferencing,” imposing stricter standards on third-party apps than it does on itself. That investigation could drag into next year, de Silva said.