Some monuments of globalization compete with the complex of the smartphone industry. This year, 1.5 billion devices are manufactured by millions of workers in hundreds of companies in dozens of countries. When you tap your screen, you touch an object as wonderful as the Javanese spices that appeared to Europeans in the 16th century. From a business point of view, the system is too important to fail. But this cosmopolitan miracle is subject to two threats: the extinction of the smartphone boom and the end of the golden age of globalization. To assess these risks, Schumpeter “tested” the financial strength of the supply chain. Overall, the country is in a reasonable state, but the long tail of weak societies is causing concern.
For decades, most consumer electronics manufacturers have manufactured their products close to home. Nokia hits hard while cell phones in the small town of Salo in Finland. In the 1990s, some pioneers, including Cisco and, later, Dell, outsourced manufacturing to a network of factories, mainly in Asia. It impressed Steve Jobs so much at Apple that in 1998, he called on supply chain expert Tim Cook. Cook has created a global archipelago of contract manufacturers and suppliers, which now has hundreds of key sites around the world.