A report from Chinese language tech site Tencent Tech (via investment news service BrightWire) claims that Apple has begun hiring high-end supply chain management experts in Pudong, with the aim of making the area a central hub to manage its southeast Asian supply partners. The publication reportedly got word from a member of Apple China's marketing department that the Shanghai facility was not being prepped for research and development duties.
Rumored Apple facility in Shanghai, China. | Source: CNET China
Other sources said previous indications that Apple intended the multi-building complex to be an R&D hub were based on flawed reports that CEO Tim Cook had promised to establish such a center in China during one of his previous visits to the country.
The future of Apple's Chinese operations has been a source of rumors for the past several months. Earlier accounts had the company establishing R&D and data centers in Beijing, but those soon gave way to claims that Pudong, Shanghai, would be the site of Apple's new facility.
Recently cited documentation from the Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce revealed that Pudong would be the location for some type of Chinese expansion on Apple's part, though the purpose of the space remains unknown.
Apple's products are designed in California but manufactured by the company's partners in China. Southeast Asia is also home to many of the companies that produce the components that go into Apple's best-selling devices, so locating a supply management center in the region could help the company exert greater control over its supply chain. Supply chain troubles have been a source of trouble for Apple of late, with iMac component issues beginning to impact sales and quarterly results.