PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (3): 395-406.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.03.009

• Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Value allocation and China’s evolving role in the global value chains of iPhone parts

Jiangjiang KANG1,2(), Fan ZHANG1,2,*(), Yuemin NING1,2   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2018-07-24 Revised:2019-01-17 Online:2019-03-28 Published:2019-03-28
  • Contact: Fan ZHANG;
  • Supported by:
    Key Project of Key Research Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Universities, Ministry of Education, No. 17JJD790007;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41701181 and 41701192.


Based on the data of Apple suppliers from 2012 to 2017, this study conducted an empirical analysis of the global value chains of iPhone parts, and the changing role of Chinese enterprises according to the cost value of different parts of mobile phone. The conclusions are as follows: Firstly, suppliers of the key parts were mainly located in the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and they were in the core of value chain governance; while the important and general components were mainly from Japan and Chinese mainland and Taiwan, China. Secondly, the production of most parts was completed in Chinese mainland and Southeast Asia. In recent years, Chinese mainland's status of the "world factory" for general parts of iPhone has been further consolidated, but at the same time, breakthroughs have been made in some important links of the value chains, and Chinese mainland has gradually moved to the high end of the value chain. Thirdly, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Chengdu-Chongqing region, and the Central Plains have become the core production base of iPhone's components. iPhone parts industrial clusters have been formed in the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, and they have become the main base for Chinese mainland's enterprises to embed in iPhone's global value chain. The Chengdu-Chongqing region is not only the base for chip companies, but also the location for assemblying and packaging services at the low end of the value chain, which indicates the two-way acceptance at both ends of the value chain. The regions around the Bohai Bay, Fujian Province, Hunan Province, and some other places mainly carry on the production of the medium part of the value chain, while the Central Plains mainly carry on the production of the mobile phone assembly and packaging services. Finally, we analyzed the driving factors that upgraded Chinese mainland's status in the global value chains.

Key words: distribution pattern of value, global value chain, iPhone parts, China