Trump offers Tim Cook 'incentives' to make iPhone in US

Technically Incorrect: In his sit-down with The New York Times, the president-elect describes his version of a call with the Apple CEO.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


He wants to do a deal with Apple?

Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Donald Trump has a lot of talking to do these days.

It's heartening, then, that he's good at it.

During his highly informative meeting with The New York Times on Tuesday -- happily live-tweeted by Times journalists -- Trump touched on the phone calls he'd had with two prominent tech figures, Tim Cook and Bill Gates.

He was more expansive about his phone call with Cook. He said the Apple CEO had called him, presumably to congratulate him and explain why he didn't help fund the Republican Convention.

Trump related their conversation like this: "I said, 'Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you're making your product right here.'"

What might Cook have replied? Trump said Cook showed understanding, which sounds a little short of gleeful enthusiasm.

So Trump pressed his case. He said he told Cook:"I think we'll create the incentives for you, and I think you're going to do it. We're going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you'll be happy about."

Which corporation wouldn't delight in a tax cut? After all, it's awkward having to maneuver your money through Ireland, in order not to pay heavy taxes for bringing it back to the US.

One small issue, however, is whether iPhones would cost a lot more if manufacture was returned to the motherland.

But Trump had more to offer Cook. He said he also offered to deregulate, well, a lot of things.

He said: "Whether you're liberal or conservative, I mean I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous. It's gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can't, they can't even start up, they can't expand, they're choking."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for confirmation or comment on Trump's version of the call.

One can imagine, however, that Cook doesn't yet warm to a president-elect who suggested boycotting Apple products after Cupertino refused to hack an iPhone issued to one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Trump, though, isn't the only political figure who believes Apple should produce more in the US. (It does make Mac Pros and some iPhone components here.) Sen. Bernie Sanders is another who wants Apple to return manufacturing here.

Perhaps the most heartening thing for those who would like to see hearty Apple-Trump relations is that the president-elect seems to be taking on a more pragmatic, deal-making tone.

During the election campaign he was a little more forceful about Cupertino's renegade nature. In a speech at Liberty University, he said: "We're going to get Apple to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries."

Those of jaundice and bitterness will huff that Trump may stand to personally benefit from Apple's continued success. After all, he's declared that he owns millions of dollars of Apple stock.

The president-elect explained to the Times that there is no cause for concern.

"The president can't have a conflict of interest," he said. This is what I believe in business they call a win-win situation.

Close
Drag