Have you ever wondered who made that iPad tablet PC on your desk or the Google smartphone in your pocket? If you guessed Apple or Google, try again! Large companies often have little to do with the actual manufacturing of their own products. Big companies get all the credit for coming up with an idea or concept while the suppliers who work behind the scenes get none of the accolades. Without these smaller players, many products would never find their way into the marketplace. Here are a few of the suppliers that make the big brand name companies look good.
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Do you know who makes the Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) iPhone that you are making calls on? The answer is the Foxconn Technology Group. Foxconn is a Taiwanese subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry Company. Foxconn assembles and produces just about every Apple product including the iPhone, iPad and the iPod. You have probably never heard of the company but Foxconn is the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components in the world. Major tech firms like Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) and Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) contract Foxconn to manufacture their electronics. (For more, see The Best Time To Buy An iPad.)
Taiwanese company Compal Communications Inc. is one of the world's largest manufacturers of handsets. Compal is a major supplier to Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) as it manufactures many of Acer's Android handsets. Not only does Compal design many of the phones for the Android operating system but the firm just reportedly won a large contract to supply Android-based netbooks as well. Compal has also created phones for popular smartphone-makers Palm (Nasdaq:PALM) and Nokia.
Would you like to know more about Microsoft's (Nasdaq:MSFT) foray into the cell phone market with Windows Phone 7? If so, you may be better off asking Acer than Microsoft. Acer is responsible for the creation of at least eight different smartphone handsets that run Windows Mobile and Google Android operating systems. Acer contracts much of their work out to companies like Compal and Inventec Appliances.
Inventec is another Taiwanese manufacturer that develops everything from notebook computers to cell phones. Inventec Appliances Corporation has been contracted to develop Microsoft's Windows mobile based smartphones. HP and Toshiba also outsource much of their manufacturing work to Inventec.
Coca-Cola Enterprises (NYSE:CCE) is the largest bottler and producer of Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) products. Coca-Cola is the largest shareholder in the bottling company and uses Coca-Cola Enterprises to distribute its products worldwide. While you have surely heard of Coca-Cola, you may not have heard of some of the companies that Coca-Cola relies heavily on to make the containers for Coke products such as European suppliers Ball Packaging and Ardagh Glass.
Ball Packaging Europe won Coke's Supplier of the Year award supplying over 2.4 billion cans to Coca-Cola Enterprises in 2009. Ardagh Glass supplies many of the glass bottles that you see in store display cases.
Walmart guards its list of suppliers tighter than Fort Knox. With over 10,000 suppliers in China, Wal-Mart has been the "single largest U.S. importer of Chinese consumer goods for years now."
One supplier that is publicly known about is Lutex. Walmart buys household toiletries and beauty supplies from soap and cosmetics manufacturer Lutex. Lutex's products include soap, body cleansers, face washes, hair care products, grooming products, deodorizers, fragrances and makeup. Walmart depends upon low cost manufacturers like Lutex in order to sell low priced goods in the United States.
The Bottom Line
Although you may know the name of the big brand company that developed the idea for your product, the company that actually created, manufactured, and distributed the product often goes unnoticed. (For more, check out How Do Name-Brand Products Compete With Their Generic Competitors?)
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