Coevolving Innovations

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Value capture in a global innovation network

With the primaries in the United States making headlines, Americans have been making noises about revisiting NAFTA. Michael Hart and William Dymond provided a Canadian perspective1, with a global perspective on the larger trends.

If our neighbours elect a Democratic president, Senate and House on Nov. 4, things could get ugly, as a falling U.S. dollar, the credit crunch and serious troubles in the housing market add to recession anxieties.

The target for much of that ugliness will be China and other low-cost suppliers to the U.S. consumer market. Most Americans do not have much understanding of the role of these suppliers in maintaining U.S. economic activity. Both politicians and the public fail to realize the benefit of Chinese manufacturing goods produced to U.S. design and using U.S. technology. A recent University of California study found that, of an Apple iPod sold in the U.S. for $299, $160 goes to American companies that design, transport and retail iPods. Only $4 stays in China with the firms that assemble the devices.

I was curious about that $4, and tracked down the report to the Personal Computer Industry Center (PCIC), part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The paper by Dedrick, Kramer and Linden2 has some interesting tables. Here’s a breakdown from the $299 retail price of the iPod.

Table 5. Derivation of Apple’s Gross Margin on 30GB Video iPod

Retail Price $299  
Distributor Discount
(10%)
($30)  
Retailer Discount
(15%)
($45)  
Sub-Total (estimated
wholesale price)
  $224
Factory Cost ($148)  
Remaining Balance
(estimated Apple gross margin)
  $76

Source: Authors’ calculations; see text

With the primaries in the United States making headlines, Americans have been making noises about revisiting NAFTA. Michael Hart and William Dymond provided a Canadian perspective1, with a global perspective on the larger trends.

If our neighbours elect a Democratic president, Senate and House on Nov. 4, things could get ugly, as a falling U.S. dollar, the credit crunch and serious troubles in the housing market add to recession anxieties.

The target for much of that ugliness will be China and other low-cost suppliers to the U.S. consumer market. Most Americans do not have much understanding of the role of these suppliers in maintaining U.S. economic activity. Both politicians and the public fail to realize the benefit of Chinese manufacturing goods produced to U.S. design and using U.S. technology. A recent University of California study found that, of an Apple iPod sold in the U.S. for $299, $160 goes to American companies that design, transport and retail iPods. Only $4 stays in China with the firms that assemble the devices.

I was curious about that $4, and tracked down the report to the Personal Computer Industry Center (PCIC), part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The paper by Dedrick, Kramer and Linden2 has some interesting tables. Here’s a breakdown from the $299 retail price of the iPod.

Table 5. Derivation of Apple’s Gross Margin on 30GB Video iPod

Retail Price $299  
Distributor Discount
(10%)
($30)  
Retailer Discount
(15%)
($45)  
Sub-Total (estimated
wholesale price)
  $224
Factory Cost ($148)  
Remaining Balance
(estimated Apple gross margin)
  $76

Source: Authors’ calculations; see text

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