Re: Smartphones are the new featurephones
Production costs may be little different, but development, sales, marketing and distribution should cost a lot less.
Of those only development could really be moved entirely to China (or elsewhere). Hardware development is already moving to China which had produced good engineers. Software development seems more of a problem but is even more fungible.
Not sure about the cost of Apple's new building. I suspect it's tiny compared to that of the share buybacks. But as a one-off expense I don't think it's relevant.
Land in the US is still comparatively cheap and shale oil and gas have made energy cheap. This certainly matters in some industries but less so in software. The access to international capital means that there is always money to pay for people to work in Silicon Valley as opposed to Detroit or Xianjing and good developers are still a scarce commodity.
It's going to take something very special to compete against that. China is, of course, developing its own software power houses such as AliBaba, Baidu and TenCent but it will need further opening of markets and travel to become a more attractive place to work in.
As Mr Orlowski cogently argued several years ago: the software has become key. This is why power shifted from Ericsson and Nokia to Apple and Google. Will Xiaomi or Huawei create software development departments good enough to build their own Android or IOS? Google is obviously increasingly worried about this which is why it's putting more stuff into Play Store services and mandating more Google apps be installed on devices. This may be a prelude to starving AOSP as a platform in order, say, to prevent Xiaomi partnering with Baidu in international phones.
I don't know how things will turn out. We've seen HTC, Asus and Samsung pour resources into software development with somewhat mixed results.