Apple Moving Some Manufacturing to U.S.

Perhaps it was the iFixIt teardown a few days ago that showed some new iMacs are stamped with “Assembled in the U.S.A.” that prompted the announcement, but in any case, Apple CEO Tim Cook told both Bloomberg and NBC’s Brian Williams that Apple is moving some of its manufacturing operations back to the good U.S. of A with a $100 million investment.

Cook apparently won’t reveal specifically which product line (or lines) Apple will manufacture stateside yet, but it will be Mac-related. If we had to guess, it will likely include at least the aforementioned iMacs. Some Apple components are already made in the U.S., including the iPhone’s A5 processor and display glass.

iFixIt teardown
The tell-tale label (Image credit: iFixIt)

It’s not surprising that Apple would want to move as much of its operations back to U.S. as possible. The only appeal of overseas manufacturing is that it’s less expensive there than stateside, but there are lots of hidden costs involved. We’ve heard anecdotally, for example, that once a company factors in the loss of hands-on quality control (which can impact product reputation and increase losses due to refunds and returns on defective items), expensive travel, and so on, it just doesn’t make a lot of fiscal sense to outsource manufacturing in some cases. Further, as China emerges as a world power, the up front savings will likely continue to diminish.

New iMacs: Made in the USA?

Apple may also see trouble brewing with China manufacturing partner Foxconn, which has made lots of headlines in recent times--virtually all negative--and decide that it’s prudent to slowly but surely disassociate itself with Foxconn’s labor and worker rights issues.

And of course, it’s a huge PR win for any company that can claim to bring jobs to a struggling U.S. economy, and you can bet that Apple will be hammering that point home as much as possible. That’s not to say Apple shouldn’t be lauded for providing jobs in the U.S., but decisions like these are economical, not altruistic.

Foxconn worker
Foxconn worker in China

Cook also told Bloomberg that Apple won’t be doing the actual manufacturing but will be “working with people and we’ll be investing our money”.