Controversy and arguments regarding Apple’s manufacturing process – specifically, the use of Foxconn as a manufacturing partner – have been raging for years. Among the more common these is working conditions at Foxconn, low pay for Chinese workers, and whether Apple should (or even could) bring all of their manufacturing to the United States.
In an exclusive interview with Brian Williams for NBC’s Rock Center, Apple CEO TIm Cook made an announcement that could eventually put those arguments to rest, revealing that Apple plans to begin moving manufacturing of Macs in the United States.
In an exclusive interview with Brian Williams airing tonight at 10pm/9c on NBC’s “Rock Center,” Apple CEO Tim Cook announced one of the existing Mac lines will be manufactured exclusively in the United States next year. Mac fans will have to wait to see which Mac line it will be because Apple, widely known for its secrecy, left it vague. Cook’s announcement may or may not confirm recent rumors in the blogosphere sparked by iMacs inscribed in the back with “Assembled in USA.”
“We’ve been working for years on doing more and more in the United States,” Cook told Williams.
The initial move will be to assemble a single line of Macs in the United States – but if the effort proves cost-effective and successful, it’s likely that Apple could continue the process of moving manufacturing to the U.S. – perhaps even beyond the Mac, and including devices like the iPhone and iPad.
Further details were revealed in an extremely lengthy interview with Bloomberg, in which Cook discussed a number of matters, including U.S. production:
It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported—the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And next year we are going to bring some production to the U.S. on the Mac. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013. We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.
It’s unclear exactly which Mac models will be manufactured in the U.S. – but recent clues suggest that Apple has apparently already begun assembling their new iMacs in the U.S., making the iMac the most likely candidate.
Cook also spoke on the matter of “bringing jobs back to the U.S.”, noting that such jobs were really never in the U.S. in the first place, but rather in China. Cook was quotes as saying “The consumer electronics world was really never here. It’s a matter of starting it here.”
As such, Cook views the decision as creating new work in the U.S. which simply wasn’t available before. He also notes that training and education are significant factors, and that schools in the U.S. – unlike Chinese trade schools – don’t teach the modern manufacturing skills necessary to train workers to properly produce today’s electronic gadgets.
If you’d like to check out NBC’s interview yourself, it will air tonight at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center.