As the 21.5” iMacs started selling in stores and being shipped to those who pre-ordered, buyers have noticed that certain models of the iMac say that they were “Assembled in USA.” If you’re familiar with Apple’s workings, you’ll know that this is unusual, since most of the company’s gadgets get assembled in China by Foxconn employees.
9to5Mac noticed this in iFixit’s teardown of the 21.5” iMac, and pointed out that earlier models included the “Assembled in USA” tag as well, although, unlike current models, the text wasn’t etched on the iMac’s aluminium body. Some people speculate that these “assembled in USA” units might be refurbished iMacs, however there’s plenty of evidence that suggests that even Apple’s refurb products come from China.
The “assembled” term itself is pretty vague, giving no exact details about which parts of Apple’s supply chain lie in the U.S. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s rules, a product that includes foreign components (which the iMac does) may be called “Assembled in USA” only if:
its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S.
Example: All the major components of a computer, including the motherboard and hard drive, are imported. The computer’s components then are put together in a simple “screwdriver” operation in the U.S., are not substantially transformed under the Customs Standard, and must be marked with a foreign country of origin. An “Assembled in U.S.” claim without further qualification is deceptive.
If Apple is indeed going by FTC’s rules, the company should have a significant manufacturing setup in the US.
9to5Mac speculates that Apple’s pre-2004 manufacturing plant in Elk Grove, CA, and the recent hiring activity in the plant might be related to the Assembled in USA tags on iMacs. Another possibility suggested: there’s a Foxconn facility in the US which is doing the assembling.
Apple’s always thrown around as the first example whenever there’s talk about US jobs being lost to other countries. While Apple has its own reasons ranging from costs to logistics, many experts say that manufacturing jobs have such low pays that even if they remained in the US, no one would opt for them.
Nonetheless, Apple seems to be doing something on the manufacturing front in the US, which is worthy enough to warrant an “assembled in USA” tag. Whether this will propagate through out Apple’s product lineup is something we’ll have to see.