An excerpt from the article over at NBCNews:
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.
“We’ve been working for years on doing more and more in the United States,” Cook told Williams.
In a separate interview with BusinessWeek Cook says that Apple would be investing nearly $100 million for this:
[N]ext 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.
Cook says that the reason for shifting manufacturing to Asia has got to do more with skills than costs. He says that while Chinese labor is indeed cheaper than in US, the US education system doesn’t produce skilled individuals in the field on modern manufacturing:
“The consumer electronics world was really never here,” Cook said. “It’s a matter of starting it here.”
By bringing manufacturing to the US, Cook hopes that Apple would serve as an example for other companies to do the same.
Here’s a relevant excerpt from an earlier report by the NYT, which illustrates Apple’s lack-of-manufacturing-skill problems:
Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.
In China, it took 15 days.
Apart from skilled individuals, China also provides Apple the flexibility to easily scale up and scale down operations, as well as the comfort of being in close proximity of its Asian suppliers.
Apple has been a prime example of corporations that have taken their manufacturing activities outside the US, and has been at the receiving end of criticism from various organisations for not helping reduce the unemployment rate in the country. To address these concerns, Apple even set up a special page on its website touting the more than 500,000 jobs it has created indirectly through the growth of the iOS ecosystem.
By bringing manufacturing back to the US, Apple will certainly receive a lot of good press, and it’s not taking a lot of risks since the Mac isn’t a high-demand product like the iPhone or iPad. Apple still doesn’t say which particular Mac will be manufactured in the US, but none of the products in Mac lineup are in high demand compared to iOS devices.