Macs Were Already Being Assembled in the USA

on December 6, 2012

News about Apple looking to have more of their Mac line of products assembled in the USA made for interesting headlines today. What is interesting is that some amount of Macs were already being assembled here in the USA. iFixit, with its tear down of the latest iMac, noted this picture and wording on the back.

Credit: iFixit

The news that grabbed headlines today was that Apple intended to invest in more assembly of USA assembled products in their Mac line. This means a larger ramp and scale up of US made assembly of those products starting in 2013. This is of course pertinent and a big deal that volume US manufacturing of Macs will ramp in 2013. I find it interesting that Apple has already been assembling, in low volume, some products in the Mac line for some time. In fact you can find in forum threads going back to at least 2006, people mentioning that their Mac Pros had the Assembled in the USA wording. And obviously for the new iMac to have the wording iFixit found stating it was assembled in the USA, we are talking about some level of assembly of Macs which has been in place for some time. Perhaps everyone already knew this, but I hadn’t seen it get much attention. Of course, as Apple begins to ramp US based manufacturing, thing become very interesting.

I’ve heard the argument from some pundits that this initial investment and step to build more products in the USA is a PR stunt from Apple, to which I wholeheartedly disagree. Apple is one of few companies for whom it makes sense to diversify assembly and manufacturing for certain products. Note that this doesn’t apply to all product lines but I believe it certainly does for some. I have to believe that for Apple to have made this move it makes sound business sense from a long-term strategic standpoint, as well as from a capital expenditures standpoint.

Elements of glass (pabels), semiconductors, cables, and other raw materials for many electronics are actually made in the US. So it is not like everything that goes into electronics is made in China. Apple also has a streamlined process, with their Mac line in particular, due to the uni-body designs of much of their hardware.

There is also some speculation as to which Macs will be made in the US. My understanding is not that it is limited to one line but can and may very well include some degree of all Macs.

Tech manufacturing has never really been in the US. In the early days of the PC many things were assembled here but it very low volume. High-tech electronics manufacturing in high volume has never been in the USA. What Apple is doing is a huge step in the right direction to help foster and develop the necessary expertise to support some level of high-tech US manufacturing.

The key point is not that Apple is bringing high-tech manufacturing jobs back to the US. Many of those jobs never existed in the first place. This is a baby step move in the right direction to actually create new types of jobs. Ones that may extend to many other industries and segments as 3D printing and nano-technology help to create the hardware renaissance I believe we are on the forefront of.

I have been watching, and hoping that a move like this would happen for a while and I seriously hope it is a trend not isolated to one high-tech giant.