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Apple CEO Tim Cook says company to build some Macs in U.S.

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

December 06, 2012|By Chris O'Brien

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed in two separate interviews that Apple would invest $100 million in building some Macs in the United States again starting in 2013.

In an interview posted Thursday morning with Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook noted that many of the parts of Apple products are already made in the U.S. Still, he told the magazine: 

“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.”

Apple had manufactured its products in the U.S. until the late 1990s. When Steve Jobs, after returning to the company for his second stint, hired Cook in 1998. Cook's mission was to overhaul Apple's supply chain and manufacturing. A big part of his strategy was to move most of that manufacturing overseas, particularly to China. 

In recent years, as Apple's sales and earnings have surged, the company has faced criticism for the working conditions in the overseas manufacturing facilities run by its suppliers, such as Foxconn. In addition, Apple has repeatedly fielded questions about why it doesn't build its products in the U.S.

Cook also discussed the company's manufacturing plans in an interview to be broadcast tonight with NBC News anchor Brian Williams: 

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Why can't you be a made-in-America company?

TIM COOK: You know, this iPhone, as a matter of fact, the engine in here is made in America.  And not only are the engines in here made in America, but engines are made in America and are exported. The glass on this phone is made in Kentucky. And we've been working for years on doing more and more in the United States. Next year, we will do one of our existing Mac lines in the United States.

WILLIAMS: Let's say our Constitution was a little different and Barack Obama called you in tomorrow and said, "Get everybody out of China, and do whatever you have to do to make everything you make in the United States."  What would that do to the price of this device?

COOK: Honestly, it's not so much about price it's about the skills, etc. Over time, there are skills that are associated with manufacturing that have left the U.S. Not necessarily people, but the education system stopped producing them.

Cook did not provide any details on where in the U.S. that Apple would build Macs. Prior to moving manufacturing overseas, Apple build its products in Elk Grove, Calif., and Fountain, Colo. Cook said the company would look to partners to build the products domestically.

“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 told Bloomberg.

A clue as to whom Apple might partner with in the U.S. came Thursday, when Foxconn, one of Apple's largest manufacturing partners in China, said it would be expanding its manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

“We are looking at doing more manufacturing in the U.S. because, in general, customers want more to be done there,” Louis Woo, a Foxconn spokesman, told Bloomberg News.

A recent report indicated that a small number of new Macs were already being made in the U.S. The blog 9to5Mac said it had determined that the Macs, bearing a "Assembled in USA" label, were originating from Fremont, Calif. Whether that's related to Cook's announcement is unclear.

For the record, 4:41 p.m. Dec. 6. A previous version of this post said Cook became COO in 1998 and that Foxconn made its announcement Wednesday. 

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Follow me on Twitter @obrien.

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