Given that Tim Cook was in attendance at Barack Obama's State of the Union speech earlier this evening (attending as a guest of Michelle Obama), it's perhaps not all that surprising that the President just so happened to mention Apple while speaking about increasing the number of domestic manufacturing jobs.
Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.
Indeed, word that Apple was keen on bringing some of its Mac manufacturing operations back to the U.S. first surfaced this past December, when Cook sat down for a somewhat lengthy interview with NBC's Brian Williams and disclosed that an entire line of Macs will soon be manufactured exclusively in America.
The exchange came about when Brian Williams asked Cook why Apple can't be a "made in America company." You know, as opposed to a "designed in California" and "assembled in China" company.
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 so 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.
A few weeks later, a report from Digitimes claimed that Apple was planning to move its Mac Mini production to the U.S. come 2013. So what does that translate to? Well, Digitimes Research anticipates Mac Mini sales in 2013 to reach 1.8 million units. So, clearly, the Mini is the least popular of all of Apple's Mac line, but you have to start somewhere.
In the meantime, don't expect any of Apple's uber-popular products - like the iPhone - to take on a 'made in America' label anytime soon. In a 2012 New York Times article detailing Apple's work force, the paper noted that the labor force in China gives Apple flexibility that the U.S. simply can't match.
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”
Lastly, it's worth noting as a point of interest Steve Jobs' wife Laurene Powell Jobs attended the President's 2012 State of the Union address.
Image via Twitter.com/iDannyOcean