Apple to Manufacture Macs in America

In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the prestigious technology company will start making some of its computers entirely in the US in 2013.

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. Cook’s announcement may or may not confirm recent rumors in the blogosphere sparked by iMacs inscribed in the back with “Assembled in USA.”

Now, assembled in American has a different meaning than made in America. However, in a long interview with BusinessWeek, Cook talked about that difference (among lots of other interesting topics):

It’s not known well that the engine for the iPhone and iPad is made in the U.S., and many of these are also exported-the engine, the processor. The glass is made in Kentucky. And 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.

If Apple is successful about manufacturing computers in the USA and perhaps widens that scope to include other products like the iPhone, iPad, or iPods, it could have a huge snowball effect. If Apple can manufacture in the US and still turn a profit, what’s preventing other companies from doing the same?

Back on Nov 25. in a post about Shinola Heritage Brand, I wrote:

The Shinola story is great in and of itself, but it’s also an interesting slice of a larger story about the reinvention and comeback of American manufacturing and the slow fade of disposable goods. It’s something I’ve been kind of tracking here and there and wish I had a tag for those posts that I could pull together into that larger story. *Sigh*

Then came this Apple news, which followed on the heels of American Giant hoodies. Part of the reason I thought there was a bigger picture forming was due to Kickstarter and Etsy emerging as bonafide boutique manufacturing systems.

All of this is to say that Jason Kottke also honed in on this big picture about the return of American manufacturing and put together a really great post on the subject, attributing much of the resurgence to the abundance of cheap energy in America.

So basically, energy in the US is cheap right now and will likely remain cheap for years to come because hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking aka that thing that people say makes their water taste bad, among other issues) has unlocked vast and previously unavailable reserves of oil and natural gas that will take years to fully exploit. A recent report by the International Energy Agency suggests that the US is on track to become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2020 (passing both Saudi Arabia and Russia) and could be “all but self-sufficient” in energy by 2030.

Lots of great links and articles to chew over.

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