Apple CEO Tim Cook Announces Plans to Manufacture Mac Computers in USA

By: Ronnie Polidoro, NBC News Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that one of the existing Mac lines will be manufactured exclusively in the United States next year, making the comments during an exclusive interview with Brian Williams airing tonight at 10pm/9c on NBC’s “Rock Center.” 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. This announcement comes a week after recent rumors in the blogosphere sparked by iMacs inscribed in the back with “Assembled in USA.” It was Timothy D. Cook’s first interview since taking over from his visionary former boss, Steve Jobs, who resigned due to health reasons in August 2011. Jobs died on October 5, 2011, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The announcement could be good news for a country that has been struggling with an unemployment rate of around 8 percent for some time and has been bleeding good-paying factory jobs to lower-wage nations such as China. Cook, who joined Apple in 1998, said he believes it’s important to bring more jobs to the United States. Apple would not reveal where exactly the Macs will be manufactured. “When you back up and look at Apple’s effect on job creation in the United States, we estimate that we’ve created more than 600,000 jobs now,” said Cook. Those jobs, not all Apple hires, vary from research and development jobs in California to retail store hires to third-party app developers. Apple already has data centers in North Carolina, Nevada and Oregon and plans to build a new one in Texas. Apple has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years after a rash of suicides at plants in China run by Foxconn drew attention to working conditions at the world’s largest contract supplier. Apple and other manufacturers who have their gadgets produced by Foxconn were forced to defend production in China. Earlier this year, Apple hired the nonprofit Fair Labor Association to examine working conditions at Foxconn, which makes some of Apple’s most popular products: iPhones, iPods...

How Obama or Romney Should Have Answered the iPad Question

By: Arik Hesseldahl, All Things D Toward the end of last night’s presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, the moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley, asked a perfectly legitimate question, one that Obama himself is once reported to have asked a group of tech executives that included the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Essentially it was this: Why can’t iPhones and iPads be manufactured in the U.S.? Here’s her question: Crowley: Mr. President, we have a really short time for a quick discussion here. IPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China, and one of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper [there]. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here? The correct answer is that, under current conditions, which are highly unlikely to change no matter who is president, the job of assembling iPhones and iPads and other consumer electronics is now done mostly in China by companies that specialize in manufacturing, and will never come back to the U.S. And that’s okay. Sadly, both Obama and Romney flubbed their answers, and educated voters not at all. Romney made his response about how China is a currency manipulator and steals American intellectual property. Obama got started down the right path, correctly admitting that certain low-skilled jobs aren’t coming back, and mentioned “high-wage, high-skilled jobs.” But he failed to close the deal on his point. He then got off track talking about investing in research and training engineers. In part because the time was so short, neither delivered a clear correct answer about an issue that is widely and fundamentally misunderstood by most voters. Here’s what one of them — either one, I don’t care which, and assuming no time limit — should have said in response: “Candy, I understand how some people might get frustrated when they see Chinese workers assembling iPhones. It’s easy to think that those jobs rightly belong in America. The reality is a little more complex, but when you understand it, there’s a surprising amount of good news for American workers. “The fact is, assembling iPhones and iPads is the final step of a complex process,...

Apple, Offshoring and the Decline of the American Middle Class

By: James A. (Jim) Smith Ph.D. ABD, Assembly magazine Working conditions continue to be an issue at the Foxconn factories in China where Apple makes its best-selling electronic gadgets. On June 19, a young man who worked at one factory jumped to his death from a neighboring apartment building. Shockingly, it was the 19th such suicide since January 2010. Opinions on the issue fall into two camps. Human rights activists condemn Foxconn for exploiting workers. Globalization apologists claim life would be harder in China without all the jobs that have been outsourced from the West. However, neither camp has addressed the issue of what offshoring has meant back here. I have had my fill of the sanctification of Steve Jobs who, after all, merely gave us shinier toys and bad manners. To be fair, however, offshoring isn’t entirely an Apple story. If it’s electronic and produced in batches of more than a few thousand units, odds are it came out of a factory in Asia. Apple didn’t invent outsourcing to China, but it did make the practice chic, and Apple has made Foxconn what it is today (and what it is, isn’t pretty). There’s a noteworthy passage in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs that recounts an exchange between the Apple CEO and President Obama: “Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, he [Jobs] said, and that was because it needed 30,000 engineers on-site to support those workers. ‘You can’t find that many in America to hire,’ he said. These factory engineers did not have to be Ph.D.s or geniuses; they simply needed to have basic engineering skills for manufacturing. Tech schools, community colleges, or trade schools could train them. ‘If you could educate those engineers,’ he said, ‘we could move more manufacturing plants here.’” That’s more than a little disingenuous. It’s more truthful to say that America doesn’t have 30,000 engineers and 700,000 factory workers who are willing to work more than 60 hours a week, live in squalid dormitories, get pulled out of bed in the middle of the night to change a critical part, and earn $3,000 or less a year. And we shouldn’t have. We do have thousands of...