Why Apple is bringing manufacturing back to the United States

“Today’s news from Tim Cook that Apple is bringing some Mac manufacturing from China back to the United States is encouraging for the first reason you’ll think of: it’s a tentative move to disengage from appalling labor practices at the company’s Chinese contractor, Foxconn, that tether anyone who owns an iPhone back to the developing world economy heart of darkness,” John McQuaid writes for Forbes. “But what does it mean for the American economy? For years, we’ve been told that the migration of manufacturing offshore is an economic inevitability, the result of ironclad laws of trade, labor and capital. Steve Jobs himself said of the China offshoring: ‘Those jobs aren’t coming back.'”

“It’s not clear yet what Apple’s reasoning is for making Macs in the U.S., but its a good bet that, for a company obsessed with design and quality control, proximity and the ability to manage every aspect of the manufacturing process will yield economic benefits,” McQuaid writes. “The U.S. is never going to be the manufacturing powerhouse it once was. (Or rather, manufacturing will never employ the numbers it once did.) But perhaps we’re not doomed to a McDonald’s-and-Starbucks economy either.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The ultimate goal is what Steve Jobs always wanted all along: Automated assembly via robotics.

They don’t sleep, they don’t strike or make demands, they don’t jump off buildings or die in dust fires, most of them don’t even need the lights on. They just make what you program them to make, the same way every time, with quality control that no human line can ever match.

“I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer.” – Steve Jobs, February 1990

Related article:
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces plans to manufacture Macs in USA; says TV is ‘area of intense interest’ inside Apple – December 6, 2012

63 Comments

  1. MDN take: “The ultimate goal is what Steve Jobs always wanted all along: Automated assembly via robotics.”

    The factory will certainly be highly automated – just like the NeXT factory was, only more so. That means not too many jobs. But someone has to make the *robots*, so that’s a few more jobs.

    1. And someone has to build the factory, maintain the robots, manage the logistics of supplies and finished products. This would bring a lot if jobs besides just factory workers. Those incidentals will be a boon to whatever location is lucky enough to have a factory regardless who or what is doing the manufacturing inside.

  2. I have a theory.
    Apple’s margins are the envy of the industry. If Apple creates Made In America buzz competitors will be forced to follow suit.

    But: Their margins are razor thin by comparison, and moving manufacturing to the US will do them more harm than good, giving Apple a one-two punch.
    1. Patriotic PR.
    2. Easily absorbed higher costs that competitors can’t afford.
    Well done Mr. C.

    I have another theory.
    The town is a bunch of false fronts and he ran over there real fast.
    Oops, sorry, MST3K moment….

    1. @JeanLuc: good point regarding how this brings some pressure to bear on the Windows PC market – –

      – – you reminded me of a conversation that I had at a family friend’s funeral a year ago: one of the nephews now works for one of these companies (four letters, begins with a “D”) and I asked him about the domestic-vs-China production cost question. His response indicated some cynicism in the real economics of the equasion, saying that the company’s official line on the ‘cost savings’ claim was around $20 / unit, but that he believed that there were a lot of hidden costs that didn’t show up on the official ledger.

      What a lot of it really probably comes down to is that the cost of an overseas worker is less because there’s less interventional regulation for worker’s rights, working conditions, pollution standards, etc. Of course, there’s also a lot higher corruption and political graft too – – which all probably nets out to around the $20/unit number that he mentioned.

      IMO, the very broad issue regarding this entire topic of ‘where the jobs are’ goes back 100 years to Henry Ford and the production line for the Model T: Ford understood that in order to sell cars, he also needed to create his own customer base who could afford to buy his product. That’s what’s missing from US Manufacturing today.

      -hh

  3. re: MDN take: “They don’t sleep, they don’t strike or make demands, they don’t jump off buildings or die in dust fires…”

    And they won’t never, ever develop egos and try to take over the world. Promise!

  4. Tax! Cook is doing a deal with Obama. He will spend the $100b of offshore funds on building USA industry in exchange for a tax break on bring home the billions offshore with no tax paid. Obama meet with Cook recently on how to get the economy moving. Cooks answer is bringing manufacturing to the USA if he gets a tax break. As a act of good faith an iMac line is being built, next move is Obamas.

  5. I am the king of Americanistan and therefore soon you all will get free Obama iPhones on top of you food stamps.

    You don’t need no stinkin jobs. You deserve the good stuff the rich have.

    I AM THE BROWN MESSIAH BRING YOU MY KENYAN COMMUNIST PARADISE!

    1. You do realize the whole free Obama phones thing is an urban legend. It has been roundly disputed as false. Sorry the fact-checkers on faux news are out on vacation.

      It does help to do your OWN research once in awhile to not sound like babbling idiot. You know the crazy on the corner shouting at anyone walking by.

      of course sentence structure helps
      “I AM THE BROWN MESSIAH BRING YOU MY KENYAN COMMUNIST PARADISE!”

      I believe the cro-magnon man had a better grasp of communication than you convey.

    2. Bozo. Your disdain, bordering on hatred of a purely partisan political fact has absolutely nothing to do with the current conversation, and contributes absolutely nothing to any other topic, conversation or cause.

      There might be someplace where that discussion is pertinent, but its not here.

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