Apple to Resume U.S. Manufacturing

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For the first time in years, Apple will manufacture computers in the United States, the chief executive of Apple, Timothy D. Cook, said in interviews with NBC and Bloomberg Businessweek.

"Next year, we will do one of our existing Mac lines in the United States," he said in an interview to be broadcast Thursday on "Rock Center With Brian Williams" on NBC.

Apple, the biggest company in the world by market value, moved most of its manufacturing to Asia in the late 1990s. As an icon of American technology success and innovation, the California-based company has been criticized in recent years for outsourcing jobs abroad.

"I don't think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job," Mr. Cook said in the Businessweek interview. "But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs."

The company plans to spend $100 million on the American manufacturing in 2013, according to the interviews, a small fraction of its overall factory investments and an even tinier portion of its available cash.

In the interviews, Mr. Cook suggested the company would work with partners and that the manufacturing would be more than just the final assembly of parts. He noted that parts of the company's ubiquitous iPhone, including the "engine" and the glass screen, were already made in America. The processor is manufactured by Samsung in Texas, while Corning makes the glass screen in Kentucky.

Over the last few years, sales of the iPhone, iPod and iPad have overwhelmed Apple's line of Macintosh computers, the basis of the company's early business. Revenue from the iPhone alone made up 48 percent of the company's total revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30.

But as recently as October, Apple introduced a new, thinner iMac, the product that pioneered the technique of building the computer innards inside the flat screen.

Mr. Cook did not say in the interviews where in the United States the new manufacturing would occur. But he did defend Apple's track record in American hiring.

"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," Mr. Cook told Businessweek. Those jobs include positions at partners and suppliers.

Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined on Thursday to provide additional details on Apple's plans, referring to Mr. Cook's interviews.

Apple has for years done the final assembly of some Macs in the United States, mainly systems that customers buy with custom configurations, like bigger hard drives and more memory than on standard machines.

Mr. Cook's statements suggested Apple is planning to build more of the Mac's ingredients domestically, although with partners. He told Businessweek that the plan "doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people, and we'll be investing our money."

While Apple's products are typically made in Asian factories owned by other companies, Apple itself often purchases the sophisticated manufacturing equipment required to make its cutting-edge designs, spending billions of dollars a year on such machines.

Foxconn Technology, which manufactures more than 40 percent of the world's electronics, is one of Apple's main overseas manufacturing contractors. Based in Taiwan, Foxconn is China's largest private employer, with 1.2 million workers, and it has come under intense scrutiny over working conditions inside its factories.

In March, Foxconn pledged to sharply curtail the number of working hours and significantly increase wages. The announcement was a response to a far-ranging inspection by the Fair Labor Association, a monitoring group that found widespread problems -- including numerous instances where Foxconn violated Chinese law and industry codes of conduct.

Apple, which recently joined the labor association, had asked the group to investigate plants manufacturing iPhones, iPads and other devices. A growing outcry over conditions at overseas factories prompted protests and petitions, and several labor rights organizations started scrutinizing Apple's suppliers.

Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold in 2011 were manufactured overseas. Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas. An additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple's other products, mostly abroad.

At a meeting with Silicon Valley executives in 2011, President Obama asked Steven P. Jobs, then the Apple chief executive, what it would take to make iPhones in the United States. Mr. Jobs, who died later that year, told the president, "Those jobs aren't coming back."

Nick Wingfield contributed reporting.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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