Apple has always been based in the USA, employing a vast array of engineers and support staff in or around Cupertino and Texas. Since 2004, however, the fruit company has not manufactured a single device in its own country, yet according to recent reports, this is about to change, with the Mac mini being the first to be produced in the United States.
Throughout most of its history, Apple produced most of its devices in the United States, yet it has, over the last decade, followed the trend of most tech manufacturers and moved production overseas in order to reduce costs and improve efficiency. However, the rising cost of labor in countries such as China, on top of customer awareness for human rights breaching occasionally seen at overseas computer plants, has led Apple’s very own CEO Tim Cook to announce the company’s intention to slowly move production back to its shores.
Apple will not build its own plants: instead, it will use its current manufacturing contractors, possibly Foxconn and Quanta Computer, which currently already have a presence in Tennessee and California, among others. The Cupertino-based company will likely lobby its contractors to implement more cost-effective methods of manufacturing, such as greater automation of plants, in order to achieve the cost efficiencies that will make the US production of Macs viable.
Starting with the Mac mini is a logical choice for Apple since it’s relatively small and doesn’t have a display embedded in it, unlike most Apple products: this greatly reduces the amount of complexity as well as the amount of components that need to be shipped around. In addition, the Mac mini is one of the least popular of the Mac line, therefore requiring less capacity from the US factories which will likely take years before they can churn out as many computers as the ones in China.
This is not the first time Apple has flirted with the idea of producing its devices outside of Asia. Last year, it emerged that Foxconn was producing the iPad in Brazil.
Manufacturing products in the USA will definitely bring good PR for Apple, especially as human rights groups have increased scrutiny on large multibillion-dollar companies, as well as jobs to the United States. As of last year, Apple was in fact wealthier than the United States Government, therefore a few jobs back on shore will be a low cost to pay for more good press.