Despite Mac moves, Apple unlikely to make iPads in the U.S.

by David Needle

December 6 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the Foxconn factory in China earlier this year where iPads and iPhones are made.
Apple CEO Tim Cook visited the Foxconn factory in China earlier this year where iPads and iPhones are made.

Apple CEO Tim Cook made the surprise comment that Apple plans to make some of its Mac computers in the U.S. But for various reasons, it seems very likely iPads and iPhones will continue to be made overseas.

“Next year we’re going to bring some production to the U.S.,” Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek today. “This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people and we’ll be investing our money.”

Cook also said Apple will spend $100 million in 2013 to move production of the unnamed Mac product line to the U.S. from China.

In a follow up analysis today, IHS said the percentage of products Apple will shift from Asia to the U.S. is likely to be very small.

“Apple’s move appears to be a symbolic effort to help improve its public image, which has been battered in recent years by reports of labor issues at its contract manufacturing partners in Asia,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for computer systems at IHS.

“However, given Apple’s high profile in the market, the company’s ‘insourcing’ initiative could compel other companies to follow suit and transfer production to the United States over the next few years,” Stice added.

iPad made in USA? Not likely

But Jeffrey Wu, senior analyst for OEM research at IHS, said Apple would be less inclined to shift production of its other smaller products to the U.S.

“I cannot imagine that Apple will transfer the manufacturing of its highly standardized and much slimmer products—i.e., iPhones, iPads and iPods—back to the United States in the near future,” said Wu.

IHS also noted that while Cook’s comments made for big news, a similar announcement by China-based Lenovo, barely got any attention. Lenovo Group announced in October that it would start making PCs in North Carolina next year.

“Apple is a company that is always in the spotlight, and the company’s image sets the standard in the PC world," said Stice. "If Apple is doing it, will others follow?” he asked, leaving the question open to speculation.

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