Mac in the USA

According to a new interview with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, at least one line of Macs will be manufactured in the U.S. starting next year. Here’s what Mike Daisey just posted about it:

Another step. I recall, vividly, how many times I was told that no one would ever adjust anything in their manufacturing ecosystem to accommodate ideas like human rights or safe and sane work conditions. And this is a gesture, and a PR move, and does not speak to the violations still happening on the ground in China. But it does show that pressure can effect change—Apple never thought along these lines before, and neither have other electronics companies. But be clear who is the driving force here—it’s people. Thanks to millions of people paying attention, the landscape is changing, and this move by Apple is part of its efforts to adapt to that.

I think even if it is primarily a PR move, which I also presume it is, it’s a huge one, and even Daisey himself should be patting himself on the back. Steve Jobs famously told President Obama, “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” and as much as folks wanted badly for Apple’s manufacturing to be subject to U.S. labor standards, we all knew it was never, ever, ever going to happen. The iPhone alone, if it were its own business with nothing else, would eclipse all of Microsoft. They’re not moving an inch.

But they are. Even a token move like this is, I suspect, a huge deal, a nightmare of logistics and upheaval for Apple and its juggernaut manufacturing ecosystem that at times seems to have developed an intelligence all its own. It’s a bone thrown, but what a heavy bone it is.

(Full disclosure: I am happy consider myself a kind of Internet buddy of Mike Daisey’s, and I have written about his transgressions here, and been wholly pissed off at the tech press here.)

5 thoughts on “Mac in the USA”

  1. There’s speculation that this might be the Mac Pro line, although some of the iMacs have “assembled in the USA” on them.
    Unfortunately, while this is a good move, I have to agree with Steve Jobs: Those jobs aren’t coming back. The economic advantage of paying workers $11/day then selling them to a nation that makes $11/hour is too great for most publicly traded corporations to avoid. International trade has been gamed to avoid labor laws, living wages, corporate taxation and environmental efforts, and unless trade laws eliminate those profitable benefits, corporations will still be pressured by market forces to do so.

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  2. Yeah Steve Jobs. Brilliant but flawed, each in so many ways.
    People tend to ascribe each of his utterances with an almost pope-like infallibility, ignoring the fact hat he was frequently wrong and often backtracked.
    The context of his ‘not coming back’ statement was very much the then current economics of the situation. plus the lack of a large pool of trade qualified factory engineers. He did apparently tell Obama that the US needed to train 30,000 or so people to turn around large scale manufacturing of the sort Apple does.

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  3. I think you probably mean 30000 a year, not total.One of the problems the US has is a dismal level of technical education. You don’t need a gazillion high-level research qualified engineers but you do need an awful lot of well educated, technologically capable, engineering minded people when you want to run a business the size of ‘iPhone, Inc.’

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  4. The other thing, and more likely, isn’t that Daisey’s story guilted apple into this. (esp. given how he lied in version one.)
    What it most likely did was give the people in favor of this at Apple some actual way to push this. “Look, this is causing us real problems. We need to really do this.” Traction is important, and far more important than guilt. Is it a PR move? Partially? You don’t make major manufacturing changes just for PR, especially not the Apple version of PR.
    I agree it’s probably going to be the Mac Pro. It’s the most generic Mac Apple makes, and the easiest one to make.

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