Tim Cook broke his customary silence to give a lengthy interview to Bloomberg Businessweek, which was published today, and he touched on a couple of key issues that have plagued Apple as of late. He discussed the firing of Scott Forstall, the Maps debacle, and the working conditions at Foxconn, as well as competitors Amazon, Samsung, and Google. But one thing that stood out was Cook’s claim that Apple plans to bring some Mac production to the U.S. next year, and that it will spend $100 billion to do so.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it. It will happen in 2013,” said Cook. “We’re really proud of it. We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it’s broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we’ll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people, and we’ll be investing our money.”
Interesting. Remember the townhall debate, when Candy Crowley mused that iPhones and iPads and Macs are all manufactured in China because the labor is so much cheaper there, and then asked “how do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?”
And then Governor Romney and President Obama had a China-bashing competition to see which one of them hates China more.
But the topic was a provocative one. Earlier this year, Forrester projected that by 2016, some one billion people will own smartphones worldwide. The research organization also estimated that consumer spending in the mobile app market will reach $56 billion, and business spending on mobile projects will have doubled.
IDC just released a report in which it bumped up its earlier forecast of 117.1 million tablets shipped to retailers to 122.3 million.
If even a slice of that mobile pie was going to U.S. manufacturers, what kind of impact would that have on job creation?
Cook pointed out that several iPhone components are actually made in the U.S., including the glass and the processor. Additionally, all of Apple’s R&D is in California, and it’s building data centers in Oregon and Nevada to add to the one they have in Maiden, North Carolina. When you factor in app developers and everyone else who has found some money-making niche in the Apple platform, Cook says that totals up to some 600,000 jobs in the U.S.
Of course, Mac sales don’t hold a candle to iPhone sales. Last quarter, Apple sold 4.9 million Macs, compared to 5.3 million iPods, 14 million iPads, and 27 million iPhones.
But bringing Mac manufacturing to the U.S. wouldn’t just create jobs—it would create jobs for high-skilled, educated workers. The problem is finding enough of those skilled workers—a problem that Jobs conveyed to President Obama when they met in February 2011, reportedly telling him: “If you could educate these [30,000] engineers, we could move more manufacturing plants here.” (That's according to Jobs's biographer Walter Isaacson.)
What will $100 billion of Apple’s money ultimately mean in terms of bringing manufacturing to the U.S.? If all goes according to plan, we’ll be finding out in the coming year.
Image source: laptopmag.com