After more than decade of producing its popular line of Mac computers in China, Apple said Thursday it plans to shift some of that production back to the U.S. in 2013.
"Next year we're going to bring some production to the U.S.," said Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. "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 didn't say which specific Mac lines are being moved to the U.S., or where the new production facilities while be hosted. He did say, however, that Apple's U.S.-based operations will involve more than just final Mac assembly, and that the shift back to the U.S. will run Apple $100 million.
"I don't think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job," Cook said. "But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs."
Bringing a portion of its supply chain back to the U.S. represents a major shift for Apple, which since the late 1990s has hosted the bulk of its manufacturing facilities, including those for its popular iPhone and iPad, in China.
Apple and Chinese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group, however, have for years been under fire because of the working conditions inside their facilities. This year, a number of labor violations at Foxconn, including underage workers, employee exposure to toxic chemicals, and worker abuse, were thrust into the spotlight, prompting Cook to launch a series of audits at Foxconn's facilities, spearheaded by the Fair Labor Association.
Cook, who recently secured the top spot on CRN's list of the year's most influential executives, also visited China in March to meet with Foxconn employees and discuss the labor conditions inside the plants.
"We're doing a number of things that I think are really great, really different, and industry-leading," Cook told Bloomberg. "No one is looking at this as deeply as we are or going as deep in the supply chain."
Cook's decision to shift some of Apple's manufacturing back to the U.S. comes almost two years after late Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously told President Barack Obama that there was no chance of iPhone and iPad production ever being moved out of China.
"Those jobs aren't coming back," Jobs reportedly told President Obama at a dinner party in February 2011. When The New York Times followed up with Apple executives about Jobs' statement, the company said it was the industrial expertise and flexibility of its China facilities -- not the cost of labor -- that made overseas production so ideal.
Still, Cook said in his interview with Bloomberg that at least a portion of iPhone and iPad production is hosted in the U.S. Some of the display glass used in those devices, for example, is produced in Kentucky, Cook said.
PUBLISHED DEC. 6, 2012