The New iMac: Designed By Apple In California, Assembled In USA

Your next Mac could be assembled in America. Apple is assembling at least some of the new, ultra-thin iMacs in the U.S. The backside stamp containing the serial code and FCC logo generally says “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” But several owners of the new model quickly discovered their machines were made in the good ol’ US of A.

Apple has long made its products in the U.S. Its Elk Grove, Calif., complex opened in 1992 and retrofitted from a distribution center into a manufacturing plant in 1995. During the iMac’s heyday, it employed more than 1,500 people and pumped out computers seven days a week. The plant made its last computer in 2004 when then SVP of Worldwide Operations, Tim Cook, consolidated Apple’s manufacturing in what would be a successful move to maximize efficiency and margins.

The Sacramento Business Journal noticed in September that Elk Grove’s workforce had grown 50 percent on the year. This could be the location of the iMac’s secret manufacturing base.

Apple has yet to comment on the findings. It’s unclear at this point where the new iMac is being assembled in the U.S. It could be Elk Grove. It could be a U.S.-sourced third-party manufacturing facility. At D10 in May of this year, CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that Apple’s strength was not in manufacturing. He also noted in his chat with Walt Mossberg that he hoped that someday Apple could assemble products in the U.S.

As noted by the stamp on the back of the iMac, the computer is not “made” within the U.S., but rather “assembled” there. Per the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the latter denotes a product that contains foreign-made components where the principle assembly, in which a substantial transformation happens, takes place in the U.S.

There has been a sort of call to arms in the wake of the U.S.’s economic downturn. Once the heart of America’s economy, manufacturing jobs simply disappeared over the past generation. Apple wasn’t alone in outsourcing its manufacturing and assembly to third parties. Foxconn, Compal, and other OEM/ODMs saw significant growth over the last decade, as HP, Dell, and Apple (among many others), turned to these manufacturers to make their wares. But now, as the U.S. attempts to regain what was lost, having the little label “Made in the USA” (or assembled) is in vogue.

Not all the new iMacs are assembled in America. Our review tester is adorned with the normal “Assembled in China” message. It’s unclear at this point how to identify a Made-in-America unit from a Chinese model while the computers are still in the box. But there has to be a way; there has to be a way to show Apple that Americans prefer computers assembled by Americans.