A CNN Money reader wrote in on Saturday claiming that his brand new 21-inch iMac purchased at an Apple Store in San Jose, California had a label reading "Assembled in USA" rather than the typical "Assembled in China" sticker. The Apple customer even took a snapshot, showing the company's address and the "Assembled in USA" description.
Philip Elmer-DeWitt of CNN Money said on Saturday that he checked with a neighbor who just purchased a new 21-inch iMac last week from the Apple Store located on 14th Street in Manhattan. Unsurprisingly, this all-in-one Mac was marked as "Assembled in China".
"We can be pretty sure Apple hasn't transported its entire iMac manufacturing operations back to the States," Elmer-DeWitt writes. "In fact, if the company had made such a political popular move, I'm certain Apple PR would have found a more effective way to spread the word than with a little label on the back of an iMac."
After doing a little research, CNN Money surmised that the only Apple devices receiving the "Assembled in USA" sticker are the made-to-order units -- those that require custom parts, like an extra-high-capacity hard drive, before they're finally assembled. But he also mentions that the reader in question claims his iMac was an off-the-shelf, entry-level model, not a custom-ordered unit.
On Monday ABC News followed up with a report that additional customers have come forward with claims that their new iMacs are assembled here in the States, too. The report includes a testimony from iFixit.com, which claims that it bought a new iMac from an Apple Store with the "Assembled in USA" label.
"It's the first product from Apple in quite a long while that says 'Assembled in the United States'," Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's chief information architect, told ABC News. His claim matches similar ones made by other readers who wrote in to additional websites like 9to5Mac, reporting that their American-assembled iMac was off-the-shelf, not a customized unit.
"For the 'assembly' claim to be valid, the product's last 'substantial transformation' also should have occurred in the U.S.," states the Federal Trade Commission. "That's why a 'screwdriver' assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn't usually qualify for the 'Assembled in USA' claim."
Back in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that we wanted to offer a product that's completely assembled here in the States. Currently only a few components are made locally including the Gorilla Glass screen from Corning. Even Lenovo is bringing work back to the States by assembling and making hardware for some of its ThinkPad laptops and desktops in Whitsett, North Carolina. Foxconn is reportedly even considering U.S.-based factories.
Many reports point out that Apple would seemingly be more vocal about manufacturing products in the United States given the current level of jobless Americans (aka it would be good PR given all the drama surrounding Foxconn). So far, the general consensus is that nothing is any different than past "Assembled in USA" Mac sightings. Still, the multiple reports within the last several days can't be a mere coincidence.