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Apple's US manufacturing plans called a "publicity stunt"

Apple PCs

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 7 Dec 2012 at 09:39

Apple has announced plans to move some of its manufacturing to the US, but has immediately come under fire for what critics call a "publicity stunt".

Apple yesterday told NBC News that one of its existing lines of Macs would be exclusively made in the US, reversing the current trend of using cheaper labour in China and other countries.

It's a move that will be welcomed by many in the US for creating new jobs, but according to corporate responsibility group SumOfUs, the company's plans are nothing more than a gimmick.

"Apple has a track record of announcing changes in its supply chain as PR stunts," Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, the group's executive director said. "For years, Apple’s been making and breaking promises when it comes to ethical sourcing and how it treats its workers."

Apple is talking about moving a tenth of 1% of their global production costs. That’s not at the level of a fundamental business model shift

"Moving part of its supply chain back to the US is not going to change the fact that its business model rests on the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers in sweatshop-like conditions."

The complaints largely cover old ground, which Apple has tried to address with moves such as joining the Fair Labor Association. The paid membership association was critical of factory conditions after an audit earlier this year, and Apple has said it will improve conditions.

But according to SumOfUs, the move to take some manufacturing back to the US is a drop in the ocean that is timed to enhance the company's reputation ahead of Christmas.

"Apple has spent $650 million just on advertising for the iPhone alone since it launched. They’re talking about spending less than 20% of that on this shift," Stinebrickner-Kauffman said.

"Apple is talking about moving a tenth of 1% of its global production costs. That’s not at the level of a fundamental business model shift, [it's] a small token offering to appease consumers here in the US."

Apple has yet to reply with request for comment.

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User comments

Running Scared...

I do hope so, they do not deserve their postion in the market place on so many levels.

By davidk1962 on 7 Dec 2012

Well, not really.

They ARE making one of their lines in the US, which is more than they did before. It's only a small step, but surely one that has to be applauded rather than booed?

By artiss on 7 Dec 2012

As much as I am not an Apple fan in any way, I would definitely be impressed if they did this. It's about time someone did so.

By ReaperX2112 on 7 Dec 2012

Apple moving manufacturing to the UK = UK news. Apple moving manufacturing from to the US = UK watching wistfully from the sidelines.

By revsorg on 7 Dec 2012

Forget 1/10th of 1%....

...they make 'all' the Raspberry Pi's in Wales now (using only 17 people)!
Now that's properly impressive.

By ElDiabloJuanCarlos on 7 Dec 2012

"Made in the USA"...

will mean prices can be heartily bumped up for the East Asian and US markets.

Most of us Europeans know that "Made in USA" is not necessarily a good thing, but I can see a "Next Big Thing - Now Proudly Made In America, from Purest American Minerals, by Peerless American Craftsmen using Precision American Instruments with their Pulchritudinous American Hands" will see sales go through the roof in the States and China.

By TheHonestTruth on 7 Dec 2012

"It's a move that will be welcomed by many in the US"

But not Apple shareholders I suspect.

By Alfresco on 7 Dec 2012

still the least recyclable most rare-earth metal-intensive laptops on the planet, still too expensive, still made by battery-farmed workers at Foxconn, still 30% app royalty, still non-removable batteries, still non-upgradeable built-in obselescence with cynical restricted customisation options to force you to spend extra to get the spec you want, still extortionate warranties.

finally people are starting to realise the emperor has no clothes, and the share price will continue to reflect this.

#teamthinkpad, #teamsamsung.

By gavmeister on 7 Dec 2012

It's funny..... bitter and twisted folk can be when they can't afford an Mac :)

By Charlieparker on 7 Dec 2012

Even funnier... MAC users just assume that line of thought! Bitter and twisted...nah...just happy I am not using a MAC :)

By EagleHasLanded on 7 Dec 2012


lol, nice one

By gavmeister on 7 Dec 2012


how much do you think my 2006 Thinkpad X60s cost?

By gavmeister on 7 Dec 2012

Why weren't people doing it before

It's easy to knock Apple, and some of it is justified, but i didn't see the likes of Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo/IBM doing this sort of thing when they were the market leaders.

It might be PR, but it might also cause the other big corporates to raise their game. And that can't be bad


By Chatan on 7 Dec 2012

Computers and TVs?

It is rumoured that Foxconn is going to open a TV manufacturing plan in the US.

Quite frankly if Apple under it's own name or via contractors gets manufacturing jobs back to the US that is good news.

It is also a reflection, I think, on the decline in wage expectations for a good deal of the US workforce. Their unemployment is still running at what, 8% +.

It would be good if we could start making more stuff in the UK. And in other news in the Guardian today UK manufacturing figures decline again and are below 1992, which if like me you were around at the time, will know was not a vintage year.

By kaneclem on 7 Dec 2012

Dear Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman

Please explain to me exactly how moving jobs from China to the US helps "exploited Chinese workers"? Having no job at all is rarely preferable to having a relatively poorly paid one. Be honest, this is a nationalistic argument not a humanitarian one!

By JohnAHind on 7 Dec 2012

It's about american jobs

I think it's far more about creating american jobs.

American jobs are a major talking point for many in the USA and many Americans will favour american made products over chinese made ones.

By blagger123 on 8 Dec 2012

Don't be an iDiot

The motherboards of those machines will not be made in the US, all the soldering will be done by machines and checked by the Chinese. The least amount of work will be done in the US. But at least some work will be done in the US which should be a delight to them as they alone buy iDiot devices.

By nicomo on 8 Dec 2012

I doubt "Made in the USA" will sell computers. It's the price/quality/etc. that sells them. It's very highly unlikely that quality would go up from manufacturing them in the US, especially since our manufacturing know-how is rapidly diminishing.

No, the advantage here is in logistics and transportation. For big, heavy, bulky items, it's worth paying a few bucks more per hour to the assembly-line workers (so much is automated anyway!) and save on the sky-high energy prices that affect delivery and shipping of these products.

By sergvolkov00 on 9 Dec 2012

Made in the USA

Sadly the USofA is possibly the most chauvinistic nation on earth. Every street is adorned with vast acreages of "Red, White & Blue". Saluting the flag is a daily occurrence.
So the legend "Made in the USA" will be a BIG selling point in that country.

It's also possible that it will (perhaps ironically) help with sales in China too.
The ruling elite in that nation are obsessed with the status garnered by owning "Western" goods, many are now made in China, but the "Made in..." label will add extra cachet.

By wittgenfrog on 11 Dec 2012


Thanks for rehashing my post!

By TheHonestTruth on 12 Dec 2012

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