When the teardown gurus at iFixit took apart the new 21.5-inch iMac yesterday, they soon discovered that the all-in-one desktop computer had an “Assembled in USA” disclaimer within the fine print. While not all new iMac models are claimed to have been assembled in USA, as many still appear to be manufactured in China, it’s still very interesting nevertheless that at least some new iMacs are going through the assembly line stateside.
Seth Weintraub for 9to5Mac has provided some interesting insight on the situation, noting that previous generation iMacs have shipped with the phrase in the past. The difference this time around is that “Assembled in the USA” is, reportedly for the first time, etched on the anodized aluminum of the computer itself; in the past, the phrase was only listed on the packaging label.
According to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, a computer manufactured within the country could only claim to be assembled in the USA if most of the major components are domestic and assembly, including the final major transformation, occurs stateside. The FTC notes that computers that are assembled based on a “simple ‘screwdriver’ operation in the U.S., [and] are not substantially transformed under the Customs Standard… must be marked with a foreign country of origin.”
So while it appears that Apple is legitimately assembling iMacs within the United States, it’s unknown just how many units are being put together and where that process ie being carried out. Weintraub bluntly suggests that perhaps Apple has a secret iMac manufacturing plant somewhere in the country, but also points out that some Mac assembly used to be carried out at Apple’s Elk Grove plant until 2004; at that time, then COO Tim Cook had all operations moved to China. With a number of new hires at the Elk Grove plant, perhaps Apple is making use of the facility again.
Apple also has some in-house work done in Cork, Ireland, which is interesting since a tipster sent a photo of his Ireland that is “Assembled in Ireland.” Considering that the next-generation iMac has such a meticulous design, it’s possible that Apple was experimenting with engineering a limited supply of the new all-in-one desktop computer in both Cupertino and overseas in Ireland.