We've known for some time that future Apples won't fall far from the tree: The computer giant is looking to bring some of its manufacturing back to the United States. Now, we may have an idea of which product will bear the first "Made in the USA" label since the '90s.
A report in DigiTimes, a Taiwanese publication tuned in to the components and semiconductor supply industry, says the Mac mini -- a processor-only device retailing for $599 or $999 -- will be produced by Foxconn Electronics at factories in the United States. The company, Apple's manufacturing partner in China, has offices in 15 locations in the U.S., but none do manufacturing.
Hiring To Begin Soon
"Sources in upstream supply chain" reportedly told DigiTimes that Foxconn would begin recruiting workers in the U.S. for the Mac mini's production lines next year.
Shipments of the Mac mini will rise by 40 percent this year to 1.4 million, and with this year's upgrades in speed for both models, shipments may rise an additional 30 percent to 1.8 million next year, DigiTimes said. In October, Apple upgraded the standard mini to an 2.5 GHz dual-core i5 Ivy Bridge processor and its sister to a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 processor. Both have four GB of RAM.
DigiTimes has often been wrong about Apple news but correctly predicted the release of LED-backlit laptops, flash-based iPods, the iPad mini, the approximate timing of the fourth iPad and the expansion of the iPhone's screen size, among other nuggets.
The mini could be a strong prospect for U.S. manufacturing because it does not include a display and is therefore cheaper to assemble.
CEO Tim Cook earlier this month told NBC and Bloomberg News that Apple will be investing in a U.S. production line with partners. That announcement came shortly after Apple's share price took a nosedive amid increased competition and as Cook struggles to position himself as a worthy successor to the visionary Steve Jobs. While Jobs, who passed away from cancer in 2011, was in charge, the company achieved soaring profits by branching out from computers to personal electronic devices like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The iPhone is now Apple's top moneymaker.
Analysts tell us that Apple is likely looking for a public relations boost with the move back to U.S. manufacturing. The company has taken hits over working conditions at Foxconn's China plants. But also, the analysts say that Apple wouldn't take such a step if it wasn't practical and profitable.
In other news, a report on Thursday suggested that Apple may have a pioneering new product coming down the pike: an iWatch.
Business Insider, based on reports from a Chinese site Tech163, said Apple and Intel are working on a Bluetooth-enabled, wrist-based computer that would run Apple's iOS operating system, with a 1.5-inch display. Evocative of the device sported by comic-strip detective Dick Tracy, smart watches are slowly emerging into the consumer market. Motorola and Sony, as well as some smaller companies, already sell them.