Apple once built its personal computers in the U.S. -- the company's huge seller decades ago, the Apple II, was made in the country -- but now virtually all of its products, including most Macs, are made in Asia.
According to Gottheil, Apple facilities in Cork, Ireland and Elk Grove, Calif. assemble some or all of the Mac Pro machines, the company's low-volume tower-style computer. Foxconn, Apple's biggest Asian manufacturer, also has facilities in the U.S.
Apple has had plants in Elk Grove for 20 years, and in the past built a variety of computers there, including the 1999 Power Mac G4 computer tower and the first iMac in 1998.
Most likely, said Gottheil, Cook's comments indicate that Apple will invest the $100 million to boost Foxconn's U.S. presence. The amount clearly is not enough to build a full production plant.
Neither analyst thought that the shift of some assembly to domestic shores would have any impact on customer prices or on Apple's profit margin. "It's too small [of a deal] to have any impact," said Gottheil.
Cook's announcement was both a recognition of real-world manufacturing and a bit of a departure from former CEO Steve Jobs' opinion. In a meeting with President Obama in 2011 just months before his death, Jobs reportedly said, "Those jobs aren't coming back," when the President asked what it would take to make iPhones in the U.S.
Cook said something similar today. "It's not so much about price as it is about skills," he told Williams. "Over time, there are skills associated with manufacturing that have left the U.S. The consumer electronics business really was never here. [So] it's not a matter of getting it back, it's a matter of starting it here."
Apple isn't the only major computer maker to recently rethink manufacturing. In October, as Gottheil noted, Lenovo announced it would open a factory in North Carolina that would create just over 100 jobs.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. See more articles by Gregg Keizer.
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