Apple's Tim Cook tells NBC's Brian Williams that Apple will manufacture stuff in the United States

Apple CEO Tim Cook dropped a whole batch of tea leaves into the mix when he told NBC’s Brian Williams that Apple would soon be manufacturing some of it’s envy-inducing electronics exclusively in the United States

He’s been talking about “doing more” manufacturing in the U.S. for months, but in typical fashion Apple has declined to clarify just what in the world Cook was talking about.

“We’ve been working for years on doing more and more in the United States,” Cook told Williams in an interview scheduled to air on the network’s “Rock Center” tonight.

He gives Bloomberg a bit more, saying that it is the Mac that’s coming back, which is sweet, given that the first Macs were built in Silicon Valley in a factory that the late Steve Jobs gushed over in the 198o’s.

The company will spend $100 million building the machines here, Cook tells Bloomberg, though where “here” is isn’t clear.

The double-barreled NBC/Bloomberg interviews is a sure sign that something big is coming. It’s how Apple does it: Have the boss talk to a few (very few) media outlets, while offering a few tantalizing crumbs to get the buzz machine revving.

The move isn’t entirely shocking. U.S. manufacturing is experiencing something of a revival. Rising wages in China and increasing automation in the United States is making domestic manufacturing a better value proposition.

And Apple has been clobbered at times for harsh working conditions in its contract factories in China and for missing what some see as an opportunity to provide U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The sparse details haven’t stopped Apple-watchers from speculating and with Cook’s latest, those obsessed with Apple (aren’t we all?) will have a field day.

Apple’s plans to make a major manufacturing move in the U.S. was a favorite topic at a recent conference at Laney College. Experts and industry types had gathered to talk about preparing workers for future manufacturing jobs, but the most enticing conversations revolved around Apple.

Pat Hayes, who sells big scary machines to companies that build things, said Apple’s contractors were bulking up in the U.S.

“Their manufacturing capability is growing here,” Hayes, who works for Selway Machine Tool Co., said during a panel discussion.

Dick Herman, whose 101MFG advising manufacturers on location among other things, told me later that something with Apple was in the works, but that this being Apple, he couldn’t say much. (Naturally.)

“It will shock people” he said of Apple’s move. “They will say, ‘We’re doing that?’ Because it’s something that isn’t done here.”

But, he added, Apple has a way of disrupting things.

Doesn’t it though.

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.