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San Francisco - Apple plans to spend more than $100 million next year on building Mac computers in the United States, shifting a small portion of manufacturing away from China, the country that has handled assembly of its products for years.
"Next year we're going to bring some production to the U.S.," Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. "This doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people and we'll be investing our money."
Apple, which until the late 1990s made and assembled many products in the U.S., moved manufacturing to Asia to take advantage of lower labor costs. The planned investment makes up a sliver of Apple's $121.3 billion in cash, and probably won't meaningfully affect profit margins. Still, it reflects pressure on companies to create even a modest number of domestic jobs as the unemployment rate hovers near 8 percent.
"I don't think we have a responsibility to create a certain kind of job," Cook said. "But I think we do have a responsibility to create jobs."
While Cook didn't outline where the manufacturing would happen or how much would be produced in the U.S., he said the company will work with partners and that the operations would include more than just final assembly.
Many of the parts that go into the iPhone and iPad already are made in the U.S. This includes the display glass, which is made in Kentucky, Cook said.
Apple also has created jobs in the mobile-software industry through the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, which fueled an explosion in creation of applications, he said.
Besides building a new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is working on a campus in Austin, Texas, and building new data centers in Nevada and Oregon while expanding an existing one in Maiden, N.C., he said.
Before shifting work abroad, Apple had handled manufacturing in such locations as as Elk Grove, near Sacramento.
Mac desktop and laptop computers-once Apple's cornerstone-have been dwarfed by the iPhone and iPad more recently. With sales of $23.2 billion on 18.2 million units last year, Macs accounted for just 15 percent of total revenue. The device is currently manufactured mostly in China.
Apple and its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group have faced criticism from labor- and worker-rights groups for the conditions at facilities where Apple products are made. Cook defended Apple's practices, including enlisting the Fair Labor Association to audit Foxconn's factories.
"We're doing a number of things that I think are really great, really different, and industry-leading," Cook said. "No one is looking at this as deeply as we are or going as deep in the supply chain."