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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 6, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Analyst: Apple’s U.S. factory plan likely “negligible”

Apple’s plan to resume U.S. manufacturing of some Mac computers is largely for public relations and will involve a “neglible” percentage of production, according to a firm tracking the industry.

Apple is likely to shift only a small percentage of Mac production to the U.S., and Apple remains a “relatively small player in the global PC market,” IHS iSuppi said in a release. It noted that Apple had a 5.8 percent share of the global PC market in the third quarter.

“The percentage of production likely to be shifted by Apple from Asia to the United States in 2013 is likely to be negligible, both for the company and for [the] PC industry at large,” Craig Stice, senior principal analyst at IHS said in the release.

Stice added that Apple’s “insourcing” move could still “compel other companies to follow suit and transfer production to the United States over the next few years.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an NBC interview that his company would spend about $100 million to move the production line to the U.S. That’s less than 1 percent of the $10.3 billion that Apple spent on capital projects last fiscal year.

Apple outsources most of its manufacturing to companies such as Foxconn that operate massive facilities in China. It continues to operate its own manufacturing facility in Ireland.

Last month word surfaced that Foxconn was looking to set up assembly facilities in U.S. cities such as Detroit and Los Angeles, a move that could provide some tax benefits and P.R. points for an industry under scrutiny for evading U.S. taxes and labor standards.

The Foxconn story said the company wasn’t going to produce Apple products in the U.S. because they were too complicated, but perhaps it’s now thinking differently.

I guess better here than there, especially if it forces Apple to pay taxes on some of the huge pile of cash its accumulating overseas.

But it seems like a mixed blessing that the U.S. is becoming as attractive as China for the lowest tier of jobs in the PC production line.

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