Apple's latest 21.5-inch iMac made some good first impressions for reviewers who gazed upon its razor-thin design. In this iFixit teardown though, one item in particular caught the public's attention: the words "Assembled in USA" etched into the rear of its aluminum chassis.
It's important to note that not every new iMac bears the USA stamp: some are clearly marked as being assembled in China; however, this is an interesting development: is Apple actually manfacturing some of its new iMacs in America?
As 9to5Mac points out, the FTC states "Assembled in the USA" should mean a "substantial transformation" of the product took place on American soil.
"A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA” without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the assembly is substantial."
"Example: A lawn mower, composed of all domestic parts except for the cable sheathing, flywheel, wheel rims and air filter (15 to 20 percent foreign content) is assembled in the U.S. An "Assembled in USA" claim is appropriate."
It's no surprise that an overwhelming amount of electronics are manufacturered in Asia -- particularly China. Asian factories are sufficiently advanced to stamp out consumer electronics on a massive scale and the labor is inexpensive enough to lure virtually any big company into outsourcing high-volume, menial tasks.
Even though most computers, tablets and smartphones are manufactured in Asia these days, devices typically aren't entirely foreign-made though. The glass on your smartphone, for example, is likely made in Corning's Kentucky factory; your tablet's microprocessor may have been made in Texas; but the job of assembling those parts has often been left to companies overseas.
There has been some concern that these purportedly domestically assembled units could actually be refurbished ones, somehow finding their way to unsuspecting consumers. Apple's refurbs are typically reconditioned in the U.S, earning them a "Refurbished in the USA" label, which is the reasoning behind this suspicion.
In recent times though, refurbished iMacs have not only traditionally carried a special "RFB" identifier in their model inscriptions, but also retain their "Assembled in China" designation, regardless. For the new iMacs, the "Assembled in USA" text is also permanently etched into the aluminum, further removing the prospect of mistakenly-sold refurbs as a possible explanation.
While the days of Apple manufacturing all of its products in Cupertino are long gone, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said he wants to bring back manufacturing jobs to America. Whether or not that wish will transform into something substantial remains to be seen. Incidentally, Lenovo may be one step ahead of Apple in this regard: the PC maker just opened a production line in North Carolina.