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New York (AFP) Dec 6, 2012
Apple plans to bring some manufacturing of its computers from China to the United States next year, chief executive Tim Cook said, in a move aimed at sparking more domestic high-tech production.
Cook, in two interviews released Thursday, said one line of Mac computers will be made exclusively in the United States, but did not say which one, nor did he say where the manufacturing would be done.
The interviews with NBC News, to air later Thursday, and with Bloomberg Businessweek, were the first since Cook took the reins at Apple from Steve Jobs, who died last year from cancer.
"Next year we're going to bring some production to the US," Cook told Businessweek.
"We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it's broader because we wanted to do something more substantial. So we'll literally invest over $100 million. This doesn't mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we'll be working with people, and we'll be investing our money."
Cook told NBC one of the existing Mac lines will be manufactured exclusively in the United States, which appeared to confirm rumors on some Apple-monitoring blogs saying people had seen iMacs inscribed with "Assembled in USA."
"We've been working for years on doing more and more in the United States," Cook told NBC.
Asked why Apple would not move out of China entirely and manufacture everything in the United States, Cook told NBC, "It's not so much about price, it's about the skills."
Cook said that "there are skills associated with manufacturing which have left the US," and that the plan is part of "a concerted effort to get it back."
Cook also told the broadcaster that he hopes the new project will help spur other US firms to bring manufacturing back home.
"The consumer electronics world was really never here," he told NBC. "It's a matter of starting it here."
Cook said Apple already produces many components for its devices like the iPhone in the United States, even if assembly is done elsewhere.
He maintained that the move is part of the company's responsibility, but that Apple already helps create jobs in the US, based on outside estimates of its economic impact.
"We've created about 600,000 jobs in the US," he told Businessweek.
"They all don't work for Apple. We're part of a global economy. Over 60 percent of our sales are outside the United States. So we have a responsibility to others as well. But this is our home market, and I take all of those very seriously -- jobs, education, giving back, the environment."
Apple subcontractors make most of the company's devices in China, but have been criticized on worker conditions and other issues.
The interviews come with Apple's stock in a downward spiral, and following the worst decline in four years Wednesday.
Apple shares have slid more than 20 percent from record highs hit in September ahead of the release of the iPhone 5.
There has been no single catalyst for Apple losing its luster, although some analysts say it has lost its edge in innovation, and that its iconic iPhone and iPad are facing tougher competition.
Cook said that Jobs, before his death, told him to follow his own instincts rather seek to steer the same course for Apple.
"One of the things he did for me, that removed a gigantic burden that would have normally existed, is he told me, on a couple of occasions before he passed away, to never question what he would have done," Cook told NBC.
"Never ask the question, 'What Steve would do?' to just do what's right."
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