Thursday, December 27, 2012

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Plans To Bring Mac Mini Production To The U.S.

TechCrunch has reported earlier today that Apple Inc. (AAPL) will be utilizing its partnership with Foxconn to move its production of the Mac Mini to the United States. According to sources within Apple's supply chain, who spoke with Digitimes, Foxconn already has approximately 15 "operating bases" inside the U.S. Two of the states rumored to have these bases are California and Texas, where there are factories already in operation that perform the final assembly of the units that are partially assembled elsewhere. Foxconn has already denied rumors that indicated there were plans to expand to Detroit earlier this year, but did mention in the denial that there were several U.S. factories already in operation.

According to TechCrunch, part of this production move will include a push to outfit Foxconn's factories with more automated workers, which seems to confirm rumors we heard back in November. More automation would help Apple overcome the cost barriers and other limitations that were blamed for a lack of U.S. production in the past.

The Mac Mini poses a great unit for Apple to use to test the waters of U.S. production. One reason for this fact is that just like the Mac Pro, the Mini does not have a display monitor. By eliminating the need for a display to be produced, Apple has cut the costs of producing these machines immensely. The displays that are associated with products like the iPad or iPhone require an integration of many different materials, and careful adjustments may be needed in order to ensure that the pieces function properly. This can mean that additional adjustments and test may need to be made after production has already begun, and if the display manufacturers are not close to the final assembly plant, the resulting delay could be disastrous.

The Mac Mini is not one of Apple's best selling products, which could work in their favor this time. Because the estimated 1.4 million units for 2012 is a much smaller number than say the iPhone 5, which sold millions of units in its first 48 hours of availability, this is a good test project that Apple can use to determine whether other products should also be produced here.

While Digitimes has not always proven to be the most reliable source of information in the past, Apple Inc. (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is on the record as having said that the production of Mac product would indeed be coming to the U.S. in 2013. This could be the rumor that proves to be true.