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2013 Mac Pro Launch Was 'Postponed' Due Partly to Shortage of 'Made in USA' Screws

The New York Times today published a story explaining why Apple is unlikely to manufacture more of its products in the United States.


The report reveals an interesting anecdote about the latest Mac Pro. In late 2012, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted that the computer would be "Made in the USA," but sales were supposedly postponed by months in part because Apple could not secure enough custom screws for the computer from U.S.-based suppliers.

A machine shop in Texas tasked with the job could produce at most 1,000 screws a day, according to the report. By the time the computer was ready for mass production, this shortage gave Apple little choice but to order screws from China where factories can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice.

Apple's manufacturing partner eventually turned to another Texas supplier in Caldwell Manufacturing, which was hired to make 28,000 screws, the report adds. That company delivered 28,000 screws over 22 trips, with its owner Stephen Melo often "making the one-hour drive himself in his Lexus sedan."

The report goes on to describe how the United States struggles to compete with China's combination of scale, skills, infrastructure, and cost. In short, American workers are typically more expensive and unwilling to work around the clock.

In response to the report, an Apple spokesperson told The New York Times that Apple was "an engine of economic growth in the United States" that spent $60 billion last year with 9,000 American suppliers, helping to support 450,000 jobs.

Apple has promised to release a new Mac Pro in 2019, but it's unclear where it will be manufactured.

Update: MacRumors has obtained Apple's full statement regarding this topic, consistent with a press release it has shared on Apple Newsroom:
Apple is proud to be an engine of economic growth in the United States, supporting two million jobs across all fifty states.  Last year our spend with 9,000 American component suppliers and companies increased more than 10 percent to $60 billion, supporting over 450,000 jobs. Every one of our core products contains parts or materials from the US or is made with equipment from US suppliers, and we work with manufacturing locations in 38 states. 

The revolutionary Face ID that unlocks iPhone and iPad Pro is powered in part by vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) made by Finisar in Allen, Texas. iPhone and iPad include glass made by Corning in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. And Broadcom in Fort Collins, Colorado, Qorvo in Hillsboro, Oregon and Skyworks in Woburn, Massachusetts all make parts to enable seamless wireless connectivity around the world.

Last year we confirmed our direct contributions in the US would top $350 billion by 2023 and we are on track to meeting that commitment. From corporate employees and our retail teams, to app developers, manufacturing workers and logistics employees, Apple is creating jobs across the country and we are deeply committed to advancing American innovation.


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Top Rated Comments

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12 weeks ago
The better question is why did it need custom screws in the first place...
Rating: 67 Votes
12 weeks ago
This is funny, for decades these companies outsourced everything under the sun, but then come back and ask area manufacturers to make a product for them that they are not set up to do anymore.

I’ve been in manufacturing for 25 years and have seen first hand the devastation this outsourcing has done to these companies and people.
Rating: 40 Votes
12 weeks ago
Perhaps trying to mass produce a product using custom screws wasn't very smart.
Rating: 34 Votes
12 weeks ago

Is there a large demand for a Mac Pro? I'm genuinely curious.


There is a demand for a Mac Pro. There is not a demand for the current Mac Pro.
Rating: 33 Votes
12 weeks ago

As it should be.

America isn't a manufacturing economy. If China can make things cheaper, LET THEM.

Americans spend thousands of dollars publicly on each citizen to teach them things like calculus and fine arts and literature so that they DON'T have to do things like manual assembly labor.

How many millennials do you know are willing to work doing manual labor like picking strawberries or cleaning toilets or assembling houses? Nobody in America wants to do that at ANY price - and that's confirmed by employers having difficulty finding workers to fill those roles.

Let other unskilled people in countries do those kind of work. Let's open the borders so that low-skilled people can come in and do the manual labor that Americans don't want to do.

This is the optimum global economic strategy. I have no idea why Apple thought it was a good idea to manufacture in the US when it was obvious China (or other places in Asia) was a better option.

Where do you live? Just wondering.

There are plenty of millennials who would work in the manufacturing. Take a car ride outside your bubble.
Rating: 33 Votes
12 weeks ago
Screw it.
Rating: 27 Votes
12 weeks ago
As it should be.

America isn't a manufacturing economy. If China can make things cheaper, LET THEM.

Americans spend thousands of dollars publicly on each citizen to teach them things like calculus and fine arts and literature so that they DON'T have to do things like manual assembly labor.

How many millennials do you know are willing to work doing manual labor like picking strawberries or cleaning toilets or assembling houses? Nobody in America wants to do that at ANY price - and that's confirmed by employers having difficulty finding workers to fill those roles.

Let other unskilled people in countries do those kind of work. Let's open the borders so that low-skilled people can come in and do the manual labor that Americans don't want to do.

This is the optimum global economic strategy. I have no idea why Apple thought it was a good idea to manufacture in the US when it was obvious China (or other places in Asia) was a better option.
Rating: 27 Votes
12 weeks ago
I get the point of the article in general, but by singling out that "custom screw" I cannot help but wonder what kind of weird screw they are talking about, and whether the Mac Pro could not have been designed to use normal screws.
Rating: 26 Votes
12 weeks ago

I get the point of the article in general, but by singling out that "custom screw" I cannot help but wonder what kind of weird screw they are talking about, and whether the Mac Pro could not have been designed to use normal screws.


Exactly.

What other "Custom" parts are used that could easily be replaced with "off the shelf" parts, and possibly, wait for it , reduce the cost of Apple products?
Rating: 19 Votes
12 weeks ago
For want of a screw, the Mac Pro was lost.
Rating: 19 Votes

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