Trouble in Austin: Apple repeats last year’s iMac holiday shortage with the Mac Pro

Bbx2BNlIIAAiqJJ.jpg-largeThe December supply of Mac Pros?

The new Mac Pro is an awesome machine for those with several thousand dollars to spend on a computer and a need for all the power that comes with that thermal core, but managing to get one is going to be difficult for the next few months even if you have the credit card ready. Yesterday, Apple announced that the Mac Pro would go on sale today, December 19th. The store went live last night with the Mac Pro shipping the very last non-holi-day of 2013, December 30th.

As we noted earlier today, Apple’s customers in its home state of California awoke to Mac Pros being quoted to ship in February. But it gets worse…

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Is there some secret iMac assembly plant in the US?


imac-assembled-usa
iFixit

From iFixit’s ritual iMac dismemberment yesterday, we learn that the particular 21.5-inch iMac they bought says it was “Assembled in USA”. The moniker isn’t new—we’ve seen it since at least a few iMac models back on the packaging. But as far as we can tell, “Assembled in USA” wasn’t etched in the actual machine’s aluminum, leading people to believe that the iMacs that were shipped were “refurbished in the USA”. However, this forum shows that some were actually assembled and sold new with the “Assembled in USA” label (below—27-inch iMac, previous gen).

iMac_label

Regardless of previous endeavors, Apple is shipping new iMacs “Assembled in USA”.  PED at Fortune found one. Jay Yarrow at BI found one, too. This isn’t an isolated incident. We also heard that other new iMacs say “Assembled in China”, as you’d expect.

Still, it makes for an interesting question:  Is Apple building some of its iMacs in the United States? Is that percentage growing since it seems much of the first line of iMacs are coming with USA labels?

The “Assembled in USA” label doesn’t just mean that foreign parts screwed together in the U.S. either. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission assumes that a “substantial transformation” must happen in the U.S. for the label to be used.

Specifically, the FTC states that the label “Assembled in the USA” should be the following:

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. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last “substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why a “screwdriver” assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled in USA” claim.

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.

Here’s where it gets more interesting. The FTC gives the specific example of a computer manufacture:

Example: All the major components of a computer, including the motherboard and hard drive, are imported. The computer’s components then are put together in a simple “screwdriver” operation in the U.S., are not substantially transformed under the Customs Standard, and must be marked with a foreign country of origin. An “Assembled in U.S.” claim without further qualification is deceptive.

That means one of two things: Either Apple or its contractors have some sort of significant manufacturing operations in the U.S., or it is being deceptive in its marketing (something that sadly, isn’t out of character)… Read more