Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Are Apple's new iMacs being assembled in the U.S.?

December 1, 2012: 3:51 PM ET

Probably not, although some come with labels that suggest they are

photoFORTUNE --  A reader -- let's call him Aaron Gong -- wrote Saturday to say that he bought a new 21-inch iMac at an Apple Store in San Jose, Calif., and was surprised when he opened the box to see it marked "Assembled in USA" rather than in China, as we've all come to expect.

I checked with a neighbor who also bought a new 21-inch iMac this week -- this one at the 14th Street Apple Store in Manhattan -- and his was marked "Assembled in China."

So we can be pretty sure Apple (AAPL) hasn't transported its entire iMac manufacturing operations back to the States.

In fact, if the company had made such a political popular move, I'm certain Apple PR would have found a more effective way to spread the word than with a little label on the back of an iMac.

As it turns out, this is not the first time the assembled-in-USA question has come up. There are several threads on the topic in the Apple support site dating back to 2006. The consensus seems to be that only units made to order -- say, with an extra-high-capacity hard drive -- get their final assembly in the States.

What's odd about Gong's iMac is that it was a stock, off-the-shelf, entry-level model, and not in any way made-to-order. It's a mystery.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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