The new iMacs' 5mm edges and vivid displays are the first things you will notice about Apple's brand-new all-in-one desktops, which went on sale last Friday. But a few people noticed something else.
On the bottom of a few iMac pedestals, some buyers saw the following text: "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in USA." Most Apple products, of course, say "Assembled in China."
iFixit.com, a website that dismantles products to determine the cost and make of the system, also had a machine made in the U.S. "It's the first product from Apple in quite a long while that says 'Assembled in the United States,' " Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's chief information architect, told ABC News. iFixit said it bought the iMac at an Apple Store. It did not configure it with any special parts from Apple's website.
Apple declined to comment on the iMacs assembled in the U.S.
Some analysts and journalists do point out that Apple has assembled some of its recent Mac products in the U.S. before. Both 9to5Mac and Fortune pointed out that it wasn't that rare for Mac computers that can be configured online. In fact a number of conversations on Apple.com, dating all the way back to 2006, indicate that a number of configure-to-order Mac machines had shipped with the same text.
9to5Mac editor Seth Weintraub pointed out that these new iMac systems are not configure-to-order. "But now we are seeing with standard off-the-shelf, and these are the first ones out of the gate, so it seems suspicious," Weintraub said. He also pointed out that Apple's 10K filings with the SEC show that the company has no "manufacturing facilities in the U.S."
The Federal Trade Commission states specifically, "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." The same site pointed out that Apple had a plant in Elk Grove and that it has been hiring over the last year.
ABC News' own iMac review unit was not assembled in the U.S. It was labeled "Assembled in China" on the bottom. Apple has manufactured and assembled most of its products in China and has been widely criticized for the poor working conditions in the factories of its Foxconn contractor. ABC News' Bill Weir got an exclusive look at some of those factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China in February of last year. Since that trip, Apple, along with the Fair Labor Association, has vowed to make changes to working hours, overtime and more.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said before that he would like to make more Apple products domestically. "I want there to be a product made in the United States," he said at the All Things D conference in May. He pointed out that some parts are made in the U.S., including the Gorilla Glass screen on Apple's iPhones.
In October, Lenovo announced plans to bring some production of its ThinkPad laptops and desktops to the U.S. The company will start assembling and making hardware in early 2013 in Whitsett, North Carolina.
Given Apple's silence on this, it is likely the company hasn't taken such a step and that this isn't any different than past "Assembled in USA" Macs. One would assume Apple would be far more vocal about bringing more manufacturing capabilities to America. Of course, Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the business, but for now we do know that at least some of those large iMacs are being "assembled in USA" right now.