Macs made in the USA. At least some of them.
That's the mantra Apple CEO Tim Cook is talking about to NBC News on Thursday, promising that the Silicon Valley-based company will produce one of its existing lines of Mac computers in the United States next year.
The news is big because Cook rarely does media interviews, which he will in full on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams tonight at 10 p.m.
It's also news because Apple has taken a lot of heat over the past couple of years after a rash of suicides at plants in China run by Foxconn, which has drawn the attention to working conditions at the world’s largest contract supplier.
Given that, why doesn’t Apple leave China entirely and manufacture everything in the U.S.?
“It’s not so much about price, it’s about the skills,” Cook told Williams in a portion of the Rock Center interview that aired Thursday morning on the "Today" show.
To see a segment of that interview, watch below:
While the "Made in USA" theme of the Cook interview is grabbing headlines, the other topics that Cook touches on during the interview include missing his friend Steve Jobs and the Apple Maps gaffe.
Like most consumer electronics companies, Apple lets contract manufacturers assemble its products overseas. However, the assembly accounts for little of the cost of making a PC or smartphone. Most of the cost lies in buying chips, and many of those are made in the U.S., Cook noted in his interview with NBC.
The company and its manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group have faced significant criticism this year over working conditions at the Chinese facilities where Apple products are assembled, prompting Foxconn to raise salaries.
Cook didn't say which line of computers would be produced in the United States or where in the country they would be made. But he told Bloomberg that the production would include more than just final assembly. That suggests that machining of cases and printing of circuit boards could take place in the United States.
Regardless, the U.S. manufacturing line is expected to represent just a tiny piece of Apple overall production, with sales of iPhones and iPads now dwarfing those of its computers.
Apple originally made its computers in the U.S. It started outsourcing production in the mid-90s, first by selling some plants to contract manufacturers, then by hiring manufacturers overseas. It assembled iMacs in Elk Grove, until 2004.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.