Where to build those “damned computers”?

Mr. Bombast, himself, told an audience that were he president he’d get Apple, Inc., to manufacture and assemble its products in America rather than in China and elsewhere. So, why doesn’t Apple build here?

Apple expert John Gruber offers this explanation:

The U.S. can’t compete with China on wages. It can’t compete on the size of the labor force. China has had a decades-long push in its education system to train these workers; the U.S. has not. And the U.S. doesn’t have the facilities or the proximity to the Asian component manufacturers.

The only way Apple could ever switch to U.S. assembly and manufacturing would be if they automated the entire process — to build machines that build the machines. That, in fact, is what NeXT did while they were in the hardware business. But NeXT only ever sold about 50,000 computers total. Apple needed to assemble 35,000 iPhones per hour last year.

So long as assembling these devices remains labor intensive, it has to happen in China. And if someday it becomes automated — if the machines are built by machines — by definition it’s not going to create manufacturing jobs.