Apple has long been criticized for employing cheap labor from other parts of the world. The most popular of countries which has this economic advantage is China, a country which hasn’t exactly been lauded for its exemplary work conditions and high pay.
Other American companies like HP, Dell and the like which make consumer electronics products have also had this problem Apple has. However, being the most high-profile tech company in the world doesn’t do any favors for Apple here. Criticisms against the company for making products out of the U.S. have been harsher precisely because of the height it has attained. Apple is America’s largest consumer electronics company and it has taken the flak for that when seen in this context.
As such, Lenovo’s announcement that it will make computers in the U.S. may come as a shock, to say the least. Lenovo is China’s biggest computer manufacturer and it has revealed that it will open a computer manufacturing line in the U.S. There has never been a more apt time to describe an event as a “role reversal”.
Furthermore, the company’s planned facility is not just a small-time manufacturing line. In the press release Lenovo published, it said that the facility “will be capable of turning out some of Lenovo’s newest and most innovative products, such as the recently announced ThinkCentre M92p Tiny desktop and ThinkPad Tablet 2.”
A Chinese company will be making a tablet in the U.S. What struck me is this: Why can’t Apple make the iPad in the U.S.? Let’s get back to that question a little later.
Lenovo says that the manufacturing line is for its future. In a statement, Lenovo Chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang said that “Lenovo is establishing a U.S. manufacturing base because we believe in the long-term strength of the American PC market and our own growth opportunities here.”
“As Lenovo expands globally, we are establishing even deeper roots in each major market. In addition to localized sales and marketing teams, in our major countries we are establishing an even stronger manufacturing footprint, investing in R&D and ensuring that we hire top local talent,” he said.
“This global reach with local excellence helps us become even faster, more innovative and more responsive to our customers around the world,” he added.
The move has been lauded by politicians in North Carolina where the manufacturing line will be built. The facility which will be put up in Whitsett, North Carolina, near Greensboro.
“Lenovo’s decision to create electronic manufacturing jobs in North Carolina is a tremendous vote of confidence in the great skills and productivity of our state’s workforce,” North Carolina Governor Beverly Purdue said.
“We have a strong track record of commitments to education, training and economic policies that promote growth in our state’s manufacturing sector. This decision by Lenovo clearly demonstrates that North Carolina is an attractive place where leading global businesses can thrive,” she added.
In a statement, Senator Richard Burr was equally appreciative of Lenovo.
“I am very pleased with this announcement, and I congratulate Lenovo on their growth and on making the wise decision to invest in North Carolina and in our state’s workforce,” he said.
“The trend lately has been for manufacturing jobs to be created abroad, but some of the brightest and best trained talent in these high-tech fields can be found right here in America. I am proud of Lenovo for recognizing the talent and the potential here in North Carolina, and I look forward to even more growth in this sector in the years to come,” he added.
That’s like a dig at other companies – Apple included – for NOT “recognizing the talent and potential here in North Carolina”, and by extension, the U.S.
The facility itself is huge and will be housed at Lenovo’s recently expanded 240,000-square-foot U.S. distribution center in Whitsett. The new manufacturing line will create 115 manufacturing and related positions, which will be filled starting later this year as the line is expected to open early next year.
Some may say that that’s just a small number of people. However, those are still jobs created in the U.S. which otherwise would not be there had this Chinese company decided not to build computers in North Carolina.
So why can’t Apple make some iPads and some Mac computers in the U.S.?
They can make the iPads, iPhones, and Macs which will otherwise be shipped from abroad in America. Some may argue that it would make life more complicated for Apple and not to mention less profitable. However, if a company like Lenovo is willing to take on that complication and less profit, why can’t Apple which has a ton of money in the bank?
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.