Is Apple shifting new iMac production to the US?

The company has stopped placing orders with certain overseas suppliers, leading some to speculate it may be making good on its promise to manufacture the computers at home.

By Benzinga Apr 18, 2013 3:39PM
 Cargo ship copyright Image Source, CorbisBy Louis Bedigian

Apple (AAPL) has reportedly stopped placing orders for new Mac-related components, leaving suppliers stranded with remaining inventories.

According to DigiTimes, the overseas suppliers had expected to finish "digesting their Mac inventories" in April. That plan came to a screeching halt the moment Apple walked away.

To make matters worse, suppliers informed DigiTimes that they have yet to receive any details about when Apple may resume taking orders for the new Mac.

This is an unusual move for Apple, which has reportedly provided its suppliers with a 12-week shipping forecast. Without any schedule, suppliers fear that they may not receive any additional orders until the end of May.

"The sources revealed that Apple's Mac orders to the supply chain dropped to almost nothing after the Lunar New Year holidays," DigiTimes' Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai wrote. 

"Apple had high hopes for its Mac product lines and placed aggressive orders at the end of 2012; however, the company is now badly affected by the decision."

DigiTimes speculated that Apple may have underestimated the "weak status" of the PC industry, which has been overwhelmed with declines. Apple's non-PC products -- primarily iPads and iPhones -- have contributed to the erosion of PC sales.

Thus, it sounds like the new iMac might be doing poorly at retail. At the very least, Apple might be selling fewer units than it had anticipated.

This is not the first sign of trouble for the new Mac. After three years of increases, collective Mac sales declined more than 20% during the fiscal 2013 first quarter (ended Dec. 29, 2012).

Apple does not specifically detail how many individual units are sold each quarter, so it is impossible to say if the new iMac is responsible for the sales decline.

The Mac Mini or MacBook Pro with Retina Display could also be responsible. Sales of older MacBook Pro models -- which are slowly disappearing from retail -- may have also added to the decline.

There are other possibilities, however. Apple may have stopped ordering new components because it has decided to switch suppliers. Alternatively, the company may have decided to overhaul the iMac and release an updated version this spring.

Better still, Apple may have stopped ordering components because it is making good on its promise to produce (see Benzinga) Macs in America. Some iMacs are already being assembled in the United States, but perhaps Apple is taking another major step in its effort to bring production back home.

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