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Next Mac Mini might be 'Made in USA'

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(Read caption) A new rumor suggests that Apple might move the production of the Mac mini to the US. Here, CEO Tim Cook speaks at the launch of the iPhone 5 in September.

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When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced earlier in December that some Mac computers would be produced in the US in 2013, he didn't give many specifics. The company would invest at least $100 million, he said, to move some of its manufacturing from China to the United States. Lots of news outlets speculated that the iMac line would be produced domestically, since some iMacs with "Assembled in USA" stamps had already started showing up in stores.

Now, the Taiwanese trade magazine DigiTimes says that the Mac mini will be built in the US starting next year.

DigiTimes says Apple will move the assembly of the Mac Mini to an American factory run by its manufacturing partner FoxConn. FoxConn will begin recruiting workers in 2013 for "new automated production lines," DigiTimes says, citing "sources from the upstream supply chain."

It's worth taking this rumor with an extra grain of salt, since DigiTimes doesn't have a great track record when it comes to stories about Apple. Still, the idea of stateside Mac Mini assembly makes a good deal of sense: the machine has fewer parts than either the iMac or the Mac Pro, so it would be better suited for automated production. The Mac Mini also comes in fewer different configurations, meaning it's simpler to produce and doesn't require as much customization on the factory end. If Apple is going to invest the money upfront to establish production lines in the US, the high-volume Mac mini is a good candidate for those lines.

DigiTimes also predicted that Mac Mini sales will rise by 30 percent in 2013, driven by the popularity of the Mac Mini upgrades that Apple unveiled in October. That would mean 1.8 million Mac Minis shipped in 2013, compared with 1.4 million in 2012.

Apple has been enthusiastically drawing attention to its American operations, both current and planned, for months now. In an interview with NBC on December 6, Cook estimated that Apple had created 600,000 jobs in the US over the years.

He added, "We've been working for years on doing more and more in the United States." He also noted that Apple maintains data centers in North Carolina, Nevada, and Oregon, and plans to add a new one in Texas.

Would you be more likely to buy a Mac if you knew it was made in the US? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more tech news, follow Jeff on Twitter@jeffwardbailey.

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