NEW YORK — Apple Inc. chief executive Tim Cook said the company will move production of one of its existing lines of Mac computers to the United States next year.
Industry watchers said the announcement is both a cunning public relations move and a harbinger of more manufacturing jobs moving back to the United States as wages rise in China.
Cook made the comments in part of an interview taped for NBC’s ‘‘Rock Center,’’ but aired Thursday morning on ‘‘Today’’ and posted on the network’s website.
In a separate interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he said the company will spend $100 million in 2013 to move production of the line to the Ubited States from China.
‘‘This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people and we’ll be investing our money,’’ Cook told Bloomberg.
That suggests the company could be helping its Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group to set up a factory in the United States.
Apple representatives had no comment Thursday beyond Cook’s remarks.
Like most consumer electronics companies, Apple forges agreements with contract manufacturers to assemble its products overseas. However, the assembly accounts for a fraction 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 United States, Cook noted in his interview with NBC.
The company and Foxconn have faced significant criticism this year over working conditions at the Chinese facilities where Apple products are assembled. The attention prompted 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.
Apple is latching on to a trend that could see many jobs move back to the United States, said Hal Sirkin, a partner with The Boston Consulting Group. He noted that Lenovo Group, the Chinese company that rivals Hewlett-Packard Co. as the world’s largest PC maker, said in October it will start making PCs and tablets in the United States. Chinese wages are rising 15 to 20 percent per year, Sirkin said. US wages are rising more slowly, and the country is a cheap place to hire compared with other developed countries like Germany and Japan, he said.