It was one doozy of an Apple (AAPL) corporate announcement.
But mid-way through his State of the Union speech, President Obama Tuesday looked up at Apple CEO Tim Cook, sitting in the first lady's box with Michelle Obama, and briefly became spokesman for the most valuable tech company on earth.
"This year," Obama told the crowd, "Apple will start making Macs in America again."
It was only ten words, wedged into the middle of an hour-long speech. But it made at least one guy in the audience happy: the cameras zoomed in on Cook's smiling face.
The news that Apple would manufacture some of its Macintosh computers in the United States was not unexpected -- Cook told Bloomberg Businessweek in December as much. And bringing jobs to the US instead of off-shoring them to China could go a long way to improving Apple's sometimes blemished image of hiring Chinese workers on the cheap and then working them to the bone.
But to have the president of the United States serve as your celebrity spokesman was a real coup, even by the high standards set by former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, who made product announcements a high-art form.
Obama offered no more details about Apple's plans, and quickly moved on to other
topics. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for company comment on the president's comment.
Last December, Cook said the Cupertino company would start producing one of its Mac computer lines somewhere in the United States starting this year. He said Apple won't manufacture the computers itself, but will contract with other companies and invest $100 million in the effort.
"We've been working on this for a long time, and we were getting closer to it," he told Bloomberg Businessweek at the time. "We could have quickly maybe done just assembly, but it's broader because we wanted to do something more substantial."
Cook's presence in the first lady's box was a perfect opportunity for Obama to praise Apple's plan and use the example as yet another in what he hopes to be a series of announcements in the coming months. Job creation is a key component of the president's second-term agenda and being able to drop Apple's name into his State of the Union address must have been sweet.
Cook was joined in the box by military families, those championing immigration reform and those whose lives have been touched by gun violence. His high-profile inclusion in the audience was no accident: An administration official said Cook heads a company that underscores America's innovation economy.
Last year, Michelle Obama's guests included Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and Mike Krieger, co-founder of photography app Instagram.
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