Made in the U.S.A. - Google's killer new feature?

Made in the U.S.A. - Google's killer new feature?

Summary: The biggest revelation coming out of Google I/O wasn't the Nexus 7 or the Nexus Q - it was the fact that Google's manufacturing a gadget in the United States.

TOPICS: Google

Made in the U.S.A. - Google's killer new feature? Jason O'Grady

There have been a fair amount of announcements coming out of Google I/O this week (some more interesting than others) but there's one particular piece of news that hasn't received the attention that it deserves. No, it's not the skydiving squirrel men, nor the bike riding tricksters (or even Sergey Brin in shorts!) in fact, its not a product at all -- but where it's made.

The Nexus Q is Google's attempt to re-enter the living room after the Google TV almost got it ostracized forever. The Q hardware itself is mostly a me-too attempt by Google to stake its claim, but the most amazing feature of Google's pricey orb are the words engraved on the bottom: "Designed and Manufactured in the USA."

For the first time (in a long time) a piece of of silicon valley hardware is actually manufactured (read: assembled) in the good ole U.S. of A.

Up until 1992 all Macs were assembled in Fremont, CA, but they slowly got moved off shore and Steve Jobs eventually convinced us that our favorite gadgets can't be made in the U.S. The words most used when justifying the trend are "scale," "flexibility," "diligence," and "skills." While some of that may be true, the cold, hard facts are that the Foxconn workers make $17 per day, which makes it cheaper to make stuff in China. And everyone loves cheaper gadgets -- or do they?

Judging by the initial reaction to the Nexus Q ("Dead on Arrival" - PC Mag), price is an issue. It's estimated that Foxconn Technology manufactures 40 percent of all consumer electronics in China (for the likes of Amazon, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Sony.) The Apple TV (made in China) costs $99 while the Nexus Q (made in the U.S.) costs $299, that's quite a gap for what's essentially the same product.

During the D: All Things Digital conference in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested that he wanted to make more components, and perhaps even assemble them, in the U.S. but Google beat him to it with the Q. Sure the glass on the iPhone may be made in Kentucky and the Apple A5 processor (found in the iPad and iPhone) is built in Texas but almost everything else is made and assembled offshore.

Granted, most people wouldn't pay three times more for their iPhones or iPads, but many would pay a premium to bring jobs back to the U.S. - I know I'd probably pay as much as 25 percent more, but I think that that's my ceiling.

Would you pay a premium for tech hardware that's built in the U.S.? How much?

Photo: TechCrunch

Topic: Google

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  • made in the US, but...

    might be made in the US, but with Flash support being discontinued for Android in a few months, will it not really be able to see the "full web" anymore so all the iOS haters will start hating it too?
    • Nice try but...

      Google builds its own flash support into Chrome and that is their browser going forward so, I can see Flash continuing on for some time. No, Flash isn't yet in the mobile version of Chrome but it will get there.
  • I will pay more for a product built by people working in fair conditions

    No matter which country the product is built in.
    • Ah, good old American ethnocentrism

      on display. Working conditions at Foxconn are apparently so good, that there are waiting lists to get hired there.
  • Are You Kidding With this?

    They gave away more at the I/O conference than they are goIng to sell. When a significant gadget that will move tens of millions of units a quarter is made in the US, give us a call.
  • Hey, this is a good start!

    If it was a product that I could use, I would actually buy it just because it is made in the USA. Good for you google! Even though I hate most of your guts :)
  • Good for sales?

    Good for both Google and the product. But will it really boost the sales? need to wait and watch.

    - Sara
  • Good for Google

    Yes, I would pay more to have the products I buy - made in the U.S.A. With today's global economy, you have to expect some offshoring, but what galls me is when American companies say they go overseas to manufacture their products because there is not the skilled labor in the U.S. That is just plain BS. As you said, the primary motivation for going offshore is money. This applies to offshoring of IT jobs too. It is about money, not a more skilled labor force. If Apple and others would just be honest about it, it would make it a little easier to accept.
    • Money and Skilled

      I never believed the skilled labor argument either but was just thinking about it and there might be a loop hole that makes it true. We don't have the skilled labor here that is willing to work cheap enough, not that we don't have the skilled labor.
      • When you hire the most expensive

        company to redo your roof or take care of your yard, to make sure people have a "fair" wage, come talk to me. Oh. Wait. You're happy to spend OTHER people's money, but when it's yours, that's an entirely different matter.
  • Smooth tactic

    I can think of over 3000 people that will buy this over the competition simply because it is made in the USA... Google is targeting for the move..
  • As I do not live in the US...

    this means very little to me. At least I can be sure that the workers that are building this gadget are being properly compensated. But, unfortunately, it's a Google product so I would not touch it with a 10 foot privacy invading pole.
  • Well of course....

    This isn't china, workers tend to be paid more than $14/day here. Gas isn't exactly $.5 a gallon anymore either.
  • you forget

    Mfg was offshored to artificially boost profits from 40 to 60+%. Since people will eventually be making $16 per day to 'compete', what happens then?

    When companies spun the system for their gain at our expense, even propped up by subsidy welfare and bailouts, it is wrong to tell us we wouldn't pay more. Electronics companies are low+-margin or so i keep reading but when only salary goes down , during which phases and circumstances allow higher profits... apart from those who still have the middle class jobs... for now...
  • No, it isn't really the same product...

    I thought it was and honestly, My Apple TV is one of the few iOS devices I really like...

    The problem with Apple TV? Single account period! You cannot authorize another account on it so you cannot watch your movies at your friends house.

    With the Nexus Q, your friends NFC Phones and Tablets can share their play movies on anybodies Q! That to me is worth an extra $100 and Made in the USA is worth another $100! There's your difference right there.
    • Sorry, but that simply isn't true.

      I have an AppleTV signed in with my account. My wife has here own iPhone and iPad with her own account. Both of us can play stuff off of our devices. The login affects things like movies I may have purchased, but anyone can watch videos, movies, photos or mirroring from their iOS mobile devices.
      • Easy to switch as well

        It's easy enough to change the user account that is logged into iTunes if you want to watch something they have.
  • The Nexus 7 wasn't

    built in the USA. That would have been more impressive than an expensive device with very limited appeal.
    • All about volume

      They expect to sell a lot of the Nexus 7 so could not build them here and still compete. With the Q the volume probably won't be there to go to China so they built it here. It cost more but they also probably increased their margin a bit because of the made in USA. I don't think for a second that the decision to build it in the USA was primarily or even 40% based on bring manufacturing back here.
  • This is exactly what our economy needs

    Our economy needs more American workers making goods. I remember a time in the 90's where there was a huge push for people to buy American, and our economy flourished. It's time to bring that American spirit back.