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?