Moto X: Does Made in America translate into sales momentum?

Moto X: Does Made in America translate into sales momentum?

Summary: Unless there's some competitive advantage and a kick-ass product---perhaps Moto X and an array of colors is the answer---few will care where a product is made.


Over the long weekend in the U.S. Google's Motorola reminded us repeatedly that the Moto X would be made in America and customizable.

Will the Made in America tagline really matter? Manufacturing in the U.S. has been a big topic of late. The general theme is that manufacturing jobs are coming back because offshore factory costs are rising and infrastructure is tricky.


Google and Motorola are upping the ante by noting that the Moto X will be made in the U.S.---and there's even a competitive advantage. That advantage is that the Moto X can be personalized. Apple has responded with its designed in California tagline to offset some of the Google ad assault.

More: Moto X: Will colors and fancy engraving help Motorola? |  Moto X: Real smartphone personalization on tap?

All of this made in America ruckus is perfect fodder for the July 4 weekend. The biggest issue: Consumers may not care over time and the definition of Made in America is fluid.

For instance, Motorola's Moto X is assembled in America with parts from everywhere else. Does that count? Is it better to have U.S. parts compiled and manufactured elsewhere? Would we prefer a U.S. part percentage? Is the design more important than the assembly? Maybe the actual parts and assembly of a device is just a sideshow when the real win is U.S. jobs created.

Today, it's hip to tout U.S. manufacturing, but that's because costs in places like China no longer make that country a no-brainer.

As Andrew Nusca noted more than a year ago, the U.S. manufacturing dream is easier said than done.

Bottom line: Unless there's some competitive advantage and a kick-ass product---perhaps Moto X and an array of colors is the answer---few will care where a product is made. Nevertheless, give Google and Motorola some props---they're bringing manufacturing back and coming up with a competitive edge that may just work. But if the Moto X is a dud or comes in at a high price point you can rest assured that made in America won't count for much.

Topics: Smartphones, Google, Mobility

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  • Google Only Bought Motorola For The Patents

    Frankly, given Moto's recent track record, I wouldn't hold out much hope for this. Motorola seems to be the token loser Android OEM, kind of a counterweight to the success all the others have been having.
    • Motorola phones

      Every time I check the Moto Razer series phones are at the top of the list.
      • on verizon

        verizon doesn't have the best phone selection so it's not too hard to get near the top
        • although

          people do want long battery life. people like the battery life, not motorola per se, but it does help their numbers.
          • I love my Razr....

            ...I didn't spring for the Maxx because it was $100 more. To me the Razr is a good looking phone and is built like armor, unlike either the iPhone or Samsung phones. I find both of the "big boys" phones are ugly and cheaply made. I have a lot of friends whose iPhones displays cracked when dropped. Give me a Moto any day over either of them.
            Thomas Kolakowski
          • Dropped phones

            are never good. I dropped my GSIII 2 1/2 stories off a roof onto the concrete driveway with only a very small scratch to show for it, that a screen protector I haven't put on yet would have prevented. Phone is wrapped in a Ballistic case though, which pretty much saved me my insurance deductible.
  • It does matter

    I think it does matter where is made; as long as the product itself is competitive.
    BTW: Apple is not 'responding'. They've used that tagline for as long as I can remember, and they are also bringing 'some' manufacturing back.
    • I agree it does matter

      and as usual ZdNet only got half of the details:

      "Yes, we are making the phone in the U.S. We did that because of speed and access to end users in the U.S. It opens up some really cool possibilities," Motorola spokesperson Danielle K. McNally told ABC News. McNally added that it plans to hire over 2,200 employees at the Fort Worth facility by August.
      • Also this article left out

        some key details:
        ZdNet also left out all the good stuff about what the phone has to offer:

        "The biggest tricks of the phone come with what Motorola has been doing with the hardware sensors, sources say. Instead of having to fumble to find the camera icon or button, users will be able to flick the phone to launch the camera. There are also added voice capabilities, which leverage Google's advanced voice recognition technology. The phone is said to be smart enough to know when you are driving and will automatically launch the speakerphone function."
    • I agree... it matters to me!

      I completely agree. I would purchase an item Made in the USA over items made over seas. It's difficult to find product made in the USA anymore, but when I in the market for something if there is a USA made alternative I buy that, even if it cost me a little more. I wish more people would do that so we can reduce the amount of money we send to China and other countries.
      Cl Reply
  • "...few will care where a product is made."

    And that is a growing part of one of the many problems with this country.
    • we're living in a global economy now

      it's unrealistic to expect things to move backwards. if the US want's to continue to be successful, we have to find new ways to do it by staying innovative and finding new ways to compete. protectionism isn't going to keep us #1 in the world.
  • Need more details

    What matters is how many jobs assembling the units represent as opposed to actually manufacturing the parts. Investment in robotic assembly lines...something not used or needed in Asia because of the abundance of dirt cheap labor, is the expected norm here and this could be little more than marketing hype with little actual value for the American labor force.
  • At the same time

    While things could be made in america, they are assembled robotically. Also assembly workers... Nobody in America wants to grow up to be an assembly line worker.. Think about it.
    • Assembly workers

      When I was young, "made in America" meant the loser down the street who neven finished high school probably had something to do with it (or others of his ilk). In the automotive industry, the quality and value of imported cars surpassed anything domestic around the mid-70's. In recent years (thanks in no small part to globalization) they have become more competitive in terms of build quality, but IMO not value...I can still get more features for less going foreign.

      When entire industries left, along with some good jobs, then "Made in America" became a rallying cry to save another neighbor's job (ostensibly not the high school drop-out who nobody still cares about). Since then it's become a politcal football as well. Closing a plant in China isn't going to bring 100,000 jobs back to the US, it's going to provide a fractional group of industrial engineers with gainful employment, but the loser is still out in the cold. Of course, I could be underestimating the 1%...they usually get their way and if they want to pay workers $1 per day with no benefits, whose to say that day won't come?
      • Middle Class

        A strong, blue collar middle class benefits all Americans. Not everyone is suited for college and these days a college education is harder to afford.

        If you have good paying blue collar jobs then these workers will be able to turn around and reinvest in the economy and buy cars, houses, consumer electronics, etc.
  • I care

    Not to be too short here but I care and it does and has affected my buying decisions.
    • The people don't buy cell phones...

      the carriers do. The cost has to be low enough to buy the phone, take a credit risk and still make a profit at the end of the year. That's an intense downward pressure on phone cost.
      Tony Burzio
      • not too far from now....

        the process of buying cell phones from service carriers will be cut out, and people will buy cell phones from the manufacturer. Google will play a big role in this. Carriers are for, and will execute on this trend in the future. They won't have to pay subsidy costs to the phone manufacturers, and can just profit from the service they provide. People don't buy land line phones from the phone company, computers from the internet/cable companies, and soon enough, you won't buy your cell phones from the cell service provider either.
      • You do have options

        It just depends on how much you want to spend. You can buy an unsubsidized phone at the full price. You just have to know who's network it will work on in advance but you can buy whatever phone you want.