Google shows Apple: We made ours in the U.S.A.

Google is making stuff in the U.S. Will Apple follow suit?

Nexus Q: Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.
Nexus Q: Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A. Google

Google's Nexus Q has one small but important distinction that Apple can't claim.

On the underside of Google's streaming media player is the message: "Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A."

Compare that with Apple's "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China."

Indeed, it is almost unheard of to see a high-tech consumer device like the Nexus Q made anywhere but Asia, as the New York Times points out.

This wasn't always the case. Apple at one time assembled Macs in California. And Steve Jobs' NeXT Computer made its computers in the Golden State.

Compaq and IBM, too, both assembled PCs in the 1990s at sprawling facilities in Houston and North Carolina, respectively. (Compaq even made its motherboards in the U.S.)

Over the last 10 years or so, that ecosystem -- component suppliers and assembly operations -- has moved off shore, almost exclusively to Asia. And Apple is now the poster child for making things in China.

But that, too, may be changing. The New York Times quotes Harold L. Sirkin, a director at Boston Consulting Group: "At 58 cents an hour, bringing manufacturing back was impossible, but at $3 to $6 an hour, where wages are today in coastal China, all of a sudden the equation changes."

The Nexus Q is made at a plant in Silicon Valley.

There is a downside. The $299 price makes it more expensive than, for example, the $99 Apple TV. Google told the the New York Times that the higher price is due, in part, to the higher costs of manufacturing in the U.S.

But those costs should come down as production volumes increase.

Hey Apple, if Google can do it (and eventually bring down costs), maybe you can too.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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