Could Samsung beat Apple with 'Made in the USA'?

Excellent foreign cars are made in the United States. So how would U.S. consumers react if Samsung announced that all of its tablets would be manufactured in the U.S.?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
What if the Samsung iPad competitor was made here? Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I spend most of my weeks talking to myself.

So when readers write with ideas that they'd like to discuss, it's certainly more stimulating than Google's Vic Gundotra telling me that there's a right and a wrong way to use Google+.

This week, Tim Liao, who works for Cricket Communications, offered me this thought: "Samsung can finally beat Apple by making its tablet in America and boasting if you buy a Samsung tablet you are creating American jobs unlike if you buy an iPad."

I know that several of you will immediately whip out some fancy calculator app and tell me that this would be economically unfeasible. But, around here, emotions will always be more important than cash, so let's try to feel this one through.

I asked Liao--who is very much married to Apple and even knew Steve Jobs because Liao's aunt was an early Apple employee-- to persuade me a little further.

Liao told me: "You just have to look at Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai Kia in the way they manufacture cars in America to see it works."

This is, indeed, true. I would bet a sizable amount of my weekly Starbucks budget that quite a few people have forgotten that the likes of Toyota and Nissan are Japanese.

Could they possibly feel the same way about Samsung? Why not? Once a brand becomes known and respected around the world, people can disregard its national origin-- the Trabant excepted.

But, alright, stop nagging--what about money?

Liao's thoughts are quite direct: "It would be economically feasible because you would charge the same price as the iPad without having to heavily discount them like other Android tablets. They can use the money they would have discounted the tablets to pay the difference of manufacturing in America."

I know that those fiercely punching their calculator apps will be offering all kinds of projections and objections. Clearly, money is one large reason why so many gadgets are manufactured in China.

Equally clearly, Apple enjoyed some nasty publicity after it was singled out for factory conditions at Foxconn.

However, I don't recall Toyota, Nissan, and the rest excessively trumpeting that their cars were being made in the U.S. What they did, surely, is create models that were better looking, better to drive, and better value than the ones being made in America's chilly parts.

Liao suggests, half jokingly perhaps, that the new Samsung tablet could be called the Samsung Patriot.

That might remind some of a missile--which might be a very good thing. But would appealing to patriotic innards really move people away from Apple's sheer simplicity and general lovableness?

"Made in the USA" could surely never be the sole reason to buy anything--except, some might say, burgers. If it was, we'd all be craving gorgeous Buicks, instead of Audis, BMWs, and Toyotas.

Though the idea of products being made in America might be a charming characteristic, surely the challenge for Samsung--as well as all other tablet manufacturers--is to make a machine that grabs at the belly before it talks the mind into opening the pocket.

At this, they have succeeded thus far about as well as Kim Kardashian in love.

"As late as 2005, I still was able to buy a Sony VAIO manufactured in San Diego," Liao told me.

And then, well, something happened. We wanted things cheaper and better and sexier--and we got it. Try talking us out of it now.