Motorola Touts Made-In-USA Smartphone Plant - InformationWeek

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08:59 AM

Motorola Touts Made-In-USA Smartphone Plant

Motorola has ramped up Moto X assembly to 100,000 smartphones per week at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility.

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Motorola is producing 100,000 Moto X smartphones per week at the company's Fort Worth, Texas, plant. According to Motorola, it is the only smartphone to be assembled in the United States. Competitors' devices, including Apple's new iPhones, are assembled overseas, most often in China or Taiwan.

Motorola pays the Texas plant workers between $12 and $14 per hour; it would cost closer to $3 or $4 per hour for similar labor in China. Though the Moto X costs more to build in Fort Worth, assembling the device in the U.S. has logistical benefits that offset most of the increased manufacturing cost. There are other benefits, as well.

Motorola made the decision to build in the U.S. a year ago.

"Conventional wisdom said it wasn't possible," explained Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside. "Experts said that costs are too high in the U.S.; that the U.S. has lost its manufacturing capability; and that the U.S. labor force is too inflexible. We chose to be optimistic about the future of manufacturing in America. Not because making our flagship product here in the U.S. is the easy thing to do, but because it's the right thing to do. People called us crazy. But we quickly realized that it's not economics that prevents consumer electronics companies from making things locally. It's lack of imagination and vision."

[ It's made in the USA. But is it good? See Moto X: Pros And Cons. ]

The Motorola's Moto X is unique in that the phone can be custom-ordered by consumers with their own colors, accents and other bits of personalization. Custom orders are what the Motorola plant in Fort Worth specializes in. Using a Web-based tool called Moto Maker, AT&T customers (and soon Sprint and Verizon customers) can choose from a number of different back covers, accents, personal messages, wallpapers and front faces. The devices are assembled, shipped and delivered to customers within four days.

Motorola also makes a black and a white version of the Moto X at its overseas facilities. The black and white models are being shipped to countries outside the U.S. The features are all the same, only the colors and level of personalization are different.

The Texas plant has the capability to produce tens of millions of devices per year. The 100,000-unit benchmark reached recently is just the first phase in a larger plan. Motorola can increase output to meet demand.

The Fort Worth facility offers Motorola more than the ability to create custom-ordered smartphones: It gives Motorola a heck of a marketing tool. The company can trot out the "Made In USA" phrase for its comeback smartphone, something its competitors cannot.

"Producing Moto X locally helps bring innovation back home, which is essential to the economic health of the U.S.," continued Woodside. "It provides jobs and helps maintain technical skills that would otherwise be lost. It's also true to our nature. We're makers, and we should continue to be makers. Some said it couldn't be done, but the factory we just opened and the people working there are proof that it could. We've created more than 2,000 jobs in Fort Worth in less than four months, and we're still hiring."

Aside from the custom-ordered appearance, the Moto X features a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 10-megapixel camera, support for various LTE networks, and some novel software features that include improved voice commands and richer notifications. It costs $199.99 with a new contract from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile customers have to purchase the device for the full retail price of $599 directly from Motorola.

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User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2013 | 6:38:26 PM
re: Motorola Touts Made-In-USA Smartphone Plant
Finally, someone gets that it is important to manufacture in the US and support the national GDP. Too bad Moto is now owned by Google and, as such, won't be making any Windows Phone handsets anytime soon. If they did, I would buy one because it would be a win-win from both perspectives.
Political Poop
Political Poop,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/11/2013 | 3:06:02 PM
re: Motorola Touts Made-In-USA Smartphone Plant
There's a BIG difference between 'Made-In-USA' and 'assembled in United States'. Headline is somewhat misleading.
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