Google’s Nexus Q will have a tag on its underside that may look a little unfamiliar to anyone who purchases electronics—“Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.”
The company’s first attempt to enter the tablet market will commit to American manufacturing in part as a response to rising labor costs in China but also to show its commitment to the U.S.
“We’ve been absent for so long, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try it and see what happens?’ ” Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business, told the New York Times.
The company is not disclosing many details about its domestic manufacturing or the source of many of its parts, the Times reported. Rubin added that the company “was not engaged in a crusade.”
Google’s decision to make the Nexus Q in the United States is part of a trend toward more manufacturing returning from overseas, the Times reported. General Electric and Caterpillar have moved assembly operations back to the United States in the last year. The moves came in part because of rising labor and energy costs in China, along with a greater risk of intellectual property theft of Chinese-made products. Location is also more important, the Times reported—it’s easier for engineers to drive 10 minutes to a manufacturing plant than to fly 16 hours to Asia, the report said.
With allegations of dangerous and unfair labor practices at many Chinese electronics manufacturing plants, Google’s move back to the U.S. will lead to discussions over whether it will be possible to move more manufacturing back, The Verge reported. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the company would like to return its manufacturing to the U.S. someday as well, the report noted.
The decision to make the attempt with the Nexus Q, a product with a limited and specific function, is in part an experiment on Google’s part to see how American manufacturing will play out, The Verge reported. It is also an attempt by the Silicon Valley technology giant to bring its design and manufacturing functions within a closer proximity, the report said.
This move will help accommodate Google’s aggressive launch schedule for the tablet, Wired reported.
“We have a manufacturing run where units made in the afternoon end up in the homes of trial users that night,” Joe Britt, the company’s engineering director, tells Wired about the Google Nexus Q. “For the execution we wanted to achieve, it was a big enabler to build locally.”