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Google Businesses Technology

Google On-shores Manufacturing of the Nexus Q 326

Posted by Soulskill
from the tapping-the-cheeseburger-specialists dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times: "Etched into the base of Google's new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A. The Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. 'We've been absent for so long, we decided, "Why don't we try it and see what happens?" ... It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry. ... At $299, the device costs significantly more than competing systems from companies like Apple and Roku. Google says this is in part because of the higher costs of manufacturing in the United States, but the company expects to bring the price down as it increases volume. The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the “Made in America” lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.'"
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Google On-shores Manufacturing of the Nexus Q

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  • by therealkevinkretz (1585825) * on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:27AM (#40492931)

    "The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the “Made in America” lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.'"

    People excoriate execs and companies who move parts of their businesses offshore (often rightly, and also often without questioning the policies that contribute to it often being cheaper and easier to employ people thousands of miles away in other countries).

    They (and especially the most indignant among them) should be happy to pay a little more to keep the work local; after all, they're demanding that others do it.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:31AM (#40492979)

      "Keeping jobs on American soil. There's a phone for that."

    • by metalmaster (1005171) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:38AM (#40493067)
      I've met many people that say they'd be more than happy to pay premiums for things that are made in America, and I believe them. The problem being is that tech isnt really their thing; certainly not a media server. The people with this attitude are often those who know nothing about tech and dont care to learn.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I would like to, but I will not pay for the Q if I made it.

        I was hopeful that it would be an android computer for the living room, like a googletv but with more power. Instead it seems to be just for streaming music and video, stuff my HTPC handles just fine. An android computer would have been something I could replace the HTPC with, instead the Q only does a subset of what I want.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        In good times that's easy to say, but in tough times and faced with paying $50 more many people end up in the store thinking "I really could use that money, and my #1 priority is looking out for myself, my family and the local community. This $50 won't make or break the US economy, but it matters a lot to me. I'll get the American next time, when the economy's better..." even if that's not what they tell their friends.

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:40AM (#40493099)

      its not just americans that want things made-in-usa.

      I'm quite aware of how bad manuf in china can be. CAN be. not always but most times, assembly is under too tight of a schedule and quality is not important; # of units is!

      the US workers may not be under such slavish work conditions and chances are that they are treated better and make a living wage. sweatshops as not a US phenomenon anymore (well, if you excluse software houses, but that's a different tangent..)

      the world would like to see china lose its foothold on 'all' manufacturing. collectively, we are tired of the bullshit that is china and their 'sell and run' mentality.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:05AM (#40493381)

        I live and work in China and my students are always mystified as to why a rich westerner would own any products that were made in China. I can't blame them for that, the Chinese products I buy here in China are of significantly lower quality than the ones I buy in the US.

        More than that, companies don't offshore work because they want better quality, offshoring generally means that it's harder to maintain quality as it's harder to monitor the quality by the CEO and staff.

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:55AM (#40493261)

      They (and especially the most indignant among them) should be happy to pay a little more to keep the work local; after all, they're demanding that others do it.

      It costs three times more ($299) than the closest competitor (Apple TV, $99) that it seems to have a similar feature-set to. That's not "a little more", that's "nobody will buy it because it costs three times more".

      • I didn't say it was a good product, or a bad one, or that it was worth it. I said that its place of manufacture should be mentioned as it's relevant to many people - whether it's this particular product or any other, especially in an industry whose manufacturing largely occurs in other countries.

        • by Guspaz (556486)

          To Americans, perhaps. To me, living in Canada, I'm not sure there is any marketing value in which foreign country it's manufactured in. The US is a big market, but not the only market.

      • That's not "a little more", that's "nobody will buy it because it costs three times as much".

        or, two times more.
        FTFY.

      • by MarkGriz (520778)

        It doesn't even appear to support Netflix.
        $300 for a glorified jukebox? Looks like a failure right out of the gate.

    • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:07AM (#40493413)

      They (and especially the most indignant among them) should be happy to pay a little more to keep the work local; after all, they're demanding that others do it.

      Abso-fucking-lutely. Look at how many people out there gladly pay the Apple Tax for devices that are really not that different, on a fundamental level, from their competitors (and before I get screamed at over that, Apple obviously agrees, otherwise we wouldn't be watching this patent war bullshit unfold at every turn). If they're willing to spend extra because it's got a shiny case and "It Just Works! (TM)(R)(C)" then I see no reason why Made In America wouldn't be a selling point, especially these days.

      The concept of it being "cheaper" to hire people in other countries is bullshit, anyway, because it depends on ignoring very real costs that are put off on those developing countries. If we paid the real cost of manufacturing in China, to include the future cost of environmental clean-up, not to mention the social ills that come along with those sweatshops, then I doubt it would really be that much cheaper to manufacture overseas. The costs go so far beyond the typical rants about hourly wages and regulations that don't allow factories to dump the byproducts of electronics manufacturing (noxious shit) into the environment like they do over there...

      • by Bongo (13261)

        Yeah but they want our money.

        Later when they've grown a middle class, they can demand more like we do.

      • by itsdapead (734413) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:48AM (#40493953)

        Abso-fucking-lutely. Look at how many people out there gladly pay the Apple Tax for devices that are really not that different,

        Except in the case of the Nexus Q [google.com] vs. the Apple TV (...or the WD TV Live) we seem to have a Google tax of 200%.

        (TFA is talking about the 'Q' media streamer which is bizarrely more expensive than the new Google tablet).

      • But manufacturers don't pay those costs. That's the whole point. It's called 'externalising the costs.'
    • People excoriate execs and companies who move parts of their businesses offshore (often rightly, and also often without questioning the policies that contribute to it often being cheaper and easier to employ people thousands of miles away in other countries).

      Its more consumer behavior than policies. People's preference for a lower price, people's indifference for where a product is made. Offshoring is *not* some law of nature that will inevitably arise. Offshoring is a result of consumer behavior, the willingness to trade "local" manufacture for a lower price. Some people like to say that corporations will always seek the lowest cost of production, however they are only stating the first part of the "rule" and leaving off the "all other things being equal" cave

      • It's a vicious cycle to an extent. The poorest people like to go to Walmart and pay the lowest possible prices for cheaply made Chinese manufactured products. People with a little more room in their budgets might be willing to pay for quality, but the poor can't afford that luxury. Seeing how well places like Walmart are doing, and how well manufacturer that outsource productions can control costs, more and more stores become like Walmart, and more and more manufacturers offshore production. This increa

    • by Webcommando (755831) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:22AM (#40493637) Homepage Journal

      "The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the “Made in America” lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.'"

      People excoriate execs and companies who move parts of their businesses offshore (often rightly, and also often without questioning the policies that contribute to it often being cheaper and easier to employ people thousands of miles away in other countries).

      I use to work in manufacturing (wrote machine vision algorithms back then...fun stuff) and the cost can be very competitive with overseas. The key is design for manufacturing and automating as much as possible.

      Labor isn't your highest expense when you have high-speed chip shooting lines and automated assembly processes. For a high volume builder such as Apple, the economies of scale work in it's favor too. Low volume manufacturing needs a board house to do the work otherwise capital equipment goes under utilized. That's not Apple or Google's problem.

      I'm sure Apple and everyone's designs fit in the designed for manufacturability category so why not assemble in the states. Invest the capital on equipment and put some assemblers back to work!

      I know having a lack of locally sourced parts (they are all over seas now, right?) will make it hard, but I would love to see leading brands bring manufacturing back to the states. For Apple, this would be a blessing in minimizing knock-offs and leaks anyway and a little less margin isn't going to put them out of business.

    • by jasomill (186436)
      Sure, but even so, what if those who "excoriate execs and companies who move parts of their businesses offshore" are only a small minority? Also, so long as "components sourced abroad and assembled in a Saipan sweatshop" is "made in the USA," the mark isn't particularly informative (not that this is what Google is doing, but it does suggest some sort of additional marketing would actually be useful).
    • They (and especially the most indignant among them) should be happy to pay a little more to keep the work local; after all, they're demanding that others do it.

      You know that for most of the people neither Taiwan nor the US actually counts as "local"?

      Or in other words: This ist not much more than off-shoring. From China.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      They (and especially the most indignant among them) should be happy to pay a little more to keep the work local; after all, they're demanding that others do it.

      I will definitely replace my Motorola Atrix 4G with this phone.

      I have often said right here that I'm willing to pay up to 2x for a product made in the US, up to 3x for a product that's made in the US by union workers, and up to 4x for product that's made locally by union workers (meaning within 30 miles).

      I have done exactly that with my dress shirts

  • Not sure how that "experiment"in American manufacturing is going to work out, considering one of the major complaints is that it is over-priced compared to similar items - roku, apple tv, xbox/ps3. I know the amp adds cost, but manufacturing overseas can be done cheaply. That's why companies do it.
    • Re:"Experiment" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:50AM (#40493207)

      The real issue with this thing is it is too limited. Why does it not also act as a googletv?

      Then it could run onlive, netflix, google play, etc. You could also side load your own apps. Instead this is a streaming media player for way too much money.

      Why does it need a good amp? I have a receiver, that is where the good amp lives.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      That's just one side of it.

      It's fine for something to be more expensive. It just has to be able to wipe the floor with the alternatives. That or it has to have a cult of personality associated with it.

      If you don't have either then you're kind of doomed and all you are going to do is give on-shoring a bad name. People will intentionally confuse the issue of why the thing failed.

  • by fufufang (2603203) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:32AM (#40492989)
    Quite a lot of the components inside the device are probably imported.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have to start somewhere ...

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:36AM (#40493053)

      devices are made entirely by robot. chips, transistors, etc.

      but *assembly* of a phone or tablet or pc is still by hand.

      so it DOES MATTER that G is making this in the US. as much as I dislike G these days, I'll give them a solid attaboy! for this one!

      good job, G. unexpected but good job nonetheless.

    • by tobiasly (524456)

      Quite a lot of the components inside the device are probably imported.

      TFA is blocked for me at work but pretty sure it's the same one I read yesterday; they actually go into detail about the lengths Google went to to try to find all the components they needed onshore. As you suspect, it wasn't always possible, but whenever it was that's what they used.

  • by Kergan (780543) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:35AM (#40493033)

    "low cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations"

    Those aren't the only factors. The fact of the matter is that pretty much everything is clustered in SE Asia nowadays, and that the labor market is a lot more dynamic. Need slightly shorter screws? Call the factory down the street, they'll start arriving within the next hour. Changed the specs for your unibody case? The factory downtown will deliver new ones the same day. Need a new assembly plant? Build it and staff it by next week. Everything is done locally, reducing ETA and shipping costs in the process. These things also count tremendously.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      All of which can be done in the US.
      Do you think their aren't manufacturing hubs like the in the US?

      • by Kergan (780543)

        Do you think their aren't manufacturing hubs like the in the US?

        Sure there are. But for producing consumer electronics en mass, wouldn't you agree that the action is at the other end of the Pacific?

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday June 29, 2012 @10:33AM (#40494533)
        Not anymore there aren't.
        My father runs a small custom electronics manufacturing plant. They basically build one-off type parts for companies. For example, building a gas station chain? Need a coin-op for your car washes? Well, you only need 100 of them... it's hard to get an order like that done out of asia. So that's where his company fits in. One of their biggest problems is sourcing parts. EVERYTHING is in asia, and everything is geared to that market now. It wasn't that way 20 years ago but it certainly is now. Often it's cheaper for them to buy pre-assembled boards designed for something out and remove the components they need to put on the new product. One time they found a lamp at the home depot that had a part they needed in it, that met spec. The lamp was cheaper than ordering the part from anywhere so they bought 5 pallets of the lamp from home depot and set about tearing them down. Silly, but it got the job done.
  • hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:35AM (#40493039)
    "But where do all the parts come from?"....anyway, it's expensive as hell to make something here but there's some business value and even cost saving in the fact that they can get any manufactured phone to any place in America in 1 day with Fedex. Even the fastest but still economical shipping methods from Asia are 2-3 weeks lead time at least because it's all ship-based. Get your stuff held up at the port? Time to order another couple thousands then because you've got waiting customers. The other option is to just over-order and pay lots of money to ship and guard your expensive inventory state-side and then have to put them on clearance when the sales figures don't match up with their overblown estimate. Do you know how much Nintendo lost on Wii shortages? Do you know how much HP lost on excess tablets? So there's some value in making things in the US from a cost saving perspective.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      " it's expensive as hell to make something here "
      moderately more expensive, not 'expensive as hell'

    • The logistics don't work quite like this. First, for companies like HP, Apple and Nintendo, they work with their logistics provider to setup a Customs pipeline months before the product actually ships. U.S. Customs has a process for this and FedEx and UPS have departments dedicated to just setting it up. The end result is a rubber stamp process that clears the product through in hours, not days or weeks. Also, ships aren't practical for shipping small electronics. A 747 or 777 can carry a metric crap l
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I keep waiting for them to replace Chinese workers with American robots. If they did that it could actually cost less. You pay less shipping. Maybe we just don't have a robot that's good enough and cheap enough; but we will. A lot of the outsourced labor is things like cleaning, assembling, etc. Come on Google. If you can program 'bots to drive cars, surely you can program them to polish screens.

  • No paywall links (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:38AM (#40493073)

    There should be a rule on Slashdot that no paywall links are allowed to be posted. How can we comment on an article that we cannot see?

  • by vawwyakr (1992390) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:45AM (#40493159)
    That I can't figure out what exactly I would use it for, if this thing was a full on Google TV, plus DVR (and maybe keep those social media things...though really that seems like something that should just be built into Google TV). Then sure I'd be fine with the cost and maybe even more! But this thing seems simply less capable than a product they already put out (Google TV) and costs more. I simply can't find a reason to buy...and frankly with the whole straight from Google and made in the US things I kind of want to want to buy it but I don't. Maybe I missed some aspect of its functionality or future but they didn't reveal anything like that from what I saw.
    • Ah but you're forgetting Sergey Brin's well known Reality Distortion Effect that will convince Google fanbois to buy... oh wait, no, wrong tech leader and wrong company.

      It is a very nice device, and it certainly seems nicer than a Roku, but I don't think the differences are worth $200 more. And I also have the "Wife wouldn't want yet another friggin' box, even a nice round one, in front of the TV" problem. She thinks it's bad enough we have a satellite box/DVR, DVD player, and media PC there.

  • Check out the gibberish closed captions [staticflickr.com] ("nexus ceo their first social streaming media player may trigger the plane home") for the How Nexus Q Works [youtube.com] video.

  • Feel the sand of the beach between your toes and hear the sea while manufacturing, yay!

  • I don't get the Q (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:56AM (#40493271)

    So, this is not a Google TV device yet can connect to a TV with limited functionality. Its too expensive as a standalone network media streamer compared to other products available. I don't need a network device to power its own speakers. Compare this to a $120 Apple TV or even a $190 Boxee Box and its a very over-priced and mediocre competitor. So what is the point?

    Obviously if Google is using on-shore manufacturing they are already assuming this as a niche product and don't have to worry about huge demand and high production costs.

    I think Google mucked this product up as they are positioning it as an expansive hipster device in a market already saturated with better value and feature rich products. All Google should have done is create a little HDMI dongle that sits on a TV/Receiver that provides AirPlay like connectivity for Android devices which are capable of providing all the same functionality as the Q and could do so for a small fraction of the cost.

  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:57AM (#40493287)

    http://business-standard.com/india/news/made-inusa-is-back-as-google-doesretro/478854/ [business-standard.com]

    Looks like Business Standard Syndicates it from NY Times

  • by fa2k (881632)

    Makes sense that they pull out of China, since the government was so apathetic regarding the hacking incidents, and Google have had a lot of negative rhetoric against China. They could get a "patriotic" boost in the huge US market if they did tout it in their marketing, but maybe they think it will reflect badly on their other products. They can also more easily ensure good conditions for the workers, less pollution, etc, and use that in marketing. US is probably less than 30 % (PNOOMA) of the world market

  • And I will pay more too, as a self conscious act of affirming the long term importance of having a profitable manufacturing base in the US.

    We all buy China junk, myself included. If I could buy all Made IN America at three times the price of Slave Labor in China, would I only buy Made in America? Probably not because, like solar panels, buying ONLY Made In America is a political statement I literally can't afford to make ALL the time as of right now. But will I buy what amounts to fun cool stuff like t

  • I wish it would, but I don't see how this will turn into anything exciting for the economy until offshoring gets more cost prohibitive. Thanks for trying Google.

  • So I watched google's video introduction of the Q. http://youtu.be/s1Y5dDQW4TY [youtu.be]

    I have absolutely no clue what this thing does or is or anything really. Except that apparently it will let people come to your house and play music from their phone. The video feels like dot com boom marketing. It's like zombo.com.

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