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Google United States Hardware

Nexus Q Stretches "Made in USA" Label 241

Posted by timothy
from the is-a-honda-from-tennessee-made-in-the-usa? dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Among the much ballyhooed tech at Google I/O last week was the Google Nexus Q. Google made an effort to proudly point out the device was "Made in the USA" and even had it stamped on the back of it. A tear-down at ifixit.com however, reveals the guts of the thing are mostly manufactured overseas at the expected locations (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, et al). Wired also posted a tear-down in which they reveal a die-casting shop in Wisconsin is the source of the zinc housing, but certainly not the entire device as some news sources reported. It's great that Google decided to utilize the struggling U.S. manufacturing sector for this, but claiming the device is USA made, and being blatantly vague about its origins is quite misleading." How struggling the U.S. manufacturing sector is depends on who you ask and how you measure, remember.
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Nexus Q Stretches "Made in USA" Label

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:56PM (#40553335)

    Slashdot should really consider hiring an editor.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @12:58PM (#40553357) Homepage Journal

    The housing and assembly is done in the US.

    The article is from someone who will go to pedantic lengths to justify their hate.

    • by David89 (2022710) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:03PM (#40553435) Homepage
      Some US production is way better than none
    • by Xest (935314) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:08PM (#40553505)

      Yes, even with shit that's made in China you can claim the oil required for the plastics came from Iran or wherever the fuck.

      Normally "Made in" refers to the final assembled products, not necessarily every constituent component. America may not even have the facilities to produce every single last component but fundamentally even bringing assembly to the US is a step more than most other companies are doing.

      This story is just another desperate clutching at straws troll.

      • by halber_mensch (851834) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:22PM (#40553767)

        Yes, even with shit that's made in China you can claim the oil required for the plastics came from Iran or wherever the fuck.

        Quite obviously the heavy elements in the chemical compounds were not created by fusing lighter elements in a lab in Mountain View. Those lying bastards, "made in the USA" my ass. More like "made in the collapse of RX J185635-3754."

        • Which in turn owes its energy to the Big Bang. Sagan said it best, "To make an apple pie from scratch, one must first invent the universe"
    • by hiroshii (2677753)
      Agreed. When do you ever see an electronics product state "Made in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc."? It's the final step that matters and there's always only one country mentioned.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:14PM (#40553637)

      Speaking as someone who's worked with Customs for years, once you have a product broken down and the parts identified, it can be quite easy to tell if it's made in the USA... from a legal standpoint:

      http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/nafta-alena/texte/anx401a.aspx?lang=en&view=d

      Annex 401 specific rules of origin. To summarize, there's various methods by which you can determine the country of origin of something if the parts are all made elsewhere. If all of the parts qualify for Annex 401, or the value of all non-US origin parts is less than say... 40% of the total value (can't remember the exact percentage, can't be bothered to look it up, but you get the general idea), then that there is a made in USA product.

      Technically, you can have an item with absolutely zero individual pieces of it made in the USA, but if the final product is assembled here, and it qualifies in having the right tariff code changes, then that just became made in the USA.

    • by Zorpheus (857617)
      Yes.
      And it is the same for devices made in China. The final assembly is done there since they beat everyone in this with low wages and small profit margins. The expensive parts that require specialists and experience are often made somewhere else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by synapse7 (1075571)
      Not trying to justify any hate, but maybe it should read assembled in the USA? Also, is there a threshold for electronics to meet for made in the USA?
      • by russotto (537200) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:31PM (#40553909) Journal

        Not trying to justify any hate, but maybe it should read assembled in the USA? Also, is there a threshold for electronics to meet for made in the USA?

        The FTC standard [ftc.gov] is that "all or virtually all" the components are made in the USA. And if you look at iFixit, you find that virtually all the major components were or could have been made in the USA; they didn't check the lot numbers to see if the parts which are made in multiple countries were, in fact, made in the US. While in general if you order a bunch of parts from a supplier you get them from wherever the supplier chooses to send them from, I'm sure that's negotiable.

        (Disclosure: I work for Google, but not on the Nexus Q)

        • "could have been made" in the USA? Isn't that setting the bar rather low?

          I "could have" found a $20 bill on my way to work. I didn't; but it "could have" happened.

          • by russotto (537200)

            "could have been made" in the USA? Isn't that setting the bar rather low?

            That's not a standard, that's a true statement. If you claimed your nymsake car was "Made in the USA" and I opened the hood and found that the fuel injection system was of a model made in two factories, one in Germany and one in the US, wouldn't it make sense for me to check which of those two it was made in before claiming the car was not, in fact, "Made in the USA"

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:20PM (#40553747)

      Those labels are required by law, and what they require is that the country of final assembly is where things are labeled. Now you can argue if that is stupid or not, but that is how it is done, and has been for a long time (back when it was implemented it made more sense).

      Almost all tech devices are a hodge podge of components from different places. Even a single component can have many places. Like say you get a 22nm Ivy Bridge Intel processor. Well it was fabricated in the USA, in Chandler Arizona. That's where Intel's 22nm fab is (though I understand they are bringing up 22nm at their fab in Israel soon here). However once it is fabbed, it is shipped off to another site for testing and packing. There is one in the US, but also one in Costa Rica, Singapore, and other places. So your processor may well be stamped "Costa Rica" even though the fabrication was done in the US.

      Of course that then goes on a motherboard almost certainly made in China, they are pretty much the only place that makes them. However on that motherboard is components from all over. The capacitors are often from Japan, they are really big in that market. The southbridge chipset is probably from the US, other incidental chips often from Taiwan. The memory that goes on there then depends on the brand. A lot of it is made in Taiwan, some in Germany, some in the US, just depends on who you get it from it is a lot more world wide. The harddrive is probably from Malaysia, that is where most are made, though there are other places and of course the harddrive itself has a bunch of components from different places.

      This just continues. We live in a global economy and most things are built of components from all over. In some cases, you discover that only one country really does a given thing. They've gotten good at it, so nobody else really competes.

      The "made in" labels always specify the place of final assembly. If you want that changed, well you can work on that, but it is pretty entrenched and I doubt it is going anywhere. No way we are going to list every place. Otherwise you are going to have a device that says "Made of components from the US, Canada, Mexico, China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, France, and oh fuck it about 20 other nations."

      • They can always print the percentage of foreign manufacturing on their package.
        • by PuckSR (1073464)

          Ok, and then should they also be required to track that? That can change day-to-day on most electronic components. They order transistors to spec, not from a specific country. So, they want a component that meets spec, they don't care who made it.

          Also, should they keep track of where the original sub-components came from? The raw material? The ore for that raw material? No one keeps track of that? Fungibility is a bitch

          • The automobile industry reports their percentages now. So I don't know what your point is other than being reactionary.

            Origins of raw materials are not taken into consideration just the finished parts. Parts would include the CPU, Speakers, anything in a plastic package (ICs, RAM, etc.), chassis, light pipes, and surface mounted semiconductors.

            This isn't that big a deal to track and as far as I can tell the chassis and circuit boards are manufactured and assembled in the US with foreign components. Believ

      • With semiconductors expensive enough to actually have labels, you sometimes see 'diffused in' and 'packaged in' indicated individually.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        Better solution:

        "Made on Sol 3" ("Made on Earth", if you want to be less pedantic).

      • by Altus (1034)

        I know mostly we don't like attributed facts on this site but maybe a link to the FTC would be in order since they, you know, actually enforce this stuff.

        http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus03-complying-made-usa-standard [ftc.gov]

        It looks to me like this might not qualify for an unqualified made in the USA label especially if a considerable amount of the electronics assembly is done in another country.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Of course that then goes on a motherboard almost certainly made in China, they are pretty much the only place that makes them.

        The main board on the Nexus Q clearly says "Made in the USA" on it. The power supply says the same thing (which surprised me even more). Designing, manufacturing, and stuffing the PCBs in the US, casting the case and base, and final assembly are the bulk of the manufacturing Google has any control over. I'd say that's a pretty damn honest effort to source US parts and labor.

    • The article is from someone who will go to pedantic lengths to justify their hate.

      Of course! By the same token, you'll see Google "fans" go through the same exercise when an article mentions their "nemesis".

      Every thread that mentions Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc will generate comments from both fans and foes. This is why websites gravitate to articles that mention these brands despite its newsworthiness.

      Anyway this article is one of those "no shit sherlock" articles that points out the obvious that Googl

      • by Troed (102527)

        The fact that only the final assembly is being done in the US

        I suggest reading the iFixIt article. It seems only two components are definitely non-US in origin.

    • If I build a trophy out of lego and put it on a bit of wood I made, it doesn't change the fact 95% of the trophy was made elsewhere. Assembling it doesn't change that.
      • by oakgrove (845019)
        So if I sculpt a bust from marble that was sourced from Italy, that means the bust was "Made in Italy"? Are you really arguing that?
      • by Intropy (2009018)

        That would depend on whether you were trying to sell the trophy for significantly more than the value of the legos used to make it. If the legos cost $100 and you sell the trophy for $500 then clearly the more valuable part of the trophy is the labor and artistic expression that went into making the trophy from the legos. In that case it would make sense to say it was made wherever you made it.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      Which would make it more right to state "Assembled in the US from domestic and foreign parts."

      But it's interesting that the foreign parts are the high-tech parts and the domestic parts are the low tech parts.

    • by slew (2918)

      The housing and assembly is done in the US.

      So if I took bananas out of a crate and put them into a bag for retail sale in the US and the bag and the label was made in the US, would you be okay with a Made in the USA label on the bag?

      For the record, there are a few chips inside that are likely to have been made in the US, although they could have chosen some of the other high value chips to be so as well, but apparently didn't. They used an Elpida*** (fabs in japan/taiwan) DDR2 dram which might have been substituted with a Micron (fabs in Idaho) mob

    • When i read the Google i/O stuff, it was OBVIOUS that only the housing was really made in the USA.
  • Would be more appropriate for most items that claim to be made here.

    Perhaps if you have a % of US sourced parts to go along with being assembled here, but until then its not really made here by any stretch of the imagination.

    • I can understand why people dislike misleading marketing but why is it a positive thing if something is made in the USA? Humans are humans everywhere and companies are not more evil if they employ 100 people in Korea than if they employ 100 people in the USA (especially when they can probably employ 200 people in Korea instead of 100 people in the USA) I guess you could make a point about it being wrong because of the financial support (tax credits, etc.) that companies receive for staying in the states but

      • If you are living in the US then buying stuff MADE IN THE USA is buying stuff made by "your fellow citizens".
        In fact i would bet that many folks here would pay a bit extra for something if they knew that it was "Made By Fred Rogers #586-23-6431D" and they could in fact Meet Mr Rogers"

        so if you are living in %other country% you might prefer an item made in %other country% unless you knew that %other country% was absolute rubbish in making %item%

      • 1. People working in foreign countries often make far less and in worse conditions. I'm not saying it's always the stereotypical Nike sweatshop, but a lot of places treat their workers unfairly due to poor regulation. A device made in the US must be made by workers with certain allowances (forty hour work weeks, minimum wage, usually paid sick leave and other benefits for something like electronics manufacture) that are not guaranteed elsewhere. If you have to employ someone, better to employ a person whose
  • Like cars.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:02PM (#40553411)

    Perhaps they have never disassembled an "american car" with all the parts stamped "made in Canda" or "made in mexico".

    • I've always wondered if this is why my last two "American made" cars had a weird mix of imperial and metric bolts. My current car is a Hyundai that was built in Alabama and it also has a mix of Imperial and metric bolts, although mostly metric.

      • Thats surprising, the fittings should be all metric in vehicles these days. The Big 3 in the US were one of the last to switch to metric fasteners, but they made the transition years ago. I have run across oddball imperial sized screws in German cars (they held the headlight to a bracket), but never nuts or bolts.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:03PM (#40553431) Homepage Journal

    Well, what do you expect? The USA has outsourced just about all of its high-tech manufacturing overseas. There are a lot of parts that Google probably can't even get domestically. I think the point is that they're making more of the thing in the USA than most electronic gizmos. If they're successful and there's a lot of demand for the Nexus Q, and more importantly, if other companies follow suit and the demand for electronics supply to be close-at-hand increases, then you'll see a ripple effect for more things like chips being manufactured in the USA.

  • WSJ Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by mat.power (2677517) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:03PM (#40553433)
    Love it when /. editors add links to paywalled articles...
  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:09PM (#40553527)

    Making stickers in the USA, that have "Made in the USA" printed on them....

  • by Squeebee (719115) <squeebee@gm a i l . com> on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:13PM (#40553595)

    Many of the parts listed in the article had multiple possible source countries, and several of them listed US plants as potential sources. Conceivably Google could have requested those plants be used as much as possible.

    Even if that's not the case, we're talking chips here. The housing was made in the USA, several of the chips were as well. It's reasonable to assume that the boards were made in a US plant, that the work of mounting chips to boards, of attaching connectors, of assembling the units, of doing QA, etc. etc. was done in a factory in the USA.

    Most of the human labor (in other words the actual jobs) was performed in the USA. The foreign-sourced components are small enough that there was likely a lot more robot labor than human labor involved.

    I'd say what you're really paying for in buying that Made in the USA label is employment for Americans, and you're getting it.

  • by coldfarnorth (799174) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:13PM (#40553601)

    Even if it is a bit fuzzy, the FTC regulates the use of express claims like "Made in the USA" See this webpage for details:
    http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus03-complying-made-usa-standard [ftc.gov]

    In short, not every part of the device needs to be from the US for the device to be "Made in the USA". Here is a relevent exerpt for people who are interested, but not THAT interested:
    -------------------
    What factors does the Commission consider to determine whether a product is "all or virtually all" made in the U.S.?

    The product’s final assembly or processing must take place in the U.S. The Commission then considers other factors, including how much of the product’s total manufacturing costs can be assigned to U.S. parts and processing, and how far removed any foreign content is from the finished product. In some instances, only a small portion of the total manufacturing costs are attributable to foreign processing, but that processing represents a significant amount of the product’s overall processing. The same could be true for some foreign parts. In these cases, the foreign content (processing or parts) is more than negligible, and, as a result, unqualified claims are inappropriate.

    Example: A company produces propane barbecue grills at a plant in Nevada. The product’s major components include the gas valve, burner and aluminum housing, each of which is made in the U.S. The grill’s knobs and tubing are imported from Mexico. An unqualified Made in USA claim is not likely to be deceptive because the knobs and tubing make up a negligible portion of the product’s total manufacturing costs and are insignificant parts of the final product.

    Example: A table lamp is assembled in the U.S. from American-made brass, an American-made Tiffany-style lampshade, and an imported base. The base accounts for a small percent of the total cost of making the lamp. An unqualified Made in USA claim is deceptive for two reasons: The base is not far enough removed in the manufacturing process from the finished product to be of little consequence and it is a significant part of the final product.

  • Actually... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Junta (36770) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:16PM (#40553667)

    The teardown lists the chips and *potential* points of origin, a few which could not have been produced domestically. The proportion of chips that actually might have been sourced from US is actually pretty significant (more than I thought would have been possible). Of the components that might have been sourced from overseas or domestically, they have no idea how those parts were fulfilled (though at least for DIMMs, the SPD reveals the manufacturing plant if you understand the manufacturer specific location codes).

  • Maybe they OEM'd parts from Bosch.

  • That is really the key element to me, and the most significant assembly work. The actual components actually need to come from the suppliers where-ever they may be.

    If they are actually doing the circuit board building population in the USA, I think that warrants a made in USA kudos.

    If they are putting the assembled circuit board in a case, that is just lame BS.

  • Imagine that, a company that makes a habit of being overly vague about how it gleans your personal data and what exactly it does with it also being vague as to the origins of another one of their products. Yeah I can use another search engine, but unfortunately they are a defacto standard. Everyone on Slasdot likes to beat up Microsoft for their corporate policies, but Google can't seem to do any wrong. OK, now it's time for the Gmail zombies to kick in and tell everyone how it's good to put more of your pe
  • Yes, I praise Google for doing at least some sourcing and assembling in the USA, but remember: they did this just for a very niche product that they know they won't sell many of for two reasons. First, it is at least 1.5 times the cost of similar multimedia devices. Secondly, it cannot stream ANY local media; an as-designed flaw mainly to help bump up Google Music usage.

    This is another Google experiment they will kill sometime next year after the hype of embarrasing Apple for building just about everythi
  • by Frankie70 (803801) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:42PM (#40554057)

    I heard that the 'Made in the USA' sticker was made in Mexico.

  • If they want appreciation they can start by paying their fair share of tax. Slapping some Chinese hardware into a US case does not make me think anything different of them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @01:44PM (#40554115)

    Actually, the suit making the statement went to great lengths to play-down the "Made in the USA" point, going so far as to say that it would not be a significant part of their marketing strategy. Don't let things like facts get in the way of a good hate, though...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OMFG! Some of the ICs are only made in foreign countries! Some might be made in foreign countries, but are also made in the US! They only make most of the parts and assemble it in the US!

    I read the tear down at Fix-it link, but it doesn't match the headline here. Neither does the CNN article linked claim that the entire device is made in the US.

    "A tear-down at ifixit.com however, reveals the guts of the thing are mostly manufactured overseas at the expected locations (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, et al)."

  • That would be the technically accurate claim and for a number of hardware products that my employer manufactures.

    In our example we assemble in the US, design in the US, program the firmware in the US, program the chips in the US but source a number of the raw parts from TAA compliant countries. I'm pretty sure the Nexus Q can claim pretty much the same manufacturing mix minus the TAA compliance, not that that matters for a consumer device.

    That said I'm going to buy one... I don't care if it ends up being a

  • "It's not hand-made in USA, it's Hand-made in Usa. The Hand people are a vietnamese slave-tribe, and Usa is their island prison."

    (very bad screencap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zm3TepXcD8A [youtube.com])

    (Jack Donnaghy)

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @02:17PM (#40554647)

    I read a story on the people who make Mag flashlights. They are very proud of "made in the USA" and wanted a 100% USA-manufactured product. Even for something as simple as a flashlight, turned out that one part could not be sourced from the USA, and gearing op manufacturing themselves would have been prohibitively expensive.

    I'm not saying Google's in this exact boat, but it is hard to expect 100% made in the USA from any product of reasonable complexity if something as simple as a flashlight can't do it.

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