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Motorola to make smartphone in the U.S.

By: 30 May 2013 One Comment

motorola logoMotorola announced on Thursday that it will release a new smartphone — the Moto X — in October.

Motorola officials have gone on at length about how advanced the Android-based phone will be. For example, Motorola claims the phone will be contextually aware of its surroundings and act accordingly — it can fire up a camera when pulled out of a pocket, behave differently when in a moving car, etc. It’s to be a high-end smartphone competing with the likes of the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4. However, here’s something very unique about the phone — it will be built in the United States.

The Star-Telegram in Fort Worth reports that Motorola plans to hire 2,000 workers by late summer to build the Moto X in a factory just outside of Fort Worth. Click here to have a look at the Motorola press release about the Moto X and details on how to get a job helping build the smartphones.

That’s good news on the surface, of course, and we at First Arkansas News hope it’s part of trend in which more manufacturing jobs are brought back to the U.S. instead of being shipped off to China and other places where inexpensive labor sources are available. Michael Pakko, chief economist for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute for Economic Advancement and state economic forecaster, explained late last year that the loss of manufacturing jobs has been a drain on the U.S. economy.

He pointed out in November that the U.S. economy appears to be on the mend, but it doesn’t “feel” like it because unemployment hasn’t improved as expected. In April, for example, the national unemployment rate was 7.5 percent — an improvement over the 8.1 percent rate in the same month last year but a far cry from the 5 percent rate posted in April 2008.

According to Pakko, there was an established pattern in the U.S. once upon a time under which factories would lay off workers when the economy soured and hire them back when the economic fundamentals improved. In the current economy, then, the economy has improved but the industrial job growth that has traditionally followed a recession simply aren’t their — those jobs have vanished overseas and that leaves the U.S. in the tough position of trying to find something to replace them.

Meanwhile, companies American companies offshoring manufacturing are busily leveraging cheap labor sources into huge profit margins. In terms of smartphones, have a look at this article from The Street that suggests Apple realizes a 68 percent profit margin off of every iPhone 5 it sells in the United States.

The question that must be asked, then, is this — could a company manufacture a smartphone in the U.S. and still post healthy profit margins while providing needed jobs for Americans? Motorola may soon answer that question.

Meanwhile, I was set to trade in my iPhone 4S for something else in July. I think I’ll hang onto it long enough to see an honest-to-goodness Moto X. If it’s as good as Motorola claims, the idea of picking up an American-made smartphone that’s on par with other high devices offered by competitors is very appealing.

When viewed in that context, Motorola’s announcement makes a lot of sense. Here’s something even more compelling — Google, which is responsible for the Android OS, purchased Motorola Mobility last year for $12.5 billion. One must wonder if the “made in America” appeal of the Moto X will help Google grab some more marketshare from competitor Apple.

Also, Motorola may be out for a little revenge, too. Bear in mind that Motorola supplied the CPUs for Macintosh computers since 1984, but the company was dropped in favor of Intel in 2005. That move had to hurt Motorola more than a little bit.

At any rate, here’s hoping the Moto X is good as claimed and American consumers will finally have the option of supporting U.S. labor by picking up a smartphone that is manufactured domestically.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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