The vast majority of consumer electronics are made in China, Taiwan, Japan, or somewhere other than America. This "outsourcing" of "Designed in America" "Made in Not America" has caused a lot of political and economic turmoil, debate and thinking lately.
More people in America are realizing that it was not just blue-collar factory jobs lost. Many of the high level intellectual service jobs associated with manufacturing disappeared with outsourcing to Asia or Latin America.
Google chooses to take a leadership position on this issue by building a modern consumer electronic device right here in the USA. Enter the one and only Google Nexus Q.
Google Manufacturing the Nexus Q in America
Google recently announced an interesting home multimedia device called the Nexus Q. http://www.google.com/nexus/#/q
To quote Goggle directly, the Nexus Q allows you to "Stream your favorite entertainment directly from the cloud to your living room" if you own an android phone or tablet. Music, movies, tv and videos, the Q can tie into your receiver to power your home AV system. "No downloads, no syncing, no running out of space, just the stuff you love-- at home and out loud".
For $299 this sounds steep for a "media streamer" : lest we forget that it is a high quality device designed and manufactured in the USA (California, San Jose). It also has a built in audio amplifier with banana jack connections to hook up a pair of low wattage speakers (25 watts total over two channels). It is a cool looking spherical device with an interesting mechanical user interface. The software is still early in development, so we can expect to see improvements on this side as time goes on. There are hints from Google that they actually want people to "hack" the Nexus Q.
The Verge tech editor and wife of my tech blog hero Joshua Topolsky, Laura June wrote an interesting editorial about this topic. http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/27/3121979/made-in-the-usa-google-nexus-q-streamer-american
More than anything else I believe that Google is showing that it is possible to manufacture consumer electronics in America. This Q is their first step; and I believe (correctly me if I am wrong) it is Google's first foray into manufacturing a device directly: most of their other experiments and services have been software based (gmail, g+, google search, google scholar, google wallet, google shopping, ect).
The Q gets trashed by reviewers who say that the Roku and Apple TV offer much more user experience for far less money: lest we ignore these devices are missing the amp, have walled garden operating systems, and are worst of all, "made in china". The built in amp is of very high quality with impressive sound reproduction in a pair of high quality bookshelf speakers. Remember you can connect the Q with Optical SPDIF or HDMI into your surround sound or AV system.
The Q is really a first "symbolic and significant" step in American consumer electronics manufacturing in an industry plagued with asian outsourcing.
Will the Q fly or die?
Speculating about the success of this device in the free market would be difficult at best. I have no idea how well it will sell. While I was quick to predict that the $199 Nexus 7inch Android 4.1 Jelly Bean tablet would sell in Apple-esque quantities ( right here http://goo.gl/TFD5a ) I am hesitant to say anything about how well the Q will do in the free market. I suspect that geeky types will buy at least a few thousand of these to "play" with, modify, hack, adjust or otherwise.
I hope the Q works as a motivator to show Apple and other American Electronics companies that it is possible to manufacture electronics in America (Vizio I am looking at you), even if doing so makes the devices slightly more expensive and requires the use of foreign made parts in assembly. (Ref. Prodeco Electric Bicycles)
I am sure that patriotic Americans would be willing to pay $399 upfront for an American Made iPhone 5, rather than $299 for the Chinese version: that said I doubt Apple will assemble the iPhone 5 in America. Investment momentum has Apple deeply invested in Foxconn over there in communist China: but we all know that Apple's cash pile could easily finance a Utah or Texas based final assembly plant. Did you know that Samsung and Apple make the A5 SOC in America..... the heart of Apple's latest mobile devices.
We have to start somewhere with made in America.... or restart to be more historically accurate with my wording. Companies with lots of stored up capital are the only entities that have the means to affect this situation: our retarded federal government is tens of trillions in debt from wasteful war mongering, the war on drugs and other dung for brains tax wasting inefficiency. We need the innovative, intelligent and wealthy parts of the private sector to lift our economy up with American Manufacturing: people cooperating to "add value" to something that others want to buy. We can eventually tell china to take their rare minerals, human rights violations and environmental trashing to hell. Their dictator style communism angers me, and that is why I dislike china. The nation of china lost all of my respect when they mowed down the college student protesters in Tiananmen Square. I have no respect for nations that treats their people like disposable objects.
Made in Not America
The consumer electronics and technology sectors were some of the first industries in America that fell victim to outsourcing. Today it is hard to find any consumer electronics made in America. Some companies in Utah and Texas have stepped up to the manufacturing plate (in part because of great local state government business incentive's in those states), but the vast majority of our consumer electronic products are made in Asian countries. http://priusblack.blogspot.com/2012/01/made-in-not-america.html
Not just America!
Most industrialized first world countries began to outsource their localized means of production as labor costs rose because of worker equity enforcement by unions. These unions made reasonable arguments that a companies employees are the means by which the company is able to function: the people who are actually doing something are required for a company to survive. These demands translated into company pensions, company sponsored heath care coverage and higher wages. As the costs of these company sponsored social services rose, it became less fiscally efficient to continue manufacturing in first world countries.
We Need More than Just Managers
We cant just have companies made of managers, designers, engineers and accountants: someone actually has to add value to something or do something functional in the real world for a company to function. Think of UPS for example. UPS is a service company (they move packages), and the people who actually move the packages are the people who enable the company to function. If all of the truck loaders and drivers and pilots stopped working, management could shuffle papers and bank account numbers until they would blue in the face, and nothing of that sort would produce useful work in terms of moving the packages. Someone actually has to "Do" something in order for UPS to add value to a service that buyers in the free market are willing to pay for!
Noting Doing Anything
Insurance companies, especially in the health care insurance sector: essential do not do anything. They could be replaced by a computer controlled accounting system: Digital Insurance. The employee overhead costs of a health insurance company represent an inequity. They take money that people pay for health care coverage and dole it out to their paper shuffling employees as income. They take money people are paying in premiums to have access to medical care and dole it out by the millions to their upper management and other paper pushing employees that contribute nothing to the care or service of the customers: denying claims and screwing their customers. These kind of unethical business practices are abhorrent and I can not believe they are legal! Ref. http://priusblack.blogspot.com/2012/06/inequity-speaks.html
Speaking of Producing Something
The objective of my editorial blog posting and the energy I invest into this blog is related to my objective to help change the philosophical landscape of the world. I want people to stop and think about things more carefully: to inspire others to become more thoughtful. I believe that many of the problems we face as a nation and as a people can be solved if people embrace different perspectives about life by thinking about everything more carefully. http://priusblack.blogspot.com/2012/06/wisdom-is-love.html
The world is what we choose to make of it. My father has long argued that philosophy is the most important field of human society because the views that people hold affect their choices, and these choices ultimately affect every facet of human society (scientific, technology, theological, structural or otherwise) through behaviors that people exhibit into material reality.
I am a Google Fan
Consider it patriotic irony that I published this posting on July 1st! Add 3, the number of interesting things that Google announced (Project Glass, Nexus 7, and Nexus Q) and we have July 4th.... Boom Boom Boom to the Unique country I love. The land where Tesla Motors is possible: where cool companies like Google can come out of no where to revolutionize everything with a powerful information democratizing search engine! I love Google as a company now more than ever!
God Bless Google