Earlier this week, Motorola announced that it will build its new Moto X in, of all places, Fort Worth, Texas. To outsiders this looks like a smart gamble that could turn into a costly mistake. To me it's genius. Google, which owns Motorola Mobility, must be behind it.
Unlike almost every other American manufacturer, Google is leery of China. After all, China has hacked Google, threatened Google, and undermined Google by forcing it to rejigger search results.
The way I see it, Google is going to do everything possible to avoid working with China. So why would it build hardware there? Except for its work with Taiwan-based HTC, the company mainly works with Samsung, which is based in Korea. After Google bought Motorola, it was only a matter of time before it ended the Moto-China connection.
Visit a modern manufacturing facility and it's clear that robots actually rule the roost. And it just so happens that robots work as well in America as they do in China.
People are still needed though and generally speaking, workers in China earn very little. According to the New York Times, Foxconn workers make about $17 to $22 (£11 to £14) a day. This is actually up from the 1990s when they earned $25 (£16) a week.
Note that not all of these labour savings are passed on to the consumer. Most of the difference is kept by the corporation. This boosts the overall profit margins and makes the company look good on the books even if consumers are still paying the same price.
Thus the price of the phones coming out of Fort Worth will be comparable with the price of those made in China. Nobody writing about this "American miracle" will notice the profit margin aspect, and the public may begin to demand more American-made products since they will be about the same price. This will indeed help the local economies.
In the scheme of things, this will have no immediate effect on China. In fact, China has been more concerned with exporting to the EU where it can really do some damage.
Hopefully there are enough industrial engineers left in the United States so that the Fort Worth facility actually works, and works profitably. And the Moto X phone, which is getting a lot of attention, better be a great little phone.
My fear is that the phone itself will be junky and the "Made in the USA" moniker will quickly become associated with failure. The phone has to be a winner and it has to be reliable.
Whatever the case, this is a bold move that will hopefully start some new conversations about making everyday products like a mobile phone in the United States. Kudos to these odd pioneers.