Motorola Mobility has announced that it is opening a smartphone factory in Texas. While the company was once among the leaders in outsourcing to China, the smartphone maker is part of a movement toward bringing technology jobs back to the United States.
The move comes as other companies like Apple and Lenovo are planning to add U.S. manufacturing capacity. While some see this as a PR move designed to mollify members of congress, Motorola Mobility officials said they see business logic to having a factory close to the engineers who are designing a new flagship smartphone.
“Doing that work of actually assembling the phone close to home will allow us to fix things faster, innovate faster,” said Dennis Woodside, CEO of Motorola Mobility.
The Moto X will be the first phone designed entirely under Google’s ownership. While the manufacturing in the U.S. meets the preferences of Americans, many of the 1,100 component parts will still be made overseas.
“You would have said five years ago this would have been impossible,” said Scott N. Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “It’s interesting that you’re seeing this getting started now. It’s possible this could be part of a larger trend.”
The Moto X will be designed to streamline some common functions, such as taking a picture, to make the process faster and easier for users. The Texas factory will produce smartphones for the U.S. and Mexican markets, allowing for faster shipping times and making it easier for engineers to make changes like colors beyond the standard black or white in response to shifting customer tastes.
“It’s definitely designed to have a much different look and feel than other smartphones and a much purer Google experience,” said Mark Randall, senior vice president for supply chain and operations for Motorola Mobility.
The Fort Worth factory is in a foreign trade zone that has tax advantages for exporters. “Motorola Mobility’s decision to manufacture its new smartphone and create thousands of new jobs in Texas is great news for our growing state,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a statement. “Our strong, healthy economy, built on a foundation of low taxes, smart regulation, fair legal system and a skilled workforce is attracting companies from across the country and around the world.”