Motorola Shows Off Moto X Factory as Apple Shows Off iPhone 5S
While Google-owned Motorola isn't yet sharing how many Moto X smartphones it has sold, it is telling journalists that 100,000 of the smartphones are now leaving its Fort Worth, Texas, factory each week.
As rival Apple was introducing its newest iPhones, Motorola invited in journalists for a tour of the Flextronics-owned factory, which currently employs around 2,000 people and is the size of three football fields, according to the Associated Press.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside told Reuters that things are just getting started.
The factory is capable of producing "tens of millions" of phones per year, Woodside said, though for now, Motorola is just honoring its contracts.
"We have shipment targets we need to make with our carrier partners, and where we need to be right now is 100,000 units, and that's where we are," Woodside said, according to the Sept. 11 report.
The factory is part of Motorola's branding for the Moto X, the first smartphone to come from Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in August 2011. Wanting to do something to differentiate themselves from their rivals, Motorola took over the Flextronics factory in Fort Worth that was originally set up for Nokia, and is now boasting that the Moto X is the first smartphone designed, engineered and assembled in the United States.
While labor costs are higher, being U.S.-based does have its benefits.
"You have to offset [the decision to be U.S.-based] with what's the time-to-market savings and what's the fact that you drive your truck down the street to drop [the phones] off," Flextronics CEO Mike McNamara told Reuters.
The wage differential is actually coming down, and you get huge improvements in productivity by having your design team much closer to your manufacturing," Woodside added, in a video interview with AP.
There's also the other major first about the Moto X. Using Motorola's online Moto Maker software, consumers can custom design their own phones, choosing colors for several components of the phone—the front panel, back panel, the buttons and the ring around the rear camera—as well as materials, wallpapers and a custom greeting.
Better still—and, again, thanks to the Texas factory—Motorola promises that phones can go from Moto Maker to owner's hands in just four days' time.
"We think this is a very, very safe bet," Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said, speaking to the assembled journalists at the factory Sept. 10. "The reason is, the math works, we get much more flexible products and the products themselves have been thoroughly well reviewed."
Still another benefit is the unspoken, but clearly conveyed, pleasure of besting Apple. The late Steve Jobs famously once remarked to President Obama, who expressed hopes of bringing more manufacturing back to the United States, "Those jobs aren't coming back."
Motorola's Woodside wouldn't say how many Moto X units have been custom ordered, but he told Reuters that the figure are "substantial" and the phones are selling at a profit.
The Moto X is now available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and U.S. Cellular, and in Best Buy stores for $199 with a new two-year service agreement.