Google Inc. scored a lot of warm fuzzies among proponents of American labor and manufacturing when it was revealed—or more likely pointed out in a carefully orchestrated PR play—that it's Nexus Q streaming media player is manufactured right here in the Silicon Valley.
The story, written by New York Times technology writer John Markoff, turned some heads because, well, that just doesn't really happen anymore. The Silicon Valley, once a bustling technology manufacturing hub, has long since shipped nearly all of the actual making of products to lower cost geographies, most of them in Asia.
It's a nice story for those who still believe that high tech manufacturing can thrive in the U.S. once again. Though it's almost certain that Google's PR types spoon fed Markhoff the story, the company isn't shouting from the rooftops about it while waving an American flag. There are probably several reasons for that, with one being that while the Nexus Q is an intriguing product, it was clearly the warm-up act for the headliner announced the same day, the Nexus 7 tablet. That, of course, is made in Asia by Asus. Still, Google got just props for kicking the tires on Made in the USA.
But what about Google's acclaimed frenemy just a few miles to the south, Apple Inc.? (Yes, the same company whose iPads, iPhones, iPods are famously built in China by Foxconn.) Could Apple have a story that appeals to Americans who yearn to see more products from American companies built domestically?
You wouldn't think so. But an article that appeared this week on AppleInsider observed that some of Apple's key component suppliers have over the last year started beefing up production in the U.S. The story went on to speculate that this could be "a sign that more of the iPhone is already made in America than one might think."
The story is mostly about how several chip makers have been building and expanding U.S. fabs, including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Texas Instruments Inc., Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., Maxim Integrated Products Inc. and Avago Technologies Ltd. Parts from all four companies have been found in teardowns of Apple products, but as the story notes, Apple is not one to say a great deal about its suppliers.
The Appleinsider story also notes that Apple CEO Tim Cook recently mentioned the A5 processors built by Samsung for Apple at Samsung's fab in Austin, Texas, and the iPhone's Corning Gorilla Glass, which is made in Kentucky.
It's encouraging that there has been an uptick in new semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the U.S., but don't expect to see a "Made in the USA" sticker on an iPhone anytime soon. The story concludes with research from IHS iSuppli, which estimates that the Samsung-built processor accounts for about 12 percent of an iPhone bill of materials (BoM), with the Gorilla Glass accounting for about 0.6 percent. Components supplied by the rest of the chip companies mentioned account for just over 2 percent of the BoM—combined—according to IHS.