Moto X Marks the Spot for American-Made Resurgence

Ever since the Moto X hit the rumor mill, Android blogs went wild. It was a never ending stream of excitement, and the original hope was to see something in June. Motorola finally showed off the phone yesterday, and in case you missed it, here are the specs:

As Motorola hinted well before its press event, the Moto X would be customizable. However, we're strictly talking appearance, not hardware. People will have the ability to choose from 18 different colors for the back including wood, black or white for the front, and seven different accent colors. In total, there are over 2,000 combinations. The problem? Only AT&T customers have the ability to customize at this time. Everyone else? They'll just have to stick with black and white for now.

Although the Moto X doesn't have ground-breaking specs, it's priced as much as specced out devices, starting at $199 on-contract. Rumors of the phone being priced similar to Nexus devices helped fuel high expectations, and with Google now owning Motorola Mobility, it wasn't too surprising. However, Motorola seems to somewhat make up for that with interesting features such as responding to your voice without even turning on the screen, and the ability to open up the camera app by just flicking your wrist.

Not only that, but the Moto X is the first smartphone to be assembled in the United States. Instead of contracting Foxconn or a similar Chinese company to assemble the phone, Motorola has hired around 2,000 people to assemble devices in Fort Worth, Texas. Because personal customization is involved, this means faster delivery times (within four days). It's a fresh approach in a market dominated by "Made In China", and let's not kid ourselves: it's a potentially smart marketing move.

According to a survey released in September 2012 by Perception Research Services International, 76 percent of shoppers are more likely to purchase a product if they see it's "Made in the USA". Not only that, but another survey published in November 2012 by Boston Consulting Group, found that nearly 60 percent of U.S. consumers chose American-made products over less expensive "Made In China" products at least once in the month leading up to the survey. Clearly, there is a strong interest in American-made products, but does the Moto X have what it takes?

To the hardcore Android user, it's lacking in the processor and display department. Quad-core is all the rage these days, and many feel the X is behind. Combine that with it costing as much as the Galaxy S4 or HTC One, both of which feature a quad-core processor and 1080p display. However, as we've seen time and time again, to the average user, specs are not the holy grail. The average consumer wants something that can do fast work of whatever they need done, and offers a great experience.

I think Motorola did a great job making the UI almost stock Android, and weaving in some features we haven't seen before. As skeptical as I am about the 24 hour battery life, I hope it's true. The customization is cool, but making it exclusive to one carrier seemed like a major miscalculation. Either way, there are some good things going for the Moto X. With it leading the charge for mobile devices assembled in the United States, it represents a new era not completely reliant on bottom dollar, extremely harsh working conditions.

However, with that comes increased prices. At the end of the day, it has to be profitable. Motorola and Google are taking a big risk, and the success of the Moto X will either fuel future devices having a home here in the United States, or it'll be back to the drawing board, and giving Foxconn a call.

Photo credit: Miguel Aranda

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