Motorola's Fort Worth factory shutting down by the end of the year

Google's Motorola handset unit will apparently soon be closing down their factory in Fort Worth Texas. The factory has only been open since May of 2013 and currently employs around 700 workers. At its high, the factory employed around 3,800, mostly through contract manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd. The factory is expected to close by the end of this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Shortly after the factory opened last year, former Motorola Chief Exec Dennis Woodside said "that it would challenge conventional wisdom that manufacturing in the U.S. is too expensive." Employees at the Fort Worth facility are tasked with assembly of the Moto-X to be sold within the US. Things obviously didn't work out quite as planned however, as Motorola President Rick Osterloh notes "What we found was that the North American market was exceptionally tough."

Source: WSJ

 

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Motorola's Fort Worth factory shutting down by the end of the year

142 Comments

:-(
we heard it was bound to happen, just sad it really is. if only they had released the X for all carriers, with all customization options, no exclusives from day one, I think the situation would be healthier. too bad for all those US jobs. guess it means moto 360 and X2 will be assembled over the pond, maybe
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Yeah these stupid exclusives whether it be timed or not just ruins devices chances of making it really mainstream without proper support and marketing. Its a shame Motorola is giving up making phones in the U.S. I'm sure if they did things correctly with the Moto X and that stupid exclusivity with Moto Maker with ATT and marketed the phone more this little experiment might not have failed.

yeah these stupid exclusives ruin it for both phone manufacturer and end user. I would say more than most do not have $500-$700 lying around for every new phone that comes out. The X came out, those on VZW, Sprint, Tmo, said "oh, it's not even on my carrier - I'll have to give my money to a different manufacturer." Then it comes out everywhere "oh well, too late, I already have my new phone" - lost market share.
Getting us all ramped up about it before it comes out, and then to tell the majority (every carrier but AT&T) "not guaranteed, you may have to wait/ you'll have to wait" does not look good - it's simply flushing your PR money and time down the toilet. The PR was projected out to everyone, but it after the fact it ended up not really speaking/assigned to all (who needed/wanted to move to a newer phone).
I hope all manufacturers learn from this. It's probably not easy when a carrier holds a manufacturer hostage, however in this specific case, it looks like it certainly didn't help them (moto).

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The exclusive deals are supposed to be valuable for both the carrier AND the manufacturer. In order to get an exclusive, the carrier should be agreeing to market and promote the device more heavily than devices on multiple carriers. But, in practice, that doesn't seem to be happening or is simply not outweighing the cons of a single-carrier release. It seems like the carrier just spends a contractually-obligated amount of money on a couple TV ads and other collateral and that's it. I don't recall any particularly big Moto X push from AT&T. Worse yet, it doesn't really matter what corporate is pushing if the retail stores are not following through. It seems that the stores simply aren't incented to push anything other than Apple and Samsung, which is an ongoing challenge for every other manufacturer.

When negotiating deals with carriers, manufacturers should cite examples like Moto X in order to push back on the pressures for an exclusive...they need to increase the carrier's skin in the game. The challenge is that for the smaller players (i.e., everyone that's not Apple and Samsung), they need the carriers more than the carriers need them. Any amount of marketing support is better than none, and regardless, the smaller guys likely don't have the supply chain scale to execute a multi-carrier launch anyway.

I bet the next Moto X will be assembled in one of Lenovo's plants. The have facilities in North Carolina so maybe they'll take advantage of that.

It would be cheaper to build it here than have it built over seas then shipped across the ocean then shipped all throughout the US

All the parts are made overseas then shipped here. You can put a hell of a lot of Devices in the belly of a 747-F at the cost of a few cents apiece shipping cost.

I don't think opening up customiztion to every carrier would have been a good idea. There were a lot of quality issues with early handsets, and opening it up to everyone would have only made the quality problems worse. You also have to have a "ramp up" or training period to get the employees used to production and work out kinks with macinery, especially when you add the customization.

The ramp up period was used to create the non custom designs. When the custom devices started getting produced, it is just a matter of the employees at the beginning of the line pulling parts from correct containers to send down the line for assembly.

Once the initial custom color parts are put in the correct bins, the assembly of the device is no different than standard devices.

Training is one thing, a very important and big thing. If moto failed at that, then that is their own fault. However, keep in mind that when the X was thought of, they obviously had customization in mind. Also, remember the bloggers and tech sites had access to motomaker before the phone was released. If customization is a feature of the phone, it is thought of with the phone.
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Carrier exclusivity was not a factor here. This plant was doomed as soon as Lenovo bought the company. It doesn't matter how successful the factory was, it iis mpossible for it to be as profitable as a factory using Chinese labor that works for pennies on the dollar.

I don't think any or much of it was made in the USA anyway. It was just ASSEMBLED in the USA. Huge difference

Seems like I remember reading that. I believe you are correct. Most of the major semiconductor manufacturing facilities are overseas, so it makes sense.

doesnt matter what the job entailed, 700-3800 lost jobs is not something we really need to lose right now...

There's plenty of jobs available in that area. Amazon just opened a distribution center near there and they're always hiring.

Oh well, so much for a company saying something and doing something else. Doesn't surprise me. I worked for flextronics and that company is very unreliable towards their employees or should I say their minions.

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I think that is a little unfair in this case. Remember, this is due more to Lenovo' purchase of Motorola than anything else. When this factory was opened, the Lenovo buyout was never even considered. Lenovo already has significant manufacturing facilities and just didn't see this one as profitable to keep open. This was inevitable under Lenovo but might have not happened under Google.

If they didn't sell out the factory may have been in good standing as well as all the employees that were employed there. As I said, this is a recurring issue that is plegging the States.

So the X didn't sell well? Too bad, it's the best phone I've ever owned. First phone I haven't had to root and flash to get a decent experience. Still unrooted, actually.

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That's not necessarily the problem. Although it made it harder I'm sure. Its the wages that US workers and unions demand that causes it to be financially impossible to compete with third world countries with cheap labor. Motorola probably realized they could make much more money by moving production overseas.

Got Nexus?

Yeah its impossible to compete with third world countries like China...wait, what?

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I wasn't necessarily referring to just China (Samsung has factories in Vietnam, and other OEM's build phones in countries other than China); however, China does have cheap labor compared to the US.

Got Nexus?

I love the Orwellian sound of that... Right to Work. As long as you like low wages, no unions, no healthcare, you have the right to work...

give this person +100 i live in dallas and i agree moved here from chicago and that term right to work state is thrown around like a baseball in a park down here geesh. I like Texas but it has some crazy laws that benefit big corp america and i work in corp but i will tell it like i see it.

My company routinely has large meetings (3 to 5 thousand) here in Texas since it is centrally located in the US. Chicago is the other place centrally located, but we have not met there in over 5 years because the unions increase the cost of a large meeting so much it just makes it too expensive, so Texas benefits.

Actually, you can still have decent wages and healthcare without being in a union. In fact most places I've worked with unions just hamstring the businesses to where it takes twice as long and twice as much to get something done as places that don't. I've seen quite a few plants shut down and moved to states just like Texas where the companies don't have to deal with union bylaws.

Exactly. Some "union" job wages and regulations are just absolutely ridiculous. There was a time when unions were badly needed... but the power swung way to far the other direction and that is what led to a lot of companies going out of business with products that were poor quality and/or too expensive.

There most certain can be and are unions in "right to work states". However, they cannot FORCE new workers to be union. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

The whole idea is that if your job is not compensating you to your liking, you should find another job (although I do realize that's not as simple right now, with the job market the way it is). The "right to work" thing goes both ways. People seem to forget that companies offering healthcare was something they did to attract better employees. That's also why some companies will offer things like free coffee and such. Where I work now, I'm not allowed to clock over 40 hours, but they do add any hours over 40 in a single week to my accrued PTO. They don't technically have to do that, since IT staff are exempt from overtime pay. I appreciate the fact that they don't treat me like my last job and expect me to work 80+ hours/week and only pay me for 40.

What we don't want though is to get like they are in Japan where they're not allowed to fire *anyone* so they've created these "boredom rooms" where they send employees that they want to make quit and basically end up paying them 8 hours a day to sit in a chair and stare at the wall.

Who told you that. Only certain IT jobs are exempt. I can't remember the specific ones. But most IT jobs are not exempt from over time pay. Keep in mind the government has really strict guidelines on their definitions of such jobs. You must perform those duties as your primary task. Title means nothing it's all based on tasks and responsibilities. The fact that they are "rolling" compensation into pto makes me think they aren't sure themselves. Labor law is very complicated where most small companies get it wrong all the time. Even big ones fail to understand it with all their lawyers.

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You're right, but i have confirmed that my job is exempt from overtime, unfortunately. And I now work for the government, so I'm pretty sure they know what the law is ;)

All the IT jobs at my company are Salary not hourly. That's the problem too many strict guidelines from the Govt. When you sign on to a job you accept the terms of that job. If you don't like the terms don't let the door hit you on the behind on the way out. So many people have an entitlement attitude. Well get ready for a dose of life. Ain't no one owe you nothing!

Definitely the best phone I've ever owned and I have had them all. It sucks when a great product can't uplift a company where it should be

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Yeah, I own the Nexus 5 but my father in law ha the Moto X and I recently got to look at his. I wish I would have gone with the Moto X based on size alone. It is like the perfect sized smartphone to me. Plus it has the cool active notifications features that will take Google years to implement if they ever do.

That app only has half of the package. It still requires that you turn on your entire screen. One of the best things about Active Display is that it takes advantage of the AMOLED screen and only turns on specific pixels.

It also doesn't have the integration with the Moto X sensors. One of the cool things about Motorola's implementation is that the screen wakes up when you pick up the phone, pull it out of a pocket, etc based on accelerometer and proximity input (and probably others). You pull the phone out of your pocket and it shows the time, any pending notifications, and is ready to unlock without touching the power button. It's a little thing but is works really well in practice.

Good to know, but I'm willing to bet that's a premium feature, along with most of the others "features" the app includes that make it comparable to Active Display, like using it as your lock screen. I've used the app on my Nexus 7, and it's nowhere near as smooth or user friendly as Active Display.

The "only turning on the pixels that are used" thing is just the way AMOLED screens work, and has nothing to do with the app.

I'll admit, it's not as nicely integrated as Active Display, because it's not built into the OS itself. The "breathe" feature (which is a premium feature) is a little wonky on my Note 3, because of the way they screen being turned on/off is implemented in TouchWiz.

But it's pretty close to what Moto did with Active Display, and it's still a lot better than nothing if you're looking for this kind of functionality. If it's been a while since you tried it, I recommend checking it out again, since the developer makes frequent updates.

Ummm...the Active notifications were made on Google's watch while they owned Motorola. You do realize that, correct? Kind of silly that it would take Google years to implement when they were the ones that already implemented it...lol

And before you try to argue anything, a friend of mine works in the cell phone division at Motorola as a developer here in Chicago. I see all the new phones before they come out. And I know stories of how functionality gets built into phones. Active notifications were done under Google's watch.

How do you make that conclusion? Google already offloaded the hardware portion of Motorola and kept what they really wanted out of the deal. Patents.

Doesn't surprise me. I worked as an engineer at the Easter inch facility in Scotland years ago. Same happened

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So I guess no more moto maker 3 day turn around. And I bet the next moto x will be shells like on the G and the E.

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I just bought my wife a Moto X and it was kind of pain with moto maker, online I couldn't change the address to have it shipped for some reason. I also went into Verizon to see if they could change the mailing address and they couldn't either. She's still on her dad's plan so they had to ship it to his house a half hour away. Another thing that was a pain, you couldn't design the phone at the store, you had to get a code and then go home and do it. It would have been so much easier and so many more people would have done moto maker if you could design the phone in stores. I also suggested getting the LG G2 (both phones were free) and told her it had a bigger battery and bettery camera, she didn't care about any of that stuff she just liked the idea of getting a different color back.

Seems like a poor effort on behalf of the particular Verizon Store you visited. My daughter has a VZW Moto X, which we bought in a VZW store, we customized it via Moto-maker on a tablet (Ipad unfortunately) while at the store... All very easy...

On a time when the US needs jobs this never sits well. At the end of the day we all know what is behind this. To us 700 workers is a lot but to the owners that is nothing. We will keep seeing this as we move forward.

That plant did nothing but increase production cost and not enough "patriots" bought the phone. Galaxies and iphones aren't assembled here and they sell like hot cakes. So good move IMO. A lot of people were happy about a phone that was assembled in the USA but none of them bought it to support the company's move.

There was so much wrong with the X anyway. Screen and battery too small by 2013 flagship standard. Processor too old for 2013 flagship. I could live with 720p but all the flagships had 1080p. Camera was straight up trash. I had an X for a week before I ditched it for a M7 who then I ditched for a N5 who then I ditched for the G2. And IMO G2 > M7 > N5 > X.

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I agree about the exclusivity, but I have a buddy with a Moto X and played with it for a bit. Seemed like a really nice phone, and he *loves* it. Devices don't need quad-core CPUs when they're not having to drive a 1080p screen. This is my complaint with the push to 700+ppi screens: we're maxing out the CPU/GPU for something that (I don't believe) will be a significant improvement. I don't really see much difference between the 720p screen on my Note 2 and the 1080p screen on my Note 3. I have even less expectation of being able to see the difference above 1080p.

Flagship device deserve flagship specs. At release it was selling for like $600 wasn't it? Why should I pay flagship price for a device with year and a half old specs?

Agree - they priced it too high in the first month or two. People like to compare what they are getting for the same money. And the idea that the specs don't matter is great , but that's only if you are as big as Apple is today, not Motorola (most of the android OEMs actually). They should have marked it cheaper and then w the next generation raise the price - once people got to know how well it was built and worked.
This is all a big mess and no clue who to blame more, Google or Motorola.

VZW Moto X

Part of the problem is that the carriers treat a phone based on its MSRP. If Moto had priced it cheaper, it would have been considered a "budget" device and been treated differently by the carriers.

It's a nice phone but had it been snapdragon 600(didn't even have to be the 800), 5", 3000 may battery, better camera, and 1080p I would have been all over it. Also this is MY opinion based on MY needs so don't see why anybody would disagree on MY preferences. We don't all like the same stuff. Beauty of Android isn't it?
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A lot of people got the X BECAUSE it didn't have a 5 inch screen. Flagships do have to differentiate, and a bigger screen doesn't have anything to do with being a better device; it's just a different device.

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So are the new motos going to be cheaper?

Posted via my oldie but goodie Nexii 4 using the Android Central App

Bummer! I purchased three Moto X's and still use one for myself. I liked the idea of buying from a company that employed my fellow Texans. I guess many of us talk the talk about made in the USA, but not enough walked the walk? I am sure the constant price reductions did not help.

I'm not even from Texas but I agree as far as US employment. I have bought 4 total and one moto G. I think I have done my share. The moto x is simply he most usable phone around. No issues ever in 8 months. Mine is stock, rooted w/ xposed. I have had a htc one m7 & m8, Lg g2, gs4, Nexus 5 within the last 10 months and simply cannot get rid of or stop using my moto x. It is the best among them by far.

I am afraid manufacturing in the states is not going to happen less and less as time goes on. Cheaper(and in some ways better) labor can be found elsewhere around the world.

Get your education kids. Low skill labor is not going to get you anywhere in life. Soon it may not even be an option if trends continue.

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True. We overpay unskilled labor and compensate unskilled labor at that same rate when jobs are lost. My job has skill requirements and I make half as much as relatives performing unskilled assembly jobs. That is the problem with current job structuring in the US.

Sad for the people who will lose their jobs but I'll wait to set what comes next before i start preaching gloom and doom

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I bought one to use on Ting. I couldn't activate it with Ting because of exclusivity agreement with Sprint so I sent it back. Bought a Nexus 5 instead...

They look like sharp phones. Wish it would have worked out.

Why pay your workers a living wage when you can pay some poor folks in China slave wages and put up netting to keep them from getting the sweet release of death.

Fish heads, fish heads
Roly-poly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads
Eat them up, yum

Posted from my LG LS970 using my thumb

Because so many 'Mericans would rather just collect unemployment, worker's comp, and/or welfare (while of course also having children out of wedlock... "save the children") while also expecting "free" healthcare, social security, subsidized housing, student loans that are not paid back, and not paying much in taxes. Sad state of affairs.

I live 4 miles away from this site. A lot of good people will be out of work. Luckily the Alliance area is attracting a lot of new businesses so hopefully those displaced will blend into those other employers

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Sad news but can't say unexpected. I wonder if that means they'll continue to build original moto x throughout the end of the year? I don't think they would waste a ton of money to retool a factory that will be shutting down in a few months for the x successor? Thoughts?

Posted via Android Central App - Moto X

So sad. I have a customized Moto X that replaced an HTC Rezound. The X is a marvelous phone and I love the active notifications and touchless control, features that are still missing on some of today's "flagship" phones.

They needed to be different and instead they tried to play by the same rules as the rest of the manufacturers. The phone was flat out too expensive when released and the exclusivity was really dumb. I look forward to the day when $800.00 dollars phones are a thing of the past.

Where are you buying phones for $800? The most expensive phones (off contract) I've seen has been the Note series, at $700. The S series usually runs about $600. I can tell you that (in the US) Best Buy charges an extra $100 over the carrier stores' prices, if you buy them outright. Part of the problem is that the carriers have too much say in how these devices are priced. The carriers base whether or not a phone is a "flagship" based on the price, so Moto pretty much *had* to price it at $600 or the carriers would've thrown it in the "bargin bin" and not marketed it at all.

He's literally off by $50... Note 3 was $750 last I checked. S series are $650

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Wheres Rick Perry and Mark Cuban now!?!?! You mean theyre not at the factory when the cameras arent there? Theyre not smashing iPhones in anger that these jobs are taken out of their state?? Oh no, theyre on their yacht or watching their basketball team lose. What a crock of BS.

OMG! who did not see this coming? People can try to use the patriot stuff all they want, at the end of the day, money talks. This was a typical google pr to begin with and it backfired. The phone failed and the cost of building them in the US was unsustainable. The math was not going to work long term. Moto was and still bleeding red, that company have not been making money for years, despite all the cuts google made.

If it had been a device like the S5 or iPhone 5s they would have been able to do it.
Let's face it the Motorola device was not compelling. The market decided.
Compared to the Android devices with S600 and S800 cores, removable storage, etc.....

This is sad, so very sad...as if we didn't buy enough from the Chinese already. Now we'll have to buy their assembling labour with the new Motorola devices :(..

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This was bound to happen. Motorola did everything wrong since day one. Exclusivity of the feature that was supposed to make this phone the next big thing (FAIL) and the fact that it was absolutely, without a doubt, horribly over priced didn't help matters either. If the price would have been then what it is now, thing's might be different.

Problem is that, if they had priced it initially at $350, the carriers would have hidden it away along with phones like the Samsung Instinct and billed it as an "mid-level" device. Moto had no choice in the pricing, if they wanted the carriers to treat it as a "flagship" device.

The camera was the deciding factor in not getting the Moto X, was looking forward to the X+1 and the assembled in Texas piece of it. At this point the X+1 and the G3 are competing for my dollar, and knowing this really bums me out. I would have like to rock a phone assembled by American workers if it's an option.

Looks like it's China time. I wonder how many layoffs will happen because of this.

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If Flextronics aka Motorola had treated their employees like people instead of robots twelve hour shifts on their feet more than likely the Moto X would have been a better product. However this is history of Motorola in the DFW area. So it's obvious that they didn't learn from the first time they shut down a manufacturing facility in Fort Worth TX

Idk...I live in Keller and happen to have more than a few neighbors and church members that work there... I've never heard of such conditions

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Lenovo = China and Motorola phones will probably now be built in China to give Chinese more jobs. Nothing unsurprising here. Thank Google for selling the company.

Expected this to happen, but still hate to see it. One of things that led me to purchase Moto X was that it was assembled in USA. I'm hoping Lenovo will consider assembling some future Moto phone in its North Carolina based plant.

Google's? But they sold Motorola to the chinese Lenovo, right? Sure they will close the factory in USA

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Besides the performance and feel in hand, the reason I decided to buy it was that someone dared to bring at least since some kind of manufacturing back in US. I also overlooked the bad camera and so beautiful display too. I hoped that other OEMs might follow in years to come. Very naive, but that's what I chose to believe. I read the article a few years back , on how Apple was forced to outsource in order to stay competitive in pricing and all. But in the end it's about profit margin and greed - not the survival. Now, if people don't demand change (in capitalism dollar is much stronger vote than ballots) things will only get worse for labor in US. I don't care if my next phone is gonna have all the best specs at lowest possible price, as long as it works and it's somewhat made in US or EU I'll pay more and be happy with it. I do the same with any other shopping (food, clothing, etc) - if I find something a bit pricey I buy less.
Greedy slave owners won't get much money from me - even though my choices are very limited in today's economic structure.

VZW Moto X

And capitalism continues to encourage companies to go overseas and then they wonder why Americans can't afford their products.

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This is kinda weird still but not that I care cause I don't live in the states but once Moto keep making awesome phones like the Moto X then I have no problem where they go

Posted via Moto awesome X

This is nothing but Motorola fault. They should never have gone for the exclusivity deal; secondly the biggest goof was not having a presence in Tmobile stores. At a time where they are adding customers by the millions, you expect people to go to motorola's website to order the phone? Not even a dummy phone in the store or a poster to let people know it is available. In my neighborhood, I've seen the LG/Alcatel phones selling by the boatloads. You couldn't get the Moto G in there??? Just ridiculous! [Love my Moto X btw]

Glad China didn't buy BlackBerry. Sad that motorola employees will get the axe. Sad to see 'local' jobs go over seas.

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10 year old kids in China will do better job then Americans here, plus cost savings can translate in better hardware

I'm a double amputee and would out work any Chinese man or boy. You pay an American worker a living wage they'll out work any other countries workers.

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Bottom line, sales were not good enough among the American people to sustain production. Also, for the price, the handsets didn't offer a good value proposition.

I think it's the best phone ever made so on term of value it's spot on. But there wasn't anyway it's marketing would be enough to get the public notice with Samsung and Apple in the picture.
android central app

This saddens me so much and was one of my fears when Google sold out. Frankly I am not sure I will ever forgive them for that as I think it was shortsighted and while it may take five or ten years, I think Google will someday see the sale as a regrettable decision. I think if they had stuck with Motorola they could have made it work.

So tired of companies selling out jobs to other countries one by one and no one looking at the bigger collective picture.

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So you think Google is some hip socially conscience company that really gives a crap about American Jobs or Companies? Nope they are the Mega greedy oil companies of Tech. It's all about the money and power. Nothing more. Do you think GM or Ford is going to make Google's driverless car? HA probably be Tata Motors of India :(
Google figured out that owning a handset maker limited their options with other OEM's and they dumped them for a loss ( that will save Google billions in taxes) Google is evil you just haven't seen it yet.

I was thinking about this, there is something wrong here. There is a problem with the one factory based off one model smart phone. No one opens a factory without doing their due diligence research on labor, material, and supplier cost.

I wish I had a WSJ subscription so if I'm missing something here forgive me. Unless the factory, labor pool already existed and is solely Flextronics rebadged as Motorola. Who employs 3800 workers for a product that is not even a known success yet? You build factories or add vendors/suppliers based off an already popular well selling product. Not on a whim, or a just maybe. It's based on research or an established product or product line. The ball was either dropped, taken away or wasn't even in play in the first place.

Was the Fort Worth facility responsible for production of all Moto Xs or just Moto Maker? If just Moto Maker that is huge investment to gamble on.

Ball dropped: someone didn't do enough research or some corporate big wig just made a decision the plant would happen.

Ball taken away: someone decided the extra cost of the endeavor was either too costly or they weren't making enough profit. Part B of this is through underlying channels Lenovo wanted this to happen.

No ball: just a ploy for federal, state, and local tax dollars either for a new infusion of money or to settle a previous agreement.

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