One of the surprises to come out of Google developer conference yesterday was a product dubbed the Nexus Q, which essentially acts as a media hub that can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet and then pulls that content from the web to play it back on your home television or hifi. Most people may have thought that this is one of the roles of the struggling Google TV, but apparently not – and Google are charging a rather steep $299 for this device.
Why such a high price when there are various roughly competitive products on the market that retail for half that amount? Because the Nexus Q was built in the USA. Not China, Taiwan then, South Korea, or Japan then. I’m not quite sure how Google are trying to justify a glorified media streamer/hub costing 50% more than a 7″ touchscreen tablet (which is manufactured in the east by Asus), but they are.
The problem, however, is that in this hyper-connected world of ours, no-one really cares if the product was manufactured by a corporation in one country or another. If anything, a product manufactured by Foxcon may be better built than one made in the USA, because they have so much more experience at the process. Obviously no-one wants their products manufactured by slave labour, but such practices are rare with major manufacturers, and everyone wants to keep their local or even national economy going – but “made in the USA” is no longer a badge of quality in the electronics world. If you put two Nexus Qs on the shelf, one made in the USA for $299 and the other made in China for $199 you can bet the US-manufactured product would be left to be discounted in the sales.
We have an international and connected world economy where the only reason to justify higher cost is with an better product or better services. There are cases where the US or the UK excel in technological spheres and we should champion such developments, but let’s be honest – no-one cares where a product was built or even designed any more. If it’s the best designed and best featured product out there, it would be the one people want – the sooner we wake up to this the better.