Lenovo is back again with another addition to the Yoga tablet line. It’s safe to say that Lenovo’s top-of-the-line Android tablet is better than ever. As we mentioned with our review of the Yoga Tablet 10, Lenovo is pushing the envelope of design, which could be good or bad depending on which way you look at it. The new Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ has some nice upgrades from the previous model, but still falls short in some of the same places.
As with the previous 10-inch Yoga tablet, the build quality in the HD+ is excellent. The device features a 10-inch 1920×1080 display, a 1.6 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 2 GB of RAM, 8 MP rear-facing camera and 1.6 MP front-facing camera. The display is pretty sharp and bright, but one thing that could be annoying to some is its glossiness. I didn’t find it a problem when using it inside or in shaded area. It also has some decent viewing angles, which is always a plus. One of the best features, which also could be considered its worst, is the tablet’s design and like the previous model, it’s extremely thin at its thinnest point and up to about 3/4-inches at its thickest. The thickest part of the device is sort of a cylinder with the power button on one end and the 3.5 mm headphone jack at the other, which it’s also a handle for the device. This is a good idea theoretically in my opinion and great comes in handy when holding the device or transporting it, but it’s a slightly awkward feeling if you’re holding the device and using it in portrait mode. The thick side also houses the built in kickstand that is still a bit hard to engage, as with the previous model. If you are using the device on a table or to have it sit up on your lap, it’s perfect, but if you wanted to have it in a position that you could type on it, it’s a bit too tall in my opinion with the kickstand out. If you were using it the same way but without the kickstand engaged, it’s seems to be too small of an angle. To give you an idea of how these angles differ, think of an iPad with its Smart Cover as a happy medium just about in-between both of these angles which seem either slightly too large or small for completely comfortable typing. The tablet comes with 32 GB of built-in storage that is more than enough, plus hidden behind the stand is a compartment where you can add additional storage with up to a 64 GB MicroSD card. I mentioned above that the HD+ has a Snapdragon 400 processor and 2 GB RAM, which is more than enough to satisfy the standard user. Just about any app I used on the device ran with no issues, including games like The Dark Knight Rises. Comparing TDKR running on this with it running on my OnePlus One with a Snapdragon 801 processor, it’s clear which is the winner, so as you can imagine, the graphics on high-end games are reduced and it’s just slightly choppy. Games that aren’t as graphics intense like Leo’s Fortune and even Horn ran beautifully. The cameras on the device are fairly decent for a tablet cameras. I didn’t test them extensively, but the photos I took turned out pretty clear and were decent in lower light. You should have no problems video chatting with the front-facing camera either. Two of the last things I want to mention about the device is that the 9,000 mAh battery is fantastic as well as the fact that it has front-facing speakers. In use, the tablet gets about 18 hours of battery life, but I’ve seen the tablet display that it had about 38 hours of battery life when I didn’t use it a lot. There were times when I didn’t use it for a week or more and barely any power was lost, so it works great in standby mode. The speakers on the device are loud and were great for tablet speakers, especially when I tested it out watching Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.
On the software side of things, the device is running Android 4.4.2. For most of the review, it was running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean then right when I was finishing writing this up, it got updated to Android 4.4.2 KitKat. Lenovo had mentioned that the device would be receiving the KitKat update at the end July, which was about an 866 MB update One nice thing about the software on the tablet, although not the absolute latest version of Android KitKat, is that it’s pretty close to a stock experience, Before the update, it had tablet style menus in Settings but the upgrade brought a Nexus experience to the Settings, only with a slightly different color scheme .The desktop and even on-screen navigation buttons are also Nexus-style as well, so you’ll be right at home. The only downfall with the launcher is that it’s not great if you have a ton of apps or aren’t very good at organizing them since there is no app drawer, much like on the iPad or MIUI. Don’t forget, you can always install a third-party launcher so it’s not the end of the world. The notification drawer and Quick Settings are stock as well, with slightly different icons. Some nice additions that Lenovo added to the software is the Smart Side Bar that can be accessed by swiping from the bezel onto the screen on either side as well as the Dolby app that allows you to adjust sound settings for numerous modes such as for movies, music, games and voice, plus you can make custom configurations as well. The Smart Side Bar gives quick access to your videos, photos and books, recently used apps and sound and visual modes. The KitKat update appears to have made the sidebar work much better than previously as there were times when I couldn’t get it to come out when it was running Jelly Bean. Also, before the update you could double tap while on your homescreen and recent apps would appear, but that appears to have been taken out of the software, unless there is a setting somewhere that I couldn’t find to turn it back on. Another thing that Lenovo added to the software is the ability to run multiple apps at once by having one open then opening the recent apps and sliding it to the window.pane. I had no trouble watching a movie and surfing a webpage a the same time.
Along with the tablet for review, I also received a green and grey sleeve. While it won’t really protect the tablet from huge falls, it will protect it from scratches. The HD+ fits in the sleeve nicely, even with its “unique” design. It also closes magnetically so you don’t have to worry about the flap opening.
Looking at both the hardware and software together, it’s not a bad tablet for $369. The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+ is a worthy upgrade from the previous model, but still has some of the same shortcomings with the stand and software. As we said with the Yoga Tablet review, if you favor battery life over raw power, then this is worth considering. There also aren’t many tablets with an included stand, front-facing speakers and Android 4.4 KitKat.
Hate unlocking your Android smartphone so much that even Face Unlock or Skip feels like too much of a hassle? Motorola just came to your rescue. The company has partnered with VivaLnk to launch the previously teased Digital Tattoo, an NFC-based skin tag that unlocks your phone (currently limited to the Moto X) with a quick tap. The tattoo can stay on your body for up to five days, and it should survive abuses like showers and sweat-laden runs. It’s a clever approach that might be appealing if you’re fed up with PIN codes and patterns, although the back-of-a-napkin math suggests that you’re paying a lot just to save a couple of seconds when checking your email. VivaLnk is asking $10 for packs of 10 tattoos, or enough to last 50 days — you’ll have to spend $80 to get through a whole year. It could be useful for those busy days when you’re constantly waking up your handset, but you might be better off rolling that money into a Moto 360 or your next big phone upgrade.
Source: Official Motorola Blog
Lenovo has pulled all 10-inch and smaller Windows tablets from US shelves, citing a lack of demand. The world’s largest Windows computer maker had two models on the market: the 8-inch, stylus-equipped Miix 2 and the ThinkPad 8. A spokesman told PC World that it’ll shuttle remaining stock of both of those models over to developing countries where “demand has been much stronger.” Lenovo will continue to sell all its other Windows-based tablets stateside, like the 10-inch Miix 2 convertible and ThinkPad 10, saying those models are selling well stateside. It’s fair to say consumers won’t miss the ThinkPad 8 anyway, as the model was saddled with terrible battery life and other issues. Ironically, Microsoft recently made Windows free for devices 9-inches in size or smaller — but clearly the price was just one issue consumers had with small Windows tablets.
Source: PC World
Both Gartner and IDC appear to have some good news for the PC industry — the seemingly never-ending death spiral may have come to an end. While the two research groups don’t agree completely on the numbers, it does appear that after two years of stead and sizable declines, the PC industry is seeing shipments flatten out. In total, according to Gartner, 75.8 million computers were shipped in the second quarter of 2014, a negligible 0.1 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. While IDC saw a much more sizable 1.7 percent fall in PC shipments, that’s still a far cry from the 7.1 percent decline it anticipated and the smallest it’s measured in two years.
Two years ago the netbook market imploded and tablets started eating into laptop sales. Since then shipments of traditional computers have been falling at an alarming rate. IDC doesn’t necessarily expect this to indicate a longer term trend towards flat PC sales. Basically, the worst may not be over yet. Despite impressive growth from major players like Dell, HP and Lenovo smaller companies are still seeing tremendous drop off. And the declines are particularly steep in markets like India where the most potential for growth is. Instead the improvements during the quarter were carried primarily by the US and Western Europe, which might not be able to keep the industry from declining further in the long run.
Apple saw its U.S. PC marketshare decline to 10.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014, down from 11.5 percent in the year-ago quarter, according to new data released from Gartner. With 1.6 million shipments, it trailed behind HP, Dell, and Lenovo, ranking fourth for the first time in several years.
Lenovo saw the most significant growth at 20.3 percent, while HP and Dell also saw high growth rates of 15.5 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively. Toshiba, with just over a million shipments, also saw growth of 18.5 percent.
Gartner’s Preliminary U.S. PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 2Q14 (In Thousands)
“The consumer PC market also started picking up in the U.S. The availability of affordable, thin and light notebooks have drawn consumers’ attention,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “Touch enable devices are also widely available with decreasing price premiums compared to a year ago. The price premium is low enough for mainstream consumers to spend the extra money for the additional functionalities,
such as touch.”
Four of the top five vendors in the U.S. market experienced double-digit growth. HP was the market leader, accounting for 27.7 percent of PC shipments.
Overall, U.S. PC shipments totaled 15.9 million, up 7.4 percent year over year, while worldwide PC shipments saw flat growth compared to the year-ago quarter. Shipments totaled 75.8 million units, a 0.1 increase. Though worldwide PC shipments have ceased to decline in 2Q14, interest in low-cost tablets continues to eat into the traditional PC market.
Apple’s U.S. Market Share Trend: 1Q06-2Q14 (Gartner)
IDC has also released its own estimates of PC shipments for the second quarter of 2014, painting a similar picture. IDC puts Apple’s shipments at 1.6 million and its market share at 10 percent, down from 10.9 percent, a 1.7 percent decline. IDC’s numbers also rank HP, Dell, and Lenovo as the top three vendors in the United States, with all three seeing growth of 15.6, 12.9, and 24.7 percent, respectively.
Unlike Gartner, IDC suggests worldwide PC sales totaled just 74.4 million, a year-over-year decline of 1.7 percent, with U.S. sales up 6.9 percent.
IDC and Gartner did not list Apple’s worldwide market share for the quarter, as usual, because the company does not rank among the top five vendors on a worldwide basis. Apple’s U.S. decline comes even as the company dropped the prices on two of its flagship products in 2014 — both the MacBook Air and the iMac saw price drops, with the former gaining a small spec boost and the latter seeing the introduction of a new low-cost version.
Computers have gone through nothing short of a renaissance in the decade since Engadget was born. When we started in 2004, desktops still ruled the roost; laptops were frequently clunky; and tablets were niche devices for doctors.
That state of affairs didn’t last for long, though. Netbooks briefly took over the world, bringing tiny laptops to the masses. Ultrabooks proved that slim machines could still be powerful. And just about the entire PC market has had to confront the rise and domination of touchscreen-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In short, it’s pretty remarkable how much of a difference 10 years can make in tech.
2004: Sony VAIO X505
Notable specs: 1.1GHz Pentium M processor, 20GB hard drive, 1.73-pound weight, 10.4-inch (1,024 x 768) display.
Sony didn’t realize it at the time, but it was laying the groundwork for the next decade of laptops with the VAIO X505. The 10-inch system was so featherlight and slender that it was easy to take anywhere, much like a netbook or Ultrabook. If it weren’t for the astronomical $2,999 price tag, it’s possible it could have started a mobile-computing revolution.
2005: IBM ThinkPad T43
Notable specs: 1.6GHz to 2.13GHz Pentium M processors, 30GB or larger hard drive, 6-pound weight, DVD drive, 14.1-inch (1,024 x 768 or 1,400 x 1,050) display.
The ThinkPad T43 was the swan song for an era of computing when laptops were mostly for globe-trotting professionals. One of the last PCs to bear the IBM name before Lenovo closed its acquisition of IBM’s PC business, it represented everything good about the ThinkPad badge: It was fast, well-built and relatively easy to carry in a briefcase.
2006: Dell XPS 700
Notable specs: Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme processors, dual 320GB hard drives, dual DVD drives, dual GeForce 7900 GTX graphics.
Dell had built up a reputation for high-performance PCs well before 2006, but the XPS 700 was the system to own that year if you wanted a gaming desktop from a major brand. Its aggressive design still holds up today, and it was often as powerful as custom-built rigs. It was a dream machine at a time when you still needed a giant tower for serious online gaming.
2007: ASUS Eee PC 701
Notable specs: 800MHz or 900MHz Celeron M processors, 2GB to 8GB solid-state drives, 2-pound weight, 7-inch (800 x 480) display.
The Eee PC 701 marked the official start of the netbook craze, which lasted until the iPad’s arrival in 2010. Its screen, speed and storage were very modest even when new, but it showed that you didn’t need a big, expensive portable just to check your email at the coffee shop.
2008: Apple MacBook Air
Notable specs: 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processors, 80GB hard drive or 64GB solid-state drive, 3-pound weight, 13.3-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
The archetypal Ultrabook. While it wasn’t without its quirks, the MacBook Air successfully bridged the gap between ultraportables and full laptops. It was fast enough for most tasks, yet light enough that you’d hardly notice it in your bag.
2009: HP Firebird
Notable specs: 2.66GHz or 2.83GHz Core 2 Quad processors, dual 250GB or 320GB hard drives, DVD or Blu-ray drives, dual GeForce 9800S graphics.
While HP’s Firebird line wasn’t perfect by any stretch, it showed how efficient desktops had become. You could get a reasonably quick, ready-made gaming PC that both looked good and didn’t swallow up too much surface area. It’s arguably the prototype for the small-yet-strong Steam Machines that would follow five years later.
2010: Lenovo IdeaCentre A300
Notable specs: 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 500GB hard drive, 21.5-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.
Although the iMac is virtually synonymous with all-in-one computers, Lenovo’s sleekly designed IdeaCentre A300 was proof that Apple didn’t have a complete lock on the category. Rather than glom the computer on to the A300′s back, Lenovo tucked it away in the base. The result was a relatively subtle, stylish desktop that looked right at home in just about any environment.
2011: Samsung Chromebook Series 5
Notable specs: 1.66GHz Atom processor, 16GB solid-state drive, 3.3-pound weight, 12.1-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
Unlike the other PCs here, the Chromebook Series 5′s real revolution was its software — with Chrome OS, both Google and Samsung were betting that you only needed a web browser for most of your day-to-day computing. That was optimistic on a slow, Atom-based machine circa 2011, but the Series 5 helped launch a wave of stripped-down, affordable laptops that could do a lot without relying on conventional apps.
2012: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
Notable specs: 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz Core i7 processors, 256GB to 768GB solid-state drives, 4.5-pound weight, 15.4-inch (2,880 x 1,800) display.
Apple’s 2012 MacBook Pro redesign was just an iterative upgrade in some ways, but it was also a bellwether for where laptop design would go. It wasn’t just that extra-sharp Retina display that turned heads; this was also one of the first high-end, full-size laptops to ditch optical discs and hard drives in the name of both an easier-to-carry body and faster, flash-based storage.
2013: Acer Aspire R7
Notable specs: 1.8GHz Core i5 processor, 500GB hybrid hard drive, 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) adjustable display.
Windows 8′s touch-friendly interface prompted a flood of PCs that tried to be everything to everyone, and that’s epitomized in Acer’s one-of-a-kind Aspire R7. Depending on how you adjusted its multi-hinged display, the R7 could serve as a desktop, laptop or tablet. It wasn’t especially good at any of these, but it revealed how eager PC makers were to keep you from buying mobile tablets.
2014: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Notable specs: Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, 64GB to 512GB solid-state drive, 12-inch (2,160 x 1,440) display.
If you want a system emblematic of the changes to PCs in the past 10 years, you only need to look at Microsoft’s latest flagship device, the Surface Pro 3. So long as you get its (practically mandatory) keyboard cover, it blurs the lines between tablet and laptop — it’s as useful for watching movies on the couch as it is for serious media editing at your desk.
Jon Turi contributed to this post.
Even Lenovo isn’t immune from the temptation to produce a Google Glass-like wearable display, it seems. The Chinese tech giant has applied for a US patent on a headset design with dual screens, touch-based navigation and an unusually strong emphasis on voice quality. Rather than use conventional noise-canceling microphones, like Google, Lenovo would use a bone-conducting microphone just above your nose bridge. The approach would make it easier to catch your voice, since you wouldn’t have to compete with outside sounds for attention; it could also offer an extra level of privacy for internet calls, since you could speak quietly and still get your message across.
There’s no telling whether Lenovo will get its patent, let alone use it in a wearable display. Like many companies, it may simply be hedging its bets in case the category takes off. With that in mind, the firm is both flush with cash and expanding rapidly into the mobile world — don’t be surprised if you’re donning Lenovo-badged eyewear in the future.
I have always had a bit of a love for Lenovo. They successful turned their purchase of IBM into a profitable PC market. Heck, they over took Apple in PC sales in the last few months. On the mobile front they dominate in overseas markets while they still have a struggling point here in the states. That is going to be changing once the Motorola purchase finalizes and they can start moving into the US market a bit easier. Their tablet line is something to keep an eye. I have used the Yoga 8 and Yoga 10 for the last few months and their unique design, exceptional battery and overall performance for the money keeps them in my recommended tablet purchase slot. Lenovo is constantly doing different things with their products and are always bringing new things out that deserve a look. In this review/look, I will be going over the Lenovo N308 AIO (all-in-one) Android based PC.
Whats in the box
- A Lenovo AIO
- A power cable
- A keyboard and mouse
Sure, there are instruction manuals all that jazz too, but the hardware is the focus. The N308 is an interesting contraption. The screen comes in at 19.5-inches with a resolution of 1600 x 900. Don’t let the physical numbers throw you off, that is still higher than 720p but just lower than 1080p. The screen is bright at 250-nit and is also multitouch (2 finger only). You don’t have any physical buttons on the front of the N308, rather you have the on screen keys that many current tablet and phone owners are used to using. You will also find a 720p wabcam/front facing camera, a mic and an ambient light sensor.
On the top rear of the device you will find a single power button to turn the screen on or off, as well as long pressing to power the N308 on or off. Just to the left of the power button is where you will find the physical volume up and down key as well.
On the left hand side tucked away in a small cut out you find a series of ports for you added convenience. You will find 3 USB ports, 1 headphone jack, 1 full size SD card slot, a Ethernet port and your power port.
On the rear of the N308 is where you find the stand. Much like the Yoga tablets, but much more heavy duty, the stand rotates down. The N308 can be angled any way you want between 15 to 65 degrees or flat. Of course you can also lay it flat. If you have other plans for the device, you can remove the stand entirely and wall mount it with the Vesa mount holes too.
Internal hardware overview:
Inside the N308 there a view very interesting things. The N308 is powered by a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor at 1.8GHz. Not exactly the slouch in the processing department you might have thought. It also offers 2GB of RAM. Here is where it gets a bit interesting though, the AIO has a 320GB 5400 RPM HDD and 8GB eMMC storage. You can where this would be a pretty powerful media device. To make things a little more mobile, mainly suited more for traveling around your house, it houses an internal battery that can give you up to 3 hours of unplugged usage.
The N308 also offers Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.
The keyboard and mouse:
To continue along with the interesting aspects of the N308, it comes prepackaged with a Lenovo wireless AccuType keyboard and mouse. Both take batteries, but are included. They connect to the N308 via a USB dongle that you plug into one of the 3 USB ports. You don’t need any special software or installs, simply plug in the dongle and you can start using them immediately. The keyboard keys have, what I will call, a shirt pocket design. Where they are flat on the top and sides with slightly rounded bottoms. They are also slight concave for you fingers to rest comfortably in. The keyboard even has a variety of short cut keys to access the camera, head to the home screen, open up the multitasking window, control the brightness, music playback and more. It is kind of nice to have all that control without having to touch the screen at all.
On the mouse side of things you get a laser mouse that works on plenty of surfaces. The sides are contoured for your thumb and pinky to sit comfortably. The it has the typical left and right clicks along with a center scroll wheel. Of course Android has no use for a left and right click. Either works the same just like a finger touch. One click to open things and hold thee click like you would long press with your finger.
- The 320GB hard drive offers plenty of storage for movies and photos.
- While one USB port is occupied by the dongle for the Keyboard and Mouse, you still have two additional ports for external thumb drives or hard drives.
- It comes preloaded with all the Google apps and the Play Store, so it is Google certified.
- NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor
- 2GB RAM
- Keyboard and Mouse
- Functional Keyboard shortcuts
- Ethernet port for hardlined internet
- 8GB eMMC, limits the number of apps that can be installed and can’t move apps to SD or to the internal HDD
- Certain apps, like G+, can’t be scrolled through with the mouse scroll wheel or arrow keys on the keyboard. (Most likely the apps fault, not Lenovos)
- It is heavy, it weighs just over 10 pounds. Unlike some of their Windows AIO’s, Lenovo didn’t put any sort of handle cut out on the back. It makes carrying it a bit more awkward.
- The BEZEL! It basically has two bezels. The main outer bezel which is where the infrared beams come from to recognize your finger inputs. Then there is the actual bezel on the glass.
- No HDMI or Video out ability
- Android 4.2.2 and no updates as of yet.
- The 2watt speakers are in the rear so having a wall behind it makes it louder. In a quiet environment they are ample to watch a movie and have video calls. Your experience will be better with headphones, a Bluetooth speaker or even a set of good PC speakers thanks to the headphone jack.
How do I actually feel about the AIO?
There are a lot of things to consider on the AIO. For starters does the price tag match the device. If the AIO is priced to high and fails to deliver then we have a monumental problem. The N308 was listed at $350, but is currently out of stock through Lenovos website. Considering the specs above and the goo vs bad, $350 is a pretty good price point, but it is easily targeted to specific sets of users. I found myself using it mostly for streaming movies from Plex at my bedside, idle web browsing and some commander mode on Battlefield 4. Commander mode is pretty slick on a 19.5-inch screen with a mouse on your stomach while the wife is sleeping. My son loved playing Angry birds and other games on the large screen in the living room with it placed on the coffee table. It is so big and heavy that he wouldn’t dare try an pick it up.
I found it particularly useful at my sister in laws wedding. I was able to combine every ones photos from their camera on the spot and put together a slideshow of the event for the reception.
It drew quite the crowd.
I applaud Lenovo for bringing something to market with an affordable price tag that does offer quite a lot of functionality. Had this same AIO had a price tag of $500+ there is no way it would sell. Not unless the Android version was updates, the screen res was pushed up, the eMMC started at 16 or 32GB and it ditched the infrared. All those things would easily put it over the $500 marker. For exactly what it is and exactly what I used it for, it was very useful to have.
I am not sure when they will be coming back in stock, but if you are interested in keeping track of it head over to Lenovo.com.
Today’s revelation that Motorola is shutting down its sole American plant is an indication that its latest flagship didn’t do as well as expected in the US and the costs of operating the Texas factory were simply too high to continue operations. Since the facility focused heavily on shipping Moto Maker products to US consumers, speculation arose that the feature — which gives you the ability to customize the color and trim of your Moto X — would die along with it. Upon reaching out to Motorola, a spokesperson confirmed to us that Moto Maker is not going away as a result of the factory’s closure.
There are still plenty of questions about Motorola’s future, most significantly how its product strategy will change under Lenovo’s leadership. Unfortunately, we won’t hear more details on Lenovo’s plans until the acquisition (barring rumors, of course), so exactly how the Moto X and Moto Maker will change is up in the air for now.
But just because the Texas factory is shutting its assembly lines doesn’t necessarily spell the end for Motorola’s latest flagship or its customization options. Let’s look at the bigger picture: The company has plants in other countries around the world, and the US plant merely assembled parts that were already made in China, so Motorola may not even experience much of a squeeze on production. Additionally, Motorola confirmed in February that Moto Maker should come to Europe and Mexico this quarter; there’s no word on if or how the closure will affect expansion.
The primary concern to US folks is that even though Moto Maker isn’t technically dying, the company’s withdrawal from the country is likely to strongly impact shipping time, which may adversely affect sales even more. Thanks to the Texas factory, Motorola was able to send out custom orders to consumers within two to three days, but international shipping from one of the company’s other factories will undoubtedly take more time. Motorola’s rumored to be preparing a follow-up to the X known as the “X+1,” however, so we’re curious to see if it will offer custom options with longer wait times or just limit the feature to a handful of other markets or regions.
Motorola became part of a growing trend when it opened a plant in Texas to build its flagship Moto X, but just a year on, its now decided to shut down its US manufacturing operations. According to The Wall Street Journal, employee numbers have plummeted from nearly 4,000 when it was in full swing to only 700, and the plan is to close the factory by the end of the year. Motorola’s intention was to offset the inherently higher cost of manufacturing in the US, compared with places like China, by being able to get handsets to customers quicker, and manage the Moto Maker customization process on home turf. But, despite churning out 100,000 Moto Xs a week at one point and progressively making the handset cheaper, the ‘born in the USA’ vision hasn’t paid dividends.
Motorola’s in ownership limbo at the moment, as Google has essentially sold the smartphone-maker to Chinese company Lenovo, but the deal is yet to be fully executed. Motorola President Rick Osterloh told the WSJ “the decision to close the plant was independent of the planned sale,” which isn’t hard to believe given Lenovo is one of the champions of stateside manufacturing. It has a PC plant in North Carolina, and like Motorola, believes there’s a competitive edge in being close to your customers and able to customize and ship computers quicker. Perhaps, then, there’s scope for Motorola to return to the US under Lenovo’s leadership. The Moto X will continue to be made elsewhere, and with Moto Maker being one of the main attractions of the handset, we imagine this’ll still be available on the next edition of the X due this summer, even if it takes much longer to ship.
Beyond what it means for Motorola as a company, the fact it’s had to pull the plug on its US plant after such a short time raises much bigger questions about the viability of manufacturing electronics in the US. Last year, the company convinced us it was going to make it work, so how long before others begin changing their tune as well?
Source: The Wall Street Journal