Void in US Manufacturing

I often hear from oth­ers and even find myself say­ing “I’d pay more for a ver­sion of prod­uct X if it were made in the U.S.” Accord­ing to this Forbes piece by Steve Den­ning, most com­pa­nies could­n’t man­u­fac­ture or even design a lot prod­ucts here, even if they want­ed to. The facil­i­ties and know-how all got shipped over­seas along with the jobs and mon­ey.

One exam­ple that struck me:

The lithi­um bat­tery for GM’s [GM] Chevy Volt is being man­u­fac­tured in South Korea. Mak­ing it in the U.S. wasn’t fea­si­ble: recharge­able bat­tery man­u­fac­tur­ing left the US long ago.

Some efforts are being made to res­ur­rect recharge­able bat­tery man­u­fac­ture in the U.S., such as the GE-backed [GE] A123Systems, but it’s dif­fi­cult to go it alone when much of the exper­tise is now in Asia.

Inter­est­ing, giv­en that my neigh­bor here in Franklin, TN—Nissan—will be man­u­fac­tur­ing the bat­ter­ies for the Leaf in near-by Sym­r­na, TN (one of their larg­er plants in N.A.) by next year. I think it is far too ear­ly to make any claims as to the via­bil­i­ty of one choice over the oth­er, as both cars just hit the mar­ket and pro­duc­tion lines have prob­a­bly yet to even hit any sort of reg­u­lar­i­ty. How­ev­er, that seems to be a glar­ing hole in the argu­ment that bat­ter­ies, at least, can­not be made in the states.

Or, on the oth­er hand, it may soon serve to prove that point. Only time will tell. I, for one, am root­ing on Nis­san to make it work.

On Jobs’ Retirement as CEO of Apple

I’m an Apple fan and as much as I’d like to write some­thing on Steve Jobs’ retire­ment, the Inter­net is pret­ty much already filled to the brim with rumi­na­tions on the top­ic. If you do choose to read a piece on this, I sug­gest MG Sei­gler’s piece at TechCrunch. It sum­ma­rizes why Jobs’ leav­ing is broad­er than just a tech news piece and delves into what is next for Apple.

I will sum­ma­rize why this mat­ters to me: Apple was formed a few months before I was born and Jobs retired on my 35th birth­day. I have grown up with Apple in a very real sense. From play­ing “Ore­gon Trail” on an Apple ][ to car­ry­ing a device ripped from a sci­ence fic­tion nov­el as my phone, these devices have real­ly mat­tered to me. The atten­tion to detail in them and the amount of vision it took to get them in my hands has always been phe­nom­e­nal. The fact that so many oth­ers are tak­ing note of this change in lead­er­ship means that they meant a lot to all of us, regard­less of what com­put­er of phone we use. It was always so much more than just that.