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Monday, June 3, 2013

Motorola Plans to Make Smartphone in Texas

2:07 p.m. | Updated to add more detail about the workers hired at the factory in Texas.

Just like Apple, Google has caught the “Made in America” bug. Motorola Mobility, the handset maker acquired by Google, says its next phone, called Moto X, will be manufactured in the United States.

Speaking at the All Things D conference in Southern California on Wednesday, Dennis Woodside, the head of Motorola, said that the company would build its first new flagship phone under Google ownership at a factory outside Fort Worth. He said that the Texas location would allow Motorola to “iterate and innovate much faster.”

Google has tried making hardware in the United States before. Last year, it planned to assemble the Nexus Q, a home media player, in California. But the company postponed the device after it received poor reviews and then quietly killed it.

Mr. Woodside said Motorola and Google were taking over an old Nokia manufacturing plant that had employed 16,000 workers when it was last in use 15 years ago. He said around 2,000 employees would be hired to work at the 500,000-square-foot building. The plant will be up and running by August, he said.

The new workers will be employed by Flextronics, a manufacturing company Motorola hires for its work worldwide. They will be hired by August in jobs ranging from entry level roles to engineering, said Danielle McNally, a Motorola spokeswoman. The new jobs are “different and separate” from the more than 4,000 positions that Motorola eliminated last year, she said.

Mr. Woodside acknowledged that while the Moto X will be built in the United States, not all of its parts would necessarily come from American manufacturers.

“The components will come all over the world,” he said. Display parts will be built in South Korea, for example, and processors will be made in Taiwan, he said.

Google executives have given clues about what a Motorola phone would do. It would have batteries that last longer than a day, they have said, would not break when dropped and would include features like a better camera, artificial intelligence and sensors that recognize people’s voices in a room, for example.

“Think about your device â€" battery life is a problem, if a kid spills a drink on your tablet screen it shouldn’t die, if you drop your phone it shouldn’t shatter,” Larry Page, the chief executive of Google, told analysts last month. “There’s real potential to invent new and better experiences, ones that are much faster and more intuitive. So having just seen Motorola’s upcoming products myself, I’m really excited about the potential there.”

Mr. Woodside said Wednesday, though, that phones with unbreakable screens would not be included in this year’s Motorola phones.

Mr. Woodside said the Moto X phone was in his pocket â€" but coyly shook his head when asked to show it off.

Claire Cain Miller contributed reporting.