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Motorola is Closing Its Texas Smartphone Factory (Updated)

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According to the Wall Street Journal, Motorola is closing its Texas factory that has been used to build custom versions of its Moto X due to weak sales and high costs. The close isn’t happening immediately, but will be done before the end of the year.

As you all know, the factory opened only a year ago and was used to build custom versions of the Moto X through a site called MotoMaker. The whole point was to quickly assemble made-to-order devices that could be shipped to US customers within a couple of days. Since sales of the Moto X did not exactly top charts, Motorola wasn’t able to keep costs low enough. 

The company originally employed as many as 3,800 people, but has since shrunk its workforce to around 700. Sources of ours tipped us to a shrinking workforce months ago, so this report doesn’t exactly come as a surprise.

We should also point out that during an interview shortly after the announcement that Lenovo would try to acquire Motorola from Google, that Lenovo wouldn’t commit to keeping the Texas plant alive. That shouldn’t shock anyone, since Lenovo likely has great connections in China for building products at low prices.

The question now is – is MotoMaker officially dead? It could be, but if Motorola is keeping the factory open until the end of the year, maybe they will make one last push with the new Moto X+1 before signing off. That’s pure speculation on my part, so don’t be shocked if the whole customization game is officially over. Maybe the new Moto X will ship with a replaceable back, like the Moto G and Moto E.

Edit:  Motorola PR confirmed the WSJ story to us, but wouldn’t comment on the future of MotoMaker at this time.

Update:  Motorola confirmed to us that MotoMaker will continue on.

Kind of sad, right?

Via:  Wall Street Journal
  • Motoxic

    Not good news for professor Glump

  • mike

    Won’t buy another moto product.

  • Steveo

    Sad, but expected. I would have kept the Moto X, if it were more like the G2, just couldn’t get use the format of 2 years ago!

  • mcdonsco

    OK, I take it back…just needs better battery and MUCH better camera.

    Size needs to stay the same (just got the g today for step dad, LOVE the size).

  • akhnaten

    What do you know!?! Google sells Motorola to Lenovo and is then surprised when sales plummet!

    • scotch1337

      You think the general consumer knew of the sale?

  • Razma

    seriously disappointed. that was one of the big attractions of this phone for me, that it was assembled in america and provided about 4000 people with jobs. it was a sign that manufacturing was coming back to America instead of going to China for everything, apparently it was just a dream

    • akhnaten

      As Toys Samurai said so well, the plant shutdown is a result of Google mis-management, not whether or not manufacturing in America is feasible. Between the fumbled launch and then the last nail in the coffin of selling Moto to Lenovo, this phone (or American manufacturing) never had a fair chance.

  • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

    I can’t help but think that Google itself ruins the chance to make any impact in the market. First of all, the customization was only available to a single carrier at launch. Next, the phone was sold with last year’s spec at a price comparable to other flagship at its time (despite the fact that the Moto X is highly optimized, but the general public wouldn’t care.) Lastly, traditional marketing is next to non-existence — how many times you’ve seen a Moto X commercial on TV at launch? Comparing to say, the Note 3? But this point is meaningless, because of point 1, the biggest selling point is only available to 1 carrier at launch, remember?

    I can’t imagine what would happen if the Moto X’s customization is available on all carriers at launch, with a price tag of $399 off contract for the 32Gb version. It could have been a LOT more successful.

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

    we…at least my moto maker ebony wood back with red accents developer edition(thanks to the chinese middleman) will hold me over fro another year or so

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

    well…now we all got classics one of a kind motomaker x’s…woo

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

    maybe if good and moto actually spent the 50million they were supposed to on advertising people would have known about the phone and purchased it…its their own fault…so sad bc its easily the best phone ive ever used

  • Mike_Cook7

    I truly believe that a removable battery, SD card and some more advertising could have done wonders here…..

  • Corey Foltman

    i don’t get why they didn’t just manufacture all the different combinations on an as needed basis. instead of snapping fronts and backs together on an as needed basis… sucks for all the employees though

  • Daniel Renfroe

    I live in Dallas,, and this was a major point in my book as to why I went with the X. I am disappointed by this move…

  • n900mixalot

    Oh boohoo … Same old Motorola BS. The Xoom was great too and look how that went. None of these manufacturers care about anything more than their bottom line.

    And people on this site especially need to stop crying. The phones didn’t sell because they can’t compete in a world where Android fans attack one another over stupid things like specs.

    Should have known that going in.

  • jimbob

    “blah blah blah…..screw Samsung and Apple, they only win because of marketing spend….blah blah blah”

    Maybe if the companies you hold so dear would realize that marketing is almost always the way to win in business, they could compete and not fail. Humans do not buy the things that are best for them or that they most need. They buy the things that someone tells them they need, or that their neighbor or a celebrity has. Humans are strange creatures, and marketing is the science of getting them to spend money on whatever it is you want them to. Not that hard to figure out.

    • M3D1T8R

      Speak for yourself, not for all human beings regarding what they do or do not buy. Or I must not be one of these “humans” you speak of.

    • MicroNix

      What about all the humans that are saying “I can’t wait for the Note (x) to come out” long before the Samsung marketing machine even announces the phone? Because those are the kinds of things I hear. Not, “holy cow, did you see the new corny Samsung commercial? I’m running out and buying one because I have to have it!” Give me break on the marketing. Some phones sell themselves based on previous purchases or the buzz from others who love their phone. Conversely, if you screw over your customers with garbage phones, don’t expect them coming back for your next flagship phone after your “rebirth”.

  • C-Law

    I love my moto x. Feels snappier than my friend’s S5. I hate to see this happen. I wanted to get the next moto x but lenovo and this news have me very concerned

    • hoosiercub88

      I can’t agree with you on phone snappiness, but I can agree that I love my Moto X. This was a pretty obvious happening since Lenovo bought the company, it would happen sooner or later. I don’t think Lenovo/Moto are going to bring anything amazing to the next X.. I’ll probably get myself a G3 or a Z2 if they ever actually become available.

  • Droid 1967

    I think the fact that he refused to comment on the future of motomaker tells you the future right there.

  • Taglogical

    I picked up the Moto X recently to replace my Bionic (thank you for the applause), which it doesn’t for several reasons (no SD, battery life, and absolutely unusable outdoors; so much for Google Navigation on the Moto X) … Poor decision of using OLED aside, the Moto X is otherwise thoughtfully designed and beautifully crafted. It is a perfect form-factor that I don’t see a compelling reason to change. The camera is Moto’s best/very quick and functional. The device is faster than all the quad-core devices I have tried – buttery. And the unique features that Moto implemented, touchless control, Active Notifications (which the mini proved works on a LCD), twist to quickly open camera, it’s a highly functional, brilliant phone (provided you are indoors or can find extreme shade) that could be made into the best phone of all time with a simple LCD.
    You had to know this move was coming by the new Chinese owner, Lenovo – made in America? That was never going to fly/continue. Which is too bad/sad, and further makes me resent Google.

    • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 MrFrodo24

      You get an upvote for owning a Bionic. Been there, done that.

      • hoosiercub88

        Me too, and I ran.. far faaar away once I finally got my chance :)

    • psuturtle

      Not that many couldn’t see this move coming…but Lenovo does manufacture PCs in the US (North Carolina to be specific). So while it holds true in this case, it’s still a generalization. Lenovo already has mobile device plants up and running in China, and they’re some gaining share in the WW market ahead of the acquisition being complete (i.e. without Moto). The big push for Moto after the acquisition is going to be in emerging markets, so I don’t know why closing the Texas plant really comes as a big shock.

      That being said, I hope the motomaker feature continues. If there’s enough of a competitive advantage from doing it, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Lenovo bringing some mobile manufacturing back to the US eventually. The plant in NC is a perfect example. Lenovo and IBM had moved all PC manufacturing outside of the US quite some time ago, but then recently opened and since expanded the plant in NC. As labor prices in China continue to rise (as they have been for a while), you could see more getting pulled back into the US if the business model makes sense financially.

    • hoosiercub88

      You are kidding right? As someone who had the Bionic for the better part of a year, I will disagree with you in every regard save for SD card, which isn’t something I honestly care about with a 32Gb phone.

      The battery life is bad on the Moto X, but it doesn’t drop 20% when I look at it wrong. The display is OLED, which does look nice and I’m starting to get a little burn-in, which isn’t pretty, but it’s considerably prettier than the horrid mess that was the Bionic’s display, and I can definitely see my Moto X outdoors just fine in the sunlight.

      This decision is an obvious one for Lenovo as a business, it is unfortunate but I don’t know why you’d hold this against Google or Lenovo..

  • Higher_Ground

    While I don’t think of myself as shallow, there’s probably no way I’d buy a moto X or X+1 without motomaker. For that matter, it’s wood or bust for me.

    • http://people.ign.com/mrfrodo24 MrFrodo24

      I don’t think that’s being shallow at all. And I think I may agree with you, but then again that’s probably because I never owned a non-Motomaker Moto X.

  • d-rock

    Motorola Moto X failed b/c of marketing (or lack there of). Anytime you have a better product than your competitor and it sells less than said competitor, your marketing has failed.