How Much Would It Cost to Manufacture in the Western World?
I've been thinking recently about statements made by manufacturers, journalists and blog commenters about the cost of buying gadgets being potentially massively more expensive if they were manufactured in the west, but I can't seem to recall a single one ever actually quoting any tangible figures based on any kind of estimate. This isn't really just about PCs, but I couldn't think of a better place to put it.
Lets assume that there's Company X based in the UK (or the US, or France, Italy...wherever); they produce laptops, desktops and have a small range of mobile phones which are all currently manufactured by an OEM in China. They're currently selling laptops for £700 ($1,102), desktops for £450 ($708) and unlocked, unsubsidised mobile phones for £500 ($787), but due to a random undefined scenario they need to shift production to their home country, where minimum wage is significantly higher at £6.05 ($9.65). If they're still soucring components from around the world, but manufacturing in the west, how much would device cost really rise by?
Ok, so the paragraph above sounds like a bad high school exam question, but really, how much could device costs go up by? It feels like consumers are threatened with the prospect of higher prices if production shifts, but without any reference point, it's an intangible warning. Is there is a place for premium priced, ethically manufactured electronics in the way that some consumers embrace organic foodstuffs, or have we gone too far already?