Google's Android platform is a potential goldmine for whichever companies can harvest the most mobile mojo out of it, but would you have thought that the not-so-little green machine would be capable of lining Microsoft's pockets with dough? It's true, thanks to the wonder of patents. Squeezing even more money out of the open source platform, Microsoft and Hon Hai Precision (Foxconn's parent company) just inked a patent licensing agreement in which the Redmond outfit will receive royalties for devices running Android and Chrome OS that use technology for which Microsoft owns a patent.
Technology bigwigs Hewlett-Packard and Dell are keeping a watchful eye on the labor situation in China, the one in which Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry Company, Ltd.) has doled out major wage increases to workers who build Apple devices in an attempt to improve much criticized working conditions, and may end up hiking prices if labor costs go up across the board.
Apple news rarely makes the headlines around here because, well, we love our PC’s. iOS devices on the other hand is a completely different story. Since the vast majority of iOS users are in-fact running Windows, (an interesting bit of trivia you’ll never hear them advertise), it never hurts to bring up the odd news tidbit. This week we would like to bring your attention to the controversy surrounding Foxconn, and the allegations which basically accuse Apple of running a modern day, high tech sweat shop. To try and counter the mounting consumer unrest, Apple is pulling open the kimono, and letting ABC Nightline reporters take a tour of the assembly lines, and interview key personnel.
More likely than not, the phone or tablet you have sitting nearby was assembled in mainland China at one of the mega-facilities run by companies like Foxconn. The news cycle has recently brought stories of poor and dangerous working conditions, and even suicides in Foxconn plants. Still, the lines outside an employment agency yesterday in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou illustrate how easy Foxconn still finds it to hire workers.
By all accounts working for Foxconn -- the China-based company that does the actual manufacturing of a lot of consumer electronics, including the Xbox 360 and the various iProducts -- is a horrible drag. Not only is there the threat of massive explosions, but the combination of long hours and low pay have led to a rash of suicides amongst its workers, highlighted by the threat of a mass suicide last week. Why aren't things getting better? The chairman of Foxconn's parent company may have dropped a hint when he likened his workers to animals.
Another Foxconn factory worker in China nearly committed suicide before being talked out of lunging himself off a building rooftop to almost certain death. He is one of about 300 Foxconn workers who reportedly organized a mass suicide as part of a pay raise protest at a factory that makes Xbox parts for Microsoft.
A manufacturing plant belonging to Hon Hai Precision Co Ltd. (better known as Foxconn) in China caught on fire due to faulty electrical cables on the building's rooftop. Photos appearing on Chinese news sites show black smoke billowing from the plant, and there's at least one YouTube video making the rounds, which you can catch after the break.
Manual labor is dead. You know how we know? Foxconn announced today that it would start phasing out its rampant hiring, and add over 1 million robots to its manufacturing process over the next three years. A spokesmen for the company claims the robots will help cut rising labor costs, improve efficiency, and help keep Foxconn competitive.
One of the ongoing stories last year was how Foxconn workers in China were committing suicide amid reports of poor working conditions and low pay. Foxconn vowed to improve its operations, and it's been relatively quiet ever since, at least until now. According to an AFP report, a 21-year-old employee who only started working for Foxconn on June 27, jumped out of his on-site dormitory and died as a result.
As the primary supplier of iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad touch devices, as well as making products for high-profile companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and others, life is good for Foxconn (or Hon Hai Precision, if you prefer), which collected $59.3 billion in revenue in 2010. Foxconn can afford to go on a spending spree, and in addition to buying one of Cisco's manufacturing facilities in Mexico, the electronics maker is now setting its sights on Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS).