Foxconn imagines life beyond Apple but faces major risks as it diversifies


TAIPEI (Reuters) – Foxconn, the Taiwanese contract producer that rose to world prominence because the producer of the Apple iPhone, is attempting to reinvent itself as smartphone gross sales plateau and Apple Inc diversifies its provider base.

FILE PHOTO: A motorcyclist rides previous the emblem of Foxconn, the buying and selling identify of Hon Hai Precision Business, in Taipei, Taiwan March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Picture

The corporate, which kicks off a three-day occasion on Wednesday to rejoice its 30 years doing enterprise in China, already does rather more than assemble items for others.

It’s a prime world producer of show screens, because of the acquisition of Sharp Corp. Its far-flung actions embrace autonomous automobile startups and investments in most cancers analysis.

However with its inventory down virtually 20 % since late final 12 months, Foxconn, Taiwan’s second most precious firm with a market worth of $51 billion, is underneath strain to indicate that it could convert new initiatives into progress.

The Sharp buy and a handful of newer offers -including an settlement introduced this week for Sharp to purchase Toshiba Corp’s private laptop enterprise for $36 million – signifies {that a} push into producing its personal branded merchandise is one a part of the technique.

Simply as essential, although, is an advanced plan to supply “built-in options” for companies that embrace each refined {hardware} and software program providers equivalent to cloud computing, Louis Woo, particular assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, informed Reuters in an interview.

Woo known as it a “new enterprise mannequin” that could possibly be particularly interesting to smaller firms and establishments like hospitals, who’ve refined technical necessities that they usually have hassle dealing with on their very own.

“Now we have constructed information facilities for a lot of of our clients, however we’re not identified to supply information heart providers,” Woo stated. “Sooner or later since we’re having all these items, we are able to put them collectively to supply a technical service to a enterprise buyer.”

The corporate can be betting that it could bundle its conventional experience to promote “good manufacturing” providers, included totally automated factories, to different industrial firms.

Woo acknowledged that none of this might occur in a single day – a view shared by skeptical analysts.

“Proper now, with the contract manufacturing, it’s very exhausting to change to a brand new mannequin,” stated Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Funding Consulting in Taipei.

And it needs to be cautious to maintain present clients onside, particularly Apple – which is estimated to nonetheless generate round half of Foxconn’s whole income.

“There will certainly be dangers,” in pursuing so many alternative areas, stated Boyce Fan, an analyst at Trendforce. “However this can be key for Foxconn to seek out the following progress alternative.”


When Gou takes the stage on the firm’s Shenzhen campus to kick off the anniversary celebrations on Wednesday, he’s additionally anticipated to tout healthcare as a serious new alternative.

The corporate’s technical strengths are in Sharp’s high-resolution imaging and shows, which use the next-generation 8K customary and have prepared purposes for medical imaging units equivalent to endoscopes.

Gou has additionally touted the potential of good bogs that may double as well being diagnostic units, Woo stated, with sensors feeding information to the cloud for evaluation. That might play to Foxconn’s energy in 5G wi-fi communications tools.

Such efforts gained’t come low cost, and Foxconn is laying the monetary and political groundwork for its subsequent chapter with a Shanghai IPO for one in all its fundamental subsidiaries, Foxconn Industrial Web.

The $4.three billion IPO will present funding for initiatives in good manufacturing, cloud computing, information facilities and 5G know-how, amongst different areas. A lot of Chinese language state-owned firms are anticipated to take part within the deal.

FII at the moment generates a giant chunk of income from making comparatively mundane elements equivalent to smartphone casings and frames. And for all of the discuss of healthcare and cloud and AI, a lot of the IPO proceeds are earmarked for good manufacturing.

Sharp can be promoting $1.eight billion value of latest shares to purchase again most well-liked inventory, which had been issued to banks in return for a monetary bailout.

In the meantime, the mother or father firm has large capital wants for the core show enterprise, with new crops in China and the U.S. anticipated to price virtually $20 billion between them.


It’s nonetheless unclear how exhausting Foxconn will push its personal merchandise within the mainstream shopper electronics enterprise, a hyper-competitive enviornment the place refined advertising is essential.

Fan at Trendforce says Foxconn might do extra offers to amass established manufacturers. “It can use no matter branding there may be already,” he stated, relatively than attempt to construct a Foxconn model. The corporate earlier this 12 months added to its model portfolio with the acquisition of Belkin, a widely known U.S. maker of laptop equipment.

Chen, the Yuanta analyst, stated Chinese language smartphone juggernaut Xiaomi could possibly be a mannequin for Foxconn to emulate.

He stated Xiaomi isn’t solely promoting its telephones and different merchandise but in addition has a spread of providers to go together with them, provided by their very own shops.

However Woo expressed warning: “We’re nonetheless taking a look at methods to go about doing that with none direct battle with our present clients,” he stated.

Fan stated he didn’t count on any radical strikes.

“I believe Foxconn will give attention to strengthening its contract work and integrating new areas into its core enterprise.”

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Writing by Jonathan Weber; Modifying by Miyoung Kim and Martin Howell

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