電子機器組立業 Foxxconは巨大ブランドの野望を抱く。 台湾の最大企業がバリューチェーンの地位を引き上げようとしている。うまくいくのだろうか。

July 13, 2017 10:00 am JST
Gadget assembler Foxconn harbors big-brand ambitions
Taiwan's largest company aims to move up the value chain; will it succeed?
DEBBY WU and CHENG TING-FANG, Nikkei staff writers

電子機器組立業 Foxxconは巨大ブランドの野望を抱く。


Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou speaks at a press conference after the company's annual shareholders meeting in New Taipei City, Taiwan on June 22. (Photo by Nozomu Ogawa) TAIPEI Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry, seemed caught off guard and unprepared to talk outside his hotel in Osaka in early June when approached by a Nikkei Asian Review reporter. 

caught off guard:不意をつく

But Gou soon loosened up, taking the opportunity over a 30-minute stroll to elaborate on the ambition of his company, better known as Foxconn Technology Group, to acquire the memory-chip unit of embattled Japanese industrial conglomerate Toshiba. 

embattled :多くの問題を抱えた

"Apple and Amazon will be injecting funds into the deal," he said. The episode highlights how Gou's ability to think on his feet and make snap decisions in response to an ever-changing business environment has made Foxconn what it is today. It also points to his deep ties with Apple, which treats the company as a near equal despite Foxconn's role as a contract assembler for the American consumer electronics trendsetter. 


Apple's iconic handset was first introduced on June 29, 2007. Since then, Foxconn has become a household name for tech industry watchers. But Foxconn is no longer content merely to assemble products for others. It now wants to manufacture its own high-margin components to compensate for slim profits in its core assembly business. 


That desire led Foxconn last year to acquire Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp, which makes display panels for iPads and iPhones. Now it is bidding for Toshiba's lucrative memory-chip business. Gou is also seeking to expand his empire by developing brand-name products through acquisitions and internal projects. Sharp is helping Foxconn to achieve that goal, thanks to its popular home appliances and TVs. Nokia of Finland, which once dominated the global mobile phone market, now has an indirect licensing deal with Foxconn via a third party. 

Andy Rubin, creator of Google's Android operating system for smartphones, has publicized the financial and production support Foxconn is providing for his upcoming Essential Phone. The Taiwanese company has also created a new brand for TVs and smartphones, known as InFocus, although it has gained little recognition outside its home market. 

一台湾ドル=3.7円 大体17兆円の売上

Foxconn said in a statement that it has identified several key areas for growth, including mobile devices, the internet of things, big data, cloud computing, "smart lives," industry 4.0 automation, robotics and advanced TV display technologies. WE BUILT THIS CITY Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker by revenue, employs about 700,000 people in China, down from a peak of 1 million, as it automates in response to rising wages. 

smart lives:オール電化による生活

The gadget assembler makes most of the iPhones at Zhengzhou, in Henan Province, which has been dubbed "iPhone City." The Zhengzhou plant, with its 90 production lines and 350,000 workers, can churn out 500,000 iPhones a day, according to Macquarie, an Australian investment bank. Foxconn assembles about 70% of the 210 million iPhones sold each year, according to Yuanta Investment Consulting in Taipei. Its smaller Taiwanese rivals, Pegatron and Wistron, put together the rest. 

Foxconn has gradually shifted iPhone production from southeastern China north to Zhengzhou following a string of worker suicides at its Shenzhen plant in 2010. Labor rights groups accused Foxconn of running production lines in a harsh, military style and forcing employees to work unreasonably long hours. Since then, the company has raised wages and offered counseling to employees. Apple has also capped the number of hours Foxconn assembly-line workers can put in each week. 

Foxconn's presence in Shenzhen has boosted the local economy and young Chinese do not appear to be deterred from joining the company, judging from the long lines recently seen at a Foxconn recruiting center. Since the beginning of the year, Foxconn shares have risen more than 40% to close at 118.5 New Taiwan dollars on July 11. The company's market value of about NT$2 trillion is larger than that of Sony or Nintendo. 


The surge in the share price reflects anticipation about the upcoming premium iPhone handset, which will have an organic light-emitting diode display. Foxconn is expected to dominate assembly orders for the OLED iPhones. In addition to iPhones, Foxconn makes iPads, Kindle e-readers for Amazon.com, game consoles for Sony and Nintendo, the humanoid robot Pepper for SoftBank Group, and servers for HP. 

But while Foxconn has become Apple's main partner, it is grappling with razor-thin margins. To boost its bottom line, Foxconn is working to acquire technologies for key components. One of the reasons it bought Sharp last year was that the Japanese company supplies liquid-crystal displays for the iPhone. Foxconn believes Sharp can produce OLED panels for smartphones, although it is unclear when the Japanese company will be able to do that. 




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