We often think of devices as simply appearing on store shelves, but two news flashes on Monday shine a light on not only the vast workforce involved in producing millions of smart phones, but also on how our decisions as consumers affect workers, economies, and lives.
Foxconn China, Apple’s chief manufacturer for iPhones, expects to hire 100,000 additional workers in anticipation of production demands for the iPhone 6. On the same day, Foxconn India announced widespread layoffs at the plants that help make Nokia phones.
The Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group owns both Chinese and Indian branches.
Here is an example of how fortunes can change because of the popularity of a cellphone.
Foxconn India officials announced Monday they are "considering layoffs/retrenchment." This comes two days after the company offered a voluntary retirement scheme that would be valid until June 20, according to The Times of India.
In May, Foxconn India wrote to Tamil Nadu's Labour and Industrial Ministry, explaining that the company is "the main supplier to Nokia" and "in India, our business is substantially dependent on Nokia."
However, Nokia is now vacating their operations there after a tax dispute with the Indian government.
"Under these circumstances, we are also compelled to downsize our manpower substantially to suit the current requirements of our customer,” says the letter from Foxconn India. “Besides this, we also understand that future order status is also uncertain with Nokia given their re-defined business model with global customers.”
It seems that wherever global technology business closes a door, it opens an enormous bay window, as Foxconn China is expected to recruit more than 100,000 people in mainland China to produce the newest iPhone, reports Taiwan's Economic Daily News.
This is reportedly Foxconn’s largest single hiring spree in China.
The as-yet-unannounced iPhone 6 is expected to go into production next month, and could be out in September. Apple will reportedly release two models: one with a 4.7-inch screen, the other will have a 5.5-inch screen. The current iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen.
As enormous an opportunity as the hiring of 100,000 workers in China may be, the specter of the situation at the Sriperumbudur plant’s fate may serve as a reminder that the battle between smart phone brands affects more than consumers and app developers.