The South China Morning Post reports that iPhone maker Foxconn has replaced more than half of its workforce with robots since the launch of the iPhone 6. The figures were provided by the local government in Kunshan, where the company is based.
“The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,” said the department’s head Xu Yulian …
Since September 2014, more than 500 companies in the Chinese province of Dongguan have spent a total of $630M on robot and AI technology to replace human workers. It was reported back in January that Foxconn had received a $12M government subsidy to help minimize layoffs in response to reduced iPhone orders.
Greater automation in iPhone production could be both good news and bad for Apple. It will reduce the scope for allegations of poor conditions for workers, but will also mean that Apple would be bringing fewer new jobs to countries like India, where economic development has been part of its push to get a better deal from the government.