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Foxconn (富士康) is the trade name of the Taiwanmarker based firm Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (Ltd.) ( ). Foxconn is the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide, and mainly manufactures on contract to other companies. Among other things, Foxconn produces the Mac mini, the iPod and the iPhone for Apple Inc.marker; Intelmarker-branded motherboards for Intel Corp.; various orders for American computer manufacturers Dell and Hewlett-Packard; motherboards for UK computer maufacturer Zoostrom; the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 for Sony; the Wii for Nintendo;the Xbox 360 for Microsoft, cell phones for Motorola, the Amazon Kindle, and Cisco equipment.

The company was founded in 1974 as a manufacturer of plastic products (notably connectors) by Terry Gou, who remains its CEO. It has been listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange since 1991.

The company opened its first manufacturing plant in China in 1988, a factory in Shenzhenmarker that is now the company's largest, with more than 270,000 employees. Beginning in 1994, Foxconn purchased development centres in the United Statesmarker and Japanmarker. In 1997 and 1998, Foxconn established additional manufacturing plants in the UKmarker and the US. As of 2007, the company and its subsidiaries owned plants in the Czech Republicmarker, Hungarymarker, Mexicomarker, Brazilmarker, Indiamarker and Vietnammarker.

Products

Foxconn makes computer cases, heat sinks, and PGA/ZIF sockets, many of which are used by other manufacturers. Foxconn also produces several different motherboards, with many being sold to vendors such as Dell, HP and Sony. Starting in 2003, the company has produced retail boards under its own brand name. In March 2006, Foxconn branched into the manufacture of graphics cards, starting with a GeForce 7900GTX, but with intentions to market both NVIDIAmarker and ATImarker boards.

Foxconn has worked with Apple since 1986. They produce the Macbook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, as well as the iPhone and the iPod. Foxconn also produces devices for Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Palm. Foxconn is also the manufacturer of the Amazon Kindle.

Foxconn also operates under the brand name of Leadtek, which focuses on the hardware-oriented consumer market.

Criticism

Employment practices

In June 2006, allegations of Foxconn operating abusive employment practices came to light as reported by Mail that were later denied by Foxconn. Applemarker launched an investigation into such claims. The result was that the claims of mistreatment of employees were judged by the Apple inspection team to be largely unfounded, but the inspection team also discovered that at peak production times some of the employees were working more hours than Apple's acceptable "Code of Conduct" limit of 60 hours, and 25% of the time workers did not get at least one day off each week. These same workers complained there was not enough overtime in off peak periods. The auditing team also found that workers had been punished by being made to stand to attention for long periods, and that all junior employees are subjected to military-style drill.

Foxconn admitted it makes workers do an extra 80 hours overtime per month while the local labor law only permits 36 hours Foxconn sued Wang You and Weng Bao of China Business News, the journalists responsible for revealing these practices, for $3.77 million and filed a successful court ruling to have the journalists' assets frozen. Some disagree with the demands and the court ruling. Reporters Without Borders sent a letter to Apple Computermarker CEO Steve Jobs to imploreFoxconn to drop the case. Later Foxconn reduced the demand to a symbolic 1 yuan (12 U.S. cents), withdrew the request to freeze the journalists' personal assets, and initiated legal proceedings to sue their employer.

ACPI functionality with Linux

On July 25, 2008, a user of Ubuntu Linux claimed that the BIOS in the G33M and G33M-S motherboards from Foxconn contained references to Linux in its ACPI DSDT and interpreted this as an attempt to change behaviour under the Linux kernel. Further investigation showed that the only Linux-specific code in the BIOS had not been run since Linux version 2.6.9.

Foxconn customer support initially claimed that "the motherboard only supported Windows Vista". This caused a wave of protest, resulting in Foxconn releasing an updated BIOS to improve Linux compatibility. Foxconn has also said that it plans to repair all other Foxconn-branded motherboards, and to test Linux alongside Windows in the future.

Investigation revealed the issue was caused by the American Megatrends BIOS assuming that the operating system would clear the ACPI WAK_STS flag on resume, causing the BIOS to interpret a reboot as an attempted resume from memory. The same issue was present in motherboards from other manufacturers using the same BIOS. A short patch to the Linux kernel to work around this issue was submitted upstream.

Employee death over internal investigation

On July 16, 2009, employee Sun Danyong allegedly committed suicide in Shenzhen, China by jumping off the 12th floor of his apartment building. Initial reports from China indicates that Sun was under a lot of pressure because of investigations by Foxconn's Environmental, Safety and Loss Prevention Division regarding a missing prototype for a third generation iPhone (iPhone 3GS). He was tasked with shipping 16 iPhone prototype units. However, one of the units went missing during the process.

Upon filing his report on July 13, Chinese state-run Southern Metropolis Daily reported that his residence was searched by Foxconn employees, and that he was beaten and interrogated by his superiors. Sina Online News and ND Daily Newspaper both reported Foxconn's security division may have used illegal approaches including illegal search of personal residence without warrant, unlawful confinement and possible physical force during the investigation. The controversial incident placed questions regarding Apple's secrecy over upcoming releases of its products, where misplacing prototypes serves as a serious breach of protocol.

Foxconn has released an official statement apologizing to the family on this incident. The statement also indicated that the manager in question has been suspended and an official police investigation has begun. Regarding the incident, an Applemarker spokesman told reporters that the company was "saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee."

References

  1. "Inside Apple's iPod Factories", MacWorld website, June 12, 2006
  2. The Forbidden City of Terry Gou, The Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2007
  3. "Front Company and OEM for Amazon Kindle is...", CrunchGear, 19 November 2007
  4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/06/AR2006120600736.html Cisco does not directly manufacture its products. Instead, it hires companies like Foxconn
  5. "iPod City: inside Apple's iPod factories" AppleInsider, 12 June, 2006
  6. "Foxconn: iPod sweatshop claims a 'vicious attack'", AppleInsider, June 19, 2006
  7. "Apple begins audit on iPod sweatshop claims", AppleInsider, June 20, 2006
  8. Apple Clears iPod Factory
  9. Apple's audit report
  10. Photos: inside Foxconn's "iPod City"
  11. iPod Worker Exploiter Second Largest IT Company In World
  12. "Foxconn sues Chinese journalists over iPod factory story" ilounge, 2006
  13. Shenzhen court ruling on Foxconn case "absurd" Xinhua, 2006
  14. Apple Computer urged to intercede for two reporters who exposed bad conditions at supplier’s plants, Reporters Without Borders
  15. "Foxconn deliberately sabotaging BIOS to destroy Linux ACPI support" Ubuntu Forums, 24 July, 2008
  16. Further Foxconn Fun
  17. Contains user-posted private correspondence between a user and Foxconn customer support, quoted in the cited Ubuntu Forums page.
  18. Testing 2.6.27-rc2 with the current released (not development) BIOS on the Foxconn G33M reveals the following:
  19. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/technology/companies/27apple.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=foxconn&st=cse "Foxconn employee committed suicide over iPhone leak interrogations?" Shanghaiist, 2009]
  20. / "25岁员工疑遭高管拘禁殴打后跳楼身亡", Sina News, 2009 (in Chinese)
  21. "疑不堪压力 富士康员工跳楼自杀" NDDaily, 2009 (in Chinese)
  22. "富士康员工丢失iPhone样机被调查 后跳楼自杀" NDDaily, 2009 (in Chinese)
  1. "Inside Apple's iPod Factories", MacWorld website, June 12, 2006
  2. The Forbidden City of Terry Gou, The Wall Street Journal, 11 August 2007
  3. "Front Company and OEM for Amazon Kindle is...", CrunchGear, 19 November 2007
  4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/06/AR2006120600736.html Cisco does not directly manufacture its products. Instead, it hires companies like Foxconn
  5. "iPod City: inside Apple's iPod factories" AppleInsider, 12 June, 2006
  6. "Foxconn: iPod sweatshop claims a 'vicious attack'", AppleInsider, June 19, 2006
  7. "Apple begins audit on iPod sweatshop claims", AppleInsider, June 20, 2006
  8. Apple Clears iPod Factory
  9. Apple's audit report
  10. Photos: inside Foxconn's "iPod City"
  11. iPod Worker Exploiter Second Largest IT Company In World
  12. "Foxconn sues Chinese journalists over iPod factory story" ilounge, 2006
  13. Shenzhen court ruling on Foxconn case "absurd" Xinhua, 2006
  14. Apple Computer urged to intercede for two reporters who exposed bad conditions at supplier’s plants, Reporters Without Borders
  15. "Foxconn deliberately sabotaging BIOS to destroy Linux ACPI support" Ubuntu Forums, 24 July, 2008
  16. Further Foxconn Fun
  17. Contains user-posted private correspondence between a user and Foxconn customer support, quoted in the cited Ubuntu Forums page.
  18. Testing 2.6.27-rc2 with the current released (not development) BIOS on the Foxconn G33M reveals the following:
  19. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/technology/companies/27apple.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=foxconn&st=cse "Foxconn employee committed suicide over iPhone leak interrogations?" Shanghaiist, 2009]
  20. / "25岁员工疑遭高管拘禁殴打后跳楼身亡", Sina News, 2009 (in Chinese)
  21. "疑不堪压力 富士康员工跳楼自杀" NDDaily, 2009 (in Chinese)
  22. "富士康员工丢失iPhone样机被调查 后跳楼自杀" NDDaily, 2009 (in Chinese)


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