There are two interesting points to this story in today’s Washington Post.
1. Is Foxconn going retail, and if so, what will that mean for the world’s OEMs?
2. The naming of Foxconn as the “world’s largest electronics manufacturer.”
Regarding the first point, it shows great cunning for Foxconn to leverage its position as the builder of just about everything into a completely new market. Heck, with 10,000 stores planned (“make no small plans,” indeed) it could end up going head-to-head with that equally feared and loathed behemoth of the retail space, Wal-Mart.
Keep in mind that while Foxconn is not considered a technology leader, no one has its manufacturing girth. The manufacuturing capacity at most high volume OEMs is a shell of what it once was, and thus companies like Dell, HP, and other major PC makers, and major phone suppliers like Motorola are to large degree at Foxconn’s mercy. There simply isn’t enough of the right capacity elsewhere for them to offload product to, not to mention the logistical and cost nightmares inherent in the attempt. That’s the price of putting so many eggs in one basket.
Regarding the second point, I like how the Post has dispensed with the usual description of Foxconn as the world’s largest EMS/ODM company. Foxconn’s manufacturing build likely exceeds that of IBM and H-P at this point. And that’s what allows the company to move at will.
How long until Foxconn competes with its customers by designing, building and selling its own branded PCs or handsets? And what will the HPs and Dells and Motorolas of the world do then?
Maybe they could get jobs in one of Foxconn’s new stores.