Slowdown at Foxconn

Could PCs do what the rest of the EMS industry could not — derail the Foxconn train?

Over the past decade, Foxconn has been practically unstoppable. Not a backlash against China, outrage over dozens of worker suicides, at least two plant explosions, campus riots, or other pressures could stop the Taiwanese manufacturing titan.

But as Apple goes, so does Foxconn. And nowhere are the reverberations from the occasional Apple hiccup felt more than at Foxconn, where sales dropped nearly 20% both year-over-year and sequentially during the recent March quarter. While Apple also uses other big and small name suppliers, and is a 10% customer of Jabil, Foxconn’s sales to Apple could be in the range of $60 billion to $70 billion (although I tend to doubt they are quite that high, as Apple’s cost of goods sold for 2012, less depreciation and amortization expenses, were $84.5 billion, and Apple buys its own components).

Worse, however, is that the main market Foxconn plays in — PCs — continues to shrink, with no obvious signs in sight of turning around. So as HP, Dell and other key Foxconn accounts experience double-digit declines, the near-term outlook at the world’s largest electronics contract assembler has suddenly dulled.

Could the PC (as in personal computer) customers do what the PC (as in politically correct) crowd couldn’t? Finally fell Foxconn?

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow