Business Week: The Man Who Makes Your iPhone


Do you own an iPhone? Have you used products from IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, or HP? If you have, then they’ve been manufactured by Foxconn, the global juggernaut of modern electronic manufacturing. Business Week has written an extensive article profiling “The Man Who Makes Your iPhone”, aka Foxconn founder, Terry Gou.

Foxconn employs more than 920,000 workers across 20 mainland factories. The company has been in the news lately after 11 employee suicides. If you want to read more into this company and how it operates, you definitely want to give this a read. For those who don’t have time, here’s an excerpt of a section about the iPhone 4:

When Apple’s iPhone4 was nearing production, Foxconn and Apple discovered that the metal frame was so specialized that it could be made only by an expensive, low-volume machine usually reserved for prototypes. Apple’s designers wouldn’t budge on their specs, so Gou ordered more than 1,000 of the $20,000 machines from Tokyo-based Fanuc. Most companies have just one. “Terry is a strong leader with a passion for excellence,” says Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer. “He’s a trusted partner and we are fortunate to work with him.” The Longhua plant now produces 137,000 iPhones a day, or about 90 a minute.

Foxconn founder Terry Gou might be regarded as Henry Ford reincarnated if only a dozen of his workers hadn't killed themselves this year. An exclusive look inside a postmodern industrial empire

For Foxconn’s factory to pump out 137,000 iPhones per day, at 90 a minute is just insanity. What’s even crazier is that at this pace Apple still can’t keep up with the world’s (especially Canada’s) insatiable hunger for the iPhone 4.

A Preview of Images from Foxconn, as taken by Businessweek. Here’s the intro text to the gallery, and a few select images:

Foxconn Gives Bloomberg Businessweek Unprecedented Access

Foxconn, the secretive Taiwanese company that produces Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and Dell computers, was forced into the limelight in May 2010 after a dozen employees committed suicide, most by jumping from company dormitories. As part of a much needed public relations effort, Foxconn granted Bloomberg Businessweek unprecedented access to the company’s factory floors, worker dorms, suicide helpline operators, and the company’s charismatic chairman and founder, 59-year-old Terry Gou. Here are some images of its sprawling facility in Longhua, a suburb of Shenzhen, China, where more than 300,000 migrant laborers work.

Motherboards being assembled.
Free meals at the Foxconn canteen
...suicide nets outside dormitories.

Click here to read the entire Business Week article and here to see the photo gallery.


  • Anonymous

    Wow that is nice read. Thanks Gary

  • Anonymous

    Very interesting article !

  • Anonymous

    Interesting…..but why are the employees commiting suicide? Seems like a dream job/company to work for….mind you I don’t know what the salaries of the employees are but dormitories and free food? Score!

  • Anonymous

    It’s in China, they’re probably overworked and underpaid. Probably forced overtime, judging by the fact that they have dormitories means some people don’t get out much.

  • I personally know a fer girls from china, we became great friends when they stayed with me during the olympics. getting to know each other they confirmed that 8 hour working days is almost unheard of in china.
    most jobs require 12+ hours often more then 5 days a week. said some people work 7 days a week.
    Not her words but also apply the rule (Not enough money to keep you happy, but enough to keep you coming back) like a lot of businesses and labor jobs do here in the Americas.

    Listening to what they were telling me, i try to place myself in those situations. Some days at my job 8 hours is killer, either your having a bad day, or your boss is on your case. imagine 12-14 hours , 6 days a week. they have Dormitories because the time of travel to the time of the next working day is just not worth going home for. so you could imagine how stress levels could fluctuate. i would be pretty rattled too working those large hours.

    Also we need to remember judging by the amount of employees, and that Anything to do with Apple is in the meda spotlight right now they are going to make it bigger then it really is, because shock n Awe brings more ratings to news broadcasts ^_~. from looking on the other side of the glass it dose look like a dream job to me, but if i was inside… im not so sure based on the facts that was explained to me by the ones who actually live there.

  • James

    i want more of these. you guys can possibly beat gizmodo

  • You’re welcome–I thought so too. There was a lot of detail covered in that extensive article.

  • Tina

    My father is president of another tech company, and the VP of Foxconn is one of his best friends. He tells me not to believe these sort of facades set up for the media. I’ve toured both companies, and trust me, it’s heartbreakingly miserable inside.

  • BM

    Sounds like a slave labour camp. Sleep, eat and work at the office. Thanks for the iPhone.

  • JfromK

    Also remember that the cost of living is much lower there, but I agree that the factory farms of China are a little hard to accept morally. Though we aren’t without our 12 hour shift factories in North Amercia, the difference is that they pay much better and as a result they’re closing down in favor of the much cheaper cost of having factories in third world countries.

    So we must blame ourselves for wanting iPhones that only cost $780, instead of $2500 dollar iPhones (…if they had been assembled in North America.) *Shrugs*

  • Duffsurly

    Wow, I’m disgusted with our way of living here in North America. Were we wait in line for a “PHONE” while people are jumping out of there dormitories because of poor working conditions and under paid over worked environments.

  • ReyT

    That explains the suicides. Would be interesting to see “actual” pictures….Now I feel guilty about wanting an iPhone!

  • This goes for pretty much anything “Made in China”. We just need to make choices on what we decide to purchase and where/how it’s made.

  • Vartanarsen iphone has a specialized metal?? cool:))))

  • Megavidiot

    don’t be such a tool, the ‘design’ is speciallized.

  • jeff

    LOL interesting as it is… Foxconn as an employer is very cruel to their workers. Interviews are did on them saying how good they are but in fact they didn’t state that a few months ago in china, 12 factorys workers from foxconn commited suicide because they couldn’t take the stress; their pay are waaaaaaay low and their working hours is uber long.

    Well you guys can go google this thing if you are interested.

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