China’s Troubling Robot Revolution

Hammerstad-robots

China is now shifting its appetite to robots, a transition that will have significant consequences for China’s economy — and the world’s

Martin Ford writes: Over the last decade, China has become, in the eyes of much of the world, a job-eating monster, consuming entire industries with its seemingly limitless supply of low-wage workers. But the reality is that China is now shifting its appetite to robots, a transition that will have significant consequences for China’s economy — and the world’s.

In 2014, Chinese factories accounted for about a quarter of the global ranks of industrial robots — a 54 percent increase over 2013. According to the International Federation of Robotics, it will have more installed manufacturing robots than any other country by 2017.

Thunder-Robots

Midea, a leading manufacturer of home appliances in the heavily industrialized province of Guangdong, plans to replace 6,000 workers in its residential air-conditioning division, about a fifth of the work force, with automation by the end of the year. Foxconn, which makes consumer electronics for Apple and other companies, plans to automate about 70 percent of factory work within three years, and already has a fully robotic factory in Chengdu.

[Check out Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” at Amazon.com]

Chinese factory jobs may thus be poised to evaporate at an even faster pace than has been the case in the United States and other developed countries. That may make it significantly more difficult for China to address one of its paramount economic challenges: the need to rebalance its economy so that domestic consumption plays a far more significant role than is currently the case.

China’s economic growth has been driven not just by manufacturing exports, but also by fixed investment in things like housing, factories and infrastructure — in fact, in recent years investment has made up nearly half of its gross domestic product. Meanwhile, domestic consumer spending represents only about a third of the economic pie, or roughly half the level in the United States.

This is clearly unsustainable. After all, there eventually has to be a return on all those investments. Factories have to produce goods that are profitably sold. Homes have to be occupied, and rent has to be paid. Generating those returns will require Chinese households to step up and play a larger role: They will have to spend far more, not just on the goods produced in China’s factories, but increasingly in the service sector.

[Read the full text here, at NYTimes.com]

Making that happen will be an extraordinary challenge. Indeed, the Chinese leadership has been talking about it for years, but virtually no progress has been made. One problem is that even in the wake of recent wage increases, average Chinese households simply have too little income relative to the size of the economy. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Remember When Apple Used to Crush Leaks with Ruthless Efficiency?

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Me Neither!

TMZ.com reports:

…We’re told the phone was smuggled out of a Foxconn factory in China … where the majority of iPhone models are manufactured.  The owner of the phone says the smuggler is his friend — an ex-employee —  who worked in Foxconn’s hardware department designing the outer casing for the new model…(read more)

 TMZ.com


4.7-Inch iPhone 6 Confirmed for Sept 2014 Release Date as Apple Orders 50M iPhones from Pegatron

More voices were added to the snowballing iPhone 6 discourse, its 2014 release date supposedly gaining more ground as a new render and fresh details defining the hotly-anticipated handset came out. (Photo: Nikola Cirkovic)

More voices were added to the snowballing iPhone 6 discourse, its 2014 release date supposedly gaining more ground as a new render and fresh details defining the hotly-anticipated handset came out. (Photo: Nikola Cirkovic)

For International Business TimesErik Pineda  writes: The iPhone 6 release date is fast shaping up to become real on September 2014 as mass production of the 4.7-inch version is reportedly already underway, according to new reports.

[See also: REPORT: APPLE ON VERGE OF BUYING BEATS FOR $3.2B]

Reports coming from Taiwan and Japan, which according to MacRumors were picked up by Industrial & Commercial Times and MacOtakara respectively, appear to indicate that Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron has started production activities for the tech giant’s 2014 iPhone thrust.

Pegatron is one of the iPhone maker’s two major mobile device assemblers from Asia. The one is Foxconn, which according to Apple Insider is slated to take up some 85 per cent of iPhone production duties this 2014.

Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Receives a Bazillion Tons of Set-Top Shipments Ahead of Sept. 10 Event

Apple might be on the cusp of unleashing its much-rumored next-generation TV on America, or at least an enhanced version of the Apple TV set-top box. In three separate deliveries in August, Apple received from a total of 40,300 kilograms (40.3 metric tons) in shipments from China’s BYD Precision Manufacture Co. Ltd. described as “set-top boxes” or “set-top box with communication function,” according to Panjiva, a New York firm that tracks global trade data. (note – bazillion is not an official unit of measurement, it’s reported to be 40 metric tons – Ed.) Read the rest of this entry »