The firm, which also makes handsets for the likes of Nokia, blamed the loss on the ‘difficult’ and ‘volatile’ handset market, as well as higher costs. There were other factors: despite the iPhone’s phenomenal march towards ubiquity, Foxconn hasn’t had the best of years – a string of suicides earlier this year shone the light on an overtime policy that according to some employees had migrant workers doing 100 hours of overtime a month.
That regrettable spate has no doubt hit the company at its core – Foxconn took a kicking from the media over the suicides, and it has had to spend to be seen to be improving its practices, hiring more workers in China, employing counsellers, planning the move of a huge factory to the countryside, and upping wages.
No doubt Apple will be keeping an eye on how that is going: if anything else untoward happens to cause a proper hiccup, it doesn’t need a principle kit supplier going down the pan.
Foxconn has said it's going to concentrate on the cash-rich smartphone game, which even to those outside the phone industry must seem pretty sensible. Its results come at a time when Apple’s iPod, the product that kick-started the tech giant’s march to the mainstream, is starting to show signs of slowing: sales figures for the quarter to June showed 9m sold – the lowest quarterly number since 2006.
It’s looking like it too has been superseded by the more versatile iPhone and iPad and their enticing apps. Foxconn at least should be a winner, as long as it’s smart enough to keep Apple sweet.