Posted by Greg Mills
Robots to replace Chinese workers?
The assembly line in China got a rude wake-up call from Foxconn's founder recently. Terry Gou has announced that he intends to replace up to 1 Million hard working assembly line workers with robots, within three years. The economics of robots can be pretty compelling. The cost, maintenance and installation of robotic assembly line automation can be very competitive with human workers. See: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/30/c_131018764.htm
However, given the wages of Foxconn workers in China running at about US $175 a month, one has to ask why doesn't Apple gear up with a hoard of robots and move assembly back to the Untied States? If the economics of automating makes sense for Foxconn in China, why not do it here?
Actually, Apple would be an ideal company to get into manufacturing robotics. When one hears the word "Robot" thoughts turn to Mr. Data or Gort of the classic movie the "Day the Earth Stood Still". Robots are generally much less grandiose than that. Robots are more often an assembly of servos, switches and actuators on some sort of framework. Running these mechanical devices are computers that manage feed back from the mechanical device or optical systems that causes them to do precision repetitive actions. Robots do their work without being paid, taking potty breaks, commiting suicide or going on strike.
Rising wages and strong unions in the United States opened the door to robotics in assembly lines here years ago. With the relatively low wages of China, that there could be an economic incentive for Foxconn to replace humans with robots says the cost of going robotic assembly is going way down or he is just trying to scare them.
The overhead Apple pays to import the fully assembled electronic products they create overseas include shipping, tariffs, time lags in delivery and certain taxes. If Apple were to get into manufactuing and operating robotic assembly lines domestically, that would sure be shot in the arm for the economy of our country.
Dumb Microsoft Explorer users?
It turns out according to some interesting research that has come out in the last few days, Microsoft Explorer users score lower on IQ tests than users of other browsers. This information failed to answer the obvious basic question, does Explorer attract the less intelligent or does using Microsoft products dumb an otherwise intelligent person down, or a little bit of both? Further research ought to be done on that question. See: http://www.aptiquant.com/IQ-Browser-AptiQuant-2011.pdf Similar questionable reseach released a while back, indicated liberals had a higher rate of insanity. They failed to figure out if insane people tended to be politically liberal or liberals tended to go insane. Being a conservative Safari user, I won't loose sleep either way.
Apple's Powerful Marketing
Recent stories have come out indicating 35% of the people surveyed hoped to buy an Apple iPhone 5. With that sort of demand for a product that hasn't even been announced yet, one has to expect spectacular numbers for Apple in the next few quarters. What car manufacturer would give anything for numbers like that? Imagine having so much demand for a product you can't possibly build enough units, when you have US$ 75 Billion Dollars in the bank to push your supply chain into overdrive? I wonder if Obama has hit Steve Jobs up for a loan to tide the US Treasury over for a few days?
The seeming late announcement of iPhone 5 has a lot of people sitting on the sidelines when it comes to replacing long on the tooth cell phones. I personally have a 3Gs that is itching to be replaced with an iPhone 5. Recent numbers are that 75% of Verison users are holding back until iPhone 5 launches. When iPhone 5 does come out, I am going to consider switching from AT&T, (no bars in more places) to Verison (can you hear me now). My experience with Sprint was so bad, a few years ago, I wouldn't go with them if they gave iPhone 5 away. Rumors are that Sprint will get to carry iPhone 5, sooner or later.
My iPad 1 one fits very nicely in the hands of my 11 year old daughter I am told, so when I get my hands on an iPad 3, I won't have to worry about my current iPad not being used. Unlike a lot of upgraded elecronic devices, Apple products get handed down and continue to be used, unlike a lot of obsolete electronic devices that end up in the land fill. That is Greg's Bite for today