Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The new iPhone 5

Saw KRON-TV reporting of riots at a Foxconn factory in China last night.  The sole significance KRON assigned to the events was whether and how long it would delay when customers would get their iPhone 5's.  Not a word about what was going on that the Chinese workers were rioting, not a word.

Today's Wall Street Journal reported that Foxconn employs a million people, which makes that one company 40% as large as the US government.  The Taiyuan plant where the riots took place employs 79,000 people, which makes that factory alone bigger than GM's US operations combined.  There are bigger Foxconn plants than that in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou.

The riots and the 2009 wave of suicides in the Taiyuan plant raise the possibility that China may  be reaching the human limits of its ability to increase factory production.  Aside from the catastrophic effects on endless numbers of individual Chinese lives, that might point to a significant veer in the road to be traveled by China's and the world's economies.

Which is almost as important as whether you get your iPhone 5 as soon as you had hoped.


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