Anorak | Steve Jobs Was Right: Apple’s iPhone 6 Is To Be Made By Robots

Steve Jobs Was Right: Apple’s iPhone 6 Is To Be Made By Robots

by | 8th, July 2014

PA 12990396 Steve Jobs Was Right: Apples iPhone 6 Is To Be Made By Robots

Workers are seen inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in the southern Guangdong province May 26, 2010. A spate of nine employee deaths at global contract electronics manufacturer Foxconn, Apple’s main supplier of iPhones, has cast a spotlight on some of the harsher aspects of blue-collar life on the Chinese factory floor.


THIS rather proves Steve Jobs’ point that “those jobs are never coming back”. For Apple’s iPhone 6 is to be assembled by robots rather than by hand as has been done with all previous generations of iPhone.

iPhone maker Foxconn has revealed Apple’s new iPhone 6 could be the first to be made using its ‘robot army’.

The firm has pledged to have a million robot workers by the end of the year – and CEO Terry Gou has revealed the robots, dubbed ‘Foxbots’, are in the final stages of testing.

It is believed Foxconn will install 10,000 robots as a test.

Jobs made the comment originally to President Obama. He was asking, well, all those jobs that are now in China, all those manufacturing jobs, when are they going to come back to America? The answer being “those jobs are never coming back”.

And there’s good reason for this. The actual cost of assembling (rather than designing or making all of the components) an iPhone is in the region of $7 or $8 each. In the US, when you include the costs of health care and so on, this means you get about 15 minutes of labour for this price. But it takes more than 15 minutes of labour to do the assembly. Thus that work just isn’t going to get done in hte US.

Ah, but what if Apple were willing to take a smaller profit? Or charge a bit more? Could they then afford US labour? Sure, they could: but they wouldn’t. For using robots in the US would be cheaper than using US labour to do the work. And we can prove that too. Chinese labour makes around one quarter of what US labour makes (and this is much, much, higher than Chinese labour got only a decade ago). But even that Chinese labour is now being replaced by robots.

So, the assembly, that could come back to America, sure. But the jobs wouldn’t: for if the assembly cam back then it would be done by robots, not people. Just as in China it is now being done by robots, not people who are markedly cheaper than US labour.

Assembly jobs in manufacturing are simply gone, destroyed, they’ll never return.

Posted: 8th, July 2014 | In: Money, Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink