The world’s largest producer of iPhones is stepping into uncharted territory: the space.
According to a Bloomberg story, Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., recently experienced a significant moment when two prototype low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites it created set out on a SpaceX rocket last Saturday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in southern California.
Following his takeover from founder Terry Gou in 2019, Foxconn Chairman Young Liu pursued diversification tactics. He focused on areas such as robotics, digital health, and electric vehicles, alongside his attention to artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and communication satellite technology.
This accomplishment marks a dramatic turn in the course of the Taiwanese electronics conglomerate’s diversification into new markets, which was spurred by the mounting pressure from problems encountered by some of its more stable divisions, such as laptops and smartphones. With its most recent project, Foxconn hopes to demonstrate its skills in satellite technology and meet the growing need for space-based communications.
It is believed that Foxconn is deliberately arranging its business to focus on manufacturing satellites that are mostly ordered by governments and corporations.
These satellites, each weighing around 9 kilograms and resembling backpacks in size, were developed in collaboration with Taiwan’s National Central University. Equipped with cameras, communication tools, and essential equipment, they are designed to orbit the Earth approximately every 96 minutes at an altitude of 520 kilometers.
In a market where Apple refreshes models every quarter and is continuously in need of millions of iPhones, the LEO satellite sector follows a less consistent cycle with lengthier orders between batches. Remarkably, Foxconn is in charge of making around two thirds of all iPhones sold worldwide. However, in the absence of significant projects arising at the appropriate moment, manufacturers such as Foxconn find it difficult to consistently identify prospects. Corporate and governmental directives, however, provide Foxconn with stability to lessen uncertainty as it grows its satellite business.
According to forecasts released by Bloomberg News, Foxconn, the third-largest global private employer, trailing behind Walmart Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., is expected to experience a 6% reduction in revenue this year, amounting to NT$6.2 trillion ($192 billion).
In keeping with its objective to investigate space-based substitutes for the underwater cables that now predominate the island’s internet connections, Taiwan is also actively developing a plan to launch its first low-Earth orbit (LEO) communication satellite. This is also a potential key position for Foxconn’s new endeavor.