How to Top the iPhone? For Foxconn, It’s With TVs – Eva Dou April 18, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET


Manufacturer scored big as contractor for Apple, but now seeks to build its own brands with push into Sharp TVs

Sharp televisions on display in Taipei. Foxconn, which bought Sharp last year, aims to double its TV sales to 10 million units this year.

Sharp televisions on display in Taipei. Foxconn, which bought Sharp last year, aims to double its TV sales to 10 million units this year. Photo: David Chang/European Pressphoto Agency

By

Eva Dou

SHENZHEN, China—In a corner of a Foxconn Technology 2354 -0.11% Group warehouse in this southern Chinese city, the secretive maker of iPhones is looking beyond Apple Inc. to its own future.

Dozens of young workers sit before computers in blue plastic chairs, drawing up battle plans for Foxconn’s sales initiative for its new Sharp-branded television sets. “Sell Sharp with all your might,” a red banner hanging from the ceiling commands.

Foxconn’s acquisition of Japan’s Sharp Corp. SHCAY -1.02% last year was the Taiwanese company’s first big effort toward transforming itself from a contract manufacturer to a technology powerhouse, with its own brands and product lines.

It is now bidding $27 billion for Toshiba Corp.’s memory-chip business, underscoring just how seriously Foxconn—formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. 2317 -0.31% —wants to reinvent itself.

Behind both the Sharp and Toshiba plays is the conviction of Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou that the company he started 43 years ago must have its own components and brands if it is to survive to become what he has called a “100-year company.”

With sales of Apple’s iPhone, Foxconn’s bread-and-butter product, declining for the first time last year, analysts endorse Foxconn’s new direction. But they caution that going up against bigger, established competitors such as Samsung Electronics Corp.won’t be easy.

Acquiring the Toshiba business could help Foxconn shave costs by giving it an in-house supply for memory chips for Sharp TVs and other electronics. But the bid is already hitting headwinds from some Japanese government officials, who see the chip business as a strategic asset, people familiar with the matter say.

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April 18, 2017 5:30 a.m. ET

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