The rumor that Foxconn will produce its own smartphones may not be all that far-fetched

Foxconn plant iphone appleSmartphones and tablets are today’s hot products, and technology companies all over the world are producing, or planning to produce, their own hardware in the hope of capturing some of the lucrative market. Those that aren’t, run the risk of missing out and being left behind.

It’s not just the big names getting in on the act either, as Digitimes is reporting that Foxconn wants to break into the game too, and that it’s already producing own-branded hardware to be distributed to “telecom carriers and channel operators.”

Now, Digitimes.com has a checkered history with its rumor reports, so it’s advisable not to look at anything they print as 100-percent accurate without independent verification. As wild as Foxconn producing its own phone sounds though, this could be one of Digitimes’ better calls.

As the report notes, Foxconn is looking to repeat HTC’s success. The Taiwanese company started out by making hardware that was badged by networks and other manufacturers — the Palm Treo and several of O2’s Xda series in the UK for example — and has obviously grown into a major force in the industry. It’s hardly a surprise, given Foxconn’s current remit of producing hardware for everyone from Apple to Sony, that it feels it could do the same.

Foxconn is either already working with, or in negotiations with (the report is a little unclear) Commtiva Technology, a company currently tasked with selling Sharp’s smartphones to networks. Commtiva has strong ties with Japanese and Taiwanese networks, where it also promotes the Musn range of smartphones too.

Foxconn’s other businesses

While we may know Foxconn best as the company that makes Apple products, this wouldn’t be the first time it has diversified from its manufacturing role. It has a chain of retail stores in China — some of which are operated by Foxconn employees, after receiving a grant from the company — and plans to open more in Brazil; plus it produces its own-brand computer hardware too, including motherboards and a range of bare-bones PCs.

The computer range provides a glimpse at Foxconn’s possible smartphone plans. They’re stripped down, basic models — the don’t come with any memory or internal storage options — but are fairly cheap at an estimated $280. Most importantly, they don’t wear the Foxconn name, but go by Nano PC instead. Foxconn, often justifiably, has a bad reputation in the West, so anyone buying a Foxconn-branded phone would be ostracized for supporting poor working conditions and child labor. Without a trace of irony, of course.

But Foxconn isn’t likely to be targeting the U.S., Europe, or the UK with its smartphone straight away, starting instead with networks closer to home. While HTC may be its role-model, it’ll be Huawei that could suffer the most, as it too supplies hardware to networks for re-branding, as well as producing its own gradually improving range of phones that wear its name.

Last time, it didn’t end well

Foxconn’s last attempt to get into the phone market didn’t end well. When ex-Texas Instruments Asia CEO Terry Cheng came in as Foxconn CEO in 2011, he clashed with the chairman of Foxconn’s parent company, Terry Gou, over the proposed development of an own-brand phone range, as he had concerns that the move would affect the company’s core business. Cheng resigned just six months into a three-year contract, citing health reasons, but some reports suggest he was forced to leave by Gou.

These concerns may be justified too. Though there doesn’t seem to be any public information on restrictions regarding manufacturing placed on Foxconn by the companies that use its services, we’d imagine they would keep very close eye on any smartphone that did emerge from Foxconn, given the access it has had to cutting-edge devices for all these years.

Digitimes’ report closes by saying Foxconn is watching Commtiva’s performance for Sharp, before making a decision whether to entrust them with its own devices. For now, it’s all speculation, but there’s a whiff of plausibility to this one.

Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

Cassian Andor series and 'Mandalorian' details expand Star Wars' future

Disney has sky-high expectations for its Star Wars universe, with plenty of plans for the franchise on the big screen and television over the next few years. Here are all the upcoming movies and TV shows, both rumored and confirmed.
Product Review

The HTC U12 Life is a midrange contender, but it’s no champion

The HTC U12 Life is a midrange smartphone with a large 6-inch screen, plenty of battery life, and a dual lens camera, but it bears little relation to its bigger sibling. Find out if it’s worth considering in our HTC U12 Life review.
Deals

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…
Social Media

Facebook is rolling out a Messenger ‘unsend’ feature, and here’s how to use it

Facebook is starting to roll out a "remove message" feature for its Messenger app. It lets you delete a message in a thread within 10 minutes of sending it, and replaces it with a note telling recipients that it's been removed.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Mobile

Google rolls out Night Sight to Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera app

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

You can now message businesses straight through Google Maps

Google has been updating Maps with a ton of new features over the past few months, and now it's back with another one -- the ability for users to message businesses directly through the Maps app.
Mobile

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.
Mobile

The Motiv smart ring is coming to 20 more countries and physical stores

Remember Motiv's activity tracking smart ring? It's back with a raft of new features that adds biometric identification and token authentication, all on a device that fits on your finger.
Wearables

Everything you need to know about Garmin’s GPS watches and trackers

Garmin jumped into the GPS smartwatch and fitness tracker market five years ago and has built a portfolio of devices that rivals competitor Fitbit. Here's your guide to the latest and greatest fitness devices that Garmin has to offer.
Mobile

Sharp doubles down on the notch trend with Aquos R2 Compact

As if one notch wasn't enough, Japanese manufacturer Sharp unveiled a new smartphone that has two -- one teardrop style notch at the top, and a bigger notch at the bottom. Here's what the world's first dual-notch smartphone looks like.
Mobile

Verizon has made its first 5G video call … with a phone that’s already out

Verizon has announced that it has successfully made its first video call, using a smartphone that's already available: The Motorola Moto Z3. To make the call, Verizon used the 5G Moto Mod.