Get the Foxconn experience with new tourist factory

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Foxconn employees accused of $43 million iPhone scam
Tim Cook meeting an iPhone manufacturer in China.
Photo: Apple

With its allegations of sweatshop conditions and worker suicides, even the masterful spin provided by Steve Jobs wasn’t able to turn negative public opinion about Foxconn, one of the main manufacturers which builds Apple devices.

But Foxconn is hoping to change people’s minds about its facilities — by opening a new “technology tourism factory” in Jiangsu, China, designed to give outsiders a peak into a (carefully managed) version of the Foxconn working experience.

The factory will reportedly allow visitors to experience IT product manufacturing, Foxconn style. It will consist of two sections, with the front part being an experience center where people can test the latest Foxconn-made gadgets, and the back part featuring a manufacturing demo and retail center. There will also be a home theater, nursery room, and kids playground.

This isn’t the first time Foxconn has tried its hardest to fix its reputation. Last year the company opened its sprawling Shenzhen factory to U.S. journalists — showing off its university-style campus, employee swimming pools, and 24-hour hotline for counseling.

With Foxconn having been the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning reports and critical BBC documentaries in the past, I don’t know how many people are going to be lining up to replace their Disneyland trip with a visit to Foxconn (and don’t expect to get an early glimpse of the next iPhone, either!), but this is still an interesting move as Foxconn aims to continue its international expansion.