Today in Apple history: Apple probes Foxconn suicides

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Apple faces criticism for conditions on the iPhone production line in Foxconn factories.
Apple faces criticism for conditions on the iPhone production line.
Photo: SACOM Hong Kong/Flickr CC

May 25: Today in Apple history: Apple responds to Foxconn suicides May 25, 2010: Apple opens an investigation into a string of suicides at Foxconn, its Chinese manufacturing partner.

After reports of a ninth death at a Foxconn factory, Apple says it is “independently evaluating” Foxconn’s response. Cupertino vows to take a long, hard look at the facilities that manufacture its products. It’s a tough challenge for Apple to deal with — and Steve Jobs’ controversial comments don’t exactly help.

Here’s what Foxconn will manufacture at new Wisconsin facility

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Foxconn
Foxconn's U.S. facility will open in 2020.
Photo: CBS

The percentage of each iPhone made in the U.S. may increase, claims a new report, suggesting that manufacturer Foxconn’s proposed Wisconsin factory will be used for producing small and medium-sized LCD — and possibly eventually OLED — smartphone displays.

That’s a change in strategy from the original plan, which reportedly focused on large-sized displays for televisions and monitors. Foxconn allegedly made the decision due to cost considerations.

Foxconn wants a piece of Apple’s future MicroLED plans

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Theater Mode finally makes its way to Apple Watch in watchOS 3.2 beta 1.
Apple is interested in MicroLED tech for future Apple Watches -- among other things.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple is reportedly going all-in on MicroLED displays, and long-time supplier Foxconn wants to get in on the action!

According to a new report, the Foxconn Group recently took a 7.32 percent share in the company Epileds Technologies, and aims to soon buy anoter 20 million shares to become its largest shareholder. Epileds is one of only a couple of Taiwan-based LED firms that have valuable RGB technological capabilities key to MicroLED technology.

Foxconn is buying a renowned Apple accessory maker for $866 million

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Belkin has long been a manufacturer of high quality Apple accessories.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Long-time Apple device manufacturer Foxconn is about to get even closer to Apple — thanks to its acquisition of well-known iPhone accessory maker Belkin.

According to a new report, Belkin International will be bought by FIT Hon Teng, a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Foxconn for a massive $866 million. The acquisition also includes Linksys and Wemo-branded products and services, as well as the smart home water management company, Phyn.

MacBook won’t get a major upgrade in 2018

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13 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
Apple's reportedly not planning a major MacBook refresh this year.
Photo: Apple

Apple has no plans for a major upgrade to its MacBook line this year, a report claims. The last time Apple gave a major upgrade to the MacBook was in 2016, when Apple introduced the Touch Bar.

Provided this is accurate, it may disappoint customers who view the introduction of the iMac Pro as proof that Apple is placing renewed emphasis on its Mac product line.

Samsung faces even more challengers for iPhone OLED orders

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iphone x
LG, Japan Display, and Sharp all went to get their own OLED orders from Apple.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Samsung may currently be the only company to build OLED displays for the iPhone, but it faces a growing number of challengers going forward, a new report claims.

Not only is LG Display widely expected to become Apple’s second OLED producer in 2018, but other companies including Foxconn subsidiary Sharp and Japan Display are also keen to get a piece of the pie by becoming Apple’s third and fourth OLED suppliers.

Latest Foxconn suicide raises concerns about working conditions

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Foxconn
Foxconn is one of Apple's leading manufacturers.
Photo: Foxconn

Another Foxconn worker committed suicide over the weekend at the firm’s phone assembly plant  in Zhengzhou, China, according to U.S.-based Chinese workers’ rights organization China Labor Watch (CLW).

The incident reportedly occurred on Saturday, January 6, when 31-year-old Li Min jumped to his death from the factory. CLW posted video showing the aftermath of the suicide. No explanation for why Li Min took his own life have been made public, although he had only been working and living at Foxconn for a little over two months.

Foxconn could soon use AI to help identify faulty iPhone parts

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Foxconn
New technology was designed by former Google AI expert.
Photo: Foxconn

Apple manufacturer Foxconn is planning to adopt artificial intelligence image recognition systems for quality control in its factories, a new report claims.

The tech could help identify faulty circuit boards or other components, thereby improving Foxconn’s efficiency when it comes to assembling devices. The AI system was developed by Andrew Ng, a machine learning expert who has previously headed up major projects for both Google and Baidu.

Today in Apple history: iPhone factory deaths spark investigation

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Foxconn
Tim Cook visiting one of Apple's factories in China.
Photo: Apple

December 11: Today in Apple history: iPhone factory deaths spark investigation December 11, 2013: A Chinese labor rights group calls on Apple to investigate the deaths of several workers at a Shanghai factory run by iPhone manufacturer Pegatron.

Most controversially, one of the dead workers is just 15 years old. The underage worker reportedly succumbed to pneumonia after working extremely long hours on the iPhone 5c production line.