Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn,) announced a major $342 million investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI), as the iPhone assembler eyes new growth opportunities beyond smartphones.
"We will at least invest some 10 billion New Taiwan dollars ($342 million) over five years to recruit top talent and deploy artificial intelligence applications in all the manufacturing sites," said Chairman Terry Gou.
"It's likely that we could even pour in some $10 billion or more if we find the deployments are very successful or can really generate results," said Gou.
Lu Fang-ming, vice chairman of Hon Hai, said that his company aimed to recruit up to 100 top AI experts globally and would open up thousands of jobs for young talent should they have good ideas on how to develop applications using machine learning and deep learning techniques.
Through the massive investment, Gou said, Hon Hai, will be pushing in particular for Internet applications for medical care in Taiwan and in the United States. He added that Hon Hai's AI development in the health area is aimed at better utilizing big data technology in the Taiwan and U.S. markets.
After the establishment of the Taipei AI lab, the Hon Hai executive said, the group will set up similar labs in Kaohsiung, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing, while Japan and the U.S. are expected to see similar AI labs opened by the group.
Foxconn's move to invest in AI comes as it faces challenges to grow its core manufacturing business as global smartphone demand slows. Although Apple reported record revenue for the last holiday season quarter, the US tech group sold fewer units of the iPhone X than expected and gave a weak outlook for the current quarter. Foxconn is the sole assembler of the iPhone X.