An article published on October 21st, 2015 in the Tech Times, http://www.techtimes.com/articles/97472/20151021/samsung-south-korea-team-up-to-build-robots-that-will-replace-human-workers.htm, describes how Samsung has received an investment of $14.8 million from the government of South Korea to develop robots that can perform complex tasks in factories and compete with the cheap labor rates of China. Many smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, are dependent on cheap Chinese labor for manufacturing many of their products. However, the increasing labor costs of Chinese workers has been negatively affecting many of these company’s profits. Increasing labor costs in China is one of the main reasons why Samsung is making the switch to automated factories. The South Korean Ministry stated, “Once affordable robots reach the market and are more widely used, it can lead to the creation of ‘smart factories’ and bring about far-reaching innovations to the manufacturing sector.” In 2014 robot sales increased by 29% over 2013 and were at their highest level ever at 229,261 units. Even with that, only 10% of manufacturing processes are done by robots, but that number is estimated to double by 2025. The South Korean Ministry is claiming that if Samsung successfully develops robots that can perform complex human tasks, then the dependence on cheap Chinese labor will decrease over time, not only in South Korea but also in other parts of the world.
Will Samsung be able to develop robots to successfully manufacture smart phones? If so, what impact will that have on the smartphone and tablet industries? What impact will this have on the Chinese manufacturing sector? Is this the fate of any other future industries?