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Two factories, two fates: Foxconn ascends on cheap labor, Sharp hangs on

Jay Alabaster and Michael Kan | Sept. 28, 2012
Shige Watanabe remembers the boom days.

In its favor, Sharp's in-house technology is highly advanced compared to Foxconn, with the ability to produce items like super-thin touch panels for phones and tablets, highly efficient solar panels, and giant-screen LCD TVs.

Still, the future of the Japanese manufacturer may be found in its past.

In 1952 the Japanese company licensed monochrome television patents from U.S. maker RCA, which possessed its own portfolio of advanced technologies at the time. Like Foxconn today, Sharp leveraged its cheaper labor and invested heavily in research efforts. Thirty years later RCA collapsed.

RCA's own manufacturing complex in Camden, New Jersey. Eventually it was converted to a luxury apartment building.


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