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Apple "ignoring not solving" Chinese factory conditions - report

Thu 26 Jan 2012 12:01pm GMT / 7:01am EST / 4:01am PST
Hardware

UPDATE: Apple CEO Tim Cook responds to New York Times article in leaked internal e-mail

Apple

Established in 1976, Apple is a multinational corporation (corporate headquarters based in California)...

apple.com

UPDATE: An internal e-mail from Apple CEO Tim Cook addressing the New York Time's investigative article has been leaked to 9to5 Mac. The e-mail was sent to the company's employees, and reinforces Apple's commitment to highlighting and eradicating violations of its Supplier Code of Conduct.

"As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values," the e-mail reads. "Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple's values today, and I'd like to address this with you directly."

"We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It's not who we are."

"For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers' manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren't as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts."

ORIGINAL STORY: An in-depth New York Times investigation into the Chinese companies that manufacture products for Apple highlights an "unresolved tension" between the firm's efforts to improve conditions for workers and the need to meet demand for its products.

The article is based on the testimony of "three dozen current or former employees and contractors," including "half-a-dozen" anonymous Apple executives with first-hand experience of the company's supplier responsibility group.

"We've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on," said one former Apple executive. "Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice."

"If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?"

Chinese companies like Foxconn manufacture products for many of the world's leading technology companies, including Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. The notoriously poor working conditions in their factories have been widely reported, most recently after a group of 300 workers threatened suicide at an Xbox 360 manufacturing plant.

However, the New York Times alleges that, while Apple has introduced processes to monitor its suppliers, its efforts are compromised by a greater desire to increase production and cut costs.

Apple created a "Supplier Code of Conduct" to ensure "safe and healthy working conditions" and that employees are treated with "dignity and respect." An ever-increasing number of factories are regularly audited to ensure compliance with the code.

You can set all the rules you want, but they're meaningless if you don't give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well

Former Apple executive

In theory, suppliers are given 90 days to rectify their transgressions or face the termination of highly lucrative production contracts.

However, while Apple's annual progress reports have shown steady improvement and the company has endeavoured to educate workers about their rights, the unprecedented demand for Apple products has led to a conflict of interest.

The New York Times reports that more than half of Apple's audited suppliers, "have violated at least one aspect of the code of conduct every year since 2007...and in some instances have violated the law."

The offences largely relate to working hours, wages and living conditions, but have also included "core violations" like the employment of underage workers, the falsification of records, improper disposal of hazardous waste, and workers injured by exposure to toxic chemicals. The article claims that six "core violations" were found in 2007, and a further 70 over the next three years.

However, despite the consistent violations, former Apple executives say the company has ended its relationship with less than 15 suppliers since 2007.

"If you see the same pattern of problems, year after year, that means the company's ignoring the issue rather than solving it," one executive said. "Non-compliance is tolerated, as long as the suppliers promise to try harder next time. If we meant business, core violations would disappear."

Part of the problem is Apple's methodology for selecting its suppliers. Hopeful companies pitch to Apple's executives based on "every financial detail" with "most suppliers...allowed only the slimmest of profits."

"You can set all the rules you want, but they're meaningless if you don't give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well," said another former Apple executive. "If you squeeze margins, you're forcing them to cut safety."

The unprecedented popularity of Apple products has thrown the situation into sharp relief. This week, the company posted record quarterly profits of $13 billion on revenues of $46 billion, yet CEO Tim Cook told investors that the firm was still struggling to meet demand.

"We made a very bold bet entering the quarter as to what the demand [for iPhones] would be. And as it turns out, despite it being a very bold bet, we were short of supply throughout the quarter and did end with a significant backlog," Cook said, referring to the 37 million iPhones the firm sold in the quarter.

"That situation has improved some since the end of the quarter, but we still are short in some key geographies currently."

With demand growing all the time Apple is in a difficult position. The process of finding new partners is "time-consuming and costly," and Foxconn is one of only a handful of companies in the world capable of manufacturing to the scale required.

"You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards," said a current Apple executive.

"And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China."

45 Comments

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
It is not Apple's code of conduct which determines when a production contract is terminated, but Foxconn's ability to shield itself from any press investigation into their practices. But which choice does Apple have? Not make $13 billion per quarter? They too are slaves to their situation. It might be a bit more cushy than the floor a Chinese industrial slave sleeps on, but a prison of circumstances nonetheless. The minute Apple sacrifices profits in favor of doing the right thing, is when their stock holders wipe them out.

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
The market will sort out the "problem".
Once the Chinese are sufficiently enriched so as not to be price competitive production will move to Botswana or wherever and enrich the population there.

Do people realise that the average Chinese urban apartment is bigger than the average British family home? There are many ways of measuring quality of life and if you go by the rabbit hutches that most Brits live in then we are doing very badly.

And as for working hours. Lots of people in the UK game industry work longer hours than Chinese manufacturing workers. Sometimes for a lower per hour remuneration.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
@Bruce
I bet you 100€ right here, right now that no person on a Foxconn assembly line for Apple products is going home to one of your "average Chinese urban apartments" and having more space for himself there than somebody in the Eastend.

A Chinese factory worker makes $130 a month at a rate roughly 35cent per hour. I want to see that 35cent programmer in the UK.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Plenty of self employed app developer/publishers are making less than that?

And $130 in China is relatively well off. You have to adjust for cost of living. All the goods and services they consume are provided by people on a similarly low salary and are priced accordingly.

When I was backpacking in Sumatra away from common tourist locations I could buy a beer, a meal and a room for the night for less than the cost of just the beer in the UK.

Posted:2 years ago

#4
I would urge anyone reading this story to also read the source article. This is a 700-word summation of a 6000-word article that more clearly addresses the burden of responsibility in a situation like this, as well as the changing conditions - for better and worse - in these manufacturing plants.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
A self employed developer is not working for less than $130. He is is working for the idea of a huge payoff at the end of his development, which will offset his current $0 income and put him back above the average. The second a self-employed developer loses the hope of achieving that, is the moment he signs up with a company for a regular income.

Relatively well off in China is still dirt poor. It is not exactly a communist utopia over there producing our toys from the bottom of their hearts. At a $130 a month you are reduced to being a slave with pocket money and no layers of security. It is basically a plantation system with people having nowhere else to run. It only works because even that is a step up for most. But for the western world it is still a disgrace to exploit it. You are not one of the winners working for $130 in China, you just barely escaped the fate of barebone sustenance living.

Your backpacking trip probably had a teeny weeny tiny overhead cost of being insured against everything there is. You also had the luxury of bringing the money to pay for food and lodging with you. You did not have to generate the money on location. Once you start a conversation about which options people have to produce their daily sustenance and how long it takes them, you no longer think it is cheap over there. They work longer and harder than you do and still live in the type of dirt you only can stomach for a month because you romanticized it to your friend for a year. Life in east Asia is only cheap for as long as you can throw your credit card with western currency at it. If that runs out, you wish you had $0 in Europe.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Charlie Moritz
Studying Philosophy with Psychology

19 0 0.0
I think Apple just plain doesn't give a crap, and you are all enabling them by buying their stuff regardless of whether its useful or not, just because its shiny shiny. Its pathetic how the whole world has become a slave to this manufacturer, utterly pathetic. They give you no support and they treat you like the stupid sheep you are, and you just take it and buy from them anyway. I'm always utterly disgusted by Apple and everything they do

Posted:2 years ago

#7
If anyone is interested in more on this subject, I can really recommend a recent This American Life episode on the subject, where an Apple fan actually goes to talk to the workers.
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-ar...

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Dominic Jakube
Student

92 13 0.1
It's not just Apple, look around the room your currently in just about everything from pc parts,TV's,toasters,game consoles to the clothes on your back are made in China or a developing country.I recently bought a Ralph Loren leather coat that retails for $1500 and it was made in China.They are the factory of the western world and there's no getting away from that and no changing it.It's rough on the workers but 30 years ago they would have been working on communual farms with even less economic and personal freedom than today.
It may be a rough patch but believe it or not it's progress and in another 30 years they will be were the west is now, buying fancy gadgets made by chinese companies in Afirica, exept they won't feel guilty.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Mihai Cozma
Indie Games Developer

123 34 0.3
@Bruce Everiss - Sorry to say, you have no idea what you are talking about. Half of China is so poor they barely afford clothes and food sometimes, while education, health care and all other "normal stuff" in western civilization simply does not exist there. Please make some research first, because this attitude is what allows the issues there to go on forever.

@Charlie Moritz - You are right for Apple, but you are wrong saying only Apple is there. Basically all companies that outsource something to far east are, more or less, using slave work.

Someone mentioned 35 cents per hour for Chinese people, that is quite a lot actually. Usually it's 14-15 cents / hour.

Posted:2 years ago

#10
"The market will sort out the "problem".
@Bruce - I hear you but trickle down economics doesn't even work in the 1st world (unless the bank bailouts were a figment of my imagination) so to suppose it'll work in a communist police state kinda suggests we find the same sand patch as Apple and dive in head first.

Here we have Apple, fully situated in the wealthy law-abiding democratic 1st world and it's bosses won't move to stop workers being exploited, even while making tens of $billions dollars profit a year. Workers lives at these factories are chained to their bosses. It stands to reason that in an authoritarian single party state like China, expecting to believe these 'kleprepreneurs' are going to do right by their workers is kinda mad.

'The markets' have a spectacular talent in counting money, and in all other areas they are equally as sensitive and knowing as a calculator. Their kind of 'wisdom' we can easily toss.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Tom Pickard
Lead Environment Artist - Campaign Map

308 382 1.2
I think alot of newspapers and articles miss the point when it comes to the high suicide rates in Foxconn plants... I will try and find the article I was reading, but the workers actually don't commit suicide because of poor working conditions. Foxconn are on of the better employers, considered to be one of the better factory corporations to work for.

The reason for the high rate of suicide is because people get to Foxconn and realise this is the "best" they can reach, a company apartment (or dorm when your younger) a steady job, meals in a giant caffateria, very basic health care, and the killer that they'll do exactly the same monotonous job until they can no longer work. No promotions or anywhere better too move up to, basically no hope of furthering your station. Its once that realisation hits that people give up.

Throwing a bit more money at people would maybe raise quality of life a little for some, it would almost certainly effect the price of apple products and in turn how many are sold, probably putting alot of people out of work as demand falls and less workers are required. but one thing it wouldnt solve is the fact that there isn't anywhere to move onto once your at Foxconn... thats it...the top... Until we see a cultural shift in China as a whole it will remain an industry with a high suicide rate, the best we can do is try not to hoover up cheap chinese produced electronics and be more selective with our purchacing.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

929 150 0.2
Bruce last time I checked Sumatra isn't in China.

When I went to Chongqing, Szechuan, the high school students there were still in school studying and taking exams at 10 o'clock in the evening. I rarely got to see my hosts father. The hours both students and working class have to do there is incredible.

If the average Chinese urban apartment is bigger than the average English home I've yet to see this myself. Yes I've seen some big flats but to say the average live in a place like that is questionable at best. I can't think of a single relative of mine over there who lives in that big a flat. I've been visiting Hong Kong and China since I was a child because of my relatives there. Two of my uncles live with my grandparents, one aunt and her family live in a tiny flat with my 2 cousins (one of whom works), another one of my uncles still lives in a house in the old village where my grandparents used to come from.

Much of China will break your heart even in this day and age. I still go back for relatives now, last time was September last year. I still see things that I can't believe exist in this day and age. This photo is from Shenzehn, where my grandparents first from before moving to Hong Kong. So basically it borders Hong Kong, not some remote village out in the middle of nowhere which no one knows about. I was surrounded by this, tell me this is better than the average English family home.

http://i29.photobucket.com/albums/c260/Kingman86/319654_10150331301599412_1761337554_n.jpg

[hope link is fixed]

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Kingman Cheng on 26th January 2012 3:48pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

962 1,160 1.2
@ Mihai You're right that other production companies use similar services or even Foxconn themselves, but the conditions in Apple factories are particularly horrible even compared to other technology manufacturers. There are a couple major reasons for this. One is, as mentioned above, the ridiculously low profit margins they require the factories to work under, and the other is the high demand they have for number of products produced.

Remember that the amount Foxconn or any other manufacturer is paid for their work is handled on a project-by-project basis. They bid for the right to make those products, and for Apple they have to bid insanely low to do them. I'm not saying Microsoft and Sony and Nintendo aren't squeezing them out as well, but they certainly aren't as much or at as high a rate of production. And Apple, unlike all those other companies, has literally billions of dollars of wiggle room that they could commit a SMALL FRACTION of to production to improve working conditions astronomically if they gave two shits about human rights in those factories.

Posted:2 years ago

#14
It's extremely important that the citizens of the west put pressure on big business and our government to improve their foreign working conditions because it will ultimately drive up their costs and bring some of the work back or negate wage cuts here. We live in a global market so allowing Apple or whoever to exploit people abroad has a knock on effect for us.

However ultimately the market does sort it out, 30 years ago before they embarked on this economic revolution China was far worse off, now even migrant workers are starting to get some rights (it was on Newsnight last night lol). I don't think anyone thinks that in 10 years time things won't be better there.

Ultimately once the world has a certain level of equality, factory workers aren't much cheaper in China to the US or IT workers aren't much cheaper in India to the US then big business won't be able to exploit their staff by the thread and reality of outsourcing or insourcing.

We should be putting pressure on big business to quicken that process rather than being afraid of it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 26th January 2012 4:36pm

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Siyuan Lin
Sound Designer

7 0 0.0
The problem with the cheap labour in Chinese industries is that there are ALWAYS someone willing to go lower, you will be surprised. The workers don't really have a clue, they just want works, and works are hard to find. The managers, mmm, I will consider you lucky to find half decent manager who cares about human rights, in cheap labour sections ofc.

$130 is not a 'well-off pay' in China where you can get yourself an apartment and so on. As far as I know, most people will be sharing with other co-workers, usually 3 - 4 shares a room. This isn't uncommon, this is pretty standard.

So if you are viewing it from a UK living/working standards. You must be laughing, countless benefits and other 'srs biznez'. You wonder why thousands chinese people would happily spend their life savings, or to borrow a large amount from mobs so they could get locked up in a boat, yes 2, 3 weeks later they might end up in the UK to earn some GOLD \^^/

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Siyuan Lin on 26th January 2012 4:32pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Tyler Moore
Game Designer & Unity Developer

51 14 0.3
Props to the Site Editors for paying attention, jumping in, and providing additional information as needed. Some good journalism right there.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Diego Santos Lećo
Creative Director

24 26 1.1
Of course consumers won't "care" about slavery, they are powerless to stop this agression, and they just can't stop consuming. We would have to make our own TVs if that was the case.

It is the government job to FORCE companies to answer for their complacency with slavery. The same argument that "costs would rise too much" was raised by Slave Traders when the Slavery was to be abolished.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Diego Santos Lećo on 27th January 2012 11:12am

Posted:2 years ago

#18
In the end Apple is a business, it should surprise anyone that these horrid working conditions have existed for years. They are trying to produce mass amounts of their products with as little cost as possible. Steve Jobs was a true innovator, genius and an inspiration to us all but he knew how his iPhones were made.

Thanks to GI.biz for shedding some light on this.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Spencer Franklin
Concept Artist

90 120 1.3
@Bruce Everiss

What are you on about...? You can't possibly believe the nonsense you just spewed, not if you have actually ever BEEN TO China... Your original comment, and then the follow up both show you are completely out of touch with the reality of the situation, and likely to even abuse such a situation if given the opportunity. Thinking like yours is part of the reason these kinds of conditions will persist.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Raphael Honore
Localization Assistant Manager

32 3 0.1
@ Bruce Everiss

Do you actually believe what you wrote? Your comment is amazingly clueless - anyone living in China will tell you so. And FYI those people are mostly living in dorms provided by the factories they work at (often 4 or 6/ room with very little space) so your comment about average urban appartment space is absolutely ridiculous! 130 bucks a month is anything but "well-off", if food can be cheap, education and healthcare are extremely expansive compared to the average wage in most cities around China. You really ought to do a little bit more of reading about this!

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Jonathan Tan

9 1 0.1
Erm, I think Bruce mistook Foxconn's bosses' fancy mansion for an 'average Chinese urban apartment'.

Posted:2 years ago

#22
The aspect of the story that struck me the most were the allegations (towards the end of the story) of the pressure Apple applies to its manufacturers to keep reducing costs.

Apple's gross margin in its Q4 results was a little over 44 per cent, which is very impressive in purely financial terms, but in this context it's somewhat troubling. Clearly, Apple's production costs could be higher and it would still be the most profitable tech business out there. As it stands, the company is adding $11 billion every three months to a pot that now contains almost $100 billion.

I understand the imperative to make money, and I understand that public companies are beholden to their shareholders to a great extent, but Apple has a lot more wiggle room here than some of the comments have suggested.

If the information in the New York Times article is accurate, this is murky ethical territory.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

West Clendinning
Senior/Lead Artist

22 4 0.2
@ Bruce Everiss

What's it like being crazy?

Posted:2 years ago

#24

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Well I have been to China, many times over several decades, from when the bamboo curtain was up and you never saw another motorised vehicle. Quite a few times I have travelled with Chinese friends so have got very far from what most Westerners will see.

The problem here is that bleeding heart liberals are applying our values to a completely different context. The manufacturing workers in China are not forced to do what they do. They can change jobs if they want. In fact they are a well paid elite compared with many in the country.

If they put their labour costs up they would cease to be price competitive, the business would go elsewhere and they would have no jobs. All the Chinese economy has to offer is labour, they have no natural resources and no knowledge base. So they are building their economy around doing over half of all the world's manufacturing.

They are in exactly the situation that Korea was just a few years ago and will follow down the same path. Already firms like ZTC and Huawei are becoming global players. The new Samsungs.

This whole issue has been covered very many times in articles in the Economist. Reading a few articles from there might open some eyes as to the reality of the world: [link url=http://www.economist.com/
]http://www.economist.com/
[/link]

Posted:2 years ago

#25

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
Funny, I just read an interview to some very important Chinese representative and he sounded quite happy, sometimes even arrogant towards west countries, about life style, growth and what not in China.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Tin Katavic
Studying MSc-Games Technology

44 2 0.0
One thing that kinda bugs me about this article is the way an former exec comes out and says "oh yeah we know its going on and we do it cause it suits us". (not exact words) What kind of a professional exec would make such a statement for a journalist? Either a very angry one or a stupid one. Not a great source either way. For the record - I am not claiming that Apple is poor and innocent.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Tom Belton
Composer / Producer

5 0 0.0
Klaus, Jonathan and West - 1UP, Bruce - Game Over

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Graham Simpson
Tea boy

220 7 0.0
The pressure Apple puts on Foxconn to improve margins is common practice and for example no different than what the Supermarkets in the UK do. Suppliers and farmers continually have to take the hit as the Supermarkets fight with each other for marketshare by offering lower shelf prices/ deals (yet their own margins don't fall as much because they are arm twisting the supplier). If the supplier complains the Supermarket goes elsewhere generally sending the smaller supplier/farmer into bankruptcy.

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,370 1,017 0.7
@ Tin

It's no more unbelieveable than any other whistle-blower situation. The NY times has a decent enough reputation for protecting their source's identities, so the executive might've just had enough with how people regard Apple as God's gift, and wanted to shed some light onto their questionable working practices.

@ Michele

China is shockingly poor and corrupt in places, but interviews like the one you mention always focus on how it is a fairer and nicer place than the decadant West. For the most part I presume the interviews are pure PR, especially with how strong a hold the government has on the media, and how they can attack dissenting voices (Ai Weiwei is a good example of the latter).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th January 2012 2:00pm

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Caspar Field
CEO & Co Founder

35 82 2.3
@Bruce. I lived in China for over a year. You are talking utter, utter nonsense. And to contend that the country has no knowledge base and no natural resources belies quite how little you understand it. That meal, beer and room you bought for the price of a pint in London would be the best part of a week's wages in some parts of the country.

As for your other points:

[link url=http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/243243/20111104/china-s-mineral-reserves-unexplored-untapped-number.htm
]http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/243243/20...[/link]
'...the world's leader in mineral consumption and production, still has a large amount of unexplored mineral resources, despite recording a growing number of large-scale mines in the country.'

[link url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14192337
]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pac...[/link]
'There are now six times as many graduates as there were a decade ago - over six million in total. The figure is the highest number of graduates anywhere in the world.'

Foxconn's dorms:
http://www.google.com/search?q=foxconn+d...

Posted:2 years ago

#31
For the record, an internal e-mail from Tim Cook's to Apple's staff addressing the NYT article was leaked today. The story has been updated with an excerpt.

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,370 1,017 0.7
Hmmm... Interesting update. Thanks.

Reading it critically, it *feels* like it's just PR. The outrage comes across as very manufactured, especially the phrase "I know you are as outraged by this as I am". That's just very badly worded, I think; but whether that's just how he writes, or whether it's the PR spin coming to the fore, I wouldn't like to guess.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th January 2012 4:04pm

Posted:2 years ago

#33
Good point.

Another thing I noticed is that, in the full text of the mail (follow the link), Cook defends the company by pointing out things that the article fully acknowledges - like the code of conduct, the regular auditing, educating workers on their rights, and so on. The damaging accusations in the article relate to Apple's willingness to look the other way, and its insistence on cost reductions from its partners, when that can only make conditions at these factories worse. Cook doesn't really address either claim.

I understand the point that it isn't necessarily Apple's responsibility to police its suppliers, but I do have a moral objection to that standpoint. If not the world's most affluent company, then who else is going to set the example that it's possible to have nice phones without such troubling compromises? Worst case scenario: Apple only makes $9 billion clear profit next quarter.

Posted:2 years ago

#34
@Caspar how dare you denigrate those forthright defenders of trickle down economics? For shame. The richer the rich are, the happier and better off the poor are. Isn't that obvious? One day we will find ourselves at the singularity, where one single person is very, very rich indeed, and everyone else is delirious.

Posted:2 years ago

#35

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
@Morville: I found it back, it's from Fan Gang and the title is "Now's our turn". It's exactly about what you mentioned, then he explains why we should be afraid of them and how full of dreams and opportunities young Chinese are, and why they're allowed to pollute and blah blah.

@Matthew: for how much I can blame Apple for many other things, I think they're not worse than many others on this. If China had half-decent laws then working for 0.25$ a month would be highly illegal, would be called slavery, pathetic stories will be everywhere on TV and Apple would have to seek factories maybe in Europe or in the US. The fact is that we all know, but if we all say "ok, I'll get an Ericsson then", it would be just the same. When you're left with no choice there's not much you can do.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by gi biz on 27th January 2012 6:07pm

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Wes Peters
Software Engineer

6 0 0.0
@Barry: Bank bailouts are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. The market would have fixed those problem by driving the companies that didn't pay attention to the actual risks out of business, had not interventionist governments propped them up. And taken out the liars who falsely evaluated the risks right along with them.

@Charlie: you're just flat-out wrong. Apple's products are admired the world over because they are very very well designed and constructed. If you don't like them, or the silly cult that surrounds them, that's fine, but the quality of the product is not predicated on your beliefs. Come on out to the real world and learn that.

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Brian Smith
Artist

193 77 0.4
It's just an extreme of capitalism through the magnifying glass. Nothing new really, just stuff we usually don't want to know about as humans. If there's a solution to this sort of thing it's way beyond Apple, Foxcomm and their like. Capitalism sucks but just sucks less than other systems. We need a revolution of some sort before things like this are history.

Posted:2 years ago

#38
@Brian it is facile to claim capitalism sucks less than other systems for several reasons. Western prosperity maps to the rise of an oil economy. Absent that vast reservoir of energy the capitalist system would be a dung-pile. Then there is the question of from whose perspective this lack of suck is observed. Capitalism has bestowed great suckage on a vast number of people, and looks set to bestow even greater suckage on an even greater number in future. And then of course we get to nuance. Totalitarian-capitalism sucks greatly indeed. Democratic-capitalism somewhat less so (a lot less so for the beneficiaries, and the beneficiaries are a wider group). Now that we've decided to abandon democracy, we'll see a rapid contraction of non-suckage zones and a matching expansion of suckage.

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Quaisha Thornton
Founder & CEO

6 0 0.0
outsourcing and economy can be fixed. American companies outsourcing for two main reasons - 1. to get work done cheaply, pay cheaper expenses, gain more profit 2. too low of a skilled worker pool.

How it can be fixed: 1. Businesses can open up programs to train new employees on the skills needed - its apprenticeships 2. No need to outsource, bring people from overseas LEGALLY (sponsorship), and train them (which also helps culture and economy) 3. put regulations in place to make sure products and services are well made and provide outstanding services 4. investing in American education to train future employees not only boosts GRADUATES, but also boosts the workforce/employment, innovation, technology, and economic growth.

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,992 898 0.5
I'm just stocking up on jars of popcorn and waiting for the Occupy Apple protestors to be on the news. Of course, this won't happen unless some of those folks realize that a new device every year and an announcement of an update a months later just means more slaving away for their tap and drag pleasure.

Sure, every other tech device made under the same conditions in the past we didn't know about (or care) should also get a raised eyebrow. But since Apple is the big boy on the block with the most bulging pockets and bragging rights, yes, they should be carpet-called first and foremost. If they REALLY want to change, well, some of those billions will go to fixing things and since everyone seems to follow Apple, perhaps more companies will follow suit.

This would mean price increases all around, but hell, if you KNOW you're getting a product that's not made in a city-sized factory with suicide nets outside the windows and underpaid workers (Terry Gilliam needs to use this image in his next film, i say), that extra few dollars won't mind leaving your wallet.

Posted:2 years ago

#41
@Michele. I fully agree, but I'd like to think there is one company with the desire to be far, far better than everyone else, to set an example of how things can be done. The depressing thing is, I don't think any company other than Apple could accomplish that. And remember, the article names a few companies who are more effective in this regard, and not one of them makes as much money.

Otherwise, I'm with Greg. I can't get onside with the "that's just the way it is" point-of-view. It's all easier said than done, of course, but some situations call for a bit of misty-eyed liberal day-dreaming. And we really shouldn't gloss over just how much pure profit Apple is making here. Let's not forget: $11 billion net profit in 3 months. Would 5 per cent of that figure sunk into improving manufacturing conditions and practices lead to an investor walk-out? Certainly not, but it could potentially make a huge difference to the workers' quality of life.

Clearly, Apple can afford to spend more to ensure better and safer conditions in its partner factories without the price of an iPhone changing by a single cent. I mean, right now Cook has so much money at his disposal he literally doesn't know what to do with it all.

The point is that its audits are showing consistent and repeated violations of the code of conduct, yet very few of the offenders have fallen foul of the punitive measures outlined in their contracts. Stricter contracts? More active policing? Onsite Apple watchdogs? I don't know how it would work, but I know Apple can afford to do more than the article describes - and more than any other comparable company - to make a difference here.

Posted:2 years ago

#42
Also, as a side-note, this situation really grates against the 'personality' of Apple as a company. I've always regarded it as friendly, progressive, personal, almost hippy-ish.

And as a side-side-note, this has been a really interesting discussion. Thanks to you all.

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Brian Smith
Artist

193 77 0.4
@Klaude - No it's not.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

James Butterworth
IT Hardware & Software

24 1 0.0
When Apple make $600 - $900 for an iPhone or iPad, yet the people making the devices in China are on a paltry 15 cents an HOUR, I don't want anything to do with them or their crap overpriced products. If they started doing something about it, or actually made the stuff themselves in their own factories in California (as the deluded fanboys like to believe they do) then I may start buying their products.

I don't like Apple, but don't deny it. They overcharge, outsource manufacturing to slave labour, try trademarking everyday words like pod and pad, and sue any competition out of existence. Their marketing skills are utter crap, as soon as any curved device comes on the market they cry like little girls while forgetting it isn't them that invents all the electronics or actually makes the stuff.

I know other companies use Chinese manufacturing, but Apple are the worst overall for all the sly tactics they use. I mean, patenting the mechanism of clicking an icon to launch an app?? Come off it! All this publicity from Cook is just damage limitation, they couldn't give a crap about the poor Chinese people, they only care about themselves and profit.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Butterworth on 31st January 2012 7:46pm

Posted:2 years ago

#45

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