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06.07.10

Let Them Eat WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)

Posted in Apple, Asia, Hardware, Microsoft at 10:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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Summary: Apple’s “cult hero” (as the press calls him) is rather apathetic and unresponsive to the agony his business causes to the Chinese

“Apple’s model labour practices” are a subject that’s currently being discussed in some fairly major Web sites. Whether Apple is a scapegoat or not depends on what people understand about Apple's obsolescence model. The short story is that Apple underpays for the production of very expensive-yet-disposable hardware, unlike what rural China has to cope with.

Beating Microsoft might warm the cockles of Apple fans’ hearts, but it really isn’t the best benchmark if you understand the statistics.

Statistics are not the media’s long suit, however. In the last few days, the headlines have been screaming about a spate of suicides at Apple’s supplier, Foxconn. Trades union and labour activists have been calling for a boycott of Apple’s next iPhone, to punish the company for doing business with a firm where the poor, abused workers apparently see no way out but to jump off the roof.

Here is how Information Week put it. Steve Jobs just isn’t listening to workers who build and/or assemble his pricey gadgets that he makes billions of dollars from.

Steve Jobs: iPad Suicide Factory ‘Pretty Nice’

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the Taiwanese-owned iPad factory that’s been branded a sweatshop amid a rash of worker suicides is actually “pretty nice.”

We already have an idea of what sweatshops used by Microsoft look like. Here is the BBC covering Jobs’ reaction while the The Inquirer puts it quite nicely:

Jobs said that he found reports that Foxconn employees were throwing themselves off high buildings rather than working on Apple gadgets deeply disturbing. After all people who work for Apple stores are happy to work for peanuts in an autocratic environment just for the privilege of touching a slice of Jobs’ Dream. We guess he thought the Chinese would be the same.

As a PR response, Apple claims to be paying those employees a little more, but wait. “Foxconn Says Pay Raises in China Not About Suicides” says this news report.

Foxconn has raised pay among workers in China by an average 30 percent, but it says that the raise has nothing to do with a string of suicides that some experts say global media have misattributed to everything from poor working conditions to rapid modernization.

Don’t let Apple spin this as a bonus or a gift from Apple. One financial writer/investor asks: “Time to Short Apple Stock?”

Driven by cult hero Steve Jobs, Apple has now surpassed Microsoft as the largest tech company in the United States. Reihan Salam on why it’s ripe for a fall.

Even in the press Steve Jobs is called a "cult hero". Maybe unrest and vanity will take their toll on this Hubris. The most interesting thing is that Apple products are rarely sold in China, they are just manufactured there for a mere pittance.

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