“A series of articles from The New York Times this week on Apple’s tricky relationship with the company that builds the iPhone and iPad makes it clear that while society may occasionally recoil at the human cost required to build our flashy mobile toys, when it comes to consumer electronics there is no Plan B,” Tom Krazit writes for paidContent.
“China is the world’s workshop, having invested heavily in manufacturing and infrastructure over the last 20 years, and its advantages in consumer electronics are maybe even more pronounced. A complex network of electronics producers and suppliers has sprung up in cities like Shenzhen and Chengdu, much the same way that London and New York are centers of finance and Los Angeles dominates entertainment production,” Krazit writes. “Apple is only being singled out by the Times because it is at the top of the tech heap, and while that may be fair game given Apple’s unbelievable profit, it overstates the ability of the company to act as a macroeconomic force.”
Krazit writes, “The truth is pretty simple: the modern consumer electronics industry couldn’t exist without companies like Foxconn. And Apple can’t just take its ball and go home: there’s nowhere else in the world one can find an industrial system that could replace what China has built, and attempts at building an alternative might take decades. Apple is right to keep pressure on its suppliers to improve conditions, and critics are right to ask the company to do even more. But even Apple doesn’t have the clout to reverse two decades of economic history that has led to the status quo, in which low-cost Chinese manufacturing props up the consumer-driven U.S. economy.”
Read more in the full article – recommended – here.
MacDailyNews Take: The New York Times is rapidly degrading into fish wrap, but at least one of their followups, buried as it may be, contains the real truth. The Times obtained comments from Chinese readers posted on the Caixin web site, Weibo.com and other Chinese social media and translated them. A sample:
• “If people saw what kind of life workers lived before they found a job at Foxconn, they would come to an opposite conclusion of this story: that Apple is such a philanthropist.” – Zhengchu1982
• “If not to buy Apple, what’s the substitute – Samsung? Don’t you know that Samsung’s products are from its OEM factory in Tianjin? Samsung workers’ income and benefits are even worse than those at Foxconn. If not to buy iPad – (do you think) I will buy Android Pad? Have you ever been to the OEM factories for Lenovo and ASUS? Quanta, Compaq … factories of other companies are all worse than those for Apple. Not to buy iPod – (do you think) I will buy Aigo, Meizu? Do you know that Aigo’s Shenzhen factory will not pay their workers until the 19th of the second month? If you were to quit, fine, I’m sorry, your salary will be withdrawn. Foxconn never dares to do such things. First, their profit margin is higher than peers as they manufacture for Apple. Second, at least those foreign devils will regularly audit factories. Domestic brands will never care if workers live or die. I am not speaking for Foxconn. I am just speaking as an insider of this industry, and telling you some disturbing truth.” via Caixin
• “By the way, construction workers and farmers are also living a harsh life in China, shall we also boycott housing and grains?” – Zhou Zhimei
Read more from the people who know here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Carl H.” for the heads up.]
Apple CEO Tim Cook calls New York Times supplier report ‘patently false and offensive’ – January 27, 2012
In China, human costs are built into iPads and tens of thousands of other non-Apple products – January 26, 2012