Dissection of Apple’s labor


[2B] Jingyu ZhangWEBWhy don’t Apple users ask questions where their beloved iPhones are coming from?

Author: Brendan Hill – Contributor

Let’s talk about Apple.

The company shipped 47 million iPhones in Q3 2015 and netted a staggering $10.7 billion in profits. Just this weekend, there were 13 million units of iPhone 6S sold, breaking yet another record. It seems that sooner than later, every man, woman, and child in the developed world will own an Apple product of some kind. With demand for these devices never-ending, it begs the question: How does Apple supply the world with millions of iPhones? Better yet, who is making them and at what cost?

When a company starts netting quarter profits bigger than the market value of Tesla Motors, we need to start asking some questions. According to Information Handling Services Inc. (IHS) Apple manufactures the iPhone 6 for just $201.01 and sells it for $649. From a business perspective this is superb supply chain management, but how does Apple reach this impressive 31 per cent margin? Much of it has to do with how Apple outsources its manufacturing. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last decade, chances are you’ve heard of the Taiwanese company Foxconn. In 2012, Foxconn came under fire for its deplorable labor environment, forcing factory workers to work long overtime hours and even forcing student interns to work in its factories to manufacture the iPhone 5. All of this climaxed when seventeen workers committed suicide in one of their Chinese factories that manufactured iPhones.  Following the incident, Apple came under fire, took responsibility and three years later, they have totally reinvented their labor program. One look at their website will show you just how much effort they are putting into improving standards in these Chinese factories. However, they are still operating at similar margins and have the ability to supply more products than ever before. It seems to me that despite earning the favor of the public eye through a calculated PR campaign, Apple continues to exploit its workers.

To give you an idea of why it’s hard to believe that Apple truly values its workers, let’s consider the Apple Watch. According to a report done by the Wall Street Journal, the company makes the profitable watches for just $83.70 and astonishingly, only about $2.50 of that goes to workers. I don’t need to explain why that seems a little off. Reports as recent as 2014 done by Bradshaw, suggest the continued exploitation of Chinese workers and confirm the unbelievable sixty-hour overtime shifts at many factories.

Moving forward, it seems as though Apple will only continue to sell more products. The question remains whether or not consumers are willing to allow for the exploitation of foreign workers or if they will demand higher standards of human rights. Unfortunately, I for one am typing this on a MacBook Pro. So despite this article, it seems the former will prevail even in my own life.


1 comment

  1. swordfish123 26 October, 2015 at 20:00

    This is what you get in a capitalist market. It’s hard not to conform when virtually every device we can buy in Canada originates from a third world country.

    For the record the same company that manufactures the iPhone (Foxconn) also manufactures the following other brand’s products:

    Acer Inc. (Taiwan)
    Amazon.com (United States)
    Apple Inc. (United States)
    BlackBerry Ltd. (Canada)
    Cisco (United States)
    Dell (United States)
    Google (United States)
    Hewlett-Packard (United States)
    Huawei (China)
    Microsoft (United States)
    Motorola Mobility (United States)
    Nintendo (Japan)
    Nokia (Finland)
    Sony (Japan)
    Toshiba (Japan)
    Xiaomi (China)
    Vizio (United States)

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