Apple and some bad press

This week I would just like to do a short follow up on Christopher’s article entitled Why do we stick by Google and Apple but not Microsoft?

I will start with a little story about my 6 year old boy. He loves making things and last week he made a laptop computer from cardboard. It has keys with letters on it, a mouse and a black screen with icons. When it was finished he showed it to me, pointing out the detail, and said “I am not going to put the apple here on the top though, because they don’t all have apples”.

This is the power of branding. In a few years when he wants a laptop of his own what will he want? The one with the apple?

My kind of branding

My kind of branding

Recently though here in the US I have met a few people that do not use Apple products in principle. The reason I think is the bad press that their working practices have received in US newspapers.

I am not in any way endorsing these reports, but I feel that they are worthy of analyzing in a bit of detail, both for their content and their political or ethical standpoint.

The New York Times ran an entire series in which it looked at the human costs of the iPad and apple revolution, and you can read it here (not too long).

The opening lines speak of an explosion in which 2 people were killed as they polished iPad cases. This is not the only reported explosion either, and there are plenty of cases of people being burnt as they use chemicals without proper safety procedures, excessively long days spent entirely stood up and child labour.

It is not just Apple though that use these manufacturing plants however, and the scale of the operations is incredible. One of the names often cited for criticism is Foxconn, and they do a lot of Apple’s assembly. They have 1.2 million employees in China, some plants have more than 100 000 workers, they operate 24 hours a day, can call upon their work force at any time and start production within minutes of receiving orders. This is what the technology of today requires and produces.

Apple do have a code of conduct within its supply chain, drawn up and expanded upon since 2005. Audits are conducted and violations unearthed and they say that this is a sign of their commitments to improvement, but some say that the fact that they problem is continuous points to a toleration of non compliance.

Last year they found 4 deaths and 77 injuries within their production system, and several suicides. Now one death or injury is too many, but with a workforce of well over a million accidents will happen, and some might even see this as a good record. Apple state that they train their workforce and explain their rights to them.

One thing is for sure, the stakes are high and there is a lot of money to be made but Apple is a demanding company. And they are not the only ones with dodgy working practices, but seem to be singled out for criticism.

Why might that be I wonder? Maybe it is because as Christopher hinted they inspire such loyalty amongst their users, and some circles do not like that.

13 thoughts on “Apple and some bad press

  1. I too have been upset reading about the work practices. I don’t really get the impression that Apple truly care about those workers and whatever it says it does is just PR fluff mostly. They should have a team there constantly monitoring work conditions and doing a better job of managing production so the lives of those workers are a bit more systematic and fair than they seem to be now.

    I have never gone for Apple products anyway, or even costly branded products in general because I hate paying for a logo if I see there is similar quality product available for cheaper from another lesser-known brand.


  2. I read the times article and I must say that the pain and misery of those workers cannot be hidden by PR… Apple wants super profits but super profits lead to other things. I do like Apple products and own some as well as a Foxconn motherboard. Since they have such high profits, they should treat the workers better and pay them more.
    A happy worker is a worker that will be there when you need him, will do a better job and will say great things about you.

    • Christopher (admin team)

      A softer human resources strategy always seems better, but maybe Apple have more productive workers… I agree with you Jim, but unfortunately not everyone things of the people, some just think of the numbers 🙁

      Thanks for the comment, welcome to the community Jim!
      Christopher – Admin Team

    • The problem is not only companies like Apple though, the owners of these manufacturing sites make a lot of money so the needs are passed down the chain. Apple might make demands that when passed on to the workers are even tighter because of the profit that must be made by the shareholders.

  3. If they are not essential in the present society, I would be doing away of theses electronic gizmos. The truth is that these companies are making tons of money from us due to the concept of updates. How I wish that the release of new products are regulated.

    • Christopher (admin team)

      You mean only allow products which have been ethically made to be imported into a country? I like the idea Denis, but it could push prices up :-/

      Thanks for visiting and adding your view, welcome to the blog 🙂
      Christopher – Admin Team

  4. Branding seems to be the word here, Apple are selling a kind of lifestyle statement. I used an iPad for the first time the other day though and they are very user friendly, but I can-t justify the expense either.

  5. See I don’t have any actual issue with Apple products, but I don’t like the way they market them and I can’t stand a large potion of their consumers. iPods, iPhones, tablets and the like have not succeeded because they are advanced technology or because they are good value for money; they aren’t, there are always competing products that do the same thing, better, for less money.

    No, Apple succeeds because it has turned its products into fashion accessories. Apple products are status symbols, much like cars were a generation ago. I think that’s pretty daft really.

    • Christopher (admin team)

      They sell because of the brand, there is no doubt about that! They do function, but how well I guess is down to your personal preference and perception.

      Thank you for your response Stefan, welcome to the blog 🙂
      Christopher – Admin Team

  6. I’ve used both a Mac and PC for my job for many years and there is nothing special about the Mac apart from it looks pretty. If Microsoft \ Linux and the PC manufacturers could some how shake of their boring corporate image they would find that they sell a lot more computers and would be able to compete with Apple.

    • Christopher (admin team)

      That seems to be Apples strength, branding and a reputation for quality. The thing is, it doesn’t seem to be enough to persuade people to change from PC.

      Thanks for the comment Jim, welcome to Technology Bloggers!
      Christopher – Admin Team

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