Apple’s rise to power in our time directly paralleled the transformation of global manufacturing. As recently as 10 years ago Apple’s computers were assembled in the United States, but today they are built in southern China under appalling labor conditions. Apple, like the vast majority of the electronics industry, skirts labor laws by subcontracting all its manufacturing to companies like Foxconn, a firm made infamous for suicides at its plants, a worker dying after working a 34-hour shift, widespread beatings, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to meet high quotas set by tech companies like Apple...
Mr. Jobs’s magic has its costs. We can admire the design perfection and business acumen while acknowledging the truth: with Apple’s immense resources at his command he could have revolutionized the industry to make devices more humanely and more openly, and chose not to. If we view him unsparingly, without nostalgia, we would see a great man whose genius in design, showmanship and stewardship of the tech world will not be seen again in our lifetime. We would also see a man who in the end failed to “think different,” in the deepest way, about the human needs of both his users and his workers.This grew out of Daisey's work, and performances of, something called The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, his monologue/one-man show about his life and love of Apple, and the journey he took to China to meet with the workers there, and how it changed him. He is not unaware of the fact that other companies (Dell, HP, etc) also get there supplies in a similar, or worse, manner. He is aware, though, that like Nike was to the shoe industry, Apple is the brand that's most associated with the world's current manufactured bliss. If you're going to close the "sweatshops" of technology, they're the company you look at.
For myself, I've been reading Apple's supplier responsibility reports. In the coming days, when the mood strikes, I will post some of what it says. Fascinating things about suicide nets, for example. Apple, if nothing else, is active in auditing its suppliers and seemingly quite transparent about their (so-far) failures to enact lasting change. I don't know of any other tech company publishing the number of underage workers in their factories.