Thursday, June 10, 2010

Foxconn, Apple and ethics.

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With the arrival of iPhone 4 and all the controversies that muddled the glory of phone before its debut, the Foxconn saga is probably one of the most shocking news I know.

-- Foxconn suicides

We used to root for the underdog, Apple, to one day be as successful as Microsoft. We want the awkward kid to finally succeed at something, and not let the Type A student win everything.

Then one day, the awkward kid became blind with greed and pride, essentially becoming worse and waaaaay more obnoxious than the Type A Straight A Student.

Ipod was good. Zune was nowhere near iPod's success. We cheered for Apple.
iPhone was good. Windows Mobile's marketshare was slowly being chipped away. Everyone wanted an iPhone because it's pretty.

MacBook Pro is still on my "things I really want" list.

Marketing strategy aside (damn Apple for releasing a mild upgrade every 6 months. What the hell am I going to do with all my old iPods and iPhone?), Apple has become annoying because the way it treats consumers.

Thousands of phones are lost daily. The policeman just says "Tough luck" and does nothing about it. Yet Apple managed to flex its muscle and got the police to go all SWAT team on a guy who bought it off someone who found the phone. Doors were kicked down.

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And like all major companies before it that lack moral and social responsibilities, Apple chooses to outsource its production to "affordable" labour, which we can imagine how much cost savings Apple enjoys. Foxconn then proceeds to squeeze profits by paying the workers horrendously low wages, subject them to harsh almost "militarian rule" North Korean style on production floors.

How do I say this, the factories where shiny pretty Apple products are made are sweatshops, and nowhere as pretty and inviting as the glossy Apple stores we know.

I think Apple is probably an Employer of Choice. Direct Apple employees probably have "free ice cream days" and ergonomic chairs and tables for everyone. It makes me uncomfortable that a world class company like Apple would drive outsourcer's employees to suicide because of the stress and low pay.

Taking cost savings above welfare of the employees is taking it too far. Most of the companies do this. My previous company does this and they have a bloody plaque on the wall commending them as Employer of Choice! But when people die because of how extremely unhappy they are at work, how can the companies and their boards of directors sit back and count the profits?

Social responsibility. Make that part of iPhone 4.2, Apple.

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