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The 'punishing' iPhone factories: Will Apple customers care?
The New York Times delivers another exposé on Apple's Chinese manufacturing practices, focusing on the human costs behind iPhones and iPads. Backlash, anyone?
Employees work on the assembly line at the Foxconn factory in China: Reports of grueling conditions at this Apple parts supplier could taint the tech giant's reputation.
Employees work on the assembly line at the Foxconn factory in China: Reports of grueling conditions at this Apple parts supplier could taint the tech giant's reputation.
Qilai Shen/In Pictures/Corbis
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day after Apple reported jaw-dropping quarterly profits, The New York Times ran a front-page follow-up to its blockbuster story on why Apple and its tech rivals make their gadgets and gizmos in China. The new story focuses on the "punishing" conditions at the Chinese factories that assemble and make the parts for iPhones and iPads — everything from grueling seven-day-a-week shifts to worker suicides. Apple audits its suppliers each year, and was first to report many of the abuses at Foxconn and other plants. But "we've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on," a former Apple executive tells The Times. "Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice." Apple CEO Tim Cook calls the article's insinuations "patently false and offensive." Will Apple's customers agree?

It's time to boycott Apple: Thanks to The Times, you now know that "23 people died to build your iPhone or iPad and 273 were injured," says Peter Cohan at Forbes. Apple apparently doesn't care about these Chinese workers. The company only cares about the impact these needless deaths "could have on its image among those self-congratulating customers" who pay "such a high premium for the privilege of owning an Apple product." We must "boycott Apple to stop the carnage."
"23 died building your iWorld: Time to boycott Apple?"

I don't see people clamoring for costlier iPhones: Sometimes, customers do demand more humane factory conditions, says Sam Gustin at TIME. Remember the "campaign several years ago to pressure Nike to improve working conditions in its factories"? Still, I don't see the same happening for Apple. Are Americans really willing to demand better working conditions in China if it means more expensive iProducts and hot new models rolled out at a slower rate? "Seems unlikely."
"Should Americans care about Apple's iPhone-factory conditions?"

This is about much more than Apple: Every tech company uses the same Chinese factories, says Larry Dignan at ZDNet. So Apple "has every right to be miffed about the Times report." It's "being singled out," probably because as "the big dog on the tech block," it makes for a better story. But it's not even just a tech industry problem: "Everything you own comes from a supply chain that probably has multiple things you just don't want to know about." If we're not willing to stop consuming, we should at least admit this "this flap about worker safety isn't about Apple.... It's about us."
"Apple's supply chain flap: It's really about us"

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