Hi, my name is Melissa and I am an Apple addict. In fact, I could safely say that our family is addicted to Apple products. My husband and I each have our own iPhone, the kids share an iPod Touch, I own an iPad, we have two personal MacBooks, my husband’s business laptop is a MacBook and we have a 27” iMac. Although I’d previously read about the deplorable conditions in Chinese factories where many of our beloved Apple products are made, it wasn’t until this week’s media blitz that I’ve actually taken time out to rethink our Apple addiction.
If you’ve missed the news this week, here are just a few of the articles I’ve read about the working conditions in China:
- How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work
- In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad
- Chinese Readers on the ‘iEconomy’
- Apple’s supply chain flap: It’s really about us
- Tim Cook: Apple cares about ‘every worker’ in its supply chain
That is a lot of reading but to sum it up, last year was a banner year for Apple product sales. In 2011 the company sold 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other Apple products. The vast majority of these products were manufactured overseas. Working conditions are more strictly regulated here in the United States so one of the biggest concerns with outsourcing manufacturing is that the company loses control over the conditions in the supplier factories.
Unfortunately, for those people working hard to build the Apple products we know and love, these working conditions are deplorable and even deadly. Last year, a blast at a manufacturing plant in Chengdu, China instantly killed two individuals working on iPads and injured dozens more. Accidents weren’t the only cause of death at these factories, some employees committed suicide while many more attempted to commit suicide because of their working condition.
So here I am, a confessed Apple addict using my 15” MacBook Pro to write this blog post about the horrible working conditions endured by the people that crafted my fine piece of electronics. Talk about a conundrum.
I feel strongly about the conditions that these employees are facing on a daily basis. Conditions that they have to face in order to earn a paycheck and help feed their families. I’ve seen documentaries on the factories; dormitories over-filled with young Chinese workers, long shifts and low pay are the norm. Obviously it didn’t affect me so strongly enough that I chose to stop using Apple products. Should it have? Would you quit using a product after you’d seen a documentary like I described?
And that brings us to the big question, should consumers boycott Apple products? This is the question that Thane Rosenbaum asks in his article for The Daily Beast, Boycott Apple? The Moral Dilemma After Abuse Reports from China.
“Apple shareholders and aficionados are now faced with a moral dilemma—revel in the company’s stock price and whisper sweet words of indifference to Siri, the virtual personal assistant in the iPhone4S, all the while remaining silent about the grim workplace conditions of Apple’s suppliers? Yet, Apple has committed no crime. They have no legal liability for what happens in Chinese factories that covet its manufacturing business.”
Now I have a question for other Apple addicts, will you stop using your Apple products after reading this post?