I think the problem with this article is that it does not clearly enough state the point that all major tech companies use slave workers to produce their devices. The opposite is the rare exception and it’s not just an Apple-problem.
I’m interested as to whether anyone has any information to suggest that Apple is particularly bad at this, or maybe the opposite?
I always had the (perhaps misguided) view that Apple was somewhat better than other firms. That said, they do tout their environmental improvements with each new hardware release, ignoring the fact that their products are less repairable than ever! No mention is ever made of improvements in worker conditions in their supply chain.
Fair trade is something that has worked well in other industries, but only because of competition for exactly the same product. I can choose to pay a bit more for fair trade coffee, because I have a choice. If I want an Apple phone, I don’t have any choice (well, until Apple introduces the pricier “iPhone F[air trade]” at least). Not sure where I’m going with this, but it’s not just environmental issues that tech manufacturers need to focus on, but worker conditions. And let me not even get started on the working conditions of IT workers in so-called third world countries…
That said, they do tout their environmental improvements with each new hardware release, ignoring the fact that their products are less repairable than ever!
Repairability, environment friendliness and recyclability not necessarily related. All these products are recycled (as some of their materials are really quite expensive!) and your local repair store doesn’t necessarily have high standards either. Also, some iPhone models were far better repairable then previous editions, so this is not necessarily a strict trend.
No mention is ever made of improvements in worker conditions in their supply chain.
Except in their yearly progress reports, which I found with one google query. http://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/progress-report/
While I agree that these kinds of progress reports are often putting lipstick on a pig, Apple does put some pressure on, also on the humans side. It would be nicer if they put that in their Keynotes more often, but hey, what do you expect from an advertisement event?
Microsoft, who is a large supplier of hardware though XBoxes, often produced at FOXCONN, has their reports here: https://www.microsoft.com/about/csr/transparencyhub/citizenship-reporting/
Sony, also a mayor FOXCONN customer, I couldn’t find a specific report: https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/csr_report/sourcing/supplychain/
Fair trade is something that has worked well in other industries, but only because of competition for exactly the same product. I can choose to pay a bit more for fair trade coffee, because I have a choice.
This is only true if you consider all other products simple and only phones complex.
And let me not even get started on the working conditions of IT workers in so-called third world countries…
I recommend reading the Fairphone reports, which - even if they fail their goals on many levels - give a very open assessment of the situation they are in and how hard it is to introduce checks while also keeping the product at a price level that costumers would buy.
Yes, it’s all horrible, but at the same time, but using Apple as a poster boy of “nice upfront, but terrible behind” gives a lot of cover to a lot of companies that use quite the same practices.
In the end, it comes down to this: large amounts of people are not interested in the working conditions in China when buying their phone in a store or getting excited about the new flagship smartphone that costs north of 500$. If they were, these reports were more widely read or reported upon.
https://www.fairphone.com/blog/ just in case anyone is unsure what “fairphone reports” (most likely) refers to.
Repairability, environment friendliness and recyclability not necessarily related.
True. My original comment was a poor attempt at stating that “a phone that can be easily repaired doesn’t necessary have to be recycled when it develops a fault”.
… using Apple as a poster boy of “nice upfront, but terrible behind”
So true. I’m not sure why, in the tech industry, Apple is such a target - perhaps because of their perceived success? Their practices are no different from, and in many ways are better than, any other firm that manufactures electronics on a massive scale. The popular press tends to home in on Apple, probably to the relief of many other firms!
I’m not sure why, in the tech industry, Apple is such a target
I suspect it’s because of the huge amount of cash Apple has to work with. I think the general premise is something along the lines of “Apple has vast amounts of cash reserves, and they say they care about worker conditions - surely they can leverage that money to do a better job than they are currently.”
I think the mistake is just as you said, people thinking that extremely exploitative companies are the exception and not the rule. How is this not the natural end-condition of a capitalist free market? Many economic analyses rely on rational agents, and what evidence is there saying that the existence of non-rational agents is non-natural, or not just some statistical deviation, or even that the rational agent will make morally undesirable decisions? I highly recommend Anwar Shaikh’s “Capitalism. Competition, Conflict, Crises” on these subjects.
As an alternative, the Fairphone tracks their supply-chain and tries to minimize their negative impact.
I have a Fairphone 1 and I am quite happy with it. And since it is repairable,I hope I am spared from the agony of choosing a new phone every other year.
I wonder why this was down-voted. Tech is full of negative externalities, from mistreated factory workers to low-income families being evicted to make way for employees of tech firms. I think it’s better to be aware of that.
So is my old iPhone free of these features?
Perhaps there’s a better way to convey the message with less click bait.
The point is just that if you buy a new iphone while the old one still works, you’re buying these features again for no reason.
And yes there’s better stuff to read than this. I enjoy naomi klein’s books, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea either.
I think it’s better to be aware of that.
The truth is hard to swallow for some people…
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Many of us care.
And given the choices of direct action and raising awareness, many of us choose to do both.
And pray tell, what device do you use to answer phone calls?
Two cups and a string. The cups are actually heirloom tin cans passed down in my family for generations. The string is fair trade shade grown hemp rope given to me in exchange for helping a South American village dig a well.
Still easier to develop for than Android I suppose.
Fairphone. Not because it’s perfect as a phone, but because i did not have a smartphone already (the fairest phone is the one you already have) and i respect what they’re trying to do and how far uphill they already got.
Who here will boycott whale hunters and adopt a whale into your bathtub?
Can we all just agree that the Guardian is pretty much a scandal rag in newspaper’s clothing? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I read it sometimes and enjoy it, but I take everything they write with several thousand grains of salt.
This is meaningless unless they are advocating giving up ALL electronics or offering products that aren’t manufactured this way.