February 9, 2012 Leave a comment
Recently Apple reported one of the most incredible earning results on record. In the last quarter of 2011, Apple made a $13 billion dollar profit, meaning that the company more than doubled its earnings in the same period in 2010. This is amazing news for the company, a true business and PR coup and yet if you were to do an internet search for Apple during the past few weeks, its earnings would most likely not be the story you’d be reading about.
According to several news reports, investigations into the conditions of Chinese workers have revealed the deplorable conditions that workers labor within to produce the seemingly ubiquitous iPhones and iPads. Until very recently few knew the human suffering involved in the creation of this uber-cool, “must have” devices.
The research that was carried out by NGOs revealed alarming allegations of draconian workplace conditions at two major plants in southern China. The investigation offers a disturbing look into the lives of the approximately 500,000 workers at the Shenzhen and Chengdu factories. The factories are owned by Foxconn, a huge firm which produces millions of Apple products each year. The report accuses Foxconn of treating workers “inhumanely, like machines”.
This story is not completely new. Nor is this problem specific to Apple; Foxconn also helps build electronics products for other brand names including Amazon’s Kindle and Microsoft’s Xbox.
But Apple has been the main focus in these stories, causing the company that Steve Jobs built to have lost quite a bit of its luster. In the U.S., owning an apple device is a status symbol; the products are cool, hip, cutting edge. They are products that help define the user. People proudly display their iPhones and iPads and often look down on those poor mortals who own anything else, as inferiors. Apple has worked hard to define a lifestyle, a point of view, a sense of creativity and thinking outside of the box. One would have hoped that the company would have thought outside the box in its approach to manufacturing.
So what should Apple do now? From a PR or media relations perspective they should act and act swiftly. They should take responsibility, define in concrete terms how they are going to rectify the problem, do it in a transparent manner, and then actually do so. This is a problem that can be solved and needs to be dealt with; it is not one that can be swept under the carpet.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012
Palis, Courteney. “A woman checks her cell phone while…” Photo. The Huffington Post. 07 Feb. 2012. 08 Feb. 2012. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/07/ipad-trademark-china-apple-proview_n_1260741.html>