Skip to main content

View Diary: Apple and Unbridled Capitalism (248 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I had a different response to the same article. (18+ / 0-)

    It's rather lengthy, but a good read for anyone interested in the subject...
    NY Times: How U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work

    It wasn't about Apple's "unbridled" capitalism. What I gat was how America has failed at producing a workforce which is competitive in the world electronics manufacturing market.

    Apple tried to keep their manufacturing in the US, but the, at the time, struggling company had to move their manufacturing  in order to stay competitive.

    In its early days, Apple usually didn’t look beyond its own backyard for manufacturing solutions. A few years after Apple began building the Macintosh in 1983, for instance, Mr. Jobs bragged that it was “a machine that is made in America.” In 1990, while Mr. Jobs was running NeXT, which was eventually bought by Apple, the executive told a reporter that “I’m as proud of the factory as I am of the computer.” As late as 2002, top Apple executives occasionally drove two hours northeast of their headquarters to visit the company’s iMac plant in Elk Grove, Calif.

    But by 2004, Apple had largely turned to foreign manufacturing. Guiding that decision was Apple’s operations expert, Timothy D. Cook, who replaced Mr. Jobs as chief executive last August, six weeks before Mr. Jobs’s death. Most other American electronics companies had already gone abroad, and Apple, which at the time was struggling, felt it had to grasp every advantage.

    The Chinese are serious competitors. For the glass on the new iPhones Jobs had it produced in the US by Corning. But to cut and grind the glass for the phones was a huge task. What did China do to get the bid? Lots...

    When an Apple team visited, the Chinese plant’s owners were already constructing a new wing. “This is in case you give us the contract,” the manager said, according to a former Apple executive. The Chinese government had agreed to underwrite costs for numerous industries, and those subsidies had trickled down to the glass-cutting factory. It had a warehouse filled with glass samples available to Apple, free of charge. The owners made engineers available at almost no cost. They had built on-site dormitories so employees would be available 24 hours a day.

    The Chinese plant got the job.

    How do we compete with this?...

    “The entire supply chain is in China now,” said another former high-ranking Apple executive. “You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That’s the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours.”
    Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.

    In China, it took 15 days.

    I'd say the problems run much deeper than Apple out to make a buck.

    "Cannibals prefer those who have no spines." ~ Stanislaw Lem

    by BlogDog on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 03:34:26 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Ah, but that takes the romance out... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Food Gas Lodging, auapplemac, BlogDog

      Because Apple is seen as "trendy," it automatically becomes prime target, even if it's one of a hundred in the same situation and kept its manufacturing in the US longer than most.

      Multiple-platform for twenty or so years now, I've always observed with great amusement the envy and rage the mere existence of Apple generates in what is fortunately a fairly small minority of tech geeks. Human rights is merely one more excuse, now that "PCs have far more programs" has pretty well reached the end of its shelf life.

      When we are no longer children, we are already dead. (Constantin Brancusi) And whoever gave it, thanks for the gift!

      by sagesource on Sat Jan 21, 2012 at 06:08:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Making a buck is a huge factor (3+ / 0-)

      It makes people uncomfortable to learn that the machines they use are build by companies that exploit workers.

      You imply that Jobs had no choice. He did have choices as do the present directors of Apple.

      The best excuse that they could come up with is that it would take nine months to come up with 8,700 industrial engineers. The article didn't state that Apple couldn't find the engineers, only that it would take nine months. Nine months? That's a poor excuse. In fact it's a decision that was looking for an manufactured excuse.

      But for the sake of argument let's ignore the outsourcing of jobs (which I might add was absolutely terrible when Bain did it). From the article you cite it appears that the Chinese were falling over themselves to accommodate the needs of Mr. Jobs. Gaskets next door. Screws a block away. A brand new wing built "in case" they received the new contract.

      The Apple company and Mr. Jobs had some influence. Perhaps they could have made receiving that new contract contingent on Foxcom paying their workers better, reducing their hours and improving he working conditions. Apple chose not to do so. Why? Perhaps they were unaware of the situation, but I rather doubt it. They definitely know about it now. I think a more reasonable answer is the bottom line.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun Jan 22, 2012 at 08:16:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heh. You know what happens if you do that, right? (0+ / 0-)

        Then the Foxconn recruiters start selling the jobs - you can't get the job unless you pay the recruiter RMB 10,000 or if you're his type maybe he lets you have the job for a blow job.

        This happens at a lot of factories that increase salaries over the local wage rate for social compliance reasons.  The workers end up no better off but the factory becomes a stew of corruption - the workers pay the recruiters for their jobs, the recruiters pay the HR managers for their jobs, the HR managers pay the head of HR for their jobs, and the head of HR pays the factory manager for his job.

        The factory owners hate this - it's even worse than having to raise wages because once you get this culture it spreads into procurement, admin, etc. and suddenly everyone is stealing from you, including the people who are supposed to be stopping workers from stealing from you.  I worked with one factory in Pakistan where workers were stealing equipment components, throwing them out the window to confederates who would come to the factory door the next morning trying to sell them back at a lower price than buying replacement equipment.

        The only people who lose out in an arrangement like that are the people at the bottom - the workers - since they can't extract rents from anyone below them.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site