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Apple To Help Foxconn Improve Factories 166

Posted by timothy
from the rotating-knives-yes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a welcome move, Apple has agreed to help share initial costs with Foxconn in improving the factories being used to manufacture iDevices. From the article: 'Foxconn chief Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but the group has been spending heavily to fight a perception its vast plants in China are sweatshops with poor conditions for its million-strong labor force. It regards the criticism as unfair. "We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. "I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."'"
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Apple To Help Foxconn Improve Factories

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  • Apple cares (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chend (2636463) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @01:33PM (#39957767)
    I think this is great move by Apple. It also shows that they care about other things than profit, unlike *ahem* certain privacy violating company Mountain View that just decided to pack their packs and leave after they couldn't compete with Baidu.

    On top of that this is also interesting view to changes in worlds politics. We haven't had such industrial revolution since the US started growing. It also shows that the hybrid socialist-capitalism system that China (and somewhat Europe too) has is a great strength compared to the US hard stance on pure capitalism. Having spent time the China and other places in Asia I must also say that the people are much nicer and reasonable. It is often impossible to deal with Americans, but Asian people still enjoy good old talk, socializing and being together. Also the cheer amount of their population and business culture, with a still relaxed life helps them.

    I am more than interested to see this change in politics, and as I am already living in Asia (I moved here from Europe), stuff is about to get great soon.
    • I think this is great move by Apple. It also shows that they care about other things than profit, unlike *ahem* certain privacy violating company Mountain View that just decided to pack their packs and leave after they couldn't compete with Baidu.

      Indeed, this is not a big surprise to me, but it is definitely welcome news.

      I just wonder what the Apple haters are going to say to justify their mindless frothing that Apple would never do such a thing, because they're only interested in profit...

      Dan Aris

      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:09PM (#39958173)

        Indeed, this is not a big surprise to me, but it is definitely welcome news.

        I just wonder what the Apple haters are going to say to justify their mindless frothing that Apple would never do such a thing, because they're only interested in profit...

        Dan Aris

        Apple wouldn't be doing this if they didn't think the (relatively trivial) added costs were worth the significant PR boost that it produces. Apple's success is, after all, largely predicated on their excellent marketing and consumer image, and the idea that their product was assembled with the blood of the workers (almost literally) doesn't exactly help that.

        Either way, it's a good thing and Apple and Foxconn should be congratulated for taking this step, provided they actually follow through, and don't stop as soon as media attention disappears. I very much doubt either Foxconn or Apple would be doing this if it wasn't for the massive media attention they've received recently. Proof, of course, is the fact that they didn't do anything before the suicides hit the news.

        • by danaris (525051)

          Proof, of course, is the fact that they didn't do anything before the suicides hit the news.

          Factcheck: The suicides were not at an Apple Foxconn plant. I'm pretty sure I recall reading that they were at an XBox 360 plant, but I could be misremembering. It was definitely something non-Apple, though.

          Dan Aris

          • by Baloroth (2370816)

            Sun Danyong, a 25-year-old male, committed suicide in July 2009 after reporting the loss of an iPhone 4 prototype in his possession

            Source [wikipedia.org], and before he did so he claimed "claimed he was beaten and his residence searched by Foxconn employees." The mass suicide threats were at an XBox factory, but the others were spread around (can't seem to find the exact locations). In any case, Apple is clearly not directly responsible for the conditions that led to these suicides: Foxconn holds that responsibility. It is clear, though, that Apple, Microsoft, and others have not been as careful with their manufacturer choice as they should have been

      • by Rasperin (1034758)
        I'm one of those Mad Hatters, and I've never hated Apple because of Foxconn, it's the fact they are litigating any company that moves (among dozens upon dozens of other reasons). I personally think this is a great gesture on their part and hope that the effects actually make changes this time (as in, this isn't the first, and Foxconn makes more than just apple products).
      • Apple didn't improve conditions at the xbox factory that foxconn runs. They're fucking evil I tell you!
    • Oh, come on. I'm a Mac user, but I don't see this as a 'great move' or any indication that Apples cares about anything but profit. This is a cheaper way to address the PR issues associated to the FoxConn problems.

      Go post your crap to dev\null.

      I would like to see all the other Fortune 500 companies that FoxConn manufactures goods for make the same kind of effort as Apple is in this case, but it certainly isn't a river bullet for the problems Foxconn workers face.
      • but it certainly isn't a river bullet for the problems Foxconn workers face.

        That should be silver bullet. Damn you auto correct!

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:02PM (#39958103) Journal
      Okay, you don't seem to be a troll so let me help you out.

      I think this is great move by Apple.

      I think we can all agree on this.

      It also shows that they care about other things than profit ...

      Well, that depends, doesn't it? I think this became an issue when "reporters" made it an issue and Apple surmised that it might affect their bottom line. Never mind that everyone else is likely just as guilty as Apple, they're the biggest target so it's up to them to make the first move. In the end, they're probably doing this so it doesn't cost them sales from the hippies.

      ... unlike *ahem* certain privacy violating company Mountain View that just decided to pack their packs and leave after they couldn't compete with Baidu.

      There's so much wrong with this statement I don't even know where to start. Google has some privacy violations here in the United States but they're pretty mild compared to what the Chinese government does to its citizens and dissidents. By the way, that's why Google left (really was forced to leave) China as they refused to adjust their search results to comply with the Socialist party's orders in China. They were actually trying to stand up for the citizens and left in protest.

      We haven't had such industrial revolution since the US started growing.

      I guess I don't know what you mean by "the US started growing" but there are other nations, like Japan's Meji Restoration that were considered amazing industrial revolutions [wikipedia.org]. History is peppered with nations each taking great strides to push themselves forward -- although they are not always pure of motive. Maybe you should check out the section on child labor [wikipedia.org].

      It also shows that the hybrid socialist-capitalism system that China (and somewhat Europe too) has is a great strength compared to the US hard stance on pure capitalism.

      I hate to break it to you but almost every nation runs on a hybrid socialist-capitalist system. Even the United States. We may have started closer to the Capitalist side but we're making "progress" to meet China halfway as they approach from the other side. I'm not even going to open that can of worms in this discussion but if you're interested you should check out pollution control laws in the United States versus China (Hint: China is very pure capitalism compared to the US on that one).

      Having spent time the China and other places in Asia I must also say that the people are much nicer and reasonable. It is often impossible to deal with Americans, but Asian people still enjoy good old talk, socializing and being together. Also the cheer amount of their population and business culture, with a still relaxed life helps them.

      Forgive me if I am mistaken but this feels suspiciously similar to the Chinese water army [slashdot.org] that is paid to frequent forums in support of something. Provide something measurable and we'll talk. Even a concrete anecdote about your vast experiences that give you credence to speak on behalf of all Americans. I can tell you right now that people in Minnesota are quite nicer than people in New Jersey. I'm sure China has the same dynamics.

      I am more than interested to see this change in politics, and as I am already living in Asia (I moved here from Europe), stuff is about to get great soon.

      You should read "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck, the Chinese people have never had it better! You say stuff is about to get get great soon and I think you're enjoying a Golden Age! I would, however, be interested to learn what European country you left that is in such a worse state than China.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Rather than create a new account for each story you want to troll, why not just log in with the same one each time?

      What is the point in creating a new account for each new troll? People who come here often can spot you easy enough.

      • Because bonch thinks no one notices.

        • by Jeng (926980)

          Here is my current theory.

          Bonch works for /.

          He puts up arguments that go completely opposite the standard /. view creating arguments and page views.

          He is a paid punching bag.

    • by RMingin (985478)

      Look, JEEEzus, I just had this talk with Cheeseburgers in the other Apple thread. If you're going to shill in public, where people can see you, you have to WARM UP with a couple of unrelated posts. You can drop the account AFTER you shill, but if it's your only post, ever, it's disregarded! Our job is to shape and influence public perception of our clients, not just make a transparent "YAY APPLE" post and disappear. They're going to go with another PR group if you keep up this subpar work!

      See me in my offic

  • by Troyusrex (2446430) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @01:35PM (#39957805)
    Fox to help hens improve hen house. Farmers think everything will turn out just swell.
  • Let me see if I have this straight... Apple and Foxconn are working to improve worker conditions - when they and their "independent audit" claim that worker conditions aren't bad in the first place, and the article that ignited the firestorm was discovered to be fiction?

    Interesting.

    • by halivar (535827)

      In the corporate world, it doesn't really help to get defensive over negative perceptions. Even if they are false; telling people they're wrong, misinformed, or stupid is bad PR. Just say you'll fix it, add a couple more holidays to the work calendar, and move on with life.

      • In the corporate world, it doesn't really help to get defensive over negative perceptions.

        like "you're holding it wrong" ?

        • by halivar (535827)

          A classic example. Now, in that case they really were in the wrong. But they compounded it by not just giving people what they wanted to here: "We will fix it."

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:04PM (#39958119) Homepage

      Here's what's going on, in a nutshell:
      1. The conditions at Foxconn are dangerous, cruel, and completely unacceptable to Western sensibilities.
      2. The conditions at Foxconn are completely legal, better than other plants, and probably considered ethical by Chinese standards.

      In other words, this whole brouhaha says more about outsourcing manufacturing to China in general than anything about Apple or Foxconn specifically. Basically, if Americans and Europeans really thought about who was getting killed and maimed and exploited in order to supply their cheap stuff, they'd never accept it, but because it's far away and not talked about they're effectively putting it out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        And still, claiming that a companies that makes record profits should spend a part of them improving the conditions of its workers and therefore contribute to the betterment of the working conditions in China, does not shock me.
      • by rsborg (111459)

        . Basically, if Americans and Europeans really thought about who was getting killed and maimed and exploited in order to supply their cheap stuff

        You think Chinese workers have it bad? The entire globalized supply chain for electronics is fraught with suffering and forced labor conditions that make the Foxconn workers look pampered [1]

        [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_minerals [wikipedia.org]

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          Absolutely, I agree with you that the lives of industrial workers everywhere that work to give us our cheap stuff is fraught with conditions of suffering, forced labor (including outright slavery), misery, warfare, and death. You're right that the Chinese workers are just one of the larger places where this is happening - in other industries, it's the sweatshops in Indonesia, the maquiladoras in Latin America, and so on.

          My point is that American and to some degree European society and economy is set up so t

      • by khallow (566160)

        Basically, if Americans and Europeans really thought about who was getting killed and maimed and exploited in order to supply their cheap stuff, they'd never accept it

        Why? It's not like they're going to get killed and maimed less if they weren't working Foxcon jobs.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Well the article that ignited the controversy *was* fiction - it was admitted by the original author.

      The audits did turn up issues that needed to be corrected, just nothing on the scale suggested by the sensationalist and inaccurate press. Even so, the conditions are not as good as a "western" plant, but are still much better than most of the outsourced factories in and around the region (Disclaimer: this does not mean 'oh well, that's ok then' or any justification for lack of improvement). There is clear r

    • by Caratted (806506)
      I guess you don't work in PR. I think a majority of readers will respond with thoughts somewhere along the lines of "figures." Relatively speaking, the conditions aren't bad. Americans spouting their mouths off about how awful "we" treat these Chinese people, as if that were our responsibility... they will continue to have a negative impact (and thus be a focus for PR's spending, regardless of how redundant the investments may seem to be) until the magnifying glass is off Apple's chapped ass.

      Being one o
  • That's good news. It's good to see a corporation spend a little more to ensure that it's workers are living good lives.
    If only they had decided to spend a little more to ensure that local workers were living good lives.
  • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @01:59PM (#39958075)
    So the factories still will exist inside China, where human rights really don't matter. God forbid they spend those "several million dollars" in the US to open a factory and do the production stateside where human rights can be guaranteed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      And make iPads cost ~$10,000 a piece? Get real. Until the process can be completely mechanized, there will be no plant in the US. The US Manufacturing industry is gone. We need to embrace that fact and move forward.
      • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:18PM (#39958293)

        Actually, the issue isn't really the labour cost (it would add about $50 per iPad to the cost, according to some), it's more the logistics of the parts that go into assembly, with the exception of a few specialist pieces, that are all made in and around the same place.

        The availability of a large enough workforce is also an issue in the US, despite the high unemployment rate.

        • by Brietech (668850)

          I don't think the logistics are really all that difficult - most of the parts (CPU, DRAM, probably LCD screen, etc.) in an iProduct aren't made in China either. They're made in Japan, Germany, the USA, or South Korea, shipped to china and assembled for $8/board at a contract manufacturer like Foxconn.

          To make an iPhone (which sells for $5-600) probably costs apple $200, of which ~$10 is final assembly. The US doesn't really have the enormously large-scale contract manufacturers like Foxconn that Apple can sa

          • by s.petry (762400)

            What you point at is an obvious failure by the company in determining whether or not they have a future. While probably an okay thing for a software only company, how the dynamics of this mentality is working with very large hardware industries is rather scary. Logically, if you were a stock holder would you put your investment funds long term in to a company that would be out of business if China closed the border for any reason?

            This same risk game was played with the Automotive companies, Housing, Forei

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          apparently they would still do profit at current pricing if it added fifty bucks to the price of manufacturing - at those profitability numbers _any_ expense can be said to be the reason to not run the factories in usa. afaik/iirc jobs opinion was that he couldn't hire enough really, really good manufacturing automation engineers in usa to make it more profitable/feasible than the foxcon way of manufacturing(how can you make cheap, cheap watches in swizerland? high grade automation) and obviously running a

        • The logistics only work out that way because America has shipped so much of their manufacturing to China already. They're becoming locked in. If they're using that as an excuse for why they have to continue to manufacture in China, then be prepared for a delay between the point that manufacturing in America makes financial sense, and the point where they actually bring manufacturing back to America. (If it ever happens).
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The availability of a large enough workforce is also an issue in the US, despite the high unemployment rate.

          [citation needed]

          Also known as, "that's a lot of crap". Apple didn't have any trouble staffing their facilities here in the USA. Rather than open some more of them, they contracted manufacturing from China. Period, the end. Game over man, game over.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            Have you seen the numbers of people employed to do that sort of work? It's vast, and there simply isn't that level of workforce available in the US - certainly not one that can live within walking distance/on site of the factory. It's purely a numbers game.

            Apple has US manufacturing facilities (the original iMac, for example) but the number of workers needed to make iOS devices is *much* higher than anything they ever had in the US iMac factory.

            Even if Apple wanted to build a Foxxconn-sized factory for all

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Have you seen the numbers of people employed to do that sort of work? It's vast, and there simply isn't that level of workforce available in the US - certainly not one that can live within walking distance/on site of the factory.

              "The factory"? In this country, we open another factory close to where the workers are, we don't expect them to walk halfway across the fucking nation to assemble iPods.

              It's purely a numbers game.

              Yes, it is. And if this were your whole comment it would have been insightful. As it is, you're just making excuses for assholes, which makes you an asshole by association.

              • by jo_ham (604554)

                I see that you clearly don't understand the economics of this, which is presumably why you're not head of hardware and supply chain at Apple.

                "The factory"? In this country, we open another factory close to where the workers are, we don't expect them to walk halfway across the fucking nation to assemble iPods.

                What the hell are you talking about? Where exactly do you put the factory "where the workers are" when there is no single place in the USA to build your factory where there's a large enough workforce to staff it? That's the whole point. The link is already in this thread - the US simply doesn't have a workforce capable of staffing a factory of the size Apple needs, and

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  What the hell are you talking about? Where exactly do you put the factory "where the workers are" when there is no single place in the USA to build your factory where there's a large enough workforce to staff it? That's the whole point.

                  Uh, why on earth do all the workers have to be in a single place? That's not an advantage, it's a drawback. A single factory is a single point of failure, or did you learn nothing from the hard disk shortages?

                  the US simply doesn't have a workforce capable of staffing a factory of the size Apple needs, and breaking it up into multiple smaller factories to put several "where the workers are"? Please, that's just naive.

                  Please, that's just good sense. It doesn't make sense to put all your eggs into one basket when the basket is as big as it would have to be for all of Apple's eggs.

                  The economics simply do not add up.

                  That's true, but it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with how many workers are available in a country which had over 10% reported un

                  • by jo_ham (604554)

                    It's not about being assholes, it's about being evil.

                    Yes, that's right. The board of Apple sits around all day not thinking about economics or profit, but how best to be evil. *eyeroll*

                    Look, I'll still be here when you grow up.

                    • by drinkypoo (153816)

                      It's not about being assholes, it's about being evil.

                      Yes, that's right. The board of Apple sits around all day not thinking about economics or profit, but how best to be evil. *eyeroll*

                      You're being a stupid fuck. They don't sit around trying to figure out how to be evil; they are evil, so they will do anything for money. This does not distinguish them from the vast majority of corporatists out there, of course; I didn't say they were more evil.

                      Look, I'll still be here when you grow up.

                      No, you won't. You're not here now. You're off in fucking la-la land.

      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:31PM (#39958413) Homepage

        The US Manufacturing industry is gone.

        Not true at all - if the US manufacturing industry was a country all by itself, it would have the sixth largest economy in the world with a GDP of over two trillion [2010] dollars.
         
        What's actually happened is three fold: the manufacture of consumer goods has fled overseas, the productivity of individuals has gone up, and automation has taken over in a big way since the digital revolution. Yes, the manufacturing sector employs a hell of a lot fewer people than it did forty years ago, but no - it hasn't gone away. (In fact, over the last decade it's been growing.)

      • by Fwipp (1473271)

        http://www.connectorsupplier.com/sound_off_bishop_iPhone_Manufacturing_US_11-15-11.htm [connectorsupplier.com]
        Estimates place the cost of manufacturing in the US at about $20 higher per unit than in China, and this is without taking shipping costs into account. Not the $9500 you are estimating.

  • I bet (Score:4, Funny)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:16PM (#39958267)
    Yes, they are going to ship them a couple thousand of their new product: iBullwhip
  • If Apple was sincere about conditons for factory workers, they'd simply build their products in a country with enhanced worker protections, even if the cost was greater. Yeah, I've heard the argument that they'd never be able to make the iPhone anywhere else because the factories can't retool fast enough elsewhere. That's a bunch of bull. It adds cost and that's the real problem, right, Apple?
    • by toriver (11308)

      How long would you be willing to wait for your iPhone at 1/10th of the production capacity that the lack of manual labor and increased worker protection in the West would lead to? And would you demand the same from Foxconn's other clients like Dell and HP? And will you be the one to go to China and tell the now unemployed workers that they are better off earning nothing as subsistence farmers?

      I have seen good arguments for why the retooling/quick turnaround in Chinese factories is a fact, but they are crush

      • by doston (2372830)
        Your "I've seen some good arguments" is about as compelling as "that's a bunch of bull"... Real well documented.
  • Why I'm ok with my Chinese manufactured iPhone/Pad

    - or -

    Apple/Foxconn worker and environmental exploitation rationalization worksheet

    Check all that apply

    [ ] Making iPhones in a Chinese factory is better than being a Chinese peasant
    [ ] iPhones/Pads would cost too much if I had to pay my fellow citizens to make them
    [ ] iPhones/Pads would cost too much given environmental regulations I vehemently insist on for myself
    [ ] All the other manufacturers are doing it too
    [ ] Some/Many/Most Chines

  • I am sure the rank and file labor view this as an execellant use of funds. What could be more ebenficial to the company the improving the working conditions for the PHB.s.
    P.S. Anyone have equivalantly disdainful/derogatory ideograms for PHB?
  • But no one has any sense of giving back to the community that made their success possible, so forget it.
    • by toriver (11308)

      They were American jobs, but then the competitors moved their manufacturing to China and Apple reached a maximum factory throughput that meant they were unable to meet demand. So they did the sensible thing and cut costs while increasing production, just like HP and others were doing. And they have generated a shedload of non-manufacturing jobs.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      I'm sure they would if it were economical. Apple used to manufacture in the USA (and still does for some specialist parts like the A5/A6 CPU), but for the bulk of it there simply isn't the capacity, especially in manpower, to be able to work in the volume Apple requires.

      It's not unique to Apple either - the US (and many "western") nations gutted their manufacturing industries because they felt they no longer needed them since they were moving up in the world and we'd all be prosperous and stable with white-

  • It might be possible to set up a Fair Trade label (like found in coffee, fruits, textiles, etc...) for electronics too. Then you could easily buy stuff that is known to be made in conditions that meet certain requirements. Hey, why not?

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