Troubling Apple iPad Factory Conditions Make Us Love Our Gadgets Less

ipadThis expose The New York Times is doing on working conditions for people who make Apple products is totally killing my iBuzz. For those of us who adore Apple products, there's a visceral thrill in using them: They're aesthetically refined, intuitive, almost seamless ... oh listen to me. If this sort of ga-ga Apple worship is gross, just skip on ahead to where I talk about the horrible iPad factory explosion.

Sigh. So remember when Apple computers used to all come with that cute "Made in Cuptertino, California" note? Now most Apple products are made in China -- and in what reporters are saying are grim mega-factories of the sort Americans would never tolerate. It's so gruesome, it's sapping my enjoyment of using the Apple products we own.

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The first part of the series explained why Apple uses these factories in the first place. Turns out, using American workers wouldn't drive the price of Apple products up very much at all. The problem is the bigger picture -- China is at the center of the supply chain for materials, has the right concentration of industrial factories all together, and has more trained workers and engineers than we do. WAY MORE.

Anyway, that brings us to that horrible iPad factory explosion that today's Times article opens with -- two people were killed immediately and a dozen more injured. Actually, this is the second explosion at an iPad factory within the past seven months. People are overworked, surrounded by toxic chemicals, and suffering for the world's electronics. These working conditions do not have to be this bad.

It's not just Apple products, of course. The Times says, "Bleak working conditions have been documented at factories manufacturing products for Dell, Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba, and others." But there's just something so disappointing about Apple being made under these conditions. We want Apple products to be special, independent, unique. Nope. Same kind of awful as everyone else. How depressing.

Do you ever think about the working conditions of the people who make your electronics?

 

Image via yto/Flickr

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