Apple in Your Eye
Funtimes at Foxconn
The nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility, or BSR, is attempting to save face following a damning report in Wednesday’s New York Times condemning working conditions in Chinese Apple factories.
The article, which practically blew up the Internet, quotes a BSR consultant who claims BSR has repeatedly warned Apple of the dangers the factories pose to workers, but that the Cupertino company has refused to make changes. “We could have saved lives, and we asked Apple to pressure Foxconn, but they wouldn’t do it,” the consultant told the Times.
Funtimes at Foxconn
On the front page of today’s New York Times is a massive umbrella piece about China’s Foxconn—who manufactures, among other things, Apple iPhones—and the sub-humane, dangerous conditions their workers assemble these products under. It is, in many ways, as astonishing as it is unsurprising, and it’s as depressing a systemic problem as they come.
So what does the Apple fan’s Apple fan—the New York Times‘s own David Pogue, the (somewhat controversial) most widely-read technology columnist in the country—have to say about Apple’s relationship to Foxconn? Especially given the front page of today’s Times, do these sorts of revelations about their manufacturing processes change the way he feels and/or writes about Apple?
The Tao of Steve
What exactly John Biggs attempting to clarify with his series on Foxconn, currently running on TechCrunch? Like so many pieces of tech journalism about the giant corporation which manufactures the shiny devices we hold so dear, it seems first and foremost to be an apologist for the terrible conditions in which these products are produced.
Betabeat made the mistake of stopping by the Apple Store before work last week, forgetting it was the day the new iPhone 4S went on sale. The line stretched down 14th Street. A stream of glowing customers were exiting the store, new phones clutched in their hands. A photographer got down on one knee to shoot a happy British couple. A man in a tweed jacket agreed to speak with a television news crew about his purchase. Our plan to pick up a power cord didn’t seem likely to pan out.
As we walked back to the subway, we passed an Apple employee standing by a far door no had yet noticed. “You need a phone,” the guy whispered. “Full price, but you can cut the line.”
No one knows the lure of Apple products better than Mike Daisey. He is, in geek parlance, an Apple fanboy. “I belong to the Cult of Mac. I have been to the House of Jobs. I have felt the Tao of Steve.”
Mr. Daisey looks the part. He is fat, Chris Farley fat, with a face that emerges and recedes into his neck like an animal into its burrow. He tosses off casual references to long dead coding languages and various races from Lord of the Rings. Sometimes to relax, he claims, he goes home and field strips his Macbook Pro, cleans all 47 individual parts, and puts it back together.
But over the past 14 months, as he has traveled the country performing his one man show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mr. Daisey has become a pointed critic of Apple and its charismatic founder. Betabeat caught a sold out performance of his work at the Public Theater the evening after our trip to the Apple store.