Almost All Of Your iPhone Was Made In America

Almost All Of Your iPhone Was Made In America

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Presidential Primaries lately, you’ll know that the number of iPhones China makes is a big issue this year. Why are we sending so many “great” jobs to China to build America’s most iconic tech product when unemployment is such a big problem?

Well, Foxconn may employ tens of thousands of Chinese laborers to build the iPhone, but the vast majority of the labor costs associated with making an iPhone is spent right here in the States. In fact, only $10 per iPhone goes to paying workers abroad.

According to Forbes:

A report written by three U.S. professors showed that only about “$10 or less in direct labor wages goes into an iPhone or iPad is paid to Chinese workers.” The report points out that while Apple products — including components — are manufactured in China, the primary benefits go to the U.S. economy because Apple continues to keep most of its product design, software development, product management, marketing and other high-wage functions in the U.S., not China. China’s role is more of an assembler.

In other words, the only part of making an iPhone that is done abroad is the grunt work of actually screwing it all together. All of the high-paying, educated jobs involved in designing, engineering, marketing and selling the thing stay right here in the good old U.S.A. Apple’s not outsourcing good jobs to China: they are outsourcing undesirable, dangerous and menial jobs to China. Apple employs tons of people who “make” the iPhone what it is, from Tim Cook as CEO to the guy who puts together the latest ads, from Jonny Ive to your local smiling Apple Store Genius. The only jobs they are sending abroad are the ones most people living in a a modern, first-world nation don’t really want. Most of the iPhone remains an American product, through and through.

Author’s Note: To clear up some confusion about my views on Foxconn and Apple as expressed in the comments, I have made some small edits to the post. I would also like to say that I am not blind to Foxconn’s abuses of worker rights (in fact, I have reported on them both extensively and critically) and strongly believe Apple is not doing enough to protect their factory line employees. In addition, I do not think there is anything low or undignified about working a factory line, either at home or abroad, but I do believe that the American economy is in the process of transitioning away from relying on such jobs, and that such a transition is ultimately that is a good thing. I also think that even though the iPhone wasn’t assembled in America, it’s still very much an American product, through and through. I’m sorry if there’s been any misunderstanding.

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  • Atagahi

    What are you smoking?  We need manufacturing jobs, including assembly plants in the U.S.  There are many people who need work in the U.S. who would be happy to do those jobs.  Assembly in China, with its shitty working conditions we don’t need, but we need assembly jobs and we have a large workforce that used to do those jobs before companies sent them overseas.  

  • Vivek Prabhakar

    I love Cult of Mac.. but that was  pretty darn racist.. if the Chinese  didn’t do those “shitty menial jobs” .. you’d all be sitting with awesome designed paper cups with colorful strings .. costing $ 2000 each ! 

  • Vivek Prabhakar

    Read it again in disbelief… “no one in the 1st world would want ??” Really ? That’s why the US is  where it is economically and China’s growth rate is where it is … Really random post for COM.

  • Craig Ciccone

    i believe that this whole apple & china sweatshop issue is complete nonsense, but this this is the dumbest metric to defend a company on. it’s counter intuitive and actually enforces the beliefs these people have that apple ought to do more to help working conditions in other countries. 

  • FriarNurgle

    Wonder how much an iPhone would cost if it was manufactured in the States? 

  • Mike Rathjen

    The US economy is only bad compared to itself and a very tiny handful of other countries. It is still the envy of most of the countries in the world.

    I originally jumped on the China bandwagon by investing in stocks there, but I’m slowly getting out now. Way too many indicators turn out to be false. China’s growth rate is still probably very large, but almost certainly the numbers are being cooked to a large degree as well. Entire cities have been built with nobody living in them, in order to obey mandates by the central government in order to achieve GDP goals. I fear the bubble will soon burst as reality rears its ugly head.

  • Mike Rathjen

    Of course “most of it is made in the USA” if you go by dollar amount. Our salaries and related costs are significantly higher here than in China.

  • Connor Tubridy

    I’m done with CoM after reading this post. 

  • Warren Tabolt

    Lots of people in this country would say “a job is a job”.  Not only was your choice of verbage (i.e. shitty) poor and unprofessional but this article is all around short-sighted and ignorant.

    While I understand why companies like Apple have their manufacturing jobs overseas in places like China (what costs $10 to produce over there would probably cost closer to $100 here), this is ultimately the largest part of the economic problems we are currently facing.  We as a country consume exponentially more than we produce, and to also produce from the sense of manufacturing iPhones would only help our economy, not hinder it.

    I’m shocked that somebody who calls themselves the “news editor” would post something so flagrantly ignorant.  I’ve put it off for a long time because I like getting up to date Apple news but I for one will be removing my Cult of Mac RSS feed in favor of MacRumors.com.  Shame on you Brownlee, start thinking before you blog.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Wow F U John Brownlee, racist twat.

  • Tim Meesseman

    Call it stupid… but it isn’t “racist”. It has nothing to do with someone’s skin color, so please don’t throw that word around so loosely.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Racism isn’t just about skin colour you know…. can be based on race, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

    And yeah he’s stupid and also really racist.

  • Mike Rathjen

     If you could just filter out John Brownlee posts, CoM would be so much better.

  • Rajiv Randev

    Today I learned, not only are foreigners doing most of the work, we are paying them next to nothing. And don’t kid yourselves, the majority of that ‘Money in the U.S.A,’ is the CEO’s salary.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Yeah sadly not possible though, not visiting this site any more because of him. I’m sure he just writes crap like this to get more views.

  • CharlieCavaye

    CoM is OFF my RSS list as of now. No need for that type of post. And I’m not even a US Citizen!

  • ArchipelagoX

    Yeah, you keep the shitty, menial jobs, China! Apparently it’s all you deserve and no reasonable westerner would want them anyway.

    The tone of this article is at best staggeringly patronising, and at worst downright xenophobic.

  • SamuelBrock

    Yeah, just speak the obvious. We all know know that China has jobs for a reason, but you don’t go around painting it on walls.

  • FriarNurgle

    China is where the US was during the industrial revolution. Remove all the EPA regulations and labor laws and the US might be able to compete against the factory cities in China but we all know that isn’t going to happen. 

  • Aj Tk427

    Yah um John, your article is a bit shitty.  Not going into whether it’s racist or not, but saying that China gets all the shit menial work is a bit pathetic.

    However, I believe your article is incorrect and requires more thought.  Basically what is being said is that the cost of the product, which includes design, manufacture, marketing, out of those the bulk cost is from design/marketing, the rest is actually manufacturing the device which probably a large bulk if not all is done offshore (not sure I don’t have all the facts)

    So while I think this whole china/apple thing is nonsense I don’t think you can use this argument against it.

    The stamp should be, Designed in America, Made in China, Sold to Americans

  • fireballzer0

    could you be more condescending and racist? i don’t understand how this article was even approved. unless john brownlee is given the axe, i am out of here for good. later a-holes.

  • Michael Coyle

    Ugh, I really want to stay with this site, but the repeated low quality of posts by this author is an embarrassment. What a racist pile of crap.

  • aidisarabia

    It wouldn’t be too hard to figure why “employment is such a big problem in the good old U.S.A” when you have people saying these kind of jobs “are the ones no one in a first-world nation should reasonably want”.

    This is just a perfect example of the main point of a should-be-decent article being massively outweighed by an arrogant, ignorant author.

    And you Americans wonder why the rest of the world hates you, when you have scumbags like these representing you. Stop living looking down on people, and perhaps then people will learn to respect and regard yourselves as decent human beings.

  • ctt1wbw

     So Asians are a different race of humans?  I didn’t know that.

  • ctt1wbw

    In order to get jobs and the infrastructure like this in this country, many things need to happen.  Taxes need to be slashed to give incentives for corporations to build it here.  And unions need to be abolished.  Those two things get done, and you’ll see a change.

  • Sean Smith

    In theory, it could probably still cost the same but that would mean Apple wouldn’t be making their 600% profit margins on each unit.

  • Dustin Wood

    This article doesn’t make me feel any better. So basically your saying only highly skilled jobs are safe here in the states. Those jobs are not the ones who are finding these times hard. Its the blue-collar factory workers. The “tens of thousands” of people who could be assembling the iphone here in the states.

    And $10 per iphone backs up the HUGE profits that Apple has made this quarter.

    Makes me die a little inside. My dad worked as a factory worker for 37 years. And he retired a few years ago, and just in time too, as they were starting to ship a lot of the jobs overseas.

  • Sean Smith

    You can thank our institutions of “higher learning” for this mentality. I actually had a professor that was Chinese essentially making the very argument this author just made — that globalization and outsourcing to countries like China was actually a good thing for us because it would mean that the remaining jobs here would all be the “higher paying” variety like managerial positions, etc. We also hear the same argument when it comes to farming jobs being given to illegal immigrants… that no “decent American” would possibly want any of these jobs anyway. The entire argument is bogus. Not everybody is cut out for white collar work.

  • Richard Skrip

    I’m not sure what’s more offensive; the idea that Americans shouldn’t “want” manufacturing jobs, that such work is “menial” (it’s not, as all the supervisor positions on assembly lines require college degrees), or that Mr. Brownlee clearly has the blinders on in re: to Apple and Foxconn.

    Let’s not pretend that all is well and good with the way our beloved Apple products are made.  They are made in horrid conditions, and worker abuses are out of control.  Pretending there isn’t a  problem, and writing an article like this does nothing to move the discussion forward on this issue.  It is apologetic Apple fanboy-ism at its worst and should be taken down.

    There is not one iota of any journalistic quality to this piece.  It’s an embarrassment to Mr. Brownlee, and an embarrassment to Cult of Mac.

  • TheMacAdvocate

    $900,000/$13,000,000,000
    Do some math, bro.

  • iDaBoss

    race also means ethnicity

  • iDaBoss

    stay classy, john

  • pjr1

    I know many people who would gladly take a job assembling iProducts rather than be out of a job.  I mean, there are people all over this country willing to clean toilets if it keeps food on their tables, I am sure they would also be willing to work in a factory assembly line.  Your personal views make you sound like an overpaid, over privileged blogger rather then a serious journalist.  I challenge you to spend six months unemployed here in this great first-world nation of ours and then come revisit the topic.  Perhaps you’ll have a different point of view.  Until then, perhaps you should consider a job writing propaganda for corporate america as it seems you have a clear understanding of how they view the world.  

  • djrobsd

    Wow, just wow, Cult of Mac are you being PAID by Apple to write these articles???!!!

  • bradleyjah

    Between this article (which was borderline racist and definitely offensive) and the other articles on CoM trying to minimize/rationalize Apple’s use of horrible abusers of Chinese labor, I think I’m done with CoM.

    Look, CoM, Apple doesn’t do everything right.  I’m huge fan of them, but they hold themselves out as a leader in the industry and this whole Foxconn issue is not what an industry leader would do.  Also, just because Apple only uses a little bit of the iPhone money to fund abusive working conditions, it does not suddenly make it ok to allow those things to go on. 

    Lastly, the author is playing fast and loose with the numbers.  Sure, only $10 may go to Chinese labor per phone, but with over 75 million iphones sold worldwide, that’s almost a billion dollars funding abusive working conditions.  And, if the Foxconn workers were paid a reasonable wage or given reasonable hours, it would surely be in the multiple billions of dollars.  I’m not ok with that.

    Later CoM.

  • djrobsd

    Yeah plenty of other blogs out there like 9to5mac, macrumors, gigaom, etc.  They all steal each other’s stuff anyway.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Wrong.

  • bradleyjah

    Great contribution

  • pjr1

    Please elaborate.

  • DamienLavizzo

    So, you’re doing the same exact thing, stereotyping an entire country because of a few bad apples (no pun intended), even when the popular opinion even in the comments section is obviously against the authour. 

    You’re just as bad, to be honest. 

  • Alex

    Brad you have to remember who wrote this, John Brownlee….. link bait editor in chief and all around dim bulb at CoM. 

  • DamienLavizzo

    This is true, actually. The baseline for income here in the States is far, far higher than in most developing countries. In most countries, just having a cheap car, an apartment, and access to the dollar menu at McDonalds would be a paradigm shift upwards in terms of lifestyle. We kindof take for granted just how easy-access a lot of things are here in the States. Sure, you aren’t doing yourself any favours eating off the dollar menu at ANY fast food place. In some countries, though, people are literally killing one another for access to rice and bread. So while I’m not marginalizing the jobless and economic situation here at home, it’s still vastly better here than a lot of places around the world. 

  • DamienLavizzo

    To people that think like that, yes. Most people don’t understand that so-called “racism” is actually ethno-centrism or hyper-nationalism. 

  • Alex

    I used to think John Brownlee was just a little slow, when he waxed on about felt being a woven fabric or wrote things that made it clear that he barely knows how computers work. Then I thought he was just writing dumb thing to get clicks …  But after reading this  I’m starting to wonder if he’s at best just condescending xenophobe or a full blown racist ….

  • Jonathon Wilson

    Send John Brownlee a message and don’t read or comment on his posts.

  • Allan Robertson

    Yea I feel the same way, I’m pretty much done with CoM, I’ll get my rumour news from Macrumors more better quality over there than the garbage here.

  • aidisarabia

    Hi Damien Lavizzo,

    Many thanks for your advice; I now realized the way of my errors and would like to sincerely apologize to all Americans for my remarks above.

    Would be nice if Mr. John Brownlee can do the same too, though.

  • Keith Propp

    but the definition of ethnicity does not include race

  • Thomaselite14

    I love it when bleeding heart pacifists can’t stand to hear the cold hard data on the facts. I thoroughly enjoyed this article for its realism and wish to read more in the future. All the critics can do now is question your intelligence, or, once again, pull out the race deck like beating a dead horse. That’s how you know there’s no logical argument left.

  • Henrik Kolind

    I’ve actually enjoyed a fair few of John Brownlee’s posts in the past. But reading this one has made me realise that I will need to find my mac news elsewhere. Thanks for the thousands of good reads CoM. Fortunately there are other websites out there who deliver the same news in a manner that is not offensive and arrogant.

  • sn0wball

    america thinks it can fix everyone and everything. well u cant. u dont live in china, u dont know how it is there. people line up for jobs, guess its better than the alternative. Afghanistan, Iraq, now this. Better believe the US gov wont do a damn thing about China or its working condition. Like the US doesnt have problems of its own. Even the forefathers were against getting into other peoples business. U dont like it, then dont buy it. but u still will though. i know i will. but dont just stop at apple/foxconn, keep going; soon you’ll be living in a cave. all the pleasures the US has, better believe it comes from the hard unfair under paid work of people over seas. And you thought what? thats what i thought. shut your mouths self righteous people. this is in no way anti US, this includes all people who are blind to the real facts, the fact that its all around you and everything you buy; here in Europe and in the US! howbeit, its still a sad fact in life, the poor, the rich, working conditions and the products.

  • iDaBoss

    race is a flexible term. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R
    both ethnicity and race are social constructs, and neither are scientific terminology

  • Luis Dominguez

    It has nothing to do about what China does.  As far as staying out of other countries, I would think that the forefathers would agree that American companies outsourcing there work to other countries, is just not what America was about.   

  • iDaBoss

     Judging by the comments, no one here is upset over facts, but rather the douchebaggery.

  • iDaBoss

     i think he’s just the ultimate troll. and he’s successful at it.

  • Thomaselite14

    I can’t argue against a vocabulary including “Douchebaggery.” Nevertheless, specificity is important when attemping to make a point.

  • winski

    Thank you John for simply stating the FACTS. The rest of the venom and rhetoric are just noise….

  • Buster

    I guess I’m a bit confused why everyone is calling John a racist. I think he was just pointing out that the highest paying jobs involved in making an iPhone go to people in the USA. Does that mean he thinks people in China are not capable of doing such jobs? Not at all. With all the controversy surrounding Apple the article was meant to highlight how much money Apple brings into the US and the high quality jobs the company creates.
    We don’t deny that labor conditions in China suck. We’d love to be able to do something about it. We wish there were a feasible way for America to manufacture the iPhone, but if you’ve read recent articles from CoM and the New York Times the past two weeks you’d realize that this isn’t the case. 

    It’s not racist to say that iPhone assembly is menial labor. IT IS menial labor. No offense to all the hardworking people in China, but no one grows up dreaming of working at a factory assembling iPhones. It’s a sucky situation for all involved, and i know John wasn’t intending for there to be any sort of racial connotations in his article or to offend anyone. 

  • Buster

    We’ve never claimed Apple does everything right. There’s a lot about Apple that is imperfect. Chinese labor situations are one area that Apple can improve but Apple isn’t the only tech company implicated in this stuff…all tech companies are doing the same thing as Apple, it’s just that Apple has the highest profile and takes most of the heat.

    No one in the USA would WANT to take the jobs Chinese workers do for the iPhone unless they absolutely had to because there was nothing better out there for them. Do you know anyone who would gladly take up that post and make less than they could if they worked at McDonalds? No way! It’s a crummy job. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it is a job nonetheless that some Chinese workers are willing to deal with for a few years so they can move on to something better. It sucks. You know that and I know that, and the article was simply stating that the best jobs created from the iPhone stay in the USA. Perhaps the adjectives could have been changed to your liking in the article, but I thought John was trying to show how the US benefits from the iPhone and he did a good job with the article.The Chinese labor situation is very sad and we hope it gets better, but looking at it objectively, it’s not a great job and it’s not one that First World citizens would jump at because they’re too spoiled to take up that kind of work. Sorry if those facts rub you the wrong way…but it’s true.

  • Jonathon Wilson

    He is just to much of a coward to write it himself, I asked him on twitter to reply in these comments but I guess as long as he gets page views he doesn’t care.

    He does come off as racist, basically he says Americans shouldn’t have to do this “shitty work” let the chinese do it and thats the way it should be. 

    There is no reason why Americans couldn’t do the jobs, just because it’s cheaper in China doesn’t mean thats right.

  • iDaBoss

     Sorry I wasn’t clear. I meant the trollific douchebaggery of John the Brownlee, he who heralds the coming of the raging flamebait.

  • Jesse

    One word: diversification.  It’s not a bad thing to also build the things you design.  A job is a job, sometimes, and there are people in the US that would love to have that opportunity.  In this age of globalism, companies don’t care about nationalism if it doesn’t affect their bottom dollar.  Once caveat might be non-publicly-traded companies that have interests other than making profits for their investors.

  • Buster

    He’s not saying “Americans shouldn’t have to do this work because they’re too good for it.” What he’s saying  is that “The American economy doesn’t support manufacturing jobs anymore.” John hasn’t stated anything new. Many economists  have stated that manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back to America, but that’s not a bad thing.

    Our economy isn’t based on manufacturing like it once was. We’ve moved past that. We are now a service based economy. The best jobs in america use to be manufacturing, but now they are based in services like developing software, architecture, design, etc.

  • Boo Radley

    Makes me want to be a hotel maid real bad.

  • ephemeralreason

    You’re mentally deficient. The only thing that will change if we take up your solution is that wages will crater.

  • techgeek01

    Highest paid jobs go to people in the USA. DUH!!! What’s the minium wage in America?  Like 7.45?  It’s like 25 cents a day in china?  Of course the highest paid jobs will be in America.  America requires that we get paid XXXX amount or higher.  That amount in China is far, far, far lower.

  • Alex

    Buster doing damage control for Brownlee?

     I’ve been around COM for quite some time ( and I’ve been an Apple user for decades ) , and many of us can’t stand him for myriad of reason like , constant link baiting , poorly written articles, his general ignorance on topics he writes about .  If you look at his body of work its pretty mediocre.   Earlier today I considered dropping Leander a line,  because I think Brownlee has crossed the line today. But then again I have to wonder how CoM  has tolerated his previous work other then the fact it gets clicks…   

  • techgeek01

    No one ins the USA would WANT to take the jobs.

    Funny.  HOW COME IS AMERICA SENDING JOBS BY THE BUCKET-LOADS TO CHINA!?!?!?!?!?

    This “nobody wants to do this job” is the largest amount of B.S.  Because these jobs were done here originally.  Now they are all shipped overseas because companies realize that their profit margins suddenly jump when they move to china.  That what it is all about.  That is why jobs are getting sent overseas.

    It’s not that americans do not want to do it.  They would love to do it.  Except the companies send it overseas because it’s far cheaper for them which means larger profit margins. 

  • Dave Greene

    John, you finally lost me. You crossed the line today and your feeble attempt to “edit your original post” doesn’t excuse what you wrote (and what you obviously believe… whether it was merely to get clicks or not). I’m outta here… it’s over to MacRumors for me.

  • Buster

    I’m not doing damage control for John, just seeing a friend getting called a racist when I know he’s not one. A bunch of negative commenters have taken his words out of proportion and warped them into something they’re not. 

    It’s fine to be critical about John’s writing. Maybe it’s not your cup of tea. That’s fine. I might think your writing style sucks, but I’m not going to attack you because I don’t like the way you write, I’d probably just go find a writer on a different website that I like rather than wasting time telling you how much you suck at life. 

    Constructive criticism is always appreciated because none of us are perfect writers on Cult of Mac, but we do our best. However, there’s a line between being constructively critical, and being a negative troll intent on causing a ruckus. We want to hear from people like you in the comments and we’re fine with criticism, but we don’t have to let you comment on Cult of Mac.

  • Alex

    Lets face its not the first time John has managed to anger readers , maybe some introspection on his part is called for.  How long do you think he would writing in print media after an article like the one today ?  

  • pjr1

    Constructive criticism will always be given when due. However, the original tone of the article was extremely insulting to the Chinese workers who are working hard to feed their families and support themselves.  I’m sure even you would agree that using the word “shitty” was not only unprofessional, it was also extremely immature and borderline derogatory.  Whether done purposely or not, the article implicitly portrayed Chinese factory workers as people that do not deserve better treatment and are working at jobs that only they are suited for.

    In the process, Brownlee also insulted the suffering of the average unemployed American that is struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over his/her head.  Many Americans are being pushed out of their homes, loosing their jobs, and falling into financial despair.  I can assure you that anyone of them will gladly take a position along an assembly line without a moments hesitation.  Brownlee attracted what he put out.  As “editor” of a technology blog he is expected to behave in a respectful and respectable manner.   He expressed himself childishly and was treated as such.  I for one am not criticizing him for the subject matter of his piece, but rather for the delivery of his opinion.It is admirable that you are supporting a friend in need, but I believe that the best thing one friend can do for another in a situation like this would be enlighten him or her on their mistakes rather than justify them.

    As a final note, telling your readers that you do not have to let them comment on Cult of Mac is tantamount to telling them their opinions are worthless.  All opinions, good or bad, are of worth.  The best way to receive high quality comments is to share high quality articles with your readers.  Again, you get what you give.  Besides, blogs are meant to incite dialogue among the readers and content providers.

  • aledco

    “The only jobs they are sending abroad are the ones no one in a first-world nation should reasonably want”.

    This is the most shocking, offensive and idiotic thing I have ever read online. Congratulations. How far up your ass does your head have to be to think and write something like this? You’re basically saying that every “first-world” worker is too good to do menial, manual labour.

    “Apple’s not outsourcing good jobs to China: they are outsourcing shitty, menial jobs to China.”

    Listen to yourself! I think you just insulted every factory worker in the world. Not everyone can be a designer, developer, writer, director, news editor or whatever the hell it is you’re actually doing by writing this crap. Sadly I think your opinion is indicative of a larger, cultural problem where much of the West believes it is somehow above carrying out any form of ‘dirty’ manual labour.

    The bottom line is: you’re saying that no “first-world” citizen in their right mind would reasonably want a job assembling things in a factory. There is so much wrong with that statement.

    …and yes, CoM just lost another reader.

  • aledco

    “He’s not saying “Americans shouldn’t have to do this work because they’re too good for it.”

    That sounds exactly like what he’s saying to me…

    “Apple’s not outsourcing good jobs to China: they are outsourcing shitty, menial jobs to China.”

    “The only jobs they are sending abroad are the ones no one in a first-world nation should reasonably want.”

  • Warren Tabolt

    The problem here isn’t racism, it’s ignorance.  I can’t say that I actually believe John Brownlee is a racist, however he has made his ignorance abundantly clear.  Another reader and Facebook fan lost today.

  • bradleyjah

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but I just completely disagree. You don’t think anyone of the numerous unemployed blue collar workers would want a job assembling the iPhone?  You have clearly lost connection with a large part of the country.  There are people all over the US that assemble products or do menial tasks (and I know plenty that work in the service industry that might prefer an assembly job).  The difference is, as techgeek points out, that companies have realized they can underpay (and boost their profits) by shipping off the work to China and ignoring basic (and more costly) things like worker safety and labor laws that we instituted in the US long ago.

    Also, please stop with the “everyone does it” line.  It’s idiotic.  If Apple wanted to fix the problem with its Chinese factories, it could.  It doesn’t need to wait for all the other companies to do it too.  Sure, it may cost an exra $.25 or $1 per phone, but they can absolutely do it. I work at a company where we constantly tell our vendors exactly what we require from a IT security, background/drug check, safety, etc. standpoint.  If they  aren’t ok with those requirements, then we move on.  Or, if they’re the only option (which is rare), then we tell them to price us for whatever it takes to implement our requirements.

    Lastly, tying into my previous point, this “crummy job” that you say no one would do in the US would want is crummy because Apple allows it to be crummy.  And, yes, those facts do rub me the wrong way because I hold Apple to a higher standard than most companies (and frankly, I think they want me to hold them to a higher standard).  As I said, Apple could walk into any Chinese or other low-cost of living country and absolutely say “No matter where we send our work in the world, we care about everyone that works on our product and require certain standards of work…if you can’t abide by these standards, we’ll take our billion dollar work elsewhere.” 

  • Buster

    When I say “we don’t have to let you comment on Cult of Mac” it’s nothing about your opinion being worthless. We just literally don’t have to have comments on here. There are dozens of popular blogs on the net that are switching off their comments (BGR just did it yesterday) because they’re tired of the incessant trolling and negativity. 
    Throwing around the world “racist” so loosely is pretty terrible, especially after a writer has attempted multiple times to frame his opinion in a better context so that commenters can understand his original intent. If commenters can’t accept an apology and refuse to try to understand any clarifications given, what’s the course of action Cult of Mac should take with those ridiculously negative commenters that want to slander a person’s name?
    Your view on the article is still completely off base of what that intent was. Are blogs meant to incite dialogue? Sure, that could be one of the many goals of a blog, but that dialogue doesn’t have to take place on the blog itself when the readers refuse to act rationally when commenting.

  • RobertSantellan

    I could be wrong, but I think the confusion in the comments about this article is just a case of missed-sarcasm. Thats just my opinion. Still, this is an issue that should not be taken lightly.

  • ADVILL

    $10 yes…but if for any reason Chinese authorities decides to stop Apple shipments, that 10 dls will become billions …

  • ctt1wbw

     The government here doesn’t dictate wages other than the minimum wage.  Businesses and corporations set wages based on what they can afford to pay.  Don’t you know anything about basic economics man?

  • ephemeralreason

    Businesses and corporations do not set wages based upon what they can afford to pay. If that was the case, Apple, with it’s billions in profits, would pay considerably higher wages. Instead, businesses and corporations pay based upon labor market conditions – supply & demand. Given the unemployment rate in the U.S. today, should Apple open factories here, do you think the supply of labor would outstrip demand? Duh. Of course – and so when supply exceeds demand, price drops. The price of labor is wages. The floor is minimum wage set by the government. Why do you think we have a minimum wage? Or workplace safety conditions? Or work shifts that don’t regularly hit 16 hours per day? Unions. China doesn’t have them, and therefore working conditions are much worse, workers have no protections and their wages are far, far lower.
    Are unions the reason for outsourcing? I suspect you think so. But you are wrong. It is corporations and businesses not wishing to pay what they can afford. It it because they only pay what they have to, and the rest goes profits, and stockholders.
    There’s your economics and history lessons for the day.

  • ctt1wbw

    No, it’s businesses not wanting to pay more than they think they should.  Would you voluntarily pay more if you could?  Or do you think that the fruits of your labor belong to you?  The taxes are higher here than they are overseas, especially in a country that gives better tax incentives to set up shop there.

    And as for workplace safety, the government (OSHA) sets the rules and companies follow them.  They can make them more stringent if they want.  Trust me, I worked in the Safety Office on Norfolk Naval Base.  But they can’t lessen the rules. 

  • ephemeralreason

    My ability to labor is dependent upon two things, in the majority: my natural ability and inclination to work, and the societal structures that have set the conditions to obtain education in order to take up the work that I do. Thus, in part my wages are due to me for condition one, and in part my wages are due to society for condition two. Thus, I haven’t any issues paying taxes. Pay more? More than what? You imply that the taxes we pay now should be not raised, yet we reside in one of the lowest marginal tax rate periods in the last 100 years in the U.S.

    Further, you seem to think that tax rates are the sole variable in businesses’ decisions to relocate overseas. That’s a consideration, but not the only one. Why does Apple not relocate it’s engineering and programming divisions overseas? Lack of available labor. Again, supply & demand.

    Your last paragraph isn’t relevant to my post – I was stating the historical reasons for the existence of regulations like OSHA. And of course the government can lessen the (stringency) of the rules – that’s exactly what many Republicans in Congress are trying to do at the moment. No law or rule is unchangeable, which is why your original call to abolish unions is so very dangerous and ill-thought out. The very protections afforded workers through regulations like OSHA would be in jeopardy. As would decent wages.

  • ctt1wbw

    Blame the Republicans!!  This country has had 3 solid years of liberal Democrat “utopia” and nothing got done.  Nothing.  Except an extra 6 trillion in debt, but now it’s all the Republicans’ fault?  And my last sentence was in response to your safety stuf you brought up.

    And if tax rates on corporations aren’t that big of a deal and not a reason to relocate overseas, then let’s set the tax rate at 100% and tax everything that a company makes in profit.  Then you’ll see them relocate overseas.  Private income and corporate income does not belong to the government, as it is not the governments labor that produces goods and services and employs private citizens of which taxes come from to support the constitutional activities of the government.

  • ephemeralreason

    So, I present facts and you resort to hyperbole. The fact is the Republicans in Congress are trying to repeal workplace safety regulations (along with envrionmental regulations). That’s just a fact. That you took it as ‘blame’ and responded with overgeneralizations based upon no presentation of evidence ($4.3 trillion is the number you are looking for, not $6 trillion; and I concur that $4.3 isn’t much of an improvement over $6. Still, get your facts right.).

    And really your response is a straw man fallacy: other than both are related to the federal goverment, what do debt and workplace regulations have to do with one another?

    Finally, you utilize the ‘go to extremes’ fallacy: let’s tax everything at 100%! Duh. Not at all what I said. I said that tax rates are merely one of MANY factors in the decision a company makes to relocate overseas, or not.

    As I stated in my original post: you are mentally deficient. And this discussion has demonstrated that. I’m happy to participate in a thoughtful discussion, but this isn’t it. We’re done.

  • Casey Urmamistan

    This is sad. Apparently in the modern American “service economy”, manufacturing and assembly is now a job no reasonable person would want. Not to mention the gall of seeming not to care that Chinese workers are exposed to “dangerous, menial” work. Great job, John. You really hit a home run with this one.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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