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Apple’s Shanghai Store Shirt Says: “Made For China”



Apple will be giving away 5,000 of these free commemorative t-shirts this weekend at the grand opening of its flagship store in Shanghai.

Note what is says on the back: “Designed in California, Made for China.”

It’s a subtle but important play on Apple’s traditional credit line, which says: “Designed in California, Made in China.”

Given the controversy at Apple’s supplier Foxconn, I asked our Chinese blogger friend Chris Chang if the statement was appropriate. Some may feel that Apple’s relationship with China is exploitative.

“The statement is appropriate,” says Chang. “It’s actually the most attractive part of the shirt. I can’t say that Apple has an exploitative relationship with China, but according to Ron Johnson’s speech in the Shanghai Apple store, I believe that Apple is trying to build up a relationship with China.”

During the store’s press preview, Johnson — the head of Apple’s stores — said the company is planning a big push in China and will open 25 retail outlets there by 2012.

“Designed in California, Made for China." Picture: Chris Chang

Apple Unveils Shanghai Store


Image courtesy Flickr user Lesh51
Image courtesy Flickr user Lesh51

Although we’ve heard talk of Apple’s plans to open 25 stores in China over the next two years, here’s proof: workers taking the wraps off a store built in Shaghai.

In April, Apple told investment analysts the company was ‘well pleased’ by its initial steps into the China market. Chief financial officer Tim Cook said iPhone sales were up 200 percent during the first half of 2009. Apple added 800 more distribution points and saw iPhone sales increased 9-fold to 2.1 million units.

Labor Group Protests “Death Pad” at Apple Store


A protester outside San Francisco's flagship Apple Store. ©SF World Journal
A protester outside San Francisco's flagship Apple Store. ©SF World Journal

Outraged over Foxconn suicides and poor working conditions, members of the Chinese Progressive Association protested what they called the “Death Pad” outside the San Francisco Apple store.

About 20 protesters from the labor group carried signs with the names of the suicides and handed out leaflets to busy shoppers on Saturday afternoon in front of Apple’s flagship Powell Street store. Their goal: get US consumers to think about where their favorite high-tech gadgets come from and how they are made.

“Although the tragedies happened in China,” CPA organizer Shaw San Li told the San Francisco World Journal, “we know exploitation of blue-collar workers happens every day in America too. Big corporations like Apple are taking advantage of workers.”

Via SF Bay Citizen

Report: Apple to Ship CDMA iPhone in Fourth Quarter



Apple may ship a CDMA version of its popular iPhone later this year. Pegatron, an electronics manufacturer with plants in China, has received orders from the Cupertino, Calif. company to produce a CDMA version of the handset ready for fourth-quarter shipping, an industry publication reported Thursday.

If correct, the rumor appears to signal a shift by Apple away from its usual iPhone supplier, embattled Foxconn, and bolster a Wall Street Journal report that the handset maker would produce a CDMA phone this September.

Report: Next-Gen iPhone Includes Hi-Res Screen, iBookstore



Little doubt remains that Apple will introduce its next-generation iPhone next month. The latest evidence: a report that Apple’s key iPhone supplier is set to ship at least 24 million iPhone 4Gs this year, starting in June. Many believe Apple will unveil the new iPhone at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference June 7.

According to Tiawan’s Digitimes, Foxconn will ship 4.5 million iPhone 4Gs in the first half of 2010, with 19.5 million devices ready for the remainder of this year. If correct, the shipping timetable would resemble the iPad, where Apple first pushed the tablet device out in limited quantities, then opened the flood-gate as manufacturing increased.

Suicides and Poisonings at Apple’s Chinese Manufacturers Provoke Calls for Investigation



Foxconn Technology, the world’s largest electronics contractor and main supplier of most of Apple’s componentys, is once again in the news over the welfare of its employees in China after it racked up its sixth employee suicide this year.

The most recent suicide occurred in Foxconn’s factory city in Shenzen, where one of their 300,000 workers leaped to her death from her rented apartment. This follows a suicide last week by a 24-year old male factory worker, who also jumped to his death from the top of a dormitory building.

“We regret to see the recurrence of such incidents,” Foxconn said in a statement.

Apple has had bad publicity due to the way Foxconn treats its workers before.

In 2006, Apple launched an internal investigation over the matter of Foxconn “iPod Cities in which hundreds of thousands of employees worked in extreme squalor for pennies a day, and ultimately rejected the claims of abuse, noting that most workers’ biggest complaint was that they couldn’t work more overtime.

Foxconn’s latest slate of worker suicides calls into question the veracity of that report, as does a strike of 2000 workers earlier this month at fellow Apple contractor Wintek over 47 cases of hexane poisonings at the company’s Suzhou factories.

Not only did a survey by a local agency in the case of the Wintek poisonings find that managers at Wintek repeatedly deceived investigators trying to figure out the cause of the poisonings, but that none of their interviewees had ever even heard of Apple’s contractor code of conduct, which is meant to be enforced at the factories of all of manufacturing partners to guarantee the well-being of employees.

In America, Apple is one of the best and most employee-conscious companies in tech, but consistent reports of worker abuse and unhappiness in China really does raise the question: is Apple having the wool pulled over its eyes by companies like Foxconn and Wintek over the well-being of the workers who make our MacBooks and iPads?

Possibly not, but at the very least, it seems like its time for another internal Apple investigation… and a statement reaffirming Apple’s interest in the emotional and physical wellness of their contracted workers overseas.

Apple Signs $240M Samsung Deal for 3M Additional iPad Displays


CC-licensed, thanks Richard-G on Flickr.
CC-licensed, thanks Richard-G on Flickr.

Apple reportedly has inked a deal worth $240 million for Samsung to supply 3 million additional 9.7-inch iPad displays. Although no time period was provided, the deal was confirmed by an industry executive who talked with a Korean publication.

“The most expensive component in the iPad is the display and touch-screen interface that costs $80 for all models,” the person wishing not to be identified told The Korean Times. The iPad display also costs five times as much as the handset’s screen, the person added.

Report: Apple Wants 5M iPads During First Half of 2010


CC-licensed. Thanks to myuibe on Flickr.
CC-licensed. Thanks to myuibe on Flickr.

Apple has told its Taiwan suppliers to produce around 5 million iPads by mid-year, one analyst said Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger called talk of production delays “just false alarms” after Apple recently announced an April 3 U.S. availability date for the first iPads.

If correct, Berger’s projection would be a bit higher than previous expectations of between 4 million to 5 million of the tablet devices. Late last month, China-based Foxconn Electronics, Apple’s chief supplier in the region, denied reports of a “manufacturing bottleneck” and estimated 1 million iPads would ship in April.

iPad Suppliers Deny Any Production Delays



The chief supplier for Apple’s iPad tablet is denying there will be any delay to the previously announced March shipment date. Foxconn Electronics told a trade publication Wednesday supplies for the tablet device “are on schedule.”

The China-based company also told DigiTimes 600,000-700,000 iPads will be ready in March and 1 million of the devices will ship in April. The iPad’s launch is unlikely to be delayed, unnamed sources told the publication.

Apple’s Contractor Report: No Mention Of Suicide, Riots or Beatings


Apple factory workers. Image: Apple Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report
Apple factory workers. Image: Apple Supplier Responsibility 2010 Progress Report

Apple has just published its annual Supplier Responsibility Report, which discusses its contractor compliance code and what it did about violations. Gizmodo has a fun take on the report: it’s all well and good, but there’s no mention of worker suicide, strikes or reporter beatings.

I had a look through the report and it’s kinda maddening. On the one hand, it does speak to genuine effort at enforcing standards. But in typical Apple style, it’s secretive and non-specific. It doesn’t mention any names, dates or details. It’s hard to judge in any independent way whether Apple’s efforts are effective. It’s just too vague.
Yeah, it crows about some numbers, but it’s not like a piece of detailed, independent reporting where you get a good, deep picture becuase of the wealth of detail. It reads like a highly-redacted CIA report about some shady mission that’s too secret to talk about except in the vaguest terms. You just have to take the Apple’s word for it. And although Apple is working with respected, independent organizations like Verite, I’m not sure I do.
See for yourself. Here’s Apple’s full 2010 Supplier Responsibility Progress Report (PDF).