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Security Official Suspended After Employee Suicide Over Lost iPhone

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A dormitory at Foxconn's factory city in Shenzhen.

A security official has been suspended by Hon Hai Group after the suicide of an employee who lost an iPhone prototype, Bloomberg reports.

Hon Hai Group, one of the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturers, suspended a security official and turned the case over to Chinese authorities, the company said in a statement, but didn’t provide further details.

The security official is identified only by the surname “Gu.”

Last week, Sun Tanyong, a 25-year-old employee at Hon Hai’s Foxconn International Holdings unit committed suicide after losing one of 16 iPhone prototypes he was charged with mailing to Apple in California.

Tanyong leapt to his death off a dormitory at Foxconn’s factory city in Shenzhen. He had reportedly been subject to an illegal search and rough treatment by Foxconn security.

Hon Hai says it is unaware of the reasons behind Sun’s suicide, according to the statement.It offered the company’s condolences to Tanyong’s family.

Apple says it is awaiting the outcome of an investigation.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of this employee,” spokesman Steve Dowling told Bloomberg. “We require that our suppliers treat all workers with dignity and respect.”

Foxconn is one of the largest contract makers of mobile phones, and produces Apple’s iPhone and iPods at its walled factory city. Home to 270,000 workers, the walled city has its own fire station and hospital, stores, restaurants, and recreation facilities. The giant factory also produces cell phones for Nokia and Motorola, Sony Playtation and Nintendo Wii, as well as PCs for Hewlett Packard and Dell.

Link.

Chinese Worker Commits Suicide After Losing iPhone Prototype

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Shenzhen, China Image credit: TrekEarth

Multiple reports Tuesday indicate a 25 year-old employee of Foxconn, one of Apple’s OEM suppliers in China, killed himself last week after losing a 4th generation iPhone which he had been instructed to ship to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA.

Sun Danyong was a recent engineering graduate who worked in product communications for electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn in Shenzhen, a city in the booming industrial corridor between Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

On Thursday, July 9th, according to the first English-language report on the incident at Venture Beat, Sun got 16 prototype phones from the assembly line at a local Foxconn factory. At some point in the next few days, he discovered one of the phones was missing.

On Monday, July 13, he reported the missing phone to his boss. Then, that Wednesday, three Foxconn employees illegally searched his apartment. Accusations have reportedly been flying about the Chinese language Twittersphere that Sun was detained and physically abused during the investigation, although this has not been substantiated.

Shortly after 3am on Thursday July 16th, security cameras at Sun’s apartment building show him leaping to his death from a window in his apartment.

Asian Labor Unions Plan More Protests Targeting Apple

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Labor protesters demonstrating outside Apple’s Taiwan offices in May. The Apple laptop says “Responsibility.” Images: Global Post.

Asian labor unions will be putting more pressure on Apple on Tuesday with a protest at Computex Taipei, Asia’s largest electronics show.

The unions are hoping to force Apple to intervene in a labor dispute with one of the company’s major suppliers, Wintek, which makes LCD screens and is rumored to be working on the upcoming Mac/iPod tablet.

Wintek has been accused of unfairly laying-off workers and poor and exploitative working conditions in factories in Taiwan and mainland China. Wintek denies the charges.

The protest will “expose the reality to the public, and request Apple Inc. to execute its Code of Conduct, to end the exploitation of labors in Taiwan and China,” one of the unions said in a news release.

Workers Protest Labor Rights at Apple’s Taiwan Office

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Labor protestors outside Apple’s Taiwan Office on Thursday. The Apple laptop says “Responsibility.” Images: Global Post.

Apple’s office in Taiwan drew protesters on Thursday complaining about layoffs and unfair working conditions at one of Apple’s main contractors.

A group of 30 to 45 workers complained of exploitation at Wintek, one of Apple’s major suppliers of LCD panels. The company is rumored to be supplying screens for the long-awaited Apple tablet. The workers chanted slogans and held signs saying “black-heart business” and “responsibility” outside Apple’s office in Taipei.

“We want to go through Apple to put pressure on Wintek,” one of the protestors told the Global Post.

The workers hope the action will force Apple to enforce it’s Code of Supplier Responsibility, instituted after 2006 allegations of exploitation at an iPod factory run by Foxconn, another Apple supplier factories in mainland China.

Rumor: New iPhones will be Bigger, Better, Faster, More

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With less than a month to go before the anticipated launch of iPhone 3.0 firmware and a widely expected upgrade to the hardware, widely reported claims by a poster on a Chinese Apple fan site suggest the next version of Apple’s revolutionary smartphone will sport a faster processor, more disk storage and a much improved camera, among other upgrades.

The next gen device will have a 600MHz processor (up from the current 400MHz unit), 256MB of RAM (up from the current 128MB), up to 32GB of storage, a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus, as well as a digital compass and FM radio, all while retaining the same battery, basic shape, and screen size, according to the poster, who claims to have a connection at Foxconn, Apple’s China-based OEM for the iPhone.

Could it be? If you’ve got your ticket to the sold-out WWDC ’09 coming up in San Francisco, you’ll likely be among the first to know.

[The iPhone Blog]

Rumors of an Apple Netbook Persist in Asia

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Apple has chosen Foxconn Electronics as its main manufacturing partner for a ten inch touchscreen netbook to be released later this year, according to renewed rumors emanating from the Asian press Monday.

The Chinese language news site Commercial Times, quoting sources within the supply chain, reported Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, secured a deal to manufacture Apple’s next portable gadget, designed to compete in the growing market for WiFi enabled devices that connect easily to the Internet.

The persistent rumors of Apple’s imminent introduction of a device to fill the gap between its popular iPhone/iPod Touch and full-fledged notebook computer lines fly in the face of previous statements from Steve Jobs vowing Apple has no interest in what its CEO considers the low-end of the computer market.

Next iMacs To Sport New Cooling Tech?

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Besides an all-in-one design, new iMacs expected in January could sport new cooling technology for chips developed by chip giant Intel, two Asian-language publications are reporting.

Foxconn will create a “magnesium-aluminum alloy chassis,” according to the Economic Daily News. The Chinese-language pblication also claimed Foxconn’s Precision Components and Auras Technology will produce the iMac’s “cooling module.”

The news may dovetail with a previous report from DigiTimes that Apple was among a group of PC makers opting to use new quad-core processors from Intel expected to alter computer power requirements. The Core 2 Quad chips, ranging in speeds from 2.33 GHz to 2.83 GHz, require 65W rather than 55W for current iMacs, according to AppleInsider.

Chinese Rip-Off Looks Like a nano, Does Way More

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I was talking with a friend awhile ago about the current state of hardware piracy in China. Basically, if it’s available in the US, there’s a nearly identical knock-off on the streets of Beijing and, by correlation, in the back alleys of San Francisco and New York. I found an absurdly faithful iPod shuffle copy a few months ago, and now “ECNokia” (very original name) is offering an iPod nano fatty rip that they’re advertising as identical in industrial design, but throwing in a bigger screen, a digital camera, SD cards, video recording and an FM tuner.

Granted, we don’t know that this picture is in any way accurate, but the interesting thing is that it could be. After all, Chinese companies do all of the manufacturing for iPods at this point. If you were Foxconn or whomever, it would be pretty darn easy to just leave the molds for your Apple project on the line as you make a few knock-offs. This is the bizarre situation of our present era of outsourcing: Companies can copy a market-leading project without reverse-engineering it, because many of the copiers are the actual engineers.

Via Gizmodo

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