"I suppose there are people who can pass up free guacamole, but they're either allergic to avocado or too joyless to live."— Frank Bruni

Thursday, January 26, 2012

obvious thoughts about apple

My last post about Apple got me thinking of consumer choices. I am completely guilty of buying things made abroad, but how can I or you or anyone not be? I suppose there are Americans who are scrupulously selective in their purchases, but I find it truly hard to believe that a household can be 100% rid of any imported goods. For big ticket items, however, I do consider many more factors before making my choice than with smaller purchases. I've even considered buying an American car (for whenever I am ready to buy a car), in support of the revived auto industry. I'm proud that my parents bought American when purchasing their new van last year (despite it being a gas guzzler). I just hope the Big Four come up with more fuel-efficient vehicles, especially in the minivan and SUV classes.

...but back to Apple. Although I use Apple products because it was either given to me or it's what G has at home and it's faster than my laptop which is currently in storage, I have made the conscious effort of not purchasing Apple products. At first it was because I thought there's got to be excellent competition and they can't be the only folks who can make a good phone or computer. But now, recent reports of poor manufacturing conditions bolsters my decision even more. Foxconn, Apple's supplier, runs the largest, most productive factories in China and is its largest exporter (according to the Times and Li Qiang of China Labor Watch). Therefore, it sets the industry standard for workers' conditions and pay. According to Li Qiang, Foxconn has improved things and looks great when compared to other industries, but with the bar set low, that's not saying much, hence Foxconn still sucks. I appreciate that Apple has made strides to improve working conditions, and also acknowledge the fact that many other companies are also guilty of dismal conditions in their respective manufacturing plants. However, given Apple's tremendous success in recent years, especially those that have overlapped with the recession/current bleak economic climate, it is responsible for resetting foreign manufacturing standards as well as setting other standards such as moving more manufacturing back into the country. Apple reported record profits for the last quarter - $46 billion! That figure blows everyone else out of the water. With the company's success, it can be hugely influential in changing things. It's like Taylor Swift and Britney Spears. Both are influential, but I'm going to bet Taylor Swift can influence many more people right now than Britney.

I know I'm stating the obvious but whatever. People are still buying Apple products and will continue to do so. Consumer outrage helped improve Nike and Gap manufacturing conditions...maybe the same can be done for Apple. Wouldn't it be something if iPad, iPod and MacBook owners used their devices to mobilize change in Apple?

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