Counterparties: Apple’s “headaches”
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The most telling quote about Apple’s recent stumbles didn’t come from CEO Tim Cook. It came last month from Terry Gou, the chairman of Apple manufacturer Foxconn. Discussing the rise of robots in production Gou said: “As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache”.
If you’ve been in a coma, Apple’s “animals” have been quite productive lately: The iPhone 5 came out last week, selling some 5 million phones in three days. In a few years, Apple could very well be the first company valued at $1 trillion. But, yes, there have been “headaches”. Riots shut down Foxconn’s factory in the Chinese city of Taiyuan on Monday. Reuters reported that at least 40 people were hospitalized, and 5,000 police were dispatched — though it’s unclear if the riot came from a fight among workers or in a clash with guards. Engadget’s Richard Lai has pictures.
A reporter from the Shanghai Evening Post recently went undercover in the Taiyuan plant and, if this rough translation from Micgadget is accurate, got to experience what it’s like to produce an iPhone 5:
An iPhone 5 back-plate run through in front of me almost every 3 seconds. I have to pickup the back-plate and marked 4 position points using the oil-based paint pen and put it back on the running belt swiftly within 3 seconds with no errors. After such repeat action for several hours, I have terrible neckache and muscle pain on my arm… We worked non-stop from midnight to the next morning 6 a.m but were still asked to keep on working as the production line is based on running belt and no one is allowed to stop. I’m so starving and fully exhausted.
Apple is struggling to meet demand for their latest phone, but it’s also struggling to manage its users’ expectations. If you were puzzled to have your iPhone tell you that Las Vegas has melted, you’re likely familiar with the well-documented problems with its new maps program. To Anil Dash, Apple’s ditching of Google maps for its own undercooked program shows blatant disregard for users: “Given that Apple has a bigger cash hoard than the vast majority of countries, it seems as if this is more an issue of priorities than resource constraints”. Joe Nocera, for his part, wonders if Apple has peaked.
Kontra at Counternotions — nice blog name, by the way — suggests another answer: With nearly half a billion users, Apple simply has us all at its mercy. We’ll just have to wait for Apple to wow us with a better product. “Apple has a justifiable fear of key third parties dictating terms and hindering its rate of innovation,” he writes, adding, “Yes, Apple’s evil”. — Ryan McCarthy
On to today’s links: