Apple Users In Uproar Over Foxconn Labor Conditions – Why Are Android Users Silent?


Apple has long been the target of criticism over their labor practices, specifically, at overseas factories like Foxconn where harsh working conditions, accidents and suicide rates for Chinese laborers working in these factories have all made headline. Foxconn even had to go as far as installing safety nets along the sides of their buildings to help thwart would-be jumpers. A few months ago, there was also an app “game,” later pulled from the App Store, attempting to shed light on this issue, only to eventually find itself land in the Android Market, where it currently remains.

After news that Apple was sitting on a $97 billion cash pile, twiddling their thumbs, a renewed effort is being led by Apple “fanboys” no less, who have taken to online petitions to raise even more awareness. The hopes are that Apple will use some of this money to force suppliers like Foxconn into improving their working conditions. But as so often is the case, that’s easier said than done.

The thing is, it’s not only Apple who uses Foxconn to make their products. That shiny new Kindle Fire you received for Christmas — guess what? It was built in a Foxconn factory just like the iPad 2. It’s true. Many of your favorite Android OEM’s (and even console manufacturers) are current Foxconn employers. To show you Apple isn’t alone in this, here’s a list of a few of them, 10 of which are US based, and mixed in with other big name manufacturers.

  • Acer Inc. (Taiwan)
  • (United States)
  • Asus (Taiwan)
  • Barnes & Noble (United States)
  • Dell (United States)
  • Hewlett-Packard (United States)
  • Intel (United States)
  • IBM (United States)
  • Lenovo (China)
  • Logitech (Switzerland)
  • Microsoft (United States)
  • MSI (Taiwan)
  • Motorola (United States)
  • Netgear (United States)
  • Nintendo (Japan)
  • Nokia (Finland)
  • Panasonic (Japan)
  • Philips (Netherlands)
  • Samsung (South Korea)
  • Sharp (Japan)
  • Sony Ericsson (Japan/Sweden)
  • Toshiba (Japan)
  • Vizio (United States)

And while it can be argued that Apple is a much more grueling task master, I think it’s safe to say the rest of these OEM’s aren’t really helping matters either. Keep in mind I’m not saying we should all run out and grab our picket signs but I just felt it was interesting that people seemingly hold Apple to some sort of  “higher standard” than other big name companies like Nintendo or Motorola. Is it fair? Not really. Is there a need for change? 100% yes. Can Apple do it alone? Probably not.

Back in the day, apparel companies like Nike were forced to improve their labor conditions after public outcry and I can only hope these online petitions will catch the attention of Android OEM’s as well. Something needs to be done to improve working conditions for the factory workers at Foxconn and my heart most certainly goes out to them. Since most Android users already boycott Apple products out of devotion to all things Google, you can still further help by signing the online petitions linked below. It’s your duty as a world citizen (yep, I just went there).

Thanks, Noonehereyet!

[Change.Org | SumOfUs.Org]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Because, like all good consumers, we reserve our outrage for Apple. 
    And also since we don’t have to pay 110% of full retail for our devices and services every stinking time, we realize the discounts come from somewhere. And college taught us that “somewhere” is always from the least powerful actors (ie: employees).
    Yay Unbridled Capitalism!

    1. well, it begs the question actually, Apple has $100 BILLION sitting in a bank, and it can’t find a different way to sand the back of the iPad than to have workers with a sanding block in a room that is not ventilated? yeah, Samsung, ASUS and other manufacturers may be using foxconn too, but to my knowledge, so far the only explosions created at factories involved in the technology supply chain were related directly to Apple products….

  2. Except, isn’t Apple the only company demanding that manufacturing costs for their products be cut 10% every year or else they will terminate their contract?

    If you don’t want to read the whole article, start at the section, “A Demanding Client”

  3. fair enough. our platform has had GREAT success! even beating apple in most categories. no need to act like we are the step child. we are the leaders. but…I have too much work to do so…good luck with that ladies and gents! :)

  4. Maybe it’s because Apple is sitting on $97B while most android companies are not. 

    1. don’t forget the only explosions that have been reported (and resulting in deaths of workers) are those directly linked to the supply chain of an Apple product.

      No, I’m sure my ASUS tablet wasn’t manufactured in the best of conditions, but to my knowledge, no one died to put it together.

  5. Because my Samsung Nexus S 4G says made in Korea on it. That wikipedia entry was probably for cheap crap samsung outsources to China (only dumbphones).

    1. But if you notice in the list that “Samsung (South Korea)” is listed. While the phone itself might have been assembled in Korea that doesn’t mean the components (eg. display, housing, motherboard) wasn’t made at Foxconn. 

      It’s the same thing for automobiles. Components like transmissions could be made in Mexico while the vehicle itself is made in America.

      1. just like our video games, take a look at the back of your video game/dvd/bluray case sometime, it says “made in mexico”

  6. Simple really.  More demand is put on Foxconn workers making Apple products because they demand is so high for them.  Not so with Android or other companies.  Apple’s products are always sold out right away as well so the  workers are worked harder to produce more.  Not hard to understand.  I am sure if the working conditions were the same for the other companies, we would be hearing about it just as much…especially for android companies.

  7. Apple is a household name for most. If you can get the most known brand to do something about it, then others might follow.

    Typically, we don’t use that kind of logic, but we would expect an excellent company to permeate excellence in all areas. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t get 97B by being the most safe or excellent company.

    I’m not saying that others are off the hook, but Apple has a great opportunity here to innovate / re-create / re-build the supply chain and supplier business.

    1. Who is We?  Speak for yourself buddy. 

    2. The guy who was in charge of building that supply chain is now their CEO.  

  8. lol i knew i saw this article coming last night! anywho i honestly think awareness should be raised but the fault falls on china alone in my opinion, the US does not allow companies to treat employees like this and i think it is chinas job to do the same to there companies

    1. I can’t even imagine living at your place of work. Imagine? Sleeping in dorms with other employees. Blows my mind… 

      1. Live with them? Hell, half the time I don’t even want to _work_ with them :p

    2. nah, the fault lies on the companies who let their workers live/work in those conditions, ultimately, it lies on the investors and consumers.

      If you are willing to buy an ipad that YOU KNOW was assembled in a factory where workers died putting together other ipads, THAT’S ON YOU. The Chinese government is letting a company do what YOU WANT IT TO DO, make high quality products at a cheap price.

  9. Unfortunately it’s not going to change.  The problem isn’t with Foxconn, it’s with China, and nothing is going to touch them.  There isn’t a politician on the planet that would put his career on the line to force them to implement workers rights.

    And the sadder part is boycotting a product isn’t likely to help either, as the list above shows, who isn’t using Foxconn?

    The only thing that can really stop this is if Chinese citizens stand up against their government and demand better work conditions.

    1. though you are right but you are forgetting something….the Chinese govt. prefers shooting their citizens if they as much as say let’s demand.. :/

      1. 12 year prison sentence for even mentioning a union.  

        1. right, blaming a government because you want to feel better about yourself for buying an ipad that YOU KNOW was assembled in conditions that were poor enough to cause explosions, whatever makes you sleep at night.

  10. suicide in china is higher because they have more people its going to happen no matter what conditions. Few more years and we will be begging for those types of jobs here. If you were to view the whole picture you would find that foxconn job is much better then a huge percentage of Chinese that are starving.

    1.  Suicide **RATES**, not just suicides. Big difference. Population doesn’t matter when it’s the rate.

    2. Yeah, suicide rate is adjusted to population.

      Also, just because brutal labor is better than no job doesn’t make cruelty acceptable

  11. That’s like asking people to stop shopping at Walmart, the China backed retailer… Not going to happen. Out of sight, out of mind…

    1. I never shop at Wal Mart. 

      1.  I never shop there either, but it doesn’t change the fact – 90% of people will prefer going there for cheap stuff. This is the paradox North American consumer culture created – everyone desires to buy cheaper products, at the same time earn more money (even on low grade jobs), and at the same time cry about manufacturers exporting jobs to China! Ridiculous.

        1. Can of worms… Worked in manufacturing for many years, not exactly the highest paying job either. The company always made a profit. They also always set goals for growth that they occasionally met but usually were just short of.. So after NAFTA they tried opening a plant in Mexico. I didn’t have a problem with that, but it was a disaster anyway. Their biggest fear was competing with China,, so of course they set up a small office there, and now they have closed 2 of their 6 plants in the US since I left several years ago.. They can’t just close shop altogether in the US, as most of their customers are here, and there is no way you can order something and have it made in China and delivered as quickly.. Not going to happen, but increasing import tarrifs are the answer.. that’s the whole reason for import fees in the first place.. We all can’t just be stockholders with no jobs.

    2. You dont have to ask me, I refuse to shop there already!

  12. I would say because of 2 reasons.  Firstly the workers who have died at the plant were working on Apple products, i.e. the iPad polishing room that exploded.  It wasn’t the SGS2 plastic moulding workshop.

    Secondly, its the profit margins.  Apples profit margins are MASSIVE to say the least and when that massive profit is coming from the misery of others, well, people will be in uproar.

  13. My device is HTC……Not on that list.


    1. Unfortunately, this is a short-sighted way to look at the problem. The fact is, you own a device that is a direct rival to Apple or anyone else on that list. This in turn creates competition in the market and one of the major factors in marketing is price. And this is why OEMs manufacture their products in China, because it’s cheap, therefore reducing costs and price. So, in the end, it is all intertwined in a complex game of economics and commercialism. 

      My point is we can’t just wash our hands of the situation just because we don’t own a product that was built by one of these companies. 

  14. Thanks for the links!  Signed.  It doesnt matter if Apple carries the most weight here. Anyone who reads this site is a tech fanboy and should support the efforts to create a more safe, friendly environment for everyone.

    1. Exactly, people have to remember that consumer-demand also plays a part in manufacturing companies trying to “cut corners”. Unfortunately, those “corners” could just as well be people too. 

  15. I’ll sign the petition, but a big difference is that I’m not personally invested in my Android device and Google. This is just how China operates.

    Apple users tend to buy into the Church of Apple, so there’s a little twang of cognitive dissonance when you find out your shiny fondleslab is polished with the blood of infants. You’ll still buy it, but then you can sign a petition to make yourself feel better.

  16. HTC doesnt go through Foxconn? Wow.

  17. But then my tablets will cost $2,000

  18. Because apple useres supported this by purchasing the product!

  19. the working conditions suck, by our standards. However, compared to many of the jobs available over there, it’s a pretty decent job. All those job openings caused by the suicides; They had abosolutely no problem finding willing volunteers to fill those spots.

  20. Its good to see that 2 of my favorite companies aren’t on the list.. LG and HTC

  21. The author fails to realize that Apple is the largest client of Foxconn. Just like McDonalds pushed for more humane treatment of beef cattle, Apple needs to do the same in this instance. They are the big fish in this scenario and they have the power to force the changes.

  22. liberals would love to shut down foxconn or put them out of business because this would make them “feel better”.  liberals are all about symbolism over substance.  but the liberals only care about “feeling good” and looking compassionate in front of their fellow liberals.  liberals don’t care about the unintended consequences to the factory workers who value and are thankful to have these jobs as a means to put food on their family’s table.  typical hypocrite liberals. liberals love to show everyone else how much they “care” more than you do. but they are all hypocrites. just like Al Gore who profited off of global warming scare to the tune of $100M+ yet he lives in huge wasteful polluting mansions and flies around in private jets.

    1. Actually, I would like to shut down Foxconn not because of human rights violations (though that would be a bonus); I would like to shut them down in order to help us go back to manufacturing our own crap.  The fact is you talk this liberal this and liberal that nonsense; get your head out of your ass and out of Faux News and learn to think for yourself.

  23. I would say it more than likely has to do with the well known profit margins apple enjoys on it’s products. I am not saying it is excusable by other manufacturers but Apple has a lot more wiggle room than they do. Plus, since they are FoxConns biggest customer, they are in the best position to influence change. If some smaller manufacturers requested it, Foxconn would threaten to raise prices which would thin an already thin margin. Toshiba, for example, already posted losses this year. Imagine what would happen if their margins got even thinner. When Apple is enjoying up to 40% margins on some of it’s products which make up the bulk of foxconns volume, it should be the one leading the charge on this.

  24. I think we’re all missing a bigger point here: Where is the outrage against the Chinese government for letting this happen in the first place? 

    Can you imagine what the US government (not to mention the US people, but that’s a different issue) would have done when German and Japanese car manufacturers set up shop in the US, and had they implemented the same sorts of conditions alleged at Foxconn?

    I’m not trying to absolve Apple (or any other manufacturer) of blame; however, I think it is very important to acknowledge that not only is the Chinese government allowing these conditions to continue, by their silence and inaction, they are ENCOURAGING Apple, et al. One has to wonder why. My suggestion? Follow the money.

    1. That is an interesting point you make about car manufacturers, because in part, that is happening.  Since Henry Ford, car manufacturers have paid decent middle class wages and given excellent benefits to their employees.  However, over the past few decades more and more foreign car companies have set up shop here, however, they are not paying great wages and benefits.  In essence, foreign influence is lowering incomes and healthcare access in our country.  It is hurting American car companies who find it difficult to compete with a company that is paying much less in the way of wages/benefits.  Now, this isn’t to say that the working conditions are bad as they are subject to U.S. law – but at some point it becomes like slave labor when there are no other job choices.

      And what has congress or government done?  Many on the right have sought to protect these companies coming in and paying lower wages by setting up “right-to-work” states.  This basically prevents employees from unionizing to demand better wages and conditions.  Way to go America!!

  25. That’s because android has higher intelligent user base on avg?
    What’s wrong with being in the dorm with semi military style culture? 
    That’s simple. They would otherwise have no pay and possible no roof over their heads.
    What’s wrong with the suicide rate?
    Commies aren’t used to working hard. Welcome to the capitalism. Suck it up and work instead of taking the easy way out.

    When the market crashed, people jump out of the buildings in NYC as well…..they HAD a choice to find a different job, they HAD a choice not to work that hard, they HAD a choice not to gamble with other people’s money and their own money, they HAD a choice to not work at all and be a bum. No one forced them to work.

    Again, welcome to the world where people cope with the the everyday live of making a living.

  26. It’s what globalization does. You cause Foxconn and whatnot to raise their operating costs, then they have to charge their buyers more, who charge us more. Eventually, those costs rise so high, that Foxconn, or a new company, opens a factory in another country where they can go back to low-cost labor.

    It happens, the only options you have are: Get off your high horse and accept it, OR, legitimately do something and don’t purchase from these manufacturers (and send them a nice email about why you will no longer purchase their product).

    And for all I know, those people at Foxconn may be leading a better life now then before their job (i.e. they could be sleeping in a swamp right now).

  27. Dont think you can blame Foxconn here. I think it’s more Chinese work culture which you call ‘harsh” conditions. 

    Not everyone works like in the US or western countries. 

    Additionally, the suicides and all.. statistically speaking, are non-existent. The company employs hundreds of thousands of labor workers. 

    I don’t think its wise to blame the company for it’s employee’s personal action like taking her/his life. 

    Plus, it seem’s suicides are almost becoming the new fad, sort of like a trend. It’s been hot in Japan for almost a decade now.

    1. I’d also add that a nation of over a billion people simply can’t operate the way a nation of 300 million can.  There’s simply less to go around.  I’m no fan of China, but there’s no way a western style democracy could  work there.

  28. Ok, but no complaints when the Samsung Galaxy S 4 cost $500 with a contract and $1000 off contract. And no complaints when the stock prices of these companies drop by 40%.  My point is that capatalism demands that coporations do everything within reason to keep costs low and sell products.  I don’t think it’s realistic to expect corporations to lead this revolution (and believe me it would have to be a revolution.)  Ultimately the solution had to be political and not consumer driven.

    1. “Within reason”?

  29. So wait a min, its new news that Chinese labor is harsh? And its also new news that all the major tech companies use Chinese labor in their products…. weird never knew that, guess the iFandom has found a new cause, ahh to be a hipster

  30. Shockingly no one mentions in the comments that Apple presents *themselves* as some sort of shining beacon of light and bastion of morality. Put yourself on a pedestal, and guess who’s gonna be the first to get pushed off?

  31. *looks at list*
    *looks at phone*

    HTC not on the list? Good. Glad I’m not killing people!

  32. It’s China, that’s how things are over there and nothing’s going to change so the petitions are pointless.

  33. not to sound anal, but “android” doesn’t produce hardware. should we be up in arms about the hardware manufacturers who utilize Foxconn? sure. But some of them make more than just android phones and tablets.

  34. Apple’s image as this perfect ecofriendly, happy, and organized company that protects users and makes life better has attracted a lot of my vocal liberal friends. They are mortified and go into a short denial period when I burst their bubble and show them that Apple is no better and sometimes worse than their competitors on the Eco and labor front. They get even more confused when I show them how many clean renewable energy and eco-initiatives Google has paid for while Apple sits on a tower of cash doing almost no good for the world.

    I don’t usually get denial reactions out of consumers of other companies’ products, but I get a lot of denial from Apple users. “But Apple is so great, they wouldn’t do that!” Lol I call BS.

    Oh and the most adamantly in-denial person I’ve ever encountered was my ex-boyfriend. It didn’t matter what I brought up…it was all lies told by competitors because Apple is Amazing. If it werent for him being so Catholic I would have assumed he prayed to Steve Jobs. I’m so glad he’s an Ex now.

  35. There are two key differences at hand here. First, Apple has the power and the influence to demand and receive increasingly improbable cost cutting. Second, Apple is sitting on $97 BILLION. Name another company on that list that can say that? Apple can act and cause an industry-wide shift that will in turn result in better working conditions at all factories.

  36. Going to piss of people with this, and frankly I don’t care! I’m going to point out some little facts that ignorance seems to be blinded by. Yes I understand that by “our” standards conditions are “bad” but understand this… Those “people” (kids, teens, “adults”) are making more money than most in China right now. They support their ENTIRE family (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents) on what they earn. I can’t count how many times this year I have worked a 60 hour week and got paid didly squat (less than 8 dollars an hour) and I can’t even FEED my own family for that. Are there issues with suicide and things of that nature sure, but for crying out loud, will someone please look at the statistics… I can show that in a city like Sacramento CA (failry equivalent in population) there are far more teen suicides each year over much more trivial and stupid “reasons”. Heck the suicide rate among US dentists is the highest in the world. That company gives those workers and their families, health benefits, job security, a paycheck and a place to live. DAMN sure wish my company did that!!! Get over the “injustices” and look at the other side of the picture. Don’t cry or scream about “working conditions” until you’ve either lived it or at the very least researched it. As for myself I can honestly say I’ve lived it as I DID live in China for 4 years and worked there as well. I KNOW what real poverty is having been/lived in third world countries such as Thailand and India. Get over your ignorance and search for the truth in politically biased media and “outcry” based on a fraction of a percent of the entire picture. Grow up American and let’s fix our own idiotic self-induced problems!

    1. Your whole argument can be boiled down to: “Don’t complain about people being treated like shit when others have it even worse.”

      Sorry, but we can and should strive for better, else the 3rd-world will remain 3rd (and some secretly/not-so-secretly want it that way).

    2. Amen to that… and what all these other “activists” in this country also don’t realize is that when they think they are helping these people in those factories with their outcries, what ends up happening is those factories get closed and those people end up unemployed without enough money to feed their families–and unlike in the US, the gov’t doesn’t give handouts over there quite like they do over here.  Odds are, people over there fought for those “crappy” jobs before they were employed. 

    3. As a Dental student, I can quickly point out that Dentists do not have the highest suicide rate, actually, far from it.  That was a comment made on Seinfeld back in the 90’s and somehow everyone believes it.  College students actually have one of the higher rates, along with air traffic controllers..  I think you can look it up online somewhere for a comprehensive list.

  37. Plain and simple, Apple is an easier target.  If I’m a human rights activist its easier to get Americans to care about Apple’s actions than a Japanese company like Samsung.  Apple is the poster child of modern high tech gadgets.  That’s why.

  38. theres not really any excuse, because something like this goes beyond phones and manufactures. i dont care how much you like android, if there are OEMs out there who know that this stuff is going on, and turn a blind eye,something needs to be done. if google themselves need to step in and do something,then they should. and i hope, since i havent read any of the comments yet,that there isnt anyone here making excuses for the android manufacturers just because they like a phone.

    people > phones

    its not that hard

  39. It comes down to what are you willing to pay for your “principles”?  Every product has a price point at which consumers will be unwilling to pay.  VCR’s existed in the 70’s, but cost thousands of dollars.  There’s an episode of Columbo guest starring William Shatner that highlights this.  When it got down into the hundreds in the 80’s, the home video market exploded.

    If the price point gets too high, a much smaller number of people are able to afford the product, so production runs decrease and jobs get eliminated.  $97 Billion is a lot, but it would go away pretty quickly if people could no longer afford Apple products.  Like any large company, Apple has huge expenses that are dependent on steady revenue.

    The simple fact is most of us wouldn’t be posting on this web site without such labor conditions because we couldn’t afford the computers/phones/tablets.

  40. Well hell that’s everyone. Dell and ibm. !?

  41. Live in an on-campus dorm? Work 16 hours a day? Eat in a cafeteria?  Every once in a while somebody is so unhappy that he or she takes his or her own life?

    Many people here in the States pay many thousands of dollars for the privilege.  It’s called “college”.

  42. None of them got 40-60% profits from their devices. So the blames weight heavily on Apple for this.

  43. Close them all down. Bring all manufacturing back home. Put everyone back to work and we won’t be borrowing stealing and lying quite so much for a piece of diode laden circuitry or a pos neck tattoo or any other trend that Americans have dreamt up

  44. Thank you for this article Chris, you make a good point and you express it very well. 

  45. Well… Android is quiet because it’s an OS. Android isn’t making HTC phones. HTC are making they’re phones and putting Android on it. So it’s lyk saying why is MS quiet when HP is forcing ppL to build computers? Android has nothing to do with “where” the phones are being built. They care about the “who”. So Android is safe. I mean, you can’t build an OS in a factory. =.P

    Imagine seeing ppL chained to chairs programming. Yea, makes a lot of sense. =.P

  46. Boycott Chinese products. This is your only solution. China, a communist evil country, is not going to change.

    The best you can do is promote democracy and convince the Chinese empire that democracy is better. Unfortunately that won’t happen. 

    Boycott Chinese products. The petition should be to boycott it. You’re not going to change a communist government without military involvement.

  47. Since Steve Jobs had no compassion for his fellow human beings it isn’t shocking at all. The people working at Foxconn have to work long hours seven days a week under stressful conditions for very little money. The employees have to pay for the crappy housing they are provided as well as their good. We are all guilty of contributing to this. Apple’s huge profit margins on the backs of these poor people is shameful. Ideally we have to change our attitudes and bring back the manufacturing base that we have up for short term profits.

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