EBN readers: I'm posting this on behalf of a reader that is having some trouble with our site--Barb
If you found out your spouse was abusing your child, this would be a difficult situation. You'd have to consider that it would be extremely difficult to break up. You'd have to somehow split the house and separating all of your conjoined assets would be messy. Your spouse knows many of your secrets and vulnerability, and you'd also have to consider whether you could find another partner who could contribute as well as this one does. There would be costs associated with breaking up too, which would impact how you could take care of your child. There's also both of your reputations to think about; how would those at work treat you? It would be best to try to make it work, wouldn't it?
Is Foxconn like abusing a child? Isn't Foxconn forcing labor and dangerous working conditions abuse?
And your final statement: "A breakup wouldn't just hurt the companies. It would hurt everyone."
Everyone, that is, who lives here. The 100,000s of students and workers impacted by this, I guess they don't count.
This reply is more elegant in my mind. I'm writing because the focus on business at the expense of others — and justifying it — seems so narrow-focused to me. Do you really believe this when you consider all the people on the other side, the ones without choice, without options?
Apple is huge. They can make changes in the world. Magazines like yours don't need to rescue them from taking action. Any number of companies would jump at the opportunity to take Apple's business from Foxconn. This isn't such a dismal story for Apple or for us.
Thanks, Douglas, and well said. About halfway through my first draft of this, it occurred to me that the whole point of outsourcing was flexibility. In theory, OEMs could move more quickly if they weren't saddled with owning their own factories. It's pretty clear that flexibility is a relative term in outsourcing. Taking a year or more to ramp up a relationship doesn't sound flexible to me, and disengaging is almost as bad. You are right--onsite visits and time spent at the factories would have avoided a lot of grief for Apple.
Excellent post. Your understanding and articulation of the meshing between EMS and client is outstanding. It seems to me you have inadvertently generated a pre qualification list for potential gotchas in a mutually dependent business relationship. This leaves some kind of contingency planning as an absolute necessity. What could you build into a supplier survey that would anticipate these potentially problematic entanglements so a company could run for the hills after the first date. Seems like a question such as , " do you beat your children regularly?" might help you decide if you want to see that company ever again. I guess I am suggesting that the onsite visit before business is transacted, and some higher values going into any relationship, might save a lot of heartache and sleepless nights.
Several readers have asked who is hurt if Apple products cost more. The answer is the consumer and by extension, the supply chain. Here's the logic: China's exports are driven by demand from the US and Europe. For one reason or another--say prices skyrocket--demand drops off. Consumers are not buying enough goods, so manufacturers cut back on their forecasts. Component orders get cancelled, and component makers shutter facorties and/or cut jobs. People without jobs don't buy cars, electronics, white goods or other items. And so it goes. Additionally, say the public boycott's Apple products. The same Chinese workers they are so worried about lose THEIR jobs. Foxconn is first and foremost a business, so that will happen. Can people live without their i-products? Of course they can. They can buy less expensive competing items. But the Apple ecosystem is now so large, Apple's "hurt" will be felt by many.
Barbara, from customer point of view, they are not bothered about where it is manufactured (other than China) and who all the component suppliers. They are only looking for branded products with less cost and advance features. If apple is planning to move their production unit to Malaysia or Philippines, I don’t think US/European/Asian peoples may bother about it. due to low product cost, if apple is offering a discounted price, customers becomes very happy.
I agree with your opinion that we should become conscious of human rights as a consumer .
But what is the general scenario? I suggest you randomly visit any Apple store and take opinion of the customers visiting . I am sure 9 out of 10 of these customers will be unaware of this issue and would not bother to show any interest even if you try to explain it to them.
But I question those people who feel like that they can't walk through life without an Apple product in their hands.
I find in this echoes of the exhibits I've seen on the sugar and the slave trade in the 18th Century. Though there was no slavery in England, the English demand for sugar, certainly, played a role in keeping up the slave trade that was integral to the production of sugar cane.
Who exactly?? Shareholders? Perhaps. Consumers who want the latest Apple product? Not really considering there are viable alternatives/competitors. Chinese factory workers? I hardly feel remorse for them considering American factory workers were forced to deal with the same unemployment. But I question those people who feel like that they can't walk through life without an Apple product in their hands.
I agree that the majority of consumers are unaware of the manufacturing practices of electronics companies. This past Christmas, all 10 of my nieces and nephews sported a new Apple product. Although we parents engaged in a discussion about manufacturing moving to Asia in general, I think we'd all privately admit that did not influence our purchasing decision. As Bolaji pointed out in his blog, we are all complicit in what is happening overseas. The question is, are we willing to pay the price of change? I think that is a personal decision--great to debate here--but one I am struggling with right now.
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.