I saw a few tweets this morning mentioning the Guardian and Apple boycotts. I didn’t think too much off it until I read the article in the Observer this evening and I’m annoyed. The title of the article is Apple hit by boycott call over worker abuses in China. I do tend to keep up with tech news, especially Apple tech news and I didn’t recall any calls for a boycott. The only boycott I’d seen in the last few days was around ACTA or a misplaced boycott Twitter campaign. But Apple?
The article stems from a post at the New York Times – In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad. That report looks at the issues primarily with Foxconn who manufacture the iPad and iPhone for Apple. There have been a few accidents, deaths and suicides at Foxconn and as Apple is the best known brand it makes sense for these journalists to link Foxconn with Apple. However Foxconn make products for a wide range of companies.
You hardly ever see these companies called out though – only Apple. You also rarely see corrections and updates in the mainstream press. A letter from the Business for Social Responsibilty (BSR) who were quoted in the original NY Times article was never mentioned. They blogged about it on Jan 27th – Letter to the New York Times From BSR. Of course that doesn’t get mentioned. Only the original and now slightly discredited piece from the NY Times is mentioned. Why discredit this great story of ours – the Apple boycott. The article does mention the work Apple has done to better conditions in China but calls the publication of the work ‘unusual’. Not good, or a step forward, but ‘unusual’. No other company has been as public or vocal in discussing workers rights in China. Recently Apple has published it’s full supplier list, it’s auditing process and the progress it is making year on year all at Apple.com. I’ve struggled to find similar information for any of the companies listed above that work with Foxconn.
So who was calling for this boycott? I read hundreds of tech posts each day and I hadn’t seen it mentioned? A couple of journalists were calling for the boycott, not hoards of customers, not thousands of people who joined the SOPA protests but a couple of journalists. One of the journalists was Dan Lyons. He was best known for writing the blog Fake Steve Jobs and since it’s demise he’s best known for being a dick. Or a jackass. Time and again he’s called out for his wild stories but time and again newspapers like the Guardian will quote him when it suits their articles and further legitimise his dickness. So after reading who was involved I pretty much dismissed the story.
I read on and it rambled for a bit until I came to this cracking piece of journalism.
Through the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad tablet computer, Apple has revolutionised lifestyles across the world and built up a cult of worshippers.
The Apple cult. Of course, it’s a small cult of Apple users. Thats the only reason why people will buy Apple products. As Fraser Speirs tweeted this morning:
“Apple has … built up a cult of worshippers.” <- *sigh* Still with the cult thing? Even at 37m phones/qtr? Lazy. guardian.co.uk/technology/201…
— Fraser Speirs (@fraserspeirs) January 29, 2012
The iPhone sold 37 million units in the last 3 months. The iPad 15.4million. Thats not a cult. Thats just throwing an old concept into an already flawed article. Really disappointed that the Guardian would even publish this as it is link bait rather than an accurate piece of journalism.
Forbes who were quoted in the Guardian piece ran an article disputing much of what has been said – The Apple Boycott: People Are Spouting Nonsense about Chinese Manufacturing. First notable point is that the suicide rate at Foxconn, mentioned by many as shocking and something that Apple has to deal with, is lower than the Chinese average. The article then disputes much of the maths behind death and pay rates in China.
Whether you like or dislike Apple, hopefully you’ll see there is far more to this story than the Guardian has made out. Indeed they don’t even link to other articles mentioned which is a real pet peeve of mine. If you are upset at the conditions in China then it’s not Apple who are to blame but the Chinese government for allowing such conditions to exist.
I’m pretty pleased I didn’t subscribe to the Guardian iPad app now. While I enjoyed the format and many of the articles, it crashed daily so I couldn’t justify spending money on it. Whether I continue to spend money on the paper version is another question. Yes thats petty, but so too was their boycott article.