the workers are accused of producing flawed charts too.
As many as 4,000 workers at Foxconn's Zhengzhou factory reportedly walked off the job on Friday in protest of the stricter quality-control requirements for Apple's iPhone 5 assembly line. The strike is said to have begun at approximately 1pm local time, and as of this writing it is not clear whether it is still ongoing, …
... guys, you're missing the point ... in short (should be understood by even the most stringent Kick Ass mentalist): "No Chines workers, no iPhone" ... todays High-tech products cannot function without "rare earth metals" ... China currently supplies 97 percent of the global "rare earth metal" demand ... and (!) ... the United States is 100 percent dependent on imports for "rare earth metals" ... and (!) ... China has limits on "rare earth metal" exports ... ergo: "No Chines workers, no iPhone" ... take it or leave it ...
China does indeed supply nearly all of the rare eath metals, but it is by no means the only holder of such metals.
The US needs large quantites of these metals for weapon systems, guidence systems in cruise missiles etc etc.. but the US is sitting on large quantites of those metals itself, it is just not mining them. Why? Because a lot of them are in protected enviroment areas. Also, while you can still afford it, why use your own supplies, when you can use the supplies from a potential enemy?
According to Tim Worstall, who writes part time for the Reg and I believe deals with rare earth metals in his day job, while rare earth metals are certainly not rare, reopening old rare earth mines isn't something you can do "rapidly".
Molycorp in the US is in the process of reopening its rare earth mine out west, but it is going to take years. They have been (still are?) developing new processes that reduce the rather considerable environmental impact of rare earth mining.
It's that environmental impact that caused US based mines and mines in most of the rest of the world to shut down. Why pollute here when the Chinese are willing to pollute their own country? Now that mines just about everywhere else have closed down, the Chinese have been able to be compensated better for polluting their own country by raising prices. Thus the incentive to start mining in the US again. Economics 101 in action! :)
They got nothing: National debt is *always* defaulted on! China knows this, in fact everybody does. Once you know you are going to default, the winning strategy is to default as big as possible because when the default can wipe out the creditors, bargains will be made. Precisely what is happening, with a bit of griefing and spoling added:
The US economic policy is simply to print money to buy up and waste as many resources as possible to keep them away from the grubby mitts of the opposition ... using the reserve currency status of the USD to force the costs on the rest of the world as inflation. Such.Nice.Allies."we".Got.
That's pretty much the way that most large organisations are operated these days, and even more so since the start of the recession. Whilst there is a surplus of labour (workers) in the system, wages will continue to fall so that profits can be increased/maintained. Top executives' incomes have jumped higher and higher during the recession while the workers who generate the profits have seen wage cuts. The high earners at the top don't need and won't spend the extra income (they're just hedging), while the fearful workers spend even less, further dragging the economy backwards.
In any case, Foxcon should remove the troublesome workers and send them off to the Soylent Green plants.
I have no problem with $900 a month provided that my landlord also charges me no more then $250 rent and that a bread doesn't cost more than 50 cents.
But I'm not OK with the fact that my boss has in the mean time has so much money that he and his entire family live in the biggest luxury for the rest of their lives, while I'm unemployed and fill plastic bags at a local warehouse to barely pay the rent.
What many Americans call capitalism is nothing more than "a grab'em while you can culture"!
I'm trying to decide whether you're suggesting that one of the leading American companies should make less profit, make it's products less competitive, or employ Americans for wages they can't afford to live off?
Maybe it's a suggestion to stay with more local products, such as guns, ammunition, Tomahawks, that sort of stuff. The only problem with that is that the US don't just import goods, they also import money and I can't see them give that up that easily because it would harm their "too big to fail" approach right now instead of in the not too far away future. Furthermore, there would be not that much of a trade left because a lot of energy has to be dragged across the border as well so making goods and transporting them would become that little bit more costly.
So, all in all not the brightest idea - and the Chinese know this too. And I suspect you can notice I got up with a headache, grmbl.
All the consumers of Apple products who think they are so cool need to wake up to the fact that they are support worker exploitation. Apple has to profits and skill to run its own production lines, without outsourcing the manufacturing to the Foxconns of the world. If I were an Apple customer I would be ashamed..
Point well made, I was happy not to see Samsung appear there.
Even so; I do wonder if the demand a company puts on the factory isn't also a big influence in all this. I could imagine Apple in more demand for lots of phones given the current demand in the market than, say, Microsoft or Nokia.
I support this, most US products are rubbish, if they were expensive and rubbish even fewer people would buy them!
Someone list some purely US manufacturers? I can only really think of companies that make cars, and if ford and GM had to make all their cars in the US I'd laugh my arse off.
Anyway OP is either a retard or a troll.
What interests me is that I was asking tricky questions earlier and they show just how much people don't want to face reality. They might as well stick fingers in their ears and hum stuff to themselves.
Most western manufacturing has taken a brutal hit from the cheap labour available in developing parts of the world, BUT, this is the economics that any flag waving american in particular should be proud of. This is capitalism ladies and gentlemen. When Starbucks and McDonalds were popping up across the world no one in the US was advocating nationalistic protectionism. It was all about free trade and freedom of choice.
As it happens our pain is the developing world's awakening. Is that not at least in a sense fair? How long have we been gorging ourselves while they starve?
I'd like to see everyone do well. National protectionism in economies has a lot more in common with communism than it does capitalism. Capitalism in of itself can be painful at times. A badly run factory will end up going out of business and workers lose jobs. Some people say that the factory should be propped up by law or the state, but really when you start going down that road we all lose.
Capitalism weeds out the weak and rewards the strong and this principle has delivered us the things we love and take for granted today and eggs have been broken in making our modern omelette.
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What you advocate is not capitalism but corruption and greed! M$ has corrupted his place in the PC industry and so did many others. In fact on another page on EL Reg there's this article about an American woman who duped millions of people with malware. She is also a product of US capitalism, fueled by the greed shown on TV by the rich and famous. Who show off with their big mansions and luxury cars while the average American has to be happy with his or her crappy Hyundai (used to be crappy toyotas but as these are too expensive now...).
In fact someone commented something to think about. This woman gets fined for more money then she ever 'earned' while the really rich bastards whom steal BILLIONS are kept quiet. E.g: Why are the Lehman Brothers not in jail? Why are THEY not fined! They duped a lot more people for A LOT MORE MONEY!
If that's your capitalism then you can keep it!
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My quad core HP: "Made and assembled in Houston Texas"
My Samsung 32 inch monitor "Made in Korea"
My Samsung Galaxy S3 "Made in Korea" "Battery Made in Japan and finished in Korea"
Although HP is currently building a facility in China and is expected to go online in 2015
The excact reason why I bough a Nokia 701. I live in Europe and bought a European made (hungary) European designed product (Symbian OS Nokia phone).
Unfortunately an AMERICAN parasitic rich bastard has made sure that there are NO phones been made in europe whatsover. He and HE alone convinced an entire board of other rich bastards that their company was on the abbys while they weren'T at all! There is enough proof that when the N8 was released Nokia was NOT at its end and that their plan was a solid plan (replace S40 with ^3, and replace Symbian with Meego)!
In the past I bought and used for as long as possible a Brit invented, designed AND build computer systems (Acorn Computers LTD. Risc PC and A-series machines). I wasn't very happy when for some unkown reason Acorn Computers LTD ceased at the brink of releasing their new Risc PC 2 AKA Phoebe :-(
Although PC and associated things bring bread and butter on the table these days. I still think of them as inferior shoddy crap. If I could go back to those INDEED BETTER times, I'd go in a heartbeat.
But hey, the new iPhone has an extra row of icons down there... gee I hadn't noticed that... How jolly!
"...or employ Americans for wages they can't afford to live off"
...While the rich shareholders, ceo's and other parasitic white boards at the helm, reap million dollar fees and excessive bonuses. Why not share a bit of the welfare and make live better for EVERYONE, instead of just a select few!
Back to the 1000's year old slave practices I see. Seems those running things still don't believe in providing the slaves better tools or training that will produce better results but instead just whip them harder...bad idea. Even a animal whipped and pushed to hard to plow a field might revolt and trample the owner into the earth.
I'm sorry, I seem to have strayed from the reg's comment section to the Bible.
"And in an attempt to sound authoritative on the Internet, he spoke thus...
'Even a animal whipped and pushed to hard to plow a field might revolt and trample the owner into the earth.'"
the bible was almost all written in Ashuri
In the context in which 'Ashuri' was so used, it refers to a variant Hebrew font or calligraphic style and not an alphabet or language distinct from Hebrew. Bit like the difference between the game of chess played with different sets - the pieces and rules are the same, appearances of the pieces are different. Also the New Testament was written in Greek.
"Robots cost money. They're cost effective in western manufacturing, but with the crap wages that Chinese workers get, they're much cheaper than robots."
Yeah but robots are better suited for this "sub-millimeter accuracy" while most of these chinese workers ploughed the rice-fields yesterday. How can you expect them to have the same kind of accuracy as robots?
Either Apple changes the design of their devices or the chinese factories start using robots for such delicate devices. But that latter won't create a large enough internal market because most potential consumer will still be ploughing the fields and hence can't afford consumer products. When eventually the chinese domestic market will have to take over as export WILL decline. As western world´s consumers are declining into poverty.
Eventually we (western population) won't be able to afford iPhones and the problem will then go away by itself.
And for the really tricky stuff.. The electronics, Pick and place machines are used. They have to be. The parts are so small, it is physically impossible for a human to hand solder them these days. Big robotic electronics assembly machines.
Imagine trying to solder a resistor that is abotu half a mm long on a near microscopic solder pad. Not possible for human eyes to even see the things unaided. Much less to manipulate the hot end of a soldering iron finely enough to do the job.
The workers are there for the stuff that is too non uniform for a machine to do the job. Assembling the PCB into the casing, plugging the ribbon connectors into sockets, gluing down the front and spitting on it before packing.
Robots are good at unchanging repetitive movements. But humans still out perform them in situations where putting part A into part B and then plugging part C into another part at a funny angle comes into play.
Sounds to me like Apple have made a difficult to assemble product, and now also expect workers to work faster with more delicate components.
Does not bode well for the fruity ones.
Someone who has obviously never been near a modern plastic injection moulding line.
It is truly amazing how many people have drunk the kool-aid that machined aluminium is better than injection moulded polymer.Aesthetically it may have advantages if you really like the Bauhaus look, as an engineering material, it isn't. And anodising a small object with sharp corners that is intended for frequent manual handling is not something I would do, personally.
I do somewhere have a Panasonic tape player with a pressed aluminium case that had gently curved edges and heavy anodising, and very nice it was too in its day. Perhaps Panasonic know more about product engineering than a certain Northern Californian company? And I'm practically certain, not only that Samsung do, but that (from an engineering point of view) so do Nokia and RIM. RIM have even released a video somewhere showing how their cases are designed to deform safely on impact.
There is a reason why the latest passenger aircraft use composites rather than aluminium in many highly stressed areas, you know.
@ribosome - There is no generalised "better" that isn't a value judgement. You can't say the one material is "better" than the other when talking about specific requirements and then for any product manufacturer and user there is a different weighting or preference given to any given requirement. You are right that plastic for years unfairly carried a negative tag that meant it was criticised in categories of requirement where it was appropriate (thanks in part to derrogative phrases like "plasticky") you would also be right to point out it is an immensely flexible material useful for a wide diversity of applications. However Phones now require a high degree of precision as well as durability. They house multi part camera lense assemblies and require high precision and rigidity to ensure component fit with component minuturisation as advanced as it now is. In requirement they are now very close to camera's. Yet for years expensive pro-camera's have had metal casing and their cheaper pro-sumer siblings have been made of plastic. It would be a nonsense to claim the manufacturers are unaware of the relative value and properties of these materials.
Personally I think the problem is now the other way round. There is no absense of appreciation if the value of plastic amongst product designers and where for a few years back in the 1970's and early 80's it may have got a bad wrap, now product designers constrained by accountants willingly acquiesce, use plastic and justify their choice by reflexively regurgitating what has long since become a cliche "plastic is a better material than you think" As a result I now have expensive Bose noise cancelling headphones the sound quality of which I love, but boy do I hate the cheap cliched metal effect plastic they are made out of, which scratches far too easily and now has multiple unsightly scuffs because I use them extensively when travelling.
"It is truly amazing how many people have drunk the kool-aid that machined aluminium is better than injection moulded polymer."
It's not about 'being' better. Machined aluminium feels much more luxurious then plastic. A suposedly high end or so-called premium device may also FEEL like a premium device instead of a slippery plastic toy.
"Aesthetically it may have advantages if you really like the Bauhaus look, as an engineering material, it isn't"
Rich people don't go for plastic they go for leather, wood, metal. Indeed Aesthetics! And there's nothing wrong with the Bauhaus look. In fact a 1980 Jacob Jensen designed BeoMaster 1900 is still the epiphany of design and it's full of wood and aluminium.
"There is a reason why the latest passenger aircraft use composites rather than aluminium in many highly stressed areas, you know."
Because passenger aircraft have become a commodity (in the US) and airplane builders sought ways to make planes 1) CHEAPER and 2) STRONGER to carry more people per plane and hence sell more seats per plane and thus make more money. Planes today cost less and have more seats, nothing to do about BETTER planes all about making more money.
If indeed it was about making BETTER planes then planes would still carry the same amount of people but have more luxury and comfort for the same ticket-price.
No-one, ever, uses composite materials in aircraft because it is "stronger". They use it because, for a given strength requirement, it is LIGHTER.
Also, depending on how the books are cooked (i.e. how fixed costs are amortized), using composites for aircraft may be more expensive (not cheaper) than using "duralumin".
What's important is that, because it is LIGHTER, the resulting aircraft can fly a given payload CHEAPER. And it's amazing how quickly you can amortize high purchase prices when you can get even a marginal (<1%) improvement in operating economics.
You are closer to the truth then you think.
Luddites (and their bretheren from the continent) were one of the first forms of labor revolt against using slavery practices on the modern industrialized ship floor. Their only problem was that they blamed the wrong reason - they blamed the machines instead of the owner and threw a "sabot" in its workings whenever they could. Hence the word "Sabotage".
In any case, China is another bit of history repeating. They are now about to learn what the west learned the hard way for several centuries: having proper unions, and proper labor code is an essential consequence of high tech manufacturing. As a factory owner you have to be a complete idiot to take the risk of employees throwing the proverbial "Ludd" SABOT into the proverbial workings of a multi-million dollar machine. It is better to haggle with the union once in a while and even have it strike once in a while, because a union organized strike under the auspices of the labor relations law is a predictable event. You can safely shut down the plant and restart it again (in fact the union may do it for you). Compare that to someone "dropping" the wrench into the workings of a million+ semiautomated electronics assembly line.
In any case, can someone pass me the popcorn please. China is utterly unprepared for what is to come next - having the "Luddite" movement and the worker revolts the West had in the 18th and 19th century. Neither are we (as we have moved all of our manufacturing there without a plan B).
China is only 'communist' in name, these days. It is actually the model the western world will emulate - a corporatist regime run by a cabal of an undemocratic political class and a greed-driven corporate class who prey on and exploit the people they hold power over for their own gain, regardless of the costs.
In other words, a Kleptocracy.
China is the future. And it's a fucked-up dystopian one.
...that, somewhere between these factory workers and Apple management, someone is being far too greedy. So greedy, in fact, that it is threatening the very life-blood feeding that greed. I would strike for life and die of hunger - that's what I'd do, but then, I'm brave and strong, not weak and bribeable with survival. ;-)
I don't understand why they don't just move production to the USA. They hate the leaks that happen about their products, so move production elsewhere. They have more than enough money to offset the higher cost of production by building them stateside. I would pay another $50-75 over the regular price to have something built stateside. If they can't figure out how to do it in the USA for reasonable cost, then I personally would prefer to have my iPhone 5 built in Mexico than in China. Cisco builds equipment in Mexico to avoid Chinese tampering. I'm already on my second iPhone 5. My first one had touchscreen issues right out of the box. Is it really cheaper to make things in China when you have to replace a brand new phone under warranty within two weeks? The aluminum backing on this phone must be made from recycled cans, the quality of the metal is absolute crap. Quality is slipping and they do need to address it quickly.
Well there is certainly an attraction to making them in the US, and they could be made in an automated factory rather than by hand so high US wages wouldn't be a problem. But it's not that simple.
The big attraction of making them by hand in China is the elasticity of production. When Apple first announced the iPhone they had no idea it would become what it is now. Steve Jobs suggested after they start shipping the first one that someday Apple might own 1% of the overall mobile market (not smartphones, which back then were a fraction of that market, but of the entire worldwide cell phone market) Pretty much everyone thought he was insane, but they are closing in on 10% now so he was actually underestimating how well it would be do by quite a bit.
If Apple builds an iPhone factory, what production targets should it have? That's rather important, given that upgrading the factory to seriously increase production takes many months if not longer while making the factory too big wastes many millions of dollars.
If Apple has US workers assemble them by hand, what do they do if they have too many workers? Lay them off, with all the severance expenses and bad press that would result? Or pay them to do nothing, like the US automakers used to do until it drove them into bankruptcy?
By outsourcing the manufacturing they get some flexibility in how many are made. If everyone suddenly thought the iPhone 5 was the single greatest thing ever made and they sold 50% more than their projections, Foxconn would have the capacity to make that happen. If it bombed and sold 50% less than their projections, Foxconn can have those employees build Nokia or Motorola phones that people were buying instead (yes, Foxconn makes their phones also - Samsung uses a different Chinese company to assemble many of its phones)
Automation is not purely about cost. Certain assembly steps are just too complex to be done quickly machines. Part of the engineering process is to minimize and simplify those manual assembly steps to keep the manufacturing costs down (and to make the quality easier to control).
I find it difficult to believe that assembling an iPhone would be something that would be "too complex" to be done by machines. People have limits on how exactly they can place something, machines do not. It's simply a matter of which is the more cost effective option.
At the rate the Chinese workers are currently paid, it is cheaper to hand assemble iPhones (and Lumias and Galaxys and pretty much every phone you can buy today) Ditto with stuff like PC motherboards, which are all put together by hand in a similar fashion. Just about anything electronic you can buy today is either totally or mostly assembled in China. Even Japanese companies like Panasonic and Korean companies like Samsung make some of their products or subcomponents in China because the wages are so much lower than in their own countries. People in the US in the 50s and 60s used to joke about "made in Japan" meaning low quality, things were made there because it was cheap. Now it is more expensive in some cases to make things there than to make them in the US!
If suddenly Apple, Dell, IBM, HP and all other American companies were forced by law to build their products in the US, I'm sure there would be a lot more automation. Likely also a lot more long lasting product shortages when products turned out to be more popular than first believed, because adding machine assembly lines requires a lot more time and money than adding more manual assembly lines.
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are a centuries old celebration, along with Chinese New Tears.
Foxconn surprises me as they are Chinese and they celebrate this festival. The workers only get two visits home annually and for the rest of the year they live in basic dormitories.- not too nice for 18 -26 year olds.
And strikes don't happen without the implied blessing of BeiJing, it's how working conditions get improved without the government getting involved.
All this abuse just to keep Fanbois happy.
...that most people just ignore the deplorable slave shops in China and actually support them by purchasing products produced in these slave shops. There should be would outcry of these slave shops yet the CEOs of Apple, Microsucks, Acer, and many others reap multi-million dollar annual bonues for using these slave shops. This is insanity.
Sure, what do you suggest?
I suggest stop buying products made in Chinavbut then you only have one or 2 Motorola's and a handfull of (Symbian) Nokia's to choose from. Even less these days because the AMERICAN ceo of Nokia closed all European factories! The bloody yankee!
Sod them ALL!
I think the point is that Apple apparently forgot about DfM (Design for manufacturability) or somehow convinced themselves that is was no longer important. Either that or their contract with Foxconn is structured in such a way that the loses caused by the manufacturing complexity fell on Foxconn rather than Apple.
Fail... because it is. And just like antenna gate it is Apple's sainted designer's fault.
The Guardian article on this suggested that they were either paid piece-work or penalised for rejected items, both of which are of course good ways to get the workers and the QC team into an adversarial relationship. Didn't we go through most of this with British Leyland in the seventies?
1. Foxconn have over a million employees; only 1 employee in 250 was involved even if the story is true.
2. Anyway, Foxconn says no-one went on strike, and production wasn't disrupted.
3. Quite likely this story is exaggerated FUD to cover Apple stock price manipulation by high frequency traders. It happens every time there's a run up in Apple's share price at the same time as an expected gap in real Apple news flow. This time we've had mapgate, scratchgate, iPhone 5 is rubbish, iPhone 5 is Steve's final genius product; 5 million in the first weekend is a big disappointment etc etc, and lo the market cap is down 50 billion.
4. Foxconn manufacture for almost every other brand name too, nothing special about Apple.
5. Apple manufacture in China not principally because it's cheaper, but because they can get new designs and design changes into production within hours anywhere else; not enough mid level engineers, not enough specialist companies, and not enough staff willing to come in to do repetitive but exacting work at zero notice, even in the middle of the night, as soon as the parts are available.
Sorry if this is obvious, or has already been covered in the Onion, but the answer, in the long term, is to enlist the underemployed fanbois and -grrls who queued at the Apple store as a flexible volunteer labour force. You could work them round the clock and pay them in shiny baubles. The economics of their pavement vigils suggests they would expect the same number of baubles for longer shifts, which may prove useful. They are self-feeding, and bring their own chairs. Their superior Western education should make them flexible enough to cope with any assembly line snafu. Their uncritical eagerness, known in business as 'passion', would go a long way to reducing their new employer's dependence on ungrateful foreigners.
They live in horrible dormitories, receive almost no pay, work a minimum of 12 hours per day and get two holidays per year. These slave shops are a disgrace and the world should be outraged and unwilling to acdept this human exploitation so that Tim Cook can receive $700 Million in annual compensation.
China has a massive problem with over-population because they foolishly believe that having more children will improve their financial lot.
"China has a massive problem with over-population because"
Eh? Isn't China that country that ONLY allows for one child per family unlike the African population which breeds like rabits. Or the arabic population in the western world. They belief lies in strength by numbers hence they breed like...
But now I sound racist, goddamn it!
Fact is: Apple should have STAYED in the US. It's as simple as that!
"complaining about the tiniest scratch or imperfection while requiring detail work at sub-millimeter accuracy, all without offering sufficient training."
Told you, Apple! You should have stayed in the western world. Should have stayed in the US, where your research, design AND manufacturing belonged! But no, you greedy bastards wanted to make quick bucks by letting cheap chinese monkees do your business! You reap what you sow!
China (and foxconn) is discovering what happens when there are more jobs than workers (which is why the factories are moving out of the coastal belts and into the interior where the labour supply is more plentiful)
It's about time the line employees stood up for themselves. This is how working conditions improve.
Yes, Robots could do a lot of the final assembly if the device is designed correctly, but as soon as that happens the advantage of cheap labour is wiped out, manufacturing of such gear moves closer to the market and the baton for what remains passes to the next country where workers are willing to do their job for less.
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