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Apple Rage

May 18th, 2010

Thomas Fitzgerald makes a good point: there is way too much phony outrage against Apple. Every Apple announcement, it seems, receives a certain amount of obligatory scorn and accusations by people who see the corporation as an evil presence, conspiring to take over the world. The iPhone OS is closed! Apple is censoring people! Apple is a monopolistic giant! Apple is oppressive! Apple is pushing Chinese workers to suicide! Apple gouges people! And so on. iAds comes out, is eviscerated. The iPad is announced, and is eviscerated. The iPhone was announced, and was eviscerated.

It’s hard to tell if this is all the same crowd, but it is certainly a strong presence on the web. Sure, Apple has faults like every other company, and can be justly criticized on some things just like everyone else. But the criticisms are starting to become a knee-jerk reaction, usually single out Apple when problems are worse industry-wide, and sometimes take on the tinge of conspiracy theories.

The Foxconn suicide story is an excellent example. In July last year, a Foxconn employee committed suicide after losing an Apple prototype. Reportedly, Foxconn reacted abusively, supposedly contributing to the suicide. Apple was immediately blamed, the usual angle being their hyper-secretive policies about prototypes. But many companies closely guard prototypes; Foxconn is a contractor which does work for a number of tech companies, not a subsidiary of Apple; and there is no evidence that Apple played any part in Foxconn’s response to the incident, or had any influence, even indirectly.

Since then, there has been a lot of focus on Foxconn and suicides. Many are reporting a “cluster” of suicides, insinuating that Apple’s secretive nature is somehow linked to an oppressive work environment at the contractor. Note this Huffington Post article titled “Apple Supplier Foxconn Reports Eighth Suicide THIS YEAR,” with “THIS YEAR” in all caps, as if it is a shocking number. That sets the tone for the article, which, typical for articles like this, otherwise insinuates a shadowy, oppressive, iron-fisted horror chamber with Apple somehow tied in.

Terrible, right? Apple’s policies are killing these poor, oppressed workers, we’re led to believe. Except that, as stated above, Apple is just one of their clients; why put “Apple Supplier” at the start of the headline? And in fact, instead of the suicides being a sign of terrible stress, the opposite may actually be true. A few more responsible writers actually looked at the larger context and applied the Chinese national suicide rate–13.0 per 100,000 for men, 14.9 for women–and found that for the 300,000 workers at Foxconn’s Shenzhen plant, there should be between 39 and 43 suicides per year. So by now, by mid-year, we should have seen about 20 suicides at the plant so far. Instead there have been 8. In that context, one can hardly make an argument about workers being horribly oppressed.

In fact, Apple does better than most in the industry in terms of trying to fly straight. A few months ago, Apple released a report of its investigations into contractors who make parts for Apple. Apple had done an investigation to find unethical working conditions, and found some abuses. Too few companies make such inspections, and fewer still report them openly or do anything about them; Apple was acting very responsibly and openly by making this public, demonstrating a policy of suppressing such practices. So, what happened? Apple was vilified by reporters who claimed that Apple was responsible for the unethical practices, despite the fact that (a) Apple did not commit any of the wrongs, and (b) was in fact trying to stop them.

So, what’s the reason for the hate? Does it come from the die-hard Windows crowd, always trying to find a reason to fault a perceived nemesis? Is it a result of some in the media wanting to appear more “balanced,” so to counter the reports of cool gear and top-rated customer support, they look for ways to say bad stuff as well? Or does it simply come from the fact that Apple is now an industry giant with an encroaching monopoly in the mobile arena, and so is automatically judged as sinister? Or perhaps a combination of these and more.

As I mentioned above, Apple does bad stuff sometimes. They make poor hardware (mice) and software (Mail), they have predatory pricing practices (RAM chip allotment), and do other stuff which is worthy of criticism. But, just as it should be the case with Microsoft, let’s complain where there’s good reason, not on every single news release or hint of possible wrongdoing.

Just saying. And, this seems like an appropriate place to disclose that I own Apple stock.

Categories: Corporate World, Mac News Tags: by
  1. Troy
    May 19th, 2010 at 06:01 | #1

    Never underestimate the power of bullsh–.

    Android freetard neckbeards don’t get Apple’s consumer focus and advantages of its “walled garden” ecosystem.

    Today’s Windows partisans have ancestral memory of the somewhat troubled times of the late 80s when all the good software was Mac-first if not Mac only. That sucked and I’m sure people now who were around then are surprised that Microsoft has let this situation happen yet again, in the mobile space vs. iPhone’s dominant mindshare of mobile development, and Microsoft’s scrambling to jury-rig something to compete, just like it had to scramble to get the really crappy Windows 3 onto the market 6 years after the Mac came out and 3 years after it really began to kick ass with System 6 and the Mac II.

  2. Tim Kane
    May 19th, 2010 at 12:41 | #2


    The sad fact of Windows 3 is that it torpedoed OS/2.

    Given the brittleness of Windows up to the release of XP many years later, the loss in GNP from the aggregation of locked up computers in the work place during the 1990s has to be of some material consequence.

    I mean who hasn’t had a couple of hours of worked wiped out by windows back then? Maybe this happened to every other user once every month (in not week) at one point. Add that up and it might be quite large. At least OS/2 kept your data and usually kept your computer from locking up even though an app might lock up. And that app was usually Windows ap running inside a Windows kernal inside OS/2.

    As the old saying goes: “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” In the case of Microsoft, that still seems to ring true to me, at least on a moral level.

  3. Alex
    May 22nd, 2010 at 03:35 | #3

    What kind of guy is Steve Jobs? Lets imagine based on appearance: intellectual but informal, does not seem to hunt for pleasure (quails like the ex-VP), he might not even own a gun, he surely believes in evolution, he does not consult the astrologer (like Reagan), he did not observe the national prayer day, he is surely for pro-choice and stem cell research. General name for this: LIBERAL. Besides, he delivers what he preaches. I watched “The vaccine war”, where people against vaccination, within other reasons said they would make rich Paul Offit (the scientist having patents on several vaccines). Well, the same people watch the Cavaliers, making LeBron James rich; and the has no PHD.
    We live in a politicized and polarized world; people listen to the whom they understand, and the majority has 1000 words vocabulary.
    A funny Murphy Law (Cole’s Axiom) I knew since seventies: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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