The Internet just went wild for Apple's "monster profits", but just Sunday, the web was obsessed by the ways the company looked like a monster. The quarterly earnings reported on Tuesday afternoon are no doubt impressive: $13.1 billion in profits from revenues of $46 billion in revenues that include sales of 37 million iPhones and 15 million iPads. But on Sunday, The New York Times looked at one of the big reasons that makes selling shiny gadgets such a great business: cheap, flexible labor that is willing to endure what Americans consider unfair working conditions at its Chinese manufacturers. Both stories got a lot of attention, but the reactions -- extreme in their own ways -- seemed to suggest that no one remembered the latter when celebrating the former. Consider it a lesson in the Internet's brief attention span.
Apple is a monster.
Sunday: "The article and executives kept erroneously saying the jobs might return to America if there were enough trained engineers. Rubbish -- they want people that will work for $17 per 12 hour long day in 6 day workweeks sleeping in on-site dorms ready to jump up to work at a moments notice. That is not work - that is slavery. SHAME ON APPLE and other manufacturers for outsourcing America's livelihood to slave labor camps," from New York Times commenter MP.
Today: "APPLE NUMBERS ARE OUT! A MONSTER BLOWOUT! $AAPL," from the Business Insider twitter feed.
This is insane.
Sunday: "A lot of corporations use Foxconn so we should just forget that these people have insane work schedules just because they were unfortunate enough to be born in China? If these companies could they would give you the same choices here as well, with the destruction of labor unions we could very well be on the way to this horror shortly. It wasn't long ago that Americans were working insane 16 hour work shifts with one or NO days off. It wasn't until we fought these owners that they figured out they could just move their manufacturing to countries with less freedoms and worse living conditions and pay them next to nothing. when is enough, enough?," from Atlantic Wire commenter asdf asdf.
Today: "Apple's numbers are just insane. More than 100 percent increase in net profits." tweeted Slate's Farhad Manjoo.
Apple's unbelievable numbers.
Sunday: "I don't buy any of it. In China they get paid 40 cents an hour compared for $14 plus benefits. There they work people until they jump off the roof, here that would never be allowed. It's way more than 10-20 percent savings on labor and that's the reason Apple and Nike and the others don't make things here. If Apple wanted to, they could ship the materials here for assembly. Instead we're giving money to a country with the most evil government in the world," from Gizmodo commenter
Today: "Apple's $13 billion quarterly profit is second-biggest in U.S. history. Only topped by Exxon's $14.8 billion in 2008," tweeted CNNMoneyTech.
So, then, how's Apple doing?
Sunday: "Apple does not produce 'middle class' jobs over seas, it produces indentured labor. Slaves to the corporations that employ them, house them, feed them. This is neither freedom, or good jobs. We don't want those kinds of jobs in America, where workers live in dorms, at the beckon call of a company at midnight just so an executive can make a bonus," from New York Times commenter Trebor Flow.
"I earnestly hope that Steve Jobs' children have the opportunity to work in Chinese-style factories while living in dormitory-style facilities. Perhaps that would cast Apple's responsibilities in a different light," from Times commenter Yankee Fan.
"Certainly a frightening, deliciously ironic, and cautionary tale about believing one's own hype, or mythology -- that Apple in it's quest to free the individual from a certain uniform, grey dystopic future (simply by then jogging, or now 'app-ing' away in bright colors) has leveraged an authoritarian regime and exploited thousands...." from Times commenter imagiste.
Today: "Apple broke its previous quarterly records for: revenue, profit, iPhones sold, iPads sold, and Macs sold. Their previous record for revenue was $28 billion; they almost hit 50. So they’re doing OK," from Daring Fireball's John Gruber.
"In other words, Apple's revenue for the most recent quarter was more than it made in all of 2009," another one from Ingram.
"I mean... wow," from Gizmodo's Brian Barrett.
We agree: wow.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.