Today's an exciting day for Apple and its fans as the iPad made its debut this morning, but lets not forget that the iPad comes from a pretty dark place. In fact, it comes from lots of dark places. We can imagine the type of ramping up that went on at Foxconn, the factory where Apple manufactures its iProducts, in preparation for today. Apple's a "demanding client," we've heard. But, there are more factories involved than just Foxconn furiously working to make your brand new iPad -- which if early reports are any indication, looks like to set sales records for Apple.
Apple doesn't like to say much about what's inside its iPads, but the people over at iFixit have already bought and torn apart one of the new models, finding components from Samsung, Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Elpida, Fairchild, Qualcomm, Toshiba, Triquint, and Avago. Though some guess Apple spent more per iPad on parts this time around, the way we've heard Apple operates via The New York Times Charles Duhigg and David Barboza, we bet Apple tried to keep the price as low as possible. When working with these suppliers, Apple, like any good business, tries to get the best deal, which usually leads suppliers to cut corners, as Duhigg and Barboza explain. "So suppliers often try to cut corners, replace expensive chemicals with less costly alternatives, or push their employees to work faster and longer, according to people at those companies," they wrote in their January expose of Foxconn. "The only way you make money working for Apple is figuring out how to do things more efficiently or cheaper," said an executive at one company that helped bring the iPad to market told them. "And then they’ll come back the next year, and force a 10 percent price cut."
Though Apple claims to be working on its factory issues, it hasn't done much beyond Foxconn, which happens to be the focus of media attention. Since Foxconn got media attention at the beginning of this year, the iMaker has sent in the Fair Labor Association for independent audits and increased transparency, releasing a complete list of its suppliers. "We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain," CEO Tim Cook explained during the scandal. But, it looks like Apple tapped Samsung for its fancy new Retina display that everyone's all giddy about. Beyond the irony of Apple working with a company its tied up with in lawsuits, Samsung has factory issues, too, including reported Leukemia deaths. And, Samsung also has a pretty horrific sounding plant in Hungary, as FWD's John Herrman noted. And, that's just where the screen comes from.
Even with all the bad Foxconn-Apple press, people still line up. Gadget reviewers still drool. And, Apple still sets records -- its stock climbed past a record $600 per share yesterday.
But, the iPad's sheen hasn't distracted everyone from the unfortunate birth places of the gadget. Protesters have organized outside of Apple stores in Washington, DC, New York, and San Francisco, demanding Apple implements a worker safety plan. If it goes anything like the protest at Grand Central a few weeks ago, where a total of four people showed up, we don't expect it will have much of an effect.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.