Take a Bite Out of Apple

By Karen Lowe |

To begin with, Siri and I never got along.  I was seduced by advertising showing men giving her orders while jogging and then smiling with satisfaction. They knew that Siri had efficiently placed appointments on their calendars. I wanted a smart phone to reliably finish tasks, instantly call people on my command and find the best nearby sushi place.  Instead, I felt like I had mail-ordered a leggy blonde wife from Russia, but ended up with a stout and surly babushka.

Here’s an example. Me: “Siri, give me directions on how to get to 261 S. Figueroa Street.”  Siri: “Here are directions to 261 S. Broadway Street.  I’m not certain this is what you meant though.”   I tried to schedule an appointment for January 29th 2012 and she planned it for January 1st 2029. Once I asked Siri for something and she responded, “I don’t know you well enough.”  What??  I complained to an Apple store employee about her insolence and got the kind of look you might imagine.

Now, I see Siri as the evil in the phone trying to get out. The New York Times reported that the iPhone – maybe even my own — was made in China’s Foxconn, a kind of Apple-based gulag.  My sleek white iPhone in a red case most probably came from an flood lit factory where workers are on their feet so many hours that their legs swell up double their normal size;  where workers are awakened after working 12-hour shifts to get back on the factory floor because someone in Cupertino (Steve Jobs can you see this from where you are?) wanted a design change immediately; where nets went up around the outside of the factory to keep people from successfully committing suicide because the work was so unbearable. Suddenly this cool, hip object feels, I don’t know, dirty and suspicious.

Would we pay more for the phone if we knew the workers were treated humanely?  I’d like to think so.

If there are blood diamonds, then certainly this is a blood phone.  Someone please tell me how this is different.  The New York Times investigation of Apple’s supplier tallied the human collateral of Foxconn and Wintek and found 23 people died and 273 were injured while building iPhones and iPads.   I don’t want their blood on my hands.  Apple reported these casualties in their own audits.  What are the working conditions like for suppliers to Nokia, T-Mobile and Samsung?

I am angry because this horror that has become SOP for manufacturing was perpetuated by the one person in the world who could have changed this, Steve Jobs.  Nearly 37 million people bought the iPhone last quarter, and Apple is now worth $406 billion dollars, blowing past ExxonMobil as the most valuable company on earth. Memo to Timothy Cook, the new CEO of Apple: Do something about this now!

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