My job involves me taking apart computers and putting them back together and this year to start our orientation training my boss said “well guys I’ve got some bad news…I don’t know for sure but based on the way these new Lenovos have been designed they must have hired an former Apple Employee.” It is a common joke around the work place to bash the incompetent design of Apple computers. Certain design flaws stand out more than others but none more than the 43 part design flaw that includes having to rip the computer down to it’s (logic board) system board to do just about anything…with many of those parts glued together (notice how I used the verb rip). In most Dell and other Windows based manufacturers laptops, the system boards are the last part of the computer you touch while disassembling. Why? Because you never touch them unless they’re broken! For those readers who aren’t tech savvy enough to know much about system boards, they are the part that every other piece of hardware connects to in order to function and typically retail around $400. Thats roughly a third of the price of the price of the base model MacBook Pro.
In addition to the poorly designed interior, the exterior is almost as questionably designed. Most laptops are made from flexible and semi-shock absorbent plastic material but Apple, in order to make MacBooks more aesthetically pleasing, uses the extremely malleable metal Aluminum which records without exception every time a mac is dropped. Funny how Apple advertises “Apple hardware coverage” in their Apple Care Protection Plan, but this hardware coverage doesn’t include accidental damage. This is something that comes standard with an extended warranty purchase from nearly every other laptop manufacturer.
When Daisey dropped the fact that four-hundred and fifty thousand employees work at a single plant in Shengen, I was surprised. Now I have long since abandoned my brainwashed Mac consumer ways of the past so it didn’t take my breath away, however, it did make me ask the question “how many of my other electronics are made in similar factories or even the exact same factory as this one…” It took me eight years since the purchase date of my first computer to ask that question and imagined myself to be an “informed consumer.”
After listening to Mike Daisey’s presentation I found myself questioning the legitimacy of American Business Ethics. Forget about China and the rest of the world. How can companies like Apple, Google with such strong Human Resource Management departments so intent upon the notion that the most productive employees are the happy, well treated ones, deal with companies that have no standards at all for what conditions their employees are working in. We hear so much about how suicide is a leading cause of death among college students, but where are the statistics on overseas factory workers? Why aren’t we applying the american management standards that we abide so righteously to on our own soil? How can the companies who are revolutionizing human resource management be such hypocrites as long as they can reasonably deny the conditions they are indirectly employing people under?