With the recent reveal of the new iPhone 6, the obsessive consumer behavior that revolves around Apple products is even more clear than usual. Despite the lack of advertising for the new model, we are all eager to toss out our “old” phones and upgrade to the groundbreaking phone that is rumored to be 10x faster than our abruptly outdated model and carries a few extra centimeters in width. Cellphones used to be an investment product, something that we purchased to last until its life-cycle had come to a close. Now, we are judged by the model of iphone that we use, which Apple products we have in our arsenal and how trendy our accompanying accessories are. Apple now has so much power over its obsessive consumer base that it is able to tell each of us what we need without our second-guessing.
It is unfortunate that a company with such influence and power over consumers is one that does not uphold to social responsibility in its production process. In the Bucknell Forum Version of the Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, one particular quote stuck out to me. “Steve Jobs knew that the future required sacrifice.” While this quote was not mentioned in terms of working conditions in China, I think that it directly applies to the issues in the Foxconn factories. While Jobs says that Apple is addressing this issue, he also states that they are in the process of “Trying to understand right now. Before we go in and know the solution we need to know what the problem is.” Even after just watching this play I think the problem is clear. What more needs to be investigated or looked into if you have reports on your website that even depict the different standards that each of your suppliers are failing to uphold for working conditions. This transparency does not prove to be effective unless action is being taken to fix these issues.
So what can be done? Apple, a clear industry leader, needs to take the reins. With a consumer base that would undoubtedly pay the additional cost to get their hands on the newest model of Apple gadget, those extra dollars could go to ensuring better working conditions in their supply chain. Now that a dedicated consumer base has been established and solidified, Apple has the opportunity to be the leader in far more than technology. While I would like to be optimistic and think that consumers have the power to demand the rise in conditions through their consumer choices, we are unfortunately hooked on Apple. Let it be the organization itself that holds to the standards they wish to see the industry reaching.