John Biggs, our old friend, writing for TechCrunch:
Apple has done more to change the face of Asian manufacturing than any hardware company. The constant refrain of “Cheaper, faster, less regulation” was completely upset by Apple’s power and the subsequent criticism that their role in the industry forced them to accept. Apple, by dint of being the largest and most lucrative customer for many of these factories, forced the factories to change.
Hold your horses!
I love how tech journalists accuse me of being dramatic—I do work in the theater, after all—but then go on to make hyperbolic statements unsupported by what we know.
I'd love for the above statement to be true, but I'd also love it if tech journalists did some journalism to confirm the blanket assertion that Apple has changed everything.
In fact, at this point what we have is a lot of great PR efforts from Apple, but we simply don't know how Apple's efforts are faring, or how sincerely Foxconn is implementing those measures.
The only independent reports are SACOM saying that there has been no significant change on the ground with regard to Foxconn's practices, and the only piece of new information Rob Schmitz's time in Foxconn brought us is that workers he was speaking to saw nothing changing with their wages.
Two negatives and a great silence don't add up to a transformed workplace.
Love them or hate them, Apple changed manufacturing for the better.
More accurately: Apple promised, as it did years ago in 2006, to change manufacturing for the better.
Six years later we are still waiting for them to finally fulfill that original promise.
Making a default assumption from reading Apple's PR and assuming that Foxconn's manufacturing has reformed, especially when the only information independently coming back says the opposite, is at best naive.
Tech journalists are exactly the people who can hold this company to account and discover these answers. I hope they will.