Apple's overseas manufacturing operations offer flexibility, not just savings - report

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  • wurm5150wurm5150 Posts: 763member
    Apple has created jobs and entrepreneurs around their products.. Developers, accessory makers, appcessories, even business that centers around Apple products. Apple has even created jobs at FedEx just to meet demands of shipping Apple products.. Not a lot of people realize all these.. Despite more and more companies doing so, Apple has not move their call center overseas..



    Bring those manufacturing jobs back home isn't something Apple can do by itself despite its billions. The government needs to act on it as well.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post


    maybe wrong link









    I think that is a photo of a piece of American History being destroyed. It is going to be replaced with a glass cube where the kids of a wealthy man will reside.
  • waldobushmanwaldobushman Posts: 774member
    The US has many infrastructure differences (not problems) that differs from China, and this NYT article (which is one of the best articles written in recent memory) reflects that.



    There is no question that dormitories at factories as described are a no-go in the US and rightfully so. So is, as should be the "company town", as existed in the "coal country". For a great memoir, "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam.



    As far as describing that lack of dedication and hard work which Americans are unwilling and unable put out, that is patently false.



    Having worked over the years for state government, I know from personal experience that our/we state workers have put in 60-80 our weeks, on short notice, to deal with projects that are at risk, or under significant time constraints, or under emergency conditions.



    Such workloads are not uncommon in IT. Servers are down, communication lines failed, database corrupted, failure of payroll/benefits.



    Lawyers and paralegals preparing for upcoming trials, accountants preparing for tax deadlines, surgeons preparing for and performing 12-16 hour surgeries, work very long hours.



    I heard that Michael Phelps prepares by swimming 12 hours per day during training. Any dedicated athlete does the same. Dedicated college students, especially in the sciences and engineering, put in 60-80 hour weeks. As a law student, putting in 60-80 weeks was routine. As a computer science grad, putting in 60-80 hours per week was not uncommon. College professors put that same kind of time in routinely, writing grants, writing papers for publication, guiding students and post-grads, serving on committees.



    It happens all the time, every week. Masses of Americans are putting in, and are flexible. ER personnel put in 12 hour days, at least. Broken water mains and downed electrical lines bring in people all hours of the night and day to repair. Crews that fought the fires in Texas and the southwest just this last year? Remember Katrina? How about 9/11?



    It is routine that owners/managers of restaurants and bars put in 12 hour days routinely, as do most successful Ma/Pa enterprises. People who need to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, for little pay, put in many hours, if they can find them, and may need to travel considerable distances to do so.



    Long haul truckers, taxicab drivers put in 12-16 hour days.



    Steve Jobs might have been a brilliant CEO, but he was as clueless as any other CEO making their millions.
  • pbrstreetgpbrstreetg Posts: 184member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post


    The US has many infrastructure differences (not problems) that differs from China, and this NYT article (which is one of the best articles written in recent memory) reflects that.



    There is no question that dormitories at factories as described are a no-go in the US and rightfully so. So is, as should be the "company town", as existed in the "coal country". For a great memoir, "Rocket Boys" by Homer Hickam.



    As far as describing that lack of dedication and hard work which Americans are unwilling and unable put out, that is patently false.



    Having worked over the years for state government, I know from personal experience that our/we state workers have put in 60-80 our weeks, on short notice, to deal with projects that are at risk, or under significant time constraints, or under emergency conditions.



    Such workloads are not uncommon in IT. Servers are down, communication lines failed, database corrupted, failure of payroll/benefits.



    Lawyers and paralegals preparing for upcoming trials, accountants preparing for tax deadlines, surgeons preparing for and performing 12-16 hour surgeries, work very long hours.



    I heard that Michael Phelps prepares by swimming 12 hours per day during training. Any dedicated athlete does the same. Dedicated college students, especially in the sciences and engineering, put in 60-80 hour weeks. As a law student, putting in 60-80 weeks was routine. As a computer science grad, putting in 60-80 hours per week was not uncommon. College professors put that same kind of time in routinely, writing grants, writing papers for publication, guiding students and post-grads, serving on committees.



    It happens all the time, every week. Masses of Americans are putting in, and are flexible. ER personnel put in 12 hour days, at least. Broken water mains and downed electrical lines bring in people all hours of the night and day to repair. Crews that fought the fires in Texas and the southwest just this last year? Remember Katrina? How about 9/11?



    It is routine that owners/managers of restaurants and bars put in 12 hour days routinely, as do most successful Ma/Pa enterprises. People who need to work 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, for little pay, put in many hours, if they can find them, and may need to travel considerable distances to do so.



    Long haul truckers, taxicab drivers put in 12-16 hour days.



    Steve Jobs might have been a brilliant CEO, but he was as clueless as any other CEO making their millions.



    These are all valid points, however it would be difficult to find an American willing to work 12 hour shifts for a wage that can't sustain a single person household.
  • scott6666scott6666 Posts: 18member
    Your headline paints this story as some sort of positive for Apple. It's a scathing review of what Apple does to increase profits. While the facts are portrayed more correctly in your full article, I don't see why you try to foist this off as a positive story.



    Read the comments on the NYT website to the article. Not pretty for Apple.
  • red oakred oak Posts: 541member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    So the steps to create your utopia would be to:



    1) Remove the minimum wage.

    2) Create general poverty and massive unemployment so that there is not just a labor glut in the US but a labor crisis forcing people to either work for a dollar a day, or face starvation.

    3) Deregulate so that companies don't have to provide their workers with safe working environments, fair labor standards, or fair benefits.

    4) Move the jobs back to the US.



    What you don't understand is that while labor conditions in China have improved greatly due to the impact of international business, those labor conditions are still massively worse than anything that's acceptable in the US. This is not a problem with the US. It's a result of the success of the US system. This is why labor is so much cheaper in China, and why efficiency is also so much better.



    Eventually, as China becomes more modern socially and politically, labor conditions, and expense, will continue to increase in China. Then labor will move somewhere else that has terrible and cheap conditions, where those places can be given an opportunity to improve (this is a good thing, morally speaking). This kind of labor will never return to the US, thank God, for it to do so would mean that the US has sunk to third world economic status.



    Of course if the Republicans have their way, that might just happen. A good number of people might just become so poor that we are forced to cut the minimum wage and allow companies to hire people for $1 a day. Then I guess you could say the Republicans were responsible for the return of manufacturing jobs to the US! Yay!



    You are a moron. Get a grip and get your head out of Obama's ass
  • mooeymoosemooeymoose Posts: 6member
    I have long complained about the US trade deficit and have always gone to great lengths to buy American made stuff (not an easy task these days). I do not blame these companies for what they do. Their goal is to make money, not to make up for the failure of the American government.



    I also blame a majority of Americans who have no clue where stuff is made. They want things cheap. They consume way too much crap, and do not put any emphasis on engineering and substance. Image is all that American's care about. We have gotten way too fat and lazy and lag behind many countries.



    Germany has always been my idol. They are 1/5 the population of the US yet still export more manufactured good goods than the USA. They are great engineers and study hard. They make the machine that makes the stuff that China builds, and the stuff that makes the stuff that we build.



    We still live in this delusion that we are inherently the best and anyone that questions America is unpatriotic. I believe the opposite. It is unpatriotic not to question everything.



    We need to wake up, educate our kids, stop blaming others for our own failures, reform our government, fix our education system and change our priorities in this world.
  • cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    I think that is a photo of a piece of American History being destroyed. It is going to be replaced with a glass cube where the kids of a wealthy man will reside.



    which will then be a part of American history.
  • kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,106member
    Thanks to all for your generally reasonable and thoughtful contributions. When I read this article on the NYT website yesterday, I was all but certain that we'd see a number of trite rants on AI today about "evil furriners", runaway American manufacturers and "it's all the President's fault" (although what's happened took place over decades and numerous administrations). A few knuckleheads have posted so far, but not many.



    But the problem is too serious. The NYT article is the best example yet of the canary in the mineshaft, fluttering and gasping for the air it needs to survive.



    A very timely piece. Expect it to generate huge national attention in these days leading up to a State of the Union address that we've been told will focus on our economy and jobs.
  • MarvinMarvin Posts: 13,732member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    According to the report, Apple holds a "central conviction" that overseas production facilities offer scale, flexibility, diligence and skilled workers that U.S. factories are no longer able to match.



    A guest at the dinner noted that Jobs candidly replied, "Those jobs aren't coming back."



    But, the company's executives have indicated that moving work overseas is their only option. A former executive recounted an instance prior to the launch of the original iPhone where 8,000 employees were woken up in the middle of the night to begin outfitting glass screens, a last-minute addition for the handset. Within just a few days, the factory was producing more than 10,000 iPhones a day.



    ?The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,? the executive said. ?There?s no American plant that can match that.?



    Sources revealed that the last-minute adjustment came about because Jobs demanded a change in the iPhone just weeks before its scheduled launch. He had reportedly noticed that the keys in his pockets had scratched a prototype device he had been testing.



    ?I won?t sell a product that gets scratched,? Jobs was noted as saying. ?I want a glass screen, and I want it perfect in six weeks.?



    One Apple executive defended Apple's decision to produce iPhones overseas by noting that the device is sold in more than a hundred countries. ?We don?t have an obligation to solve America?s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible,? the executive said.



    One former high-ranking executive said that Cook decided to move much of its manufacturing to Asia because it can "scale up and down faster" and "Asian supply chains have surpassed what's in the U.S."



    ?They could hire 3,000 people overnight,? said Jennifer Rigoni, who served as Apple?s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010. ?What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms??



    I can't help but draw some parallels between these actions and the ones described by Ayn Rand in her Objectivist philosophy. In many ways, I agree with the general philosophy in that the overriding purpose of life appears to be the pursuit of your own rational self-interest. However, the extension to unregulated practices being a necessity is a step too far. You can see what deregulation has done to our financial system, while the beneficiaries claim they are only engaging laissez-faire trade, which everyone has a fundamental right to and capability of and trying to assert that their success in contrast to others' failure is simply evidence of their superiority and yet somehow their own failure comes with no accountability.



    The examples given of the great business leaders in Atlas Shrugged were of greedy, selfish individuals who made themselves out to be oppressed by regulations and incapable of realising their visions so subsequently they burned factories, destroying jobs and moved away from territories that the governments controlled to a retreat occupied by John Galt who persuaded the followers to rally against collectivism/socialism and being forced to work under the mantra 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need'.



    Society shouldn't embrace mediocrity but we shouldn't strive towards the lowest common denominator either. If worker A does a job for Salary X and worker B does the same job for a lower Salary Y but has to sacrifice personal freedoms in order to make it feasible thus requiring worker A to comply or lose their job, it is a moral responsibility not to support this to avoid reducing the standard of living that generations have worked and died to improve. The success of the individual depends on the work of the masses so their own self-interest becomes mutual.



    There's no denying that a gap has widened between Western and Eastern working cultures and Eastern countries pull off some impressive feats that are arguably difficult to match:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdpf-MQM9vY



    But at the same time, there's no denying that there's a huge gap in working conditions, education standards, healthcare and standard of living too and those can't be dismissed. I'm certain that Steve Jobs wouldn't have liked to be awoken in the middle of the night to do work at someone else's request nor would he have liked to share a dorm room with multiple strangers so why expect it of others, especially people whose skills you admire?



    The solution to this problem is not an easy one. I think it has to start with the poor workers in Eastern countries. They've already started taking measures like threatening mass suicide:



    http://articles.cnn.com/2012-01-11/a...son?_s=PM:ASIA

    http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16146955



    and it's no wonder in light of the reports:



    http://blog.aflcio.org/2012/01/18/wh...hinas-foxconn/



    There ought to be a global standard for minimum quality of living for the working class and if companies or governments don't comply, it's up to the oppressed to take to action until they do. If the minimum standard of living in Eastern countries equalled the standard in Western countries and they still far outclass them, that's fine. What's not fine is paying an overcrowded population 31c an hour and giving them longer than multiple day shifts with student accommodation and claiming that until Western countries can match the volumes that setup allows, this is how it's going to be.
  • blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post


    If Apple could first create assembly factories in the USA and then gradually move the parts manufacturing here it would get the ball rolling. If they started the assembly here, local companies would spring up to supply parts. That is how it works. That is how it works in China too. Apple could take the first step by assembling iPods here and then other products.



    I think this point is spot on. Much of what the NYT story described is the advantage of having a lot of related manufacturing facilities located close to one another and to the appropriately skilled labor. When people talk about a "manufacturing base", that's what they are talking about. A similar situation exists in Silicon Valley for highly skilled labor in the computer industry or in the upper midwest for the auto industry or in NYC for the financial industry.



    All the stuff about how Chinese workers are so dedicated is not the differentiating factor. As someone else pointed out in this thread, there are plenty of Americans across all industries, both private and public, who work very hard.



    So the question then becomes, how did all of this stuff become located in China? I think it basically comes down to two things. First, the Chinese government kept their currency artificially weak for a long time. This matters a great deal. Second, the Chinese government had an industrial policy to do whatever it took to create a manufacturing base. The closest example of that type of policy that we've seen in the US in recent times was the rescue of GM by the federal government. If that rescue had not taken place the manufacturing base of the upper midwest may have collapsed completely, and in another decade we'd have a similar story appearing in the NYT explaining why no cars are manufactured in the US anymore. (to the usual Obama-hating libertarian types -- your bankrupt ideology is heading for the same ash heap of history that contains communism, so whine all you want, but know that your time is ending).



    There are other aspects of Chinese industrial policy that libertarians lust after but that we do not need to emulate, such as massive environmental degradation and exploitation of workers. But those things aren't necessary for us (it's questionable whether they were even necessary for China). What's necessary is having the web of interconnected industries and supporting government institutions (schools, research facilities) located within a single geographical area.



    So how do we re-create that type of manufacturing base in the US? I think it's misguided to think that we just need strong moral leaders at companies like Apple to make this happen. Creating the needed interconnected web of industry and supporting institutions is beyond the capability of any one company, no matter how big. We're talking about government policy that is made in cooperation with BOTH business and labor leaders (you cannot ignore either of those groups).
  • cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scott6666 View Post


    Your headline paints this story as some sort of positive for Apple. It's a scathing review of what Apple does to increase profits. While the facts are portrayed more correctly in your full article, I don't see why you try to foist this off as a positive story.



    Read the comments on the NYT website to the article. Not pretty for Apple.



    As an entrepreneur with an economics degree I read this as a positive article. Why would I use the reaction of uneducated idiots on the nytimes page to gauge what kind of an article it was?
  • sessamoidsessamoid Posts: 176member
    A lot of naïveté in this thread.
  • rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post


    maybe wrong link



    Nah. The story did state Obama was there.



    It was overheard from Steve Jobs, "This is another fine mess you have gotten us into!"



    See the photo seconds before...



    (hey, sooner or later, you know someone was gonna say it.)

    /

    /

    /



  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by PBRSTREETG View Post


    These are all valid points, however it would be difficult to find an American willing to work 12 hour shifts for a wage that can't sustain a single person household.



    I think you're misunderstanding many of the economic issues involved.



    First, the wages that Chinese manufacturing workers receive are actually fairly comfortable wages by their standards. A Foxconn worker, for example, is solidly middle class.



    Second, you can't compare currencies directly. To say that they make the equivalent of $1 per day (or whatever) is a meaningless number unless you compare the cost of living, as well. Given the massive currency manipulation that the Chinese Government has done, it's nearly impossible to do a direct comparison.



    Bottom line is that Chinese workers were lined up for those jobs. As the number of factory jobs has skyrocketed, the lines have dropped off - and there are even shortages of skilled workers in some places in China. Because of that, wages are increasing - and some manufacturers are building their new facilities in other parts of China - or even elsewhere in Asia. Supply and demand works in China, too.
  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 16,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scott6666 View Post


    Your headline paints this story as some sort of positive for Apple. It's a scathing review of what Apple does to increase profits. While the facts are portrayed more correctly in your full article, I don't see why you try to foist this off as a positive story.



    Read the comments on the NYT website to the article. Not pretty for Apple.



    The comments are mostly shallow, emotional, knee-jerk responses of the "I don't think I'll buy Apple again" variety.



    All typed on their US-made computers, I'll bet. /sarcasm



    Hypocrites.
  • blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    The comments are mostly shallow, emotional, knee-jerk responses of the "I don't think I'll buy Apple again" variety.



    All typed on their US-made computers, I'll bet. /sarcasm



    Hypocrites.



    My bigger beef with people like that isn't so much that they are hypocrites as that they are soft-headed.



    The ideal person is soft-hearted but hard-headed.



    It used to be that Republicans were hard-headed and hard-hearted while Democrats were soft-headed and soft-hearted. That created a real dilemma for someone like me -- do I support smart a-holes or lovable morons?



    As I see it, Republicans have become soft-headed and hard-hearted, the worst possible combination. Among Democrats we now have a mix -- hard-headed+soft-hearted (I'd put the Obama administration in this new, awesome group) and the old soft-headed+soft-hearted.



    My hope is that the Obama-style Democrats eventually crowd out the old school soft-headed group that posts stupid things on NYT comment boards, but we shall see.
  • charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,069member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    Seriously there are good reasons to wake somebody in the middle of the night, sticking screens on iPhones isn't one of them.



    While I agree with you on the one hand, I suspect that they agree to such things when they take the job and if they agree to it then Apple can hardly be blamed for it.



    The blame goes to the Foxconn bosses that didn't return fire (if you will) on Apple and just say that while they get that Apple wants to use the best parts and thus they are delaying the start of assembling for new screens to be made, rushing assembling could result in faulty assembling and that isn't something Apple would want either. So while they can have the promised X units a day after delivery, it will have to be on the typical schedule and they will be short the units for the days their decision to change from plastic to glass delayed the start. Unfortunately for the workers, that sort of thing isn't in the Asian culture. If they promised to deliver X units by Y date, they will deliver at all costs. And the workers agree to this even if it means night shifts and being woken up at 1am etc.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    When someone thinks that solving America's problems is more important than caring about problems all around the world, ignoring the problems of Chinese workers who might become equally as unemployed, for instance, or the benefits Apple has given to those people who are generally worse off than the residents of Flint, Michigan, then I think there has been a lapse of moral judgment. If you want to talk about patriotism, go right ahead. If you want to talk about morality, however, I think you're missing something.



    I think you can call a spade a spade both directions. If this exec was actually quoted correctly (and I suspect he wasn't. or at least not fully), you could argue that perhaps he should have said it as 'Apple alone isn't responsible for fixing these problems'. And he would be correct. what are the other companies doing. Corning is a US company isn't it. But they make the glass in Asia. They argue that it takes too long and is too risky to ship to the US for assembly. So where are the demands that they build a factory in the US to ship to the US assembly plants. There's a valid argument that perhaps there should be more than one set of parts and assembly plants so that every region can benefit from local work. So Asia builds for Asia, US for US (or at least North America for North America), Europe for Europe and so on. But while folks toss these ideas out at Apple they rarely give the same cry for every other company and industry.



    And what is the government doing to help not hinder with such things. Folks screamed about Apple getting a tax rate cut on the Data Center in North Carolina as evil but NC did that likely do to math that showed that even charging half the rate they were before they were getting more money due to the higher value on the land. Win win. The government doesn't want to give a holiday for Apple et al to bring money back from over seas but look at the math. How much are they still making if Apple pays a 5-10% rate and brings back a few billion versus leaving it out there. If the US just agreed to dropping it to say 15-18% Apple would probably bring back some of the money they were considering and the Govt would make bank.



    The recent Education event has brought up some of the same talk. Jobs said that tossing tech at schools wasn't the way to fix the issue back in 1996 but that's a little what Apple is doing now. But not by just giving an iPad to every kid for school and free textbooks. They are making money on it. Not much but some. Shame on them. How dare they. But what are the other companies doing. Has Samsung started shipping their tablets to rural schools and hospitals at no costs. Has Microsoft started shipping computers or free internet service. And I mean totally free not "we'll give it to you cause you are giving us a tax break etc".





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shompa View Post


    Just suggesting that other countries have more skill to produce stuff then other countries is plain racism.



    In this case not really. Asian countries are actually better. Not because they are Asian but because they have trained themselves to be better. Which is not racist but simply a fact.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post


    There's more to the story than that. According to the NYT:



    "Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames.".



    ANd a lot of folks have been dissing on that statement. But consider a few facts not mentioned in the story. Like do they typically just have tea and a biscuit before starting any shift. Or were they rotated out to eat a fuller breakfast in an hour or so in, after the kitchen staff (who were also asleep) had been roused to start cooking for them.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    The comments are mostly shallow, emotional, knee-jerk responses of the "I don't think I'll buy Apple again" variety.



    All typed on their US-made computers, I'll bet.



    Of course, with all US made parts. Or they were using their fully US smart phones.



    Apple gets a ton of press for everything they do but often one has to ask "what about everyone else, aren't they doing the same thing, the same way". So why don't we hear about it. Simple. Hits. Apple gets page hits way more than the other guys. Especially if its a bad article about Apple cause then the haters come to hate and the fans and more reasonable folks come to counter the haters. And the site gets ad money. Win all around.
  • adamcadamc Posts: 489member
    [QUOTE=shompa Just look at the rise of Samsung and HTC. Both companies started as OEMs to westerns companies. Then they figured out that they could use the same devices and put their own brand in on them. They have no culture of innovation, but great culture of OEMing.

    [/QUOTE]



    Kindly tell it to the people who buy Samsung phones and yes there is a new word in town known as samsung'd, the US being samsung'd by these droids users who send boatloads of cash to Korea and they were proud of it especially those bloggers who praised the first ad by Samsung which mocked the people queuing for an iPhones. Yes, they said the ad was brilliant.
  • doctor daviddoctor david Posts: 819member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post


    Wow, that dinner looks like... like a disaster...



    No kidding! Those guys seriously tore the roof of the mother sucker. I want to party with those nerds.
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