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Worker commits suicide after iPhone prototype goes missing - reports

post #1 of 177
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A 25-year-old man reportedly committed suicide after an iPhone prototype he was responsible for went missing, leading to alleged "unbearable interrogation techniques" in the ensuing investigation, according to a Chinese publication.

As first reported by ND Daily, the man, Sun Danyong, reportedly had his property seized and was held in solitary confinement after one of 16 prototype iPhones he was responsible for went missing. The man jumped from a 12-story building last week.

As translated by Shanghaiist, the man told his friends before his death that the security guards with Foxconn, the iPhone manufacturing company, had laid hands on him. Chinese media reported that the missing device was a new "4G" iPhone.

In the wake of the incident, officials from Foxconn issued a statement that included an apology. According to Shanghaiist, the section chief of the Central Security division "may have used 'inappropriate interrogation methods' such as searching Sun's house, holding Sun in solitary confinement and possibly beatings." In addition, a Foxconn spokesperson reportedly said the incident is an example of the company's "internal management deficiencies."

Though the section chief has been suspended without pay, security officers who worked with him said it was unlikely that Sun was beaten.

Some, such as DigitalBeat, have taken to citing the incident as an example of the impact of Apple's secretive nature. They conclude that there is great pressure on Foxconn to keep Apple's secrets in order to retain their manufacturing contract.

"(Apple) uses the element of surprise to help build up excitement for its flashy product launches, helping to drive sales and its stock price higher," Eric Eldon writes. "In order to make that happen, Apple exerts immense pressure on its business partners help it maintain secrecy. The missing phone, some sort of new iPhone, has so far been nothing more than speculation among gadget sites."

It's another story of trouble from China for Apple. Just last week, the company's foreign factories came under fire, as a new investigation found that 45 of the 83 factories that built iPhones and iPods in 2008 weren't paying valid overtime rates, and 23 weren't even paying some of their workers China's minimum wage.

Tuesday afternoon, Apple issued a response on the matter to CNet.

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. "We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."
post #2 of 177
What did you expect from the Chinese?
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post #3 of 177
Stay classy, Apple...
post #4 of 177
Imagine being the guy with the missing iPhone and reading this.

Huge guilt trip right there...
post #5 of 177
Waiting for the "blame Apple crowd" to show.
post #6 of 177
Damn, now thats security!
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post #7 of 177
Sure... he "jumped" out the window. Yeah, that is the story.

I hope the double checked the count before they pushed him... I mean he jumped out of the window.
post #8 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

Waiting for the "blame Apple crowd" to show.

Grab your popcorn.
post #9 of 177
Now, THAT'S commitment!

Here in the US, the guy would hire a lawyer and sue, because OBVIOUSLY it was everyone else's fault he lost the prototype. And, goddammit, someone should pay him for all the distress!

THEN try to sell the book and movie rights.
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post #10 of 177
Damn!!! Thats wicked.

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #11 of 177
Apparently Apple have launched "Find my iPhone," but not "Find my iPhone Prototype"
post #12 of 177
The real story here isn't Apple secrecy, or the guy jumping off a building -- it's capitalism, Chinese style. None dare call it fascism.
Please don't be insane.
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post #13 of 177
I feel really bad for this employee
post #14 of 177
Wow, in order for there to be prototypes already, the device itself must have been conceived maybe 6-8 months ago. That means that it's finalized for quite a long time before the public ever sees it!
post #15 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

The real story here isn't Apple secrecy, or the guy jumping off a building -- it's capitalism, Chinese style. None dare call it fascism.

Well, yeah, since it's China, I think it's called Communism.
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post #16 of 177
It was actually an interesting article right up to the point of slipping the "blame Apple" section in there. This is just arrogant tabloid reporting now.

Would just as much attention had been given if this were the prototype for the next Nintendo WII or maybe even the next Harry Potter book?

This isn't even remotely a blame on Apple. Every company demands secrecy from their vendors for unreleased products simply to stay ahead of whatever competition. It's sound business practice.

There is an obvious bias by the reporter to take yet another swipe at Apple.

Now, FoxConn on the other hand should face some kind of retribution for this. It appears that they have used some heavy-handed tactics and went seriously overboard.

The article didn't mention whether the prototype iPhone was ever recovered. Obviously the individual was let go without jailtime since he was able to go up to a roof and jump.

What gives?
post #17 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Some, such as DigitalBeat, have taken to citing the incident as an example of the impact of Apple's secretive nature. They conclude that there is great pressure on Foxconn to keep Apple's secrets in order to retain their manufacturing contract.[/c]

This a supremely tragic incident, if true.

But DigitalBeat's swipe at Apple's 'secretive nature' is uncalled-for. Any company that seeks to protect its IP, its R&D, its new product plans, etc is compelled to put pressure on suppliers to keep a secret. Otherwise, they will destroy value in the long haul, and would get sued.

The larger issue could be whether the relentless pursuit of electronics assembly in places like China for cost reasons increasingly militates against other considerations such as protecting corporate secrets, and has run its course.
post #18 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Well, yeah, since it's China, I think it's called Communism.

Which it hasn't been for a long time, at least since they gave up on Marxist economics. It's now a capitalist-totalitarian system. I don't know what you call that, but if not fascism, then what?
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post #19 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

The real story here isn't Apple secrecy, or the guy jumping off a building -- it's capitalism, Chinese style. None dare call it fascism.

Seriously, people don't seem to understand that capitalism on communism is like lipstick on a pig.

Maybe if we can free up the death grip of some of the unions in the US we can move some of these jobs back home.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for workers having some sort of representation to make sure they don't get screwed by corporations, but some of the demands of these union managers are just to line their own pockets & don't get anything for the worker.
post #20 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

Sure... he "jumped" out the window. Yeah, that is the story.

I hope the double checked the count before they pushed him... I mean he jumped out of the window.

Like any good leader, Steve Jobs flew to China to throw him out the window to set an example.
post #21 of 177
I guess Al Gore got his old colleague Dick Cheney to question the guy...

We can joke about this in the abstract, but it doesn't reflect well on Apple when it's Chinese companies abuse their workers. Apple can't really control these companies, but they can take business away from them. A big problem is that in Chinese society, individuals basically have no rights, workers have no rights and no respect. You can't change that just by passing laws.
post #22 of 177
The real question is not whether or not Apple is to blame for this guy's death. It obviously isn't. The question is, how will Apple react to Foxconn's obviously over-the-top methods of keeping company secrets?

The decent thing, which happens to be the best marketing solution as well, is to immediately halt all business with Foxconn and pick another manufacturer for iPhones. That may cause shortages for a while, but it would be worth it. Who is going to argue that they can't get an iPhone when the reason they can't is that Apple cares about the people who make them? It's a win-win for everyone. China gets a message that this sort of behavior won't be tolerated. Apple gets to keep it's shiny reputation.

It's only a matter of time before more and more of these horror stories come out of China. It's obvious someone is gunning for Apple specifically, now, too. This sort of thing happens all the time, and we think nothing of it, because we want cheap goods. But Apple, unlike many other companies, is more likely to care about its reputation.
post #23 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Well, yeah, since it's China, I think it's called Communism.

Pet peeve of mine...

Communism is a form of government which chooses economic policies to achieve its philosophy. Capitalism is an economic system. Fascism is explicitly a mix of government and economics. China is an odd case since it is a communist government with an extreme form of capitalism but only in limited markets.

Yes, I am aware it says Capitalism is a social system in Wikipedia. It is wrong.
post #24 of 177
I think it's a shame so many people feel the need to make light the fact a man lost his life over this matter.
post #25 of 177
Apple needs to quit making its products overseas. There is enough automation available to overcome the labor cost differences and manufacture the products at home, here in the US. The US government itself, needs to change the tax laws that allow companies like Apple to defer income taxes that result from manufacturing overseas. Companies such as Apple, Intel, use transfer pricing and do not pay any taxes in China and minimally in the US.

Again, the profits are kept in some tax heaven. Occasionally, the government give out a tax holiday and the companies can repatriate with a minimal tax of may be 5-15%.

Strategically, this kind of outsourcing transfer a lot of tech overseas. In the long run, this kind of thing comes to bite us. The huge supply chains, transfer of capital, manufacturing tech creates competition against us. It is giant sucking sound for American jobs.
post #26 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

The real story here isn't Apple secrecy, or the guy jumping off a building -- it's capitalism, Chinese style. None dare call it fascism.

True. It's good to see someone gets it.
post #27 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

It was actually an interesting article right up to the point of slipping the "blame Apple" section in there. This is just arrogant tabloid reporting now.

Would just as much attention had been given if this were the prototype for the next Nintendo WII or maybe even the next Harry Potter book?

This isn't even remotely a blame on Apple. Every company demands secrecy from their vendors for unreleased products simply to stay ahead of whatever competition. It's sound business practice.

There is an obvious bias by the reporter to take yet another swipe at Apple.

Now, FoxConn on the other hand should face some kind of retribution for this. It appears that they have used some heavy-handed tactics and went seriously overboard.

The article didn't mention whether the prototype iPhone was ever recovered. Obviously the individual was let go without jailtime since he was able to go up to a roof and jump.

What gives?

WTF? He was an engineer that lost a prototype.... who the hell puts someone in Jail for that. You get fired for something like that but not put in jail. If he stole/sold the protoype you can look at legal action. Read the article. The only jab at apple is the last paragraph, they use factories that abuse thier workers.....but so does everyone else in china. Frankly i wish Apple products were made somewhere else.
post #28 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Well, yeah, since it's China, I think it's called Communism.

Your thoughts are easily manipulated by labels.
post #29 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post

The decent thing, which happens to be the best marketing solution as well, is to immediately halt all business with Foxconn and pick another manufacturer for iPhones. That may cause shortages for a while, but it would be worth it. Who is going to argue that they can't get an iPhone when the reason they can't is that Apple cares about the people who make them?

No one holds off on buying an iPhone because of the manufacturer's business practices. An absurd suggestion. WHOSE phone would they buy instead?
post #30 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by crees! View Post

Waiting for the "blame Apple crowd" to show.

Hmm. You're right. I mean, it's not like we've ever heard anything bad about where iphones come from.

I mean, ITS NOT LIKE APPLE KNEW.

How can we hold Apple responsible? They were doing what any business would do.


Apple in no way is responsible.
post #31 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

No one holds off on buying an iPhone because of the manufacturer's business practices. An absurd suggestion. WHOSE phone would they buy instead?

There's a reason I've never bought a foxconn motherboard actually. Oh, and there's plenty of decent phones out there. Expand your horizons.
post #32 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to quit making its products overseas. There is enough automation available to overcome the labor cost differences and manufacture the products at home, here in the US.

It is giant sucking sound for American jobs.

Yes, they should automate production right here in the USA. That would keep those manufacturing jobs from disappearing.

post #33 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjitMD View Post

Apple needs to quit making its products overseas. There is enough automation available to overcome the labor cost differences and manufacture the products at home, here in the US. The US government itself, needs to change the tax laws that allow companies like Apple to defer income taxes that result from manufacturing overseas. Companies such as Apple, Intel, use transfer pricing and do not pay any taxes in China and minimally in the US.

Again, the profits are kept in some tax heaven. Occasionally, the government give out a tax holiday and the companies can repatriate with a minimal tax of may be 5-15%.

Strategically, this kind of outsourcing transfer a lot of tech overseas. In the long run, this kind of thing comes to bite us. The huge supply chains, transfer of capital, manufacturing tech creates competition against us. It is giant sucking sound for American jobs.

I agree with you, but it's not that simple. If we were to change our tax laws, and companies stopped building things in China, China would simply call in that gigantic debt we owe them. It's too late now to stop doing business with China altogether.
post #34 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by chronster View Post

There's a reason I've never bought a foxconn motherboard actually. Oh, and there's plenty of decent phones out there. Expand your horizons.

And where are those decent phones made?
post #35 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post

The real question is not whether or not Apple is to blame for this guy's death. It obviously isn't. The question is, how will Apple react to Foxconn's obviously over-the-top methods of keeping company secrets?

The decent thing, which happens to be the best marketing solution as well, is to immediately halt all business with Foxconn and pick another manufacturer for iPhones. That may cause shortages for a while, but it would be worth it. Who is going to argue that they can't get an iPhone when the reason they can't is that Apple cares about the people who make them? It's a win-win for everyone. China gets a message that this sort of behavior won't be tolerated. Apple gets to keep it's shiny reputation.

It's only a matter of time before more and more of these horror stories come out of China. It's obvious someone is gunning for Apple specifically, now, too. This sort of thing happens all the time, and we think nothing of it, because we want cheap goods. But Apple, unlike many other companies, is more likely to care about its reputation.

Unfortunately the economics of production dictates that if Apple isn't using Foxconn, they will use another Chinese manufacturer which operates under the same rules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwingrav View Post

Communism is a form of government which chooses economic policies to achieve its philosophy. Capitalism is an economic system. Fascism is explicitly a mix of government and economics. China is an odd case since it is a communist government with an extreme form of capitalism but only in limited markets..

More to the point, in a Marxist-Communist system, all means of production are owned by the state. The justification for the accompanying one-party political system is that the party controls production and therefore protects the worker from exploitation. We could argue about whether that works in practice, but in reality, this is no longer the system in China. They have married the single-party control of Marxism to free-market economics. Individual rights are not protected, so exploitation by capitalism is maximized. The worst of both worlds.
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post #36 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameronj View Post

No one holds off on buying an iPhone because of the manufacturer's business practices. An absurd suggestion. WHOSE phone would they buy instead?

I don't believe I was suggesting that. My point is that this is an opportunity for Apple to do something that's both decent and beneficial to its reputation. People aren't going to stop buying iPhones, either way. But acknowledging the problem and doing something about it does contribute to that incredible brand loyalty that Apple has always managed to generate. The short term hit to the bottom line would be made up for in spades over the long run.
post #37 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffharris View Post

Well, yeah, since it's China, I think it's called Communism.

The labels have become interchangeable of late, but Communism is the exact opposite of Capitalism. What China is today (despite the labels), is pretty much the exact definition of Fascism.

It's kind of ironic in a way for those of us old enough to remember the last century (and any students of history). Half the world fought a war to end the Fascist take over of Europe and people are still pilloried and even jailed today for daring to write a swastika on a wall or maintain that the Fascists were anything but purest evil.

Yet today the largest pure fascist state in the world (China) is dealt with like a "good partner" by the same countries that fought that war. Quite an incredible turn of events really but it says more about the demonisation of the Germans than it does about Fascism per se.
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post #38 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrjoec123 View Post

I don't believe I was suggesting that. My point is that this is an opportunity for Apple to do something that's both decent and beneficial to its reputation. People aren't going to stop buying iPhones, either way. But acknowledging the problem and doing something about it does contribute to that incredible brand loyalty that Apple has always managed to generate. The short term hit to the bottom line would be made up for in spades over the long run.

That's what I'm asking though - for any hit to be made up in the long run, there must be some sales that are lost today as a result of what they are going to "fix." So what sales are they losing in the short run, and who are they losing them to?
post #39 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by esXXI View Post

I think it's a shame so many people feel the need to make light the fact a man lost his life over this matter.

Umm, he didn't "lose" his life... he "took" his own life which is a cowardly way out. Many people go through horrible experiences in their life. Killing yourself over a lost iPhone or even losing your job, becoming homeless etc aren't reasons to kill yourself.
post #40 of 177
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Millmoss View Post

Which it hasn't been for a long time, at least since they gave up on Marxist economics. It's now a capitalist-totalitarian system. I don't know what you call that, but if not fascism, then what?

Yes, it is certainly not communism, as the main goal of communism was to stop the exploitation of workers. Calling China communist is 100% wrong. It does not really meet the definition of fascism either, as the number one characteristic of fascism would be: "Fascists believe that nations and/or races are in perpetual conflict whereby only the strong can survive by being healthy, vital, and by asserting themselves in conflict against the weak." The sheer fact that China is the largest creditor of the USA contradicts the fascism theory (and there are quite a few other things that do not match, e.g. most of the governmental violence targets "own" people). It is a totalitarian state with a high level of corporatism (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpora...an_corporatism) in the industrial areas. Whatever the security of Foxconn has done here, it is nothing the Pinkerton Agency would not have done in the US just a few decades ago (democracy has not stopped these killings either), or others in other parts of the world... it is not directly related to a political or sociological "system".
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