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Chinese respond to report on Apple's suppliers in China

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
The New York Times republished its scathing report on Apple's alleged indifference to workers' rights in China in a Chinese business magazine to solicit comments "that might prove illuminating for readers" here in the US. Those responses were subsequently buried in a blog post.

The original story, titled "In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad," was republished yesterday (below) by the Chinese-language Caixin business magazine, headquartered in Beijing.

The New York Times obtained comments posted on the Caixin web site, Weibo.com and other social media in China and translated them. It published a series of responses on its "The Lede" blog, which got relatively little exposure.




Chinese on Apple in China

Among the comments New York Times translated for publication: "If people saw what kind of life workers lived before they found a job at Foxconn, they would come to an opposite conclusion of this story: that Apple is such a philanthropist," wrote Zhengchu1982.

"If the story is simply blaming Apple and Foxconn, then it is simplifying the problem. Other companies including HTC, Lenovo, HP and Sony, and their OEM (original equipment manufacturer) companies such as Wistron, Quanta and Inventec, share the same situation. Workers of small OEM enterprises are working in even harsher environments and having more overtime. The root is that they are unable to reach a higher position in the industry chain. Also, there are no effective labor organizations in those factories and the government tends to shield huge companies because of their profits," wrote a user in comment on weibo.com.

"It is biased to blame Apple for everything. The government should supervise the companies and their conduct, not the other way around. It is natural for enterprises to pursue economic profits. But corporate social responsibility needs to be backed up and monitored by regulations and laws," posted ChouzhuDaddy.

"If more rigorous labor protection standards and 8-5 working time protocol are being strictly executed, we can expect a plunge of the workers’ wages. If labor organizations with monopoly rights are established, those rural migrant workers who cannot find a position in the organization will be forced back to their hopeless villages. Manufacturing costs in China will increase in other ways and therefore harm its competitive advantage. Under such conditions, huge companies and advocates get to harvest their reputation and sense of achievement, but who else will get the real profit?" wrote YeyeGem.

"If not to buy Apple, what’s the substitute – Samsung? Don’t you know that Samsung’s products are from its OEM factory in Tianjin? Samsung workers’ income and benefits are even worse than those at Foxconn. If not to buy iPad – (do you think) I will buy Android Pad? Have you ever been to the OEM factories for Lenovo and ASUS? Quanta, Compaq … factories of other companies are all worse than those for Apple. Not to buy iPod – (do you think) I will buy Aigo, Meizu? Do you know that Aigo’s Shenzhen factory will not pay their workers until the 19th of the second month? If you were to quit, fine, I’m sorry, your salary will be withdrawn. Foxconn never dares to do such things. First, their profit margin is higher than peers as they manufacture for Apple. Second, at least those foreign devils will regularly audit factories. Domestic brands will never care if workers live or die. I am not speaking for Foxconn. I am just speaking as an insider of this industry, and telling you some disturbing truth," another users wrote a comment posted by Caixin.

A variety of other comments were published by The Lede," some blaming Apple while many blamed the local government. Others expressed an opinion along the lines of Zhou Zhimei, who wrote, "By the way, construction workers and farmers are also living a harsh life in China, shall we also boycott housing and grains?"

Apple's chief executive Tim Cook has reportedly responded to the New York Times article, writing to employees that "Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are."
post #2 of 51
Interesting. I wonder what the "Apple is guilty of crimes against humanity" crowd will say. I await their manifesto against the windmills.

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #3 of 51
WOW, that was quick. Tim didn't need to take the time to draft his letter after all.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #4 of 51
Foreign devils, lol.
post #5 of 51
All businesses need more government involvement.
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post #6 of 51
New York Times is akin to the UK's Guardian. A bullshit publication for pseudo intellectuals. I have it on permanent ignore.
post #7 of 51
.....
post #8 of 51
Finally, quotes from real people in the country, that actually know a thing or two about the situation. What do you know- these statements are all more rational, reasonable, and believable than 99% of the kneejerk bullshit being posted by people who think they can give their conclusive opinion on the situation and speak for the Chinese workers after reading a NY article or listening to a radio podcast- yes, especially including people posting on apple fansites. It's well known (well I guess not well known) that Foxconn is the best of the bunch when it comes to this stuff. I guess that's not saying much, the demonizing them is utterly ignorant when there's nothing better, and when ever single company that deal with manufactures have done less than Apple on this front. Well, here it is from the horses mouth. Apple is most likely the best of the bunch, and Foxconn is the best of the bunch. Yet only these 2 companies are being focused on, and everyone else given a free pass. And again- we can see that from the perspective of the Chinese, there are many worse things than working in a Foxconn plant.
post #9 of 51
The foreign devil thing is a bit harsh \ either a mistranslation or we are missing some context. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek?

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post #10 of 51
Once upon a time, the NYT was a serious publication with generally ethical journalists and editors. That time is long past.
Mac user since August 1983.
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Mac user since August 1983.
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post #11 of 51
It is clear that other CE companies have worse working conditions. Singling out Apple as a scapegoat is unjustified. Local governments should be targeted for raising the quality of life of the citizens, not foreign companies that bring better jobs than what was available before them.
post #12 of 51
Gweilo=foreign devil.

While this is no doubt all true, especially that Apple manufacturers must maintain higher standards, you cannot be sure, particularly in china, that those posts weren't astroturfing.
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post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by cycomiko View Post

All businesses need more government involvement.

Couldn't be further from the truth.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

New York Times is akin to the UK's Guardian. A bullshit publication for pseudo intellectuals. I have it on permanent ignore.

The NYT is even worse.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #15 of 51
It's easy for people to sit in front of their computers and blast Apple on online blogs and they don't have any idea of how logistics and supply chain work as well as insight of the labor environment. It's good to have these insight from some Chinese people who knows exactly what life is over there.

I do believe Apple needs to do more on their part and I hope they do.
post #16 of 51
"People were born to be loved, Things were made to be used,
The reason the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being abused"!

Statistions believe America and Europe are on their way down and the new China is becoming the next world leader followed by Taiwan and Korea funded by greedy western company's who find manufacturing in such regions cheaper than supporting their own country and fellow unemployed countrymen with such work, had Americans had stable manufacturing company's at home to work for and earn a living (the staple diet of a country's wealth) then the world credit crunch would not have happened.

Apple like others makes $billions with its iProducts that westerners demand ever cheaper iTems which has led western company CEOs and shareholders to abandon ship to cheaper more unregulated manufacturing abroad in these country's, China makes ten times that amount by taking advantage of their national income and America looses out.
Worse still we love the cheaper products so much that we throw billions of American $s overseas to fund our obsession and lower a stable home economy in the process.
99% of such purchases are not used to reinvigorate the American economy so Americans and Europeans will get poorer and more unstable eventually unable to afford a home and conversely eastern peoples richer until the table is turned completely and is likely to happen within a generation.

I'm not advocating its all Steve Jobs fault as this is happening across most industries but perhaps next time you buy an iPad you may want to also remember the disenfranchised American workers that American company's abandoned.

Not to worry though eventually China will reinvest abroad to America when it becomes cheaper and more unregulated for them to manufacture in the USA.
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aizmov View Post

The foreign devil thing is a bit harsh \ either a mistranslation or we are missing some context. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek?

I don't think it's a mis-translation. Rather, it's a matter of language changing more slowly than the culture.

At one time, foreigners were automatically considered evil to the Chinese (and Koreans and Japanese for that matter). Part of the culture built up by the emperors was a very strong 'us vs them' attitude which translated into hatred for any culture different than their own. At that time, anything describing an outsider was properly translated as 'foreign devil'.

The culture has obviously changed a great deal. While there is undoubtedly a great deal of xenophobia in China, it is tempered with a growing understanding of their place in the world and 'foreign devil' is no longer the thought being expressed by most Chinese when they use the word for foreigner.
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Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Couldn't be further from the truth.

""It is biased to blame Apple for everything. The government should supervise the companies and their conduct, not the other way around. It is natural for enterprises to pursue economic profits. But corporate social responsibility needs to be backed up and monitored by regulations and laws," posted ChouzhuDaddy."

That quote is so incredibly right. No government involvement is as stupid as too much as ChouzhuDaddy points out, businesses are in it for the business and government needs to protect the people.

"Deregulate everything" is crazy unless people should work in mega-corporation factory barracks buying their goods from company stores. Look at US corporate behavior pre-unions for an example. Todays unions may be bloated and corrupt organizations that protect laziness with seniority policies, but the protections they won for workers back when they were starting out were very important - reasonable hours, better wages, better (safer) working conditions.

Companies aren't in it to do good by anyone but themselves unless they happen to be run by someone with a particularly strong conscience, and even then probably only when small enough not to have shareholders. Someone needs to take the role of protecting people, though in a nation where companies now are 'citizens' and can pay off politicians, I wouldn't hold out too high hope for that happening. Confusing all regulation with communism/socialism, as they are so often equated, is myopic.
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I don't think it's a mis-translation. Rather, it's a matter of language changing more slowly than the culture.

At one time, foreigners were automatically considered evil to the Chinese (and Koreans and Japanese for that matter). Part of the culture built up by the emperors was a very strong 'us vs them' attitude which translated into hatred for any culture different than their own. At that time, anything describing an outsider was properly translated as 'foreign devil'.

The culture has obviously changed a great deal. While there is undoubtedly a great deal of xenophobia in China, it is tempered with a growing understanding of their place in the world and 'foreign devil' is no longer the thought being expressed by most Chinese when they use the word for foreigner.

It may just be the word for foreigner, and it definitely could be used tongue-in-cheek considering the context of " Second, at least those foreign devils will regularly audit factories." Toss "foreign devils" in quotes and it's possible it reads more like intended, considering the writer slams Chinese company practices.
post #20 of 51
This Article is stupid.
post #21 of 51
This the way it was for the average Americans like my father in in early part of the last century. It wasn't until workers had the right to organize that the middle class was born and you now enjoy the lifestyles that you do. Unfortunately unions went to far as evidenced by the auto unions which incurred the disdain of the American public which led to outsourcing of jobs with the Reagan administration to what we see in today's world.

Tim Cook's response is a pr answer as he was/is the one who set up the supply chain for apple and continues to do so. The average Chinese worker will never be allowed to unionize under a dictatorship. I see no FDR on their Horizon. Their leaders live like ours; at the public's expense.
post #22 of 51
What does this say about the NYTimes, which has been one of the more aggressive newspapers in getting on iOS devices? Aren't they helping to promote Apple "subjecting workers to slave-labor wages and an Orwellian work environment"? Or do they, like so many others, want their Apple and eat it, too?
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post #23 of 51
Yeah, it is all the entitled people in the US who are complaining that the worker in other countries are being treated unfairly. Now you have the people who are being so called abuse by corporate America coming out and saying that the problem is not US companies and most of these people are better off and are just happy to be working and earning a wage verses the alternative.

These same people forget little less then a 100 yrs ago the work forces in the US was no better, company forces people to work for a wage then our government step in and said you can not have people working hard to make money, they all deserve better. Well that work for some time until everyone felt they were entitle to have what everyone else had and god forbid they actually have to work hard to get it.

My grandfather worked in the steel mills shoving coal into coke ovens (the absolute worse jobs to have in a mill) and did this for 30 yrs, however, it allows my dad and his brother to go out and get somewhat better jobs, but they all work hard and long hours so their kids including me did not have to do those kinds of jobs. I can tell you the workers in the electronic factories do work hard, and I would never like to do it myself, but they are far better off than what my Dad and his father had to do to earn a wage.
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by KA47 View Post

This Article is stupid.

As is your posting. You offer no reason as to why the article is stupid.
This article is not stupid, because it shows us feedback from the people who make the technology that allowed you to post your unproductive response. Yes they have harsh living conditions and make barely any money, but at the same time I think Apple tries to make it better for those people over there. At least if they don't purposely try, with their devices doing so well they are offered better wages than building things for other companies as was pointed out by the one commenter.
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Foreign devils, lol.

A more accurate translation is likely "white devils." Gwai Lo in Cantonese, but I forget what it is in Manadarin. Similar term in Japanese; the Thais are the only ones I can think of that in common vernacular refer to all foreigners in the same term, farang.

...what do you think the tea bagger references to immigrants is here in the US? Is it any different?
post #26 of 51
Daniel did a neat job picking out all the comments that painted Apple in the most positive light.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oric00 View Post

This the way it was for the average Americans like my father in in early part of the last century. It wasn't until workers had the right to organize that the middle class was born and you now enjoy the lifestyles that you do. Unfortunately unions went to far as evidenced by the auto unions which incurred the disdain of the American public which led to outsourcing of jobs with the Reagan administration to what we see in today's world.

Tim Cook's response is a pr answer as he was/is the one who set up the supply chain for apple and continues to do so. The average Chinese worker will never be allowed to unionize under a dictatorship. I see no FDR on their Horizon. Their leaders live like ours; at the public's expense.

Please stop commenting on things you don't understand.

China DOES allow labor unions:
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90...0/7188222.html
There's even a federation of trade unions: All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).

More importantly, at least some Foxconn plants have unions:
http://somo.nl/news-en/somo-media-co...tronics-firm-1
"The Hangzhou factory has a trade union"
"In the Longhua production facility, a trade union exists"
Now, it can be argued (as this article does) that the Foxconn unions are puppets, but your statement that unions are not allowed is absolutely false. And it's not just China where there are puppet unions - there are unions in the U.S. that are simply company pawns, as well (I quit a job once because of one).
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post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Interesting. I wonder what the "Apple is guilty of crimes against humanity" crowd will say. I await their manifesto against the windmills.

All of the offenders should be identified and discussed. Apple taking the lead in reforming labor practices would be a very good thing. If they do it right, they can turn lemons into lemonade. OTOH, denying reality and pointing fingers could be a huge fail.
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oric00 View Post

Tim Cook's response is a pr answer as he was/is the one who set up the supply chain for apple and continues to do so.

Aside from all the tripe, you miss the point entirely as to why this happens. Early 20th century working conditions in many factories in the US and Europe were bad. There were some that were reasonably good, especially for the time. There were some companies that cared about their employees, and some that didn't.

Having humans do the work creates more economic good than using robots. You could have robots anywhere in the world do the work, and that is all you would get in a traditionally unionized locale.

The work is done in China because the time-to-market is shorter than if you tried to do it in the US. It comes down to how long it takes to build the building and hire the people. This makes it easier for all players to get things done.

The only modern alternative is a fully vertically-integrated manufacturing facility, which is not generally viable for anything but low-rate initial production.
post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Finally, quotes from real people in the country, that actually know a thing or two about the situation.

For all you know, these folks could be the Chinese equivalent of Tea Party members. The fact that they live in China means nothing without more information, unless you assume that opinion in China is monolithic. With billions of different viewpoints, I would not bet on that being the case.

I think that this dialog about the affects of our buying decisions is a good thing. I reiterate that if it handles it properly, Apple could score a big PR win here.
post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aizmov View Post

The foreign devil thing is a bit harsh \ either a mistranslation or we are missing some context. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek?

It's a way of speech as far as I know, comparable to 'alien' in English. China was once an isolated place ...

J.
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aizmov View Post

The foreign devil thing is a bit harsh \ either a mistranslation or we are missing some context. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek?

It's a very common term for many years and shouldn't necessarily be taken as an insult.
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Couldn't be further from the truth.

Sez you

Lately, business corruption (ignored historically) is a hot topic and being fingered as the number one problem the world faces in the early 21st century. A lot of hard-core business sources are saying that Government involvement in the form of regulation is the only thing that's likely to stop the coming collapse.
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Please stop commenting on things you don't understand.

China DOES allow labor unions:
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90...0/7188222.html
There's even a federation of trade unions: All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU).



China, being a country of pinko commies, would be expected to allow the proletariat to organize.

To think otherwise is curious.
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wurm5150 View Post

.. I do believe Apple needs to do more on their part and I hope they do.

I don't understand why people constantly say this.

The implication of the statement is that they are "not doing enough" or that they need to be "pushed to do something more substantial" when the facts are that they are already doing more than anyone else has ever done about this issue and repeatedly issue statements about their commitment to do more.

I'm with the Chinese suppliers who commented on the original article.

The real questions here, and the one that no one is answering, are:

- Why does only Apple get hit with these allegations?
- Why doesn't Samsung, or HP, or Asus get any bad press?
- What (the fuck) are these other companies doing about this (nothing)?

The whole premise that a company that does business in another country is somehow directly responsible for the laws and society and culture of that other country is completely false and always has been. All any company can rightly do is either do business or not, and if they have any sense of morality and responsibility, push for changes using the leverage of their business. This is exactly what Apple (alone apparently) is trying to do.

I find Apple's position here to be above reproach and in fact, admirable.
post #36 of 51
Great reality check from people in China -- very intelligent responses.

I think the key point really is that the ultimate responsibility here is the Chinese government. Without government intervention/regulation, capitalism will inevitably result in a race to the moral bottom. That's what the Chinese are experiencing, and it's what the would-be oligarchs in this country want to have happen here. The Romneys, Bushs, and Kochs of the world think they should be the Lords and the rest of us their peasants. That's why they admire Chinese capitalism so much.
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

All of the offenders should be identified and discussed. Apple taking the lead in reforming labor practices would be a very good thing. If they do it right, they can turn lemons into lemonade. OTOH, denying reality and pointing fingers could be a huge fail.

But what it is, that is being defined as the "offenders" IS NOT the reality of the situation.
Media an meme have put this all in one single tidy "frame", and the internet drones have swallowed it whole.
post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I don't understand why people constantly say this.

The implication of the statement is that they are "not doing enough" or that they need to be "pushed to do something more substantial" when the facts are that they are already doing more than anyone else has ever done about this issue and repeatedly issue statements about their commitment to do more.

I'm with the Chinese suppliers who commented on the original article.

The real questions here, and the one that no one is answering, are:

- Why does only Apple get hit with these allegations?
- Why doesn't Samsung, or HP, or Asus get any bad press?
- What (the fuck) are these other companies doing about this (nothing)?

The whole premise that a company that does business in another country is somehow directly responsible for the laws and society and culture of that other country is completely false and always has been. All any company can rightly do is either do business or not, and if they have any sense of morality and responsibility, push for changes using the leverage of their business. This is exactly what Apple (alone apparently) is trying to do.

I find Apple's position here to be above reproach and in fact, admirable.

Yeah, well your "question" will never get answered because that would require things like logic, rationality, and fairness.
post #39 of 51
If you care about working conditions in China I think targeting Apple, even though I understand why they do it (they're more likely to get noticed), is detrimental to the cause. It's transparently obvious that Apple is far from the worst. In fact, there's a good argument that Apple is the best option for consumer electronics if you care about working conditions. Apple is at least doing something and reporting the results. There's oversight and scrutiny. As one of the comments said, the alternative is to buy from Taiwanese and Korean manufacturers, who all manufacture on the Chinese mainland and have far less oversight. The level of abuse involved in creating your Samsung or HTC smartphone is likely an order of magnitude above anything going on at Foxconn, which has been subject to scrutiny for years. Focusing on Apple is not only unfair, not only grossly misrepresents what's happening in China, but is extremely misleading for customers, who now think that buying a Samsung or HTC phone is a better option because they only hear about Apple's alleged misdeeds.
post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I'm with the Chinese suppliers who commented on the original article.

I hope you read the original Chinese comments article and not the hand-picked highlights on here. There were also a lot of negative comments from Chinese commenters, precisely none of which featured in the AppleInsider article.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

- Why does only Apple get hit with these allegations?

Apple doesn't only get hit with the allegations. The original NYT article made it very clear that many other big consumer electronics companies are guilty of permitting the same practices with suppliers.

The reason Apple gets featured more prominently in the headlines is because they are sending the most business to these suppliers. They are the bigger company, they have the most resources with bigger operating margins, and they are best best positioned to bring about change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

- Why doesn't Samsung, or HP, or Asus get any bad press?

Dell and HP has also taken a beating over this issue recently. Asus and Samsung are not US companies and you don't see them running around preaching holier than thou marketing messages about their practices.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

- What (the fuck) are these other companies doing about this (nothing)?

So that excuses Apple then does it? They can carry on regardless as long as HP and Dell are playing the same game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I find Apple's position here to be above reproach and in fact, admirable.

Admirable? Really? How shocking you would think that.

I bought into the Apple ecosystem as much as the biggest fanboys. I own multiple Macs, AppleTVs, iPhones, iPods and iPads. But I'm not blinded by the uncomfortable realities of the situation, despite my love for Apple's products. Apple's stance on this is about as honest as Google's "don't be evil" BS.

Apple could easily facilitate positive change in the area of manufacturing processes with their suppliers. They could demand it when they entered into contracts. But they don't do it for a very good business reason: IT WOULD DRIVE UP COSTS. Driving up costs and reducing margins is not a price worth paying for Apple, especially given the pressures of satisfying the wolves on Wall Street. Apple can sugarcoat this issue as much as they want, but anyone with an open mind, and the ability to think for themselves, should be capable of figuring out the grim realities of what is truly going on here.
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