Steve Jobs: “not a sweatshop”

· Posted by Joshua in Headlines

Apple iPhone 3GS
Apple iPhone 3GS.
Photo © 2009 Renato Mitra, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License 2.0.

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs spoke in California today and briefly defended working conditions at the Chinese factories that manufacture Apple’s high end consumer electronics. Here, though, are the numbers:

The U.S. retail price of Apple’s iPhone 3GS, 16GB:
The starting monthly salary of the workers who build the iPhone and iPad for Apple at a Foxconn manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, China:
$131.77 (¥900)2
That salary expressed as an hourly wage for Foxconn employees who work six twelve-hour shifts a week:
$0.46 (¥3.13)3
Number of suicides and suicide attempts at Foxconn factories so far this year:
Amount by which Foxconn has now pledged to increase wages for assembly line workers:
30%5 (at the base rate, that is ¥270 or $39.53/month)
Price of stock in Apple Inc. on NASDAQ at the close of trading on June 2, 2010:
Amount by which the stock price in Apple Inc. has risen so far this year:
Date when Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s largest technology company by market capitalization:
May 27, 20108

Apple is not the only client of the Taiwan based Foxconn Technology Group. Devices sold by Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia and others are also built at the very same Foxconn plants. It is Apple, however, that makes the greatest pretense at exclusivity — exacting the highest prices from American consumers, dispersing the wealth to Wall Street traders, and remaining content with the abysmal wages at its Chinese assembly lines. It is just one more reminder of who bears the burden for our cozy material lifestyle.

UPDATE (June 7, 2010): Under increased pressure, Foxconn has announced a 70% wage increase for its production line workers, on top of the aforementioned 30% increase — if workers can pass a three month performance review. Investors seem to dislike the idea of boosting employee wages, and shares in Foxconn’s parent company have fallen swiftly at the news. Read more: BBC News.


  1. Apple Store (accessed June 2, 2010).
  2. BBC News: Apple boss defends conditions at iPhone factory (June 2, 2010)
  3. BBC News: Apple boss defends conditions at iPhone factory (June 2, 2010).
    ¥900 ÷ [12 hours × 6 days × 4 weeks] = ¥3.125 = $0.457
  4. BBC News: Apple boss defends conditions at iPhone factory (June 2, 2010)
  5. BBC News: Apple boss defends conditions at iPhone factory (June 2, 2010)
  6. Yahoo! Finance: Apple Inc. (accessed June 2, 2010).
  7. Yahoo! Finance: Apple Inc. (accessed June 2, 2010).
  8. BBC News: Apple passes Microsoft to be biggest tech company (May 27, 2010)

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No Responses to "Steve Jobs: “not a sweatshop”":

  1. Angst? Princeton Wordnet: “an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety…” I’m not sure what you mean.

    I do not want to imply that Apple or Steve Jobs are “evil” or to be avoided at all costs or anything — Apple is a highly innovative company that leads the industry in style and usability. It is about time that it overtook buggy and bloated Microsoft on the stock exchange. However, Apple is not without its own faults: it imposes harsh limits on how customers use Apple products (you have to hack or “jailbreak” the iPhone to use a provider other than AT&T, for example — and ditto if you want to install software that Apple didn’t pre-approve). They also exploit overseas workers and build their high priced gadgets in the same Chinese plants that build far less expensive models for less prestigious brands. I love the innovation at Apple, but I think it is important that people be aware of the company’s shadier side too.