Ever Wonder Where Your Apple Hardware Comes From? Listen to “Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory”
Update 3/16/2012: This American Life has now retracted the entire episode because they discovered that Mike Daisey made up significant parts of the story. Yes, Mr Daisey fabricated much of his tale about Foxconn Factories. Shameful.
“Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China” sits in fine print on the back of virtually any piece of hardware that Apple ships, be it an iPad, iPhone, or MacBook Air. But have you ever wondered about the second part, the Chinese component? Where these devices are being made in some factory far away, and by who? An episode of NPR’s This American Life podcast aims to answer that question with the help of monologuist Mike Daisey, who wondered “Who makes all my crap?” and then traveled to Shenzen China to find out in an episode called “Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory”.
It’s a humbling hour long, separated into two joined parts, and well worth a listen:
Part 1 is described as:
Mike Daisey performs an excerpt that was adapted for radio from his one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” A lifelong Apple superfan, Daisey sees some photos online from the inside of a factory that makes iPhones, starts to wonder about the people working there, and flies to China to meet them. His show restarts a run at New York’s Public Theater later this month. (39 minutes)
Part 2 is described as:
What should we make of what Mike Daisey saw in China? Our staff did weeks of fact checking to corroborate Daisey’s findings. Ira talks with Ian Spaulding, founder and managing director of INFACT Global Partners, which goes into Chinese factories and helps them meet social responsibility standards set by Western companies (Apple’s Supplier Responsibility page is here), and with Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times who has reported in Asian factories. In the podcast and streaming versions of the program he also speaks with Debby Chan Sze Wan, a project manager at the advocacy group SACOM, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, based in Hong Kong. They’ve put out three reports investigating conditions at Foxconn (October 2010, May 2011, Sept 2011). Each report surveyed over 100 Foxconn workers, and they even had a researcher go undercover and take a job at the Shenzhen plant. (15 minutes)
While this episode focuses on Apple products, Foxconn produces hardware for many other electronics companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Nintendo, Dell, Samsung, Sharp, Nokia, Motorola, and countless others, and it’s safe to assume the unflattering descriptions of work conditions and factories goes far beyond Apple.