Does it matter if your iPhone is made ‘ethically’?

There’s a petition floating around in cyberspace urging Apple to produce an iPhone 5 that has been manufactured “ethically.”

By ethically, the watchdog group SumOfUs means an iPhone that is put together by suppliers that don’t have employees working under deplorable conditions, according to a CNET report on the petition drive.

The petition obtained more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, SumOfUs said, and it hopes to apply pressure before the release of the next iPhone.

Apple, which reported a $13 billion quarterly profit last week, has adopted a code of conduct for its suppliers, but as The New York Times reported recently on conditions in China, alleged abuses abound at manufacturers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices:

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors. More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health.

While Apple is saying little publicly about the allegations, former executives say there is tension within the company over addressing the issue head-on and the reality of the supplier relationships needed to deliver products on time, according to the Times.

Advocacy groups also have complained about conditions at suppliers for Hewlett-Packard, I.B.M., Lenovo, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, Toshiba and others.

26 comments Add your comment


January 31st, 2012
4:50 pm

Dude. Ex Us vice president Al Gore is up for Apples Election of Directors. If Al Gore gives his blessing on the Iphone 5, Im first in line to BUY! GO APPLE!

Avg American

January 31st, 2012
4:50 pm

whatever…I want my iPhone 5 under any circumstance. it’s all about my needs and wants…I’m a spoiled over-indulged fat ugly stupid avg american getting dumber by the hour and fatter by the minute.

Bob' big brain

January 31st, 2012
4:59 pm

I would wager most of the people that have signed this petition can’t afford an iphone, so they’d rather nobody get one…causing a lot of poor people in China to lose the best job they ever had.


January 31st, 2012
4:59 pm

None of these workers are being forced to work. Why would they accept such bad conditions? Because those conditions are better than their next-best alternative. If they couldn’t work for Apple in crappy conditions, they’d work for someone else with even worse conditions.

By all means, if you want an “ethically” made iPhone, vote with your wallet and don’t buy them until the workers are treated better. But you must realize that it will cost you more, and you must also realize that despite the bad conditions, all those workers are better off because of Apple.

If we’re talking about voluntary agreements made between consenting adults, which is the case for these workers, immorality is impossible.

Joey M

January 31st, 2012
5:02 pm

Talk with your wallet. That is the beauty of Capitalism. Don’t buy the iPhone 5. It’s your choice. To try to force others to not buy an iPhone 5 is Liberalism at it’s finest.

Steve Jobs

January 31st, 2012
5:09 pm

Bite my dead billionaire ass


January 31st, 2012
5:14 pm

Save the sob story. Tell us when we can buy this Iphone 5 you speak of. @averageamerican- quit sissifying our country.


January 31st, 2012
5:18 pm

You people griping about “talk with your wallet” ignore that allowing working conditions like this keep jobs flooding out of the US.

Level the playing field. And Apple should be ashamed taking advantage. $6.62 billion profit in the 4th quarter? $4.5 billion wouldn’t be enough?

Old Meanie

January 31st, 2012
5:18 pm

Come ON! Everybody knows that manufacturing is offshored to 3rd, 4th and 5th world countries. That’s why everything is so cheap. The average idiot consumer buys on price.

buy American Made

January 31st, 2012
5:23 pm

if it is made in communist china, then stop buying it…. we need jobs here..


January 31st, 2012
5:53 pm

Since when do American’s care about the average chinese citizen. We give them most favored nation status and ignore the fact they imprison and murder thousands that try to voice dissent. Then, the murdered prisoners are cleaned, skinned, and mounted to hold a football and Americans pay $35 a head to see the “Bodies” exhibits that tour around the country. Its too absurd to believe, but sadly its true.

Douglas Adams

January 31st, 2012
5:56 pm

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Tech '10

January 31st, 2012
6:14 pm

Everyday I see more reasons to be disgusted with the people that populate my country.


January 31st, 2012
6:27 pm

The 35,000 that signed the petition is less than the amount of people hoping to get one of those jobs in China.

My Two Cents

January 31st, 2012
6:29 pm

More reasons to create jobs here and / or bring the jobs back and get Americans back to work. We need to take care of our own people first!

Avg American

January 31st, 2012
6:42 pm

Whah, whah whatever…I want my iPhone 5 under any circumstance. It’s all about MY needs and wants…I’m a spoiled over-indulged fat ugly stupid avg american getting dumber by the hour and fatter by the minute.

Jimmy Hoffa

January 31st, 2012
6:46 pm

Let’s have them all made by union workers with fullbenefits here in the U.S. with starting pay at $27.50 for a high school drop out. When it’s all said and done, the phones will retail for $4250.00 each. That’ll show ‘em!


January 31st, 2012
7:02 pm

Pro’s are cheap iphones, more jobs for workers in other countries.

Cons are less jobs for U.S. employees, bad working conditions for workers in other countries, technology built outside the country, etc.

Pretty sure this debate applies to lots of industries other than iPhones. The broader question is whether to support globalism.

Off the grid

January 31st, 2012
7:21 pm

Enter your comments here Who needs phones???


January 31st, 2012
8:47 pm

“…in China, alleged abuses abound at manufacturers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices…”

Right there, unethical phone manufacturing, be’s all the provocation we needs to tack China. We gots troops back from Irack that needs a new war, ceptin China got to wait in line while we tacks Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Somalia firs.

[...] urges Apple to make ethical iPhone 5Straight.comCBS News -PC Magazine -Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 16 news [...]


February 1st, 2012
9:25 am

The problem with using offshore contractors and manufacturer’s is they usually become a lower cost competitor and eat your lunch and drink your milkshake. Pardon my grammar. I offshored that as well.


February 2nd, 2012
6:26 am

It’s ethical as Terry Guo said that he has about 1 million ANIMALS working for him so no human is suffering under poor working conditions at any Foxconn factory.

money talks

February 2nd, 2012
7:51 am

all I care about is price and quality, not some BS “ethics.” just get me the best deal!


February 3rd, 2012
3:58 pm

What’s an iPhone?


February 4th, 2012
5:12 am

Define ethical. Are we going to impose our cultural standards on someone else to determine what sort of wages and working conditions they should be happy with? Because sometimes in third world countries the alternative is to go hungry, go in to prostitution or other bad choice and they are grateful to have the work.