Apple’s Enablers

Another Apple supplier — this time Pegatron — has blown up. Fortunately this time no one died, but 61 workers were injured, 23 badly enough to require hospitalization.

In the wake of the accident, I’m sure we’ll be treated to all the usual platitudes about how seriously Apple takes its corporate citizenship, an argument that becomes harder to swallow with each passing disaster.

How long are we going to operate under the premise that consumers actually care about where their products come from? “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”


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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow

3 thoughts on “Apple’s Enablers

  1. Mike,
    I agree with your frustration and basic concern.
    “care about where the products come from”…. this will only get a nationalistic response at best. Why? because it is the most likely simplistic response You and I will get.

    The question “Under what conditions and at what cost products are produced ?” will more likely address this issue.
    Currently most concerned consumers, once they attempt to be completely informed, will only give up.
    Why? because of the complexities involved are beyond their ability (and available time in their hurried lives) to address.
    Simply gathering the real facts are beyond most people’s abilities.

    Life, is a balancing act. For individuals and collectively.
    (risk vs reward, quality of life vs quantity of life, etc…)
    And, sadly, most people do not want to think about these choices on a regular basis.
    They abdicate their decisions to others…. which is their choice.

    At some point in the future, this may change.
    And the transition will be “interesting”.

  2. @John, yes, these posts do tend generate a nationalistic response. But the question to that is, why? The Chinese can’t be happy about their working conditions — in fact, they aren’t.

    And it’s not that the US is insulated to such conversations: the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline tends to get emotions charged. We are good are forcing the PG&Es and Monsantos and Graces to pony up when they ditch their waste in our backyard. (And Nevada still frustrates with its refusal to allow nuclear waste to be buried at Yucca Mountain.) But when it comes to consumer goods — apparel, electronics and so on — we have an uncomfortable history of looking away, particularly when it’s outside our borders. In the long run, we are all in the same boat — and we all pay.

  3. Mike,
    Good points.
    However , I was directing my observations at “consumers decisions” only (we have met the enemy and he is us) based on name brands (Apple) vs where the product was made (China). Personally, I don’t see a significant difference between consumer goods and questions about where we get our power and resources from (In many countries, you choose the source of your electrical power) . The primary difference between the two: ability to contain/focus the discussion to any kind of actionable conclusion.
    Consumers goods operate in a more complex sphere ( product life cycle / ROHS/ labor/ raw materials across a much larger spectrum of sources/profit margins/ etc…) compared to single large industrial projects/problems.
    Yea, OK, both are complex. I happen to think consumer goods are more complex.

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