Steve Jobs created a consumer culture like no other with his company's iDevices, and these days iPhone and iPad launches attract long lines that, in some areas, stretch for blocks. It's pretty insane when you think about it, but what's most remarkable is the amount of people power it takes to pull off these product launches.
Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.) is the primary producer of Apple products (as well as many other tech items from the likes of Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and so forth), and working conditions at the company's plants in China have come under fire following complaints and accusations of poor working conditions, low wages, and a rash of worker suicides.
With that in mind, Marketplace Shanghai Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz was permitted a rare opportunity to waltz through one of Foxconn's iPad producing plants with HD camera in tow. It's only a two and a half minute video (see above), but it's a fascinating glimpse into the other side of Apple's consumer culture with a bit of sobering narrative.
"The work is tedious and boring, but each day hundreds of people line up outside the factory to apply for jobs here," Schmitz says. "On this day, 500 applicants, many of them tired from traveling days from their home village, arrive with the hopes of working here.
"The supply is continuous. One reason is that compared to other Chinese factories, Foxconn is considered by workers to be one of the best. The company's invested millions into amenities like athletic fields for its workers, and unlike many factories in China, it pays its workers on time."
According to the video, Foxconn workers on some lines start out making $14 a day. After a couple of years, their salary doubles. The iPads they produce are sold in the U.S. and other parts of the world for $499 and up.