Chinese Factory Worker Leaps to Death Over Missing iPhone

This is really sad. At a factory in Taiwan where iPhones are made(Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese company) a 25 year old worker committed suicide by jumping from his apartment building because he was unable to account for one of the sixteen 4th Generation prototype iPhones entrusted to him. His job was to send the prototypes to Apple.

A newspaper says the worker was responsible for sending iPhone prototypes to Apple, and on July 13 he reported that he was missing one of the 16 fourth-generation units in his possession. The paper quotes his friends as saying security guards searched his apartment, detained him and beat him, and that he later jumped from the 12th floor of his apartment building.

Apple responds: "it's 'saddened by the tragic loss' and that its suppliers are required to treat workers with dignity and respect."

< Senate Rejects Thune Amendment on Concealed Weapons | Lindsey Graham Announces Support Of Sotomayor >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    It's sad alright (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by SOS on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:02:50 PM EST
    And Americans support it for the sake of cheap products.

    Cheap Stuff? (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:18:51 PM EST
    At $300 a pop, ATT was subsidizing them. iPhones are not so cheap.

    I wouldn't know. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Fabian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:30:26 PM EST
    Being that I don't spend that kind of money on electronic doodads, especially doodads that need constant infusions of cash.

    I'm not an early adopter.  It's amazing how cheap things get in a couple years.  Heck, sometimes they become obsolete in that time!  


    I take it Apple... (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:08:21 PM EST
    is looking for a new supplier as we speak...how about the good ol' USA?  We've got the horses on the unemployment line, lets start making sh*t again, whaddya say Apple?  Start the trend and take the lead like you did with the iphone.  

    From your lips (or keystrokes) (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by shoephone on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:16:54 PM EST
    to Steve Jobs' ears!

    i second and third (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:17:02 PM EST
    but our appetite for cheap stuff is out of control......

    Hard to use Apple as the example of our (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 02:01:42 PM EST
    appetite for cheap stuff, unless it is in the sense that they had to follow the rest of the manufacturers to have a chance in today's marketplace.

    It is... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:27:32 PM EST
    I can understand it on the cheap plastic pieces of sh*t that retails for 0.99, but on high ticket stuff like electronics, whats another couple percent to cover higher labor costs?  Its not like people are gonna stop salivating over iphones...they'll pay it.

    Many Apple buyers certainly would (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:57:37 PM EST
    pay a higher price. I know I would.

    Apple is trying for a bigger market share though. I can't keep them afloat.


    If it really didn't matter (none / 0) (#11)
    by Fabian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:32:11 PM EST
    they'd be manufacturing it stateside, instead of cutting costs by using cheap labor in China.

    I guess... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:48:02 PM EST
    Until we the people insist on American made goods in the marketplace and are willing to pay for it, business will keep running to produce where its cheapest.

    Bottom line, this is what we want...


    Looks like this 'cheap' labor (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:54:29 PM EST
    is pretty dang conscientious. Maybe that has something to do with it too.

    I don't know about that... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 02:00:04 PM EST
    I doubt the suicide was because of guilt over losing track of a stupid phone...more likely the security goons they sicked on the guy drove him to it.

    Probably true (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 02:07:35 PM EST
    I just bristle when I see this poor guy described as 'cheap labor', though I know it was not meant as a disparagement of him.

    Actually (none / 0) (#28)
    by Fabian on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 06:23:47 PM EST
    This was probably very well paid labor by Chinese standards.

    My aunt got a thankless job trying to get a Chinese factory (name brand sinks and faucets manufacturer) running to the proper specs.  It was always the same story - you insisted that the product be to spec X% of the time, the factory would finally toe the line, but the minute the American liason left, the factory would start shipping cr@p parts again.  This was about ten years ago, so things have probably changed - but it showed me that cheaper isn't better.  

    So yes, anyone lucky enough to be working for Apple producing quality goods instead of cranking out cut rate plastic trash is making very good money compared the average factory worker.  Especially now, with China's economy in the toilet.


    Cheap is cheap... (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by kdog on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 08:32:43 AM EST
    you said it, we run into it at my job all the time...customers cry and cry about price on an item, manufacturer moves production from the US/Canada/Europe to China or Indonesia.  Now the customer is crying about the rate of defects and lack of quality control.

    Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.


    They (none / 0) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:16:05 PM EST

    They may be waiting to see if Obamacare as well as cap and tax make production here too expensive.

    Oh of course (5.00 / 6) (#7)
    by Steve M on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:22:04 PM EST
    corporations are just terrified that the federal government may take some of their health care obligations off their hands.  That's why so many companies have been moving their operations to America from other countries for the last several decades, because it's just too darn expensive to operate in countries that have national health care.

    Fear has nothing to do with this (none / 0) (#19)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:04:22 PM EST

    There is every indication that costs are going to change.  Waiting to find out what the changes are is merely good practice.

    If you seriously think (none / 0) (#20)
    by Steve M on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:10:15 PM EST
    that Apple is considering moving its manufacturing back to the US, but for the uncertainties associated with Obama's health care plan, then I think you might want to take yourself into the shop for a tune-up.

    Sounds like more of this CNBC-style "everything bad that happens is due to Obama" thinking to me.


    Thats not all (none / 0) (#34)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 10:27:41 PM EST

    Don't forget uncertainties associated with cap and tax, card check, and the tax bill to pay for the porkulous.

    Actually ... (none / 0) (#18)
    by gtesta on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 02:09:46 PM EST
    when gas hits $5.00/gallon, it will then be too expensive to make all this stuff overseas and ship it here.  Then we will start to make things here again. Cost of goods will dictate the trade policies rather than labor/environmental regs.

    $5.00/gal? (none / 0) (#21)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:28:40 PM EST
    fwiw, the fuel cost of shipping stuff by boat is incredibly small.

    A quick internet search suggests it would use about 130,000 BTUs to ship a 50 lb server from China to the US.

    Assuming an iPhone weighs about 1/3 lb, that equates to about 1,000 BTUs.

    There are 140,000 BTUs in one gallon of petrodiesel, so the fuel cost of shipping one iPhone using $5/gallon fuel is:

    (1,000BTU/140,000BTU/gal) X $5.00/gal = $0.036, or 3.6 cents.


    That said (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Steve M on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:36:58 PM EST
    by the time the proverbial "slow boat" gets here from China, the iPhones may be out of date!

    As the proud owner of one of the third-generation models that just went on the market last month, it didn't exactly thrill me to see this story and realize that the fourth generation is already in the pipeline...


    It will probably be cheaper too (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by CST on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:49:59 PM EST
    That's why I'm not a cutting-edge consumer.  I got my first i-pod last year for very cheap, and I will probably get my first data based phone next year.

    I enjoy being behind the curve.  It's a lot nicer on the wallet.


    You consumer you! (none / 0) (#23)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:45:40 PM EST
    Interesting (none / 0) (#24)
    by gtesta on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 03:46:29 PM EST
    but I doubt a company would not be able to ship less than a single container.

    The cost of shipping a 40-foot, or 12-meter, container from Shanghai to the United States in mid-2008 was approx. $8,000, compared with $3,000 early in the decade, according to a recent study of transportation costs.  This was with gas at about $3.50/gal.


    You are mixing things up. (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 04:19:23 PM EST
    Of course you'd have to ship a container, that's how it works.

    Using the numbers I googled above, the fuel cost per iPhone to ship from China to the US at $3.50/gal is (3.50/5.00) x 3.6 cents = 2.5 cents/iPhone.

    iow, if fuel went from $3.50/gal to $5.00/gal the increase in shipping cost per iPhone would be about 3.6 - 2.5 = 1.1 cents.

    I'm pretty sure the cost of manufacturing iPhones here in the US is more than 1.1 cents above the cost of doing so China.


    Oh, btw: (none / 0) (#27)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 04:26:00 PM EST
    Publication date: 7/10/2009

    Spot market Hong Kong-Los Angeles rates have slumped to as low as $900, according to Lloyd's List, as US retailers pare orders for Asian-made furniture and toys on weak consumer spending.

    One of sixteen prototypes..... (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Rojas on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 04:39:30 AM EST
    Prototype is the key here. We have no idea of the level of customization here, but it would not surprise me at all if these prototypes cost 50 to 100 grand each to make, perhaps a lot more.
    The economic damages, if one of these prototypes ends up in the hands of a competitor, could be huge.

    Taiwan is not China. Certainly in respect to the working conditions afforded the average line worker and standard of living. I can assure you, in China those kids are getting the hell beat out of them for allot less.

    Exactly (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 06:43:47 AM EST
    These are the NEXT generation of iPhones. Apple just came out with the GS. So these mdels would have bells and whistles that the press is barely imagining yet. Apple has an earned reputation for keeping their new product secrets very well, even from their own distribution chain. While these prototypes cost many thousands to build each one is worth millions to the press, to investment firms, and to competitors. Photographs of the plastic case of a new model is a big deal. This is a big deal for commercial espionage reasons.

    And Taiwan is a small island of high tech. This guy was, if not an engineer himself, an assistant to engineers - definitely not a 'factory worker'. Prototyping is not done where the manufacturing is done.


    Not Suicide But Murder (2.00 / 1) (#29)
    by BeAware on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 09:25:50 PM EST
    It should be clear with the details about the security guards coming to the mans home and beating him that they didn't leave until they threw him off the building.

    This is really sad because the citizens of china are very honorable, humble and hardworking individuals that are wholly being taken advantage of and abused in every meaning of the word. Sadder still is that us, along with the rest of the world, chooses to ignore their silent screams of desperation.

    And the fact that something like this can happen, a genuine tragedy to anybody who opens themselves up intuitively, because he lost a phone. This should be enough to outrage us as presumably intelligent, compassionate people. But it wont. When will humanity prevail and free the world from the hell it has descended into?

    Oh come on - (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Thu Jul 23, 2009 at 06:51:39 AM EST
    Murder? If someone stole something worth millions and you didn't know where it was you would rough them up but you wouldn't murder. You jumped to conclusions in the worst way.

    He didn't lose 'a phone'. He lost a prototype to a product that was almost a year away from production in an extremely cutthroat and competitive market.
    Who knows what he did with the phone or who stole it from him. But from the minute the loss was discovered his career was over and he was probably looking at prison. Not for 'losing a phone' but for breaking the strictest rules of commercial secrecy and endangering his company.


    Think More (none / 0) (#35)
    by BeAware on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 02:26:31 AM EST
    We cannot let ourselves look at things that happen in other countries like the ignorant Americans we are. We must try and take the mindset of the people involved in the situations we are trying to understand.

    China has a very long and extremely brutal history of human rights abuses. Just to give you one example is what they are doing to the practitioners of Falun Dafa, a peaceful meditation practice based on a harmonious lifestyle. They are kidnapping and torturing these people because of there spiritual beliefs and there are even reports of them murdering them in very large numbers and selling their organs to patients in their very own health care system.

    By losing that phone he could of given the competitors what they needed to make a superior product. The iphone is not cheap to make and they are relying on high sales numbers to make a profit. By losing that phone he could of cost them millions of dollars, maybe more. If you take into account the money it took to develop the phone, and manufacture and distribute, hundreds of millions potentially, that might all be wasted because of this guy... My friend when you cost anybody that much money, doesn't matter who it may be, in this case a corporation, you are a dead man.


    My response to you was that you jumped (none / 0) (#36)
    by Carolyn in Baltimore on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 07:10:27 AM EST
    to conclusion, saying it was obviously murder.

    You still are thinking China and not Taiwan. And culturally - both murder and suicide in this situation are possible.

    Apple is secretive and the iPhone their most secret product. The contracts to Foxconn is worth billions so there is a huge amount at stake. I read one article that basically said it is surprising something like this has not happened earlier given the stakes and the amount of espionage in this market and in Asia.

    And I will wait for the investigation and further facts to come out before I decide what happened here.


    This was China (none / 0) (#37)
    by Rojas on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 09:02:45 AM EST
    Many companies from Taiwan have setup shop there to take atvantage of labor rates.

    Jeez, you'd think this guy (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 01:27:15 PM EST
    orchestrated a global economic depression or something.