"iKill" Infographic Charts The Human Cost Of The iPhone

If anyone taught us the importance of numbers, it was Apple.

I don’t know that bloody iPhones and skull icons are the best way to make an argument for more ethical labor policies at factories like Foxconn. And the name “iKill” is just as tacky as it is ineffective at evoking some sort of meaningful emotional response.

But numbers? Numbers are powerful things. If anyone taught us that, it was Apple and its contemporaries, hawking gadgets that were twice as fast, half as thin.

Do you remember that moment in Harry Potter, when that first amazing feast just appeared on the banquet tables of Hogwarts? Ron practically wet himself in anticipation of his first full belly after years of fighting over scraps at the Weasley dinner table. A skeptic might say it was all too good to be true—how could amazing food just appear—but this was the world of Harry Potter. It was magic.

Then in book two, you learned, it wasn’t magic at all! There were just a lot of hard working elves working countless hours to make the whole spectacle possible, and as much as we all loved the late Dumbledore, he was as responsible as anyone for turning a blind eye.

That’s where we are now with Apple. The story has gotten less fun, but finally, we can grow up.

However magical Apple’s products might be, magic doesn’t exist in this world. Industrial production is an exhausting, horribly paying job by the standards of anyone reading this. Apple isn’t the only Foxconn customer by any stretch, but they are the largest, richest, and most lauded. If Apple is taking it on the chin, it’s only because they have the biggest and, at times, smuggest chin of them all.

Stay hungry? Yes. Stay foolish? Sure. But absolutely, stay disgusted, too. Stay angry.

Because with $108 billion in revenue a year, Apple has every meaningful resource to make things, not just better, but better than ever. And maybe, just maybe, a company like Apple can do something truly great: make us all believe in magic again.

[Via OnlineMBAPrograms; Image: 06photo/Shutterstock]

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52 Comments

  • Avatarus

    Sure, get angry with China for their working conditions. Hopefully by time democracy will break through and conditions wil imporove. However, in the meantime, concider the massive profit Apple is making per product. Their products are overpriced and people just don't seem to care.

    If China starts at their end, we can start at our by ... well pressuring Apple into behaving better, by choosing other products, by spreading info about articles like this one etc.

    How many of you read this post on an Apple product? Thinking "how terrible" and then moving on... Think Different folks and get off the fruit diet.

  • James Alexander

    I am not impressed by Mr. Wilson's article.  It is illuminating, but not enlightening.  Conspicuously absent is an identification of the problems, or a proposal for solutions.  Is he implying that Apple should boycott China?  Or that Apple should impose labor standards in its supplier contracts?  And suppose Apple did the latter.  What must Apple then do to mollify critics if the labor standards provisions of the contracts are violated (and maybe concealed) by the suppliers?

    There's a lot more to fixing a problem than just complaining about it.

  • Tom Brickman

    @ Jay Hardcastle - oh these conditions are normal? That makes it OK then!

  • Marilyn Wey

    I also agree with Tommy and Brad. We live in a world with a balance of unfair conditions in pursuit of a higher goal and no way of being completely free of that. As Brad said, the capitalist system in itself causes us to forgo the conscientious route in favor of the whole. And as Tommy wrote, though the ideal would be that the atrocities stated in this article may be amended, China's labor laws won't change for the benefit of our consciences. The article does border on sensationalism but it draws out discussion which in itself serves a great purpose. 

  • Joesmith

    everyone who has commented in opposition to this article, is a smart phone user. what this article doesn't touch upon is, where the rare metals are being mined from for your precious iphones and the like. that place would be africa and since these mines are really valuable guess who's running them and the surrounding communities, GANGS. and these are the same mudering gangs who are killing and raping women, kidnapping children and making them into soldiers. all so you can look up your fantasy football scores while you down another pint of miller light at your local buffalo wild wings. so look at your wife and kid when you go home and see if killing and raping them is worth that score. 

  • Peter M

    Sure injustices are being performed by these factories, whether directly tied to Apple or not, but the biggest problem I have with this is that it brings a problem to the forefront with no way to do anything about it. If someone is going to point fingers or provide this kind of information, I would hope that they would also provide resources for a solution. So what do you think, Mark? What can we do about it?

  • Jay Hardcastle

    So Much Ignorance on display, so little time to refute 
    These same factories make products for IBM, DELL, LENOVO and HP.With employment numbers into the 100 of thousand's, suicide rates are on par or below the population at large.
    Industrial accident's do happen, but at a lower rate in these factories than in say, China's coal mines. - or American drunk drivers.
    Local Salaries are always on par with the local economy and market conditions.
    This used to all be covered in 300 Level Economics course at Purdue

    I hope this kid doesn't owe more than 100K in loans for his MBA.

  • michaelmousedisqus

    This is some screwed up thinking.  Go back to square one.  If all you have been exposed to leads you to agree with these thoughts then maybe a "refresh" is in order.

  • Brad

    has it absolutely correct. As much as Apple has it's hand in making profit from developing countries labour practices, they are one of the most progressive in trying to ensure change in fair work-place agreements and OH&S. None of the other companies complicit ever cop the flack, and as Tommy said, it's a Government controlled situation anyway. You want Apple products to be produced with proper pay and OH&S, be prepared to take out a loan to pay for your iPhone. The profit margin isn't going to change and in this capitalist system, the rights of the shareholders are valued higher than that of any other interest group, including the consumer.

  • Tommy Chen

    This a complete load of crap! Whoever made this is probably using a devices made in the same factories, under the same working conditions. Apple gets most of the blame because they are successful. Success does not obligate them to change the law in China. They already go far beyond any company in their industry to prevent these kinds things from happening but there needs to be some government enforcement to create real change. They can't do it alone. People complain as if these are Apple employees that are being mistreated, they are not! It's there suppliers. Apple does not pay their wages, they contract them to do a job and they require them to adhere to certain criteria. They can't baby them every second of the day! Why are these infographics not target at Foxconn?

  • alfredoarriaga

    This is stupid, trying to make Apple responsible for the dead of all these workers is really, really dumb. There must be a way to make working conditions all better, but mostly depends on the goverment and corporate culture.

    Anyway, who is Online MBA Programs? I can´t find a single responsible for this.

  • alfredoarriaga

    So, do you think Apple is responsible for that explosion or what?... You should know every provider is responsible for their own operations and risks. Have you even heard about Risk Assessment? Are you responsible if anyone dies making your clothes?