“Once upon a time, the car was the key to understanding the U.S. economy. Then it was the family home. Nowadays, it is any device created by Steven P. Jobs. Call it the Apple economy, and if you can figure out how it works, you will have a good handle on how technology and globalization are redistributing money and jobs around the world.” – NY Times
Today Apple and all the “i” products are being used around the world. Their success is a testament to globalization and their products can also be said to be aiding globalization. Now as more and more ipods, iphones and ipads are sold all over the world people become more interconnected and have access to information within seconds at the touch of a button. In the article quoted above from the NY Times, a paper (Innovation and Job Creation in a Global Economy: The Case of Apple’s iPod) examines how Apple has helped create profits and jobs around the world, providing a prime example of how Apple is benefiting from globalization.
Gone are the days when an American company, Apple, manufacturers and employs most of their workers and products in their country of origin. Today nearly twice as many people work for Apple abroad than they do in the US. But what is more interesting about this stat is that the American workers earn nearly $750 million in salaries compared to less than $320 million by the workers abroad. A large factor in the wage disparity is the result of cheap outsourced labor abroad.
As we saw in the Nike case, the low costs of production in Asia are just too good to resist and outsourcing production becomes the norm. This is where Apple receives enormous benefits from globalization. Without the cheap labor Apple would not have been able to amass their estimated worth of $465 billion. However globalization has also started to hurt Apple. Now through the media and use of technology the labor conditions, which in the past were almost unknown, have now taken center stage.
Apple is one of the recent companies to have the standards and wages of their factories questioned in a long list of multinational organizations. The Foxconn factory has been at the heart of the issue where “employees work excessive overtime, in some cases 7 days a week, and live in crowded dorms.” The workers are also exposed to hazardous chemicals and conditions which have resulted in deaths and injuries.
So while the rise in globalization has brought massive amounts of revenue, an expanded market of consumers and cheap labor for Apple, it has also moved jobs away from the US and aided in the deprivation of many workers in Asia. The “i” products are some of the most innovative pieces of technology that have been created in recent years but when does the human cost of life and rights outweigh the products that are created? I don’t think people truly understand the “human costs” that should be factored into the total costs of the “i’ products they use and rely on every day.