Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Nokia Lumia 800 – Another Foxconn sweated smartphone?

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Nokia announced themselves back in the smartphone race yesterday, with two forthcoming Windows 7 models, the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800. They’ve lost ground hand over fist in recent years to Apple, HTC and Samsung phones. How long has it been since you last heard the once ubiquitous Nokia ringtone in the wild?

The Lumia 800 in particular looks like a pretty neato handset. So as I’m in the market for an upgrade at the moment, I thought I’d check it out a bit more. My upgrade choices (Samsung’s Google Nexus Prime, HTC’s Sensation XL and Apple’s iPhone 4s) all have some degree of question mark over their corporate ethics, so could do with some competition if I’m looking for a less unethical mobile (I realise I’ve no chance of an actively ethical one!). (more…)

Have HTC read their own Code of Ethics recently?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

So I’ve been looking at choosing my next smartphone upgrade with a nod to its ethical implications. It’s not really surprised me that it’s not that easy to find out much on this. Customer services departments tend to clam up when you ask awkward questions, and I don’t have the clout of a proper media outlet to make press offices take note.

HTC have come the closest in terms of answering my questions so far though, and were good enough to give me the requested copy of their Code of Ethics for suppliers (PDF). It’s not a bad policy *, mentioning the right to union membership, and many of the key terms you’d expect.

After a stunt last year by workers who make HTC phone touchscreens, HTC Chairperson Cher Wang engaged sympathetically but told her disrupted press conference that the issue wasn’t one she knew about, other than that it related not to HTC staff, but to a supplier (Young Fast Optoelectronics), and that therefore HTC unfortunately couldn’t do anything about it.

However, a lot of the issues in the HTC supplier code neatly map against a Taiwanese government inspector’s report from 2010. Chairperson Wang is a busy woman, so I’ve made her a handy cut out and keep guide: (more…)

Apple squeezing iPad suppliers til the pips squeak

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Last month’s Make IT Fair campaign day called on Apple to give workers in their supply chains a larger bite at the iPhone & iPad apple.

That looks to have fallen on deaf ears though as the company are reported to be currently demanding 10% price cuts from their outsourced component suppliers, despite huge increases in sales.

The fact that Apple already have profit margins for iPhones far higher than any of their competitors – running nearly 60% – doesn’t seem to register. Apple are already squeezing their suppliers harder than other firms, and those suppliers are already squeezing their staff – with disastrous consequences.

What effect do they seriously think a 10% cost cut is going to have on the labour rights and safety concerns that Steve Jobs claims to be “all over”?

iPad exploitation: A view inside Foxconn

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Here’s an important short video from SACOM, the campaigning academic group behind last year’s brave undercover exposé of working conditions inside Apple iPhone and iPad outsourced supplier Foxconn. The video highlights the firm’s Chengdu mega-factory, which works on the iPad for Apple, and uncovers evidence of broken promises to workers, poor safety, and a political culture where the firm seems to get away with whatever it pleases.

Ethical smartphones: An upgrade dilemma

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

I am something of a phone geek. Oh okay then, I am rather obsessed by them, smartphones in particular. I’ve had 5 different smartphone handsets since ditching my standalone PDA for 2003′s splendid SonyEricsson p800, and whichever I’ve had, it’s always been my most treasured possession.

Now though, my choice of handset is giving me a bit more of a headache. (more…)

HTC excuses over sweatshops are a bit rich

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Taiwanese smart phone manufacturer HTC has had an extremely successful year, on the back of a strong product line. Increased sales at the company have nearly tripled the share price and more than quadrupled the wealth of husband and wife top team Cher Wang and Wenchi Chen in the last year alone. Wang and Chen are now worth a very tidy $8.8bn, and are sitting right at the top of this week’s Forbes Taiwan Rich List.

Which makes it all the harder to work out why exactly they don’t seem to be taking any action over worker abuses at their outsourced touchscreen supplier Young Fast Optoelectronics, where there are allegations of union busting, forced overtime for low pay, child labour and poor safety.

(more…)

Giving Apple a fair bite

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Make IT FairTomorrow is Make IT Fair’s day of action, focusing on working conditions in Apple Computers’ supply chain.

Apple are the target here as they subcontract most of the work in making their hugely popular iPhones, and they don’t seem to be too fussy about how the work gets done. (more…)