“I Can’t Say”-SIRI

It’s actually quite hilarious when the WBEZ Chicago radio show host asks Siri where Siri was manufactured. The all-knowing Siri replies with, “I can’t say”. The crazy part of this answer is that Siri definitely knows where she was manufactured and it states on the back of the iPhone 4 that the phone was created in China. Curious, I asked my iPhone 4s(Yes, still living in the past) the same question the radio show host asked Siri. Siri responded to me saying, “Like it said on the box, I was designed in California”. For some reason, Siri still does not answer that question. Obviously the iPhone was designed in California, but I really wanted to see whether Siri was reprogrammed in an update to answer this question correctly. Clearly, Siri was not. Siri’s evading of the question relates directly to the overall secret nature of Apple. Apple management clearly knows what they are doing. For some fishy reason, they choose to be secretive about where their products are manufactured. However, the public is prudent enough to know that most products are made in China. One dedicated Apple enthusiast, Mike Daisy, took it upon himself to unveil some of the secrecy behind Apple’s manufacturing partners in China.

Daisy traveled to the Shenzhen province of China where all of the big manufacturing companies conducted their work. Pretending to be an aspiring business partner, Daisy received access to many of the factories where Apple products were being produced. The horrors he discussed truly started to impact the way I thought about Apple. For the next thirty minutes of the podcast where Daisy talked about his experiences, I really started to cringe thinking about the working conditions and illegality behind many of the manufacturing companies, such as Foxconn. Daisy first addresses the issue of children ages between ages 12 to 14 working at the plant. When talking with the underage employees, the underage employees addressed how easy it was to get a job at the factory. When auditors would come inspect, they would just be substituted from the assembly line being inspected with an older factory worker. Furthermore, he notes the “suicide nets” hanging from the top of factories. Imagine strolling around in New York City and seeing suicide nets hanging from all these buildings. How is there nothing wrong with this? To think, the epidemic of suicides occurring in these factories is so gruesome that there needs to be nets to stop workers from jumping. Finally, Daisy talks about his encounter with a worker who was injured doing his job and did not receive any medical attention. The man was later fired for doing his work slower with his mangled hand. Daisy’s unveiling of these atrocities portrays Apple in an extremely negative light.

We all have learned about the awful working conditions in other countries. We know that big companies do outsource their manufacturing because of how cheap the labor is. Apple is one of these companies. However, Daisy portrayed Apple as being an emotionless corporate power unaware of what’s going on. Later evidence in the podcast shows that Daisy exaggerates his experiences at the factories.   Apple knows what is going on. They are a company obsessed with the details. The truth is that they genuinely do care about what is going on. When Apple auditors discover underage workers at the factories, they make the manufacturing company pay for their education. Furthermore, they have stopped business with a manufacturer who employed a large number of underage workers. Frankly, it is the responsibility of the Chinese government to regulate what is going on in the factories in China. Apple has no responsibility to manufacture their products domestically. They would be severely handicapping themselves  if they did this. Apple must continue their overall manufacturing process until China does something about the working conditions going on in their factories. They have proven that they care about stakeholders as well as shareholders.

5 thoughts on ““I Can’t Say”-SIRI”

  1. Apple took a long time before finally taking action and responsibility for the manufacturing conditions for their products. Once they finally acted, they did so in a very approvable manner, as you’ve mentioned. Perhaps Apple once agreed with you and believed it was ultimately the Chinese government’s responsibility to fix the conditions for its workers. However, now that Apple has taken some action, I think they have, perhaps unintentionally, claimed full responsibility for all aspects of their products from now on. So, rather than blame the Chinese government, I think consumers can now hold the company accountable for anything happening in Shenzhen that is associated with Apple products.

    Setting an example like this might even be beneficial in the long run by influencing competitors and other tech companies to do the same.


  2. After listening to this podcast I also looked at the back of my phone to see if there was any information regarding where an i-Phone is made. In two simple sentences it says “Designed by Apple in California”, which is the answer Siri gives when asked the “Where are you manufactured” question, and “Assembled in China”. I think that the word “assembled” makes it sounds so easy, when the people who make the i-Phone happen, work for 16 hours a day, in terrible conditions, for a wage that is so minimal. Maybe it should say “Made in China” instead of simply saying “assembled’? Would just a swap of a word, change the minds of consumers and corporations?


  3. In my blog post, I previously discussed the Nike scandal that occurred in 1991. Nike was accused of having poor working conditions within their factories abroad. Nike was faced with protests and uproar from consumers and ultimately led to the company turning their image around. Nike managed to raise wages, work age, and now upholds transparency around their factories through their social responsibility reports. After changing their image and working with factories overseas, Nike was able to become a better leader through this process. I agree with Megan that setting a good example could be beneficial in the long run. Do you think Apple was fully successful in revamping their factories and image? Have you discovered any other companies that made changes to their manufacturing plants? Is there an ideal company our society should be looking to for direction on social responsibility and ethics in the workplace?


  4. See if you grew up seeing classic sci-i like 2001, you would recognize the layers of meaning with SIRI.

    “I’m sorry, Apple User, I can’t help you.”


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