Apr 082012

In a couple of my prior posts, I had asked why Apple’s competition didn’t get any milage from all the heat the company was taking over Foxconn. This is an industry that thinks having Flash on their tablet constitutes a legitimate competitive advantage and these guys didn’t trip over each other to pile on actual bad press? Isn’t that curious?

Actually, no. All of Apple’s competitors either use Foxconn or any number of other Asian manufacturers with less savory reputations than Foxconn. The first one to cast a stone stood a chance of being called out for their supply chain’s labor practices. This, of course, assumes that anyone cares about these practices when the company suspected of them isn’t named Apple or – after lying fraud Mike Daisey’s antics – the public even gives a shit about the issue at all.

So what would happen if a Times reporter went ahead and asked these companies about the labor practices of their supply chains? You’d find out as much as I did when I went digging through Samsung’s PR sunshine enema. Actually, when the Times asked Samsung, they didn’t get an answer at all. Barnes & Noble issued a “no comment”, Amazon punted to a third-party auditor – one that doesn’t report its findings publicly. Several cited their membership in the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) as though it meant something. And what about HP – that paragon of good corporate behavior that the Times used as its shining counter-example to Apple in its notorious January 25 hitpiece?

A report on Hewlett-Packard’s Web site, which was so hidden that it took me several hours to find, details working conditions from 2010 but has not been updated since. In the report, the company notes that more than 51 percent of the factories it works with were in violation of working hour labor laws.

You mean there’s no reports documenting statements like the one Zoe McMahon made to the Times for the piece on the 25th that HP’s suppliers “…let us know when they are struggling to meet our expectations [on pricing], and that influences our decisions [about how much we’re willing to pay]?”

Of course there isn’t. When it comes to nebulous statements that can’t be fact-checked, Apple’s competitors come out of the woodwork to help yellow journalists bash the company, then remain silent while Apple takes all the shit for practices they’re at least as guilty of. And when they’re asked pointedly about their practices? They scatter like cockroaches.

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