Over the past year there have been an increasing number of voices calling for a boycott of Apple products, such as the iPhone and iPad. But so far, they have had little effect.
Late last year there were calls for a boycott because of Apple’s aggressive legal maneuvering related to patents. A post on Techrights.org last month said that Apple “continues to trouble the Linux/Android world with lawsuits and false allegations, even doctored ‘evidence’.” and called for a boycott.
But it’s hard to get shoppers all fired up to boycott a big company just because it’s in patent battles with other big companies.
A different boycott against Apple was called for due to Apple’s support of SOPA – but Apple changed its mind about SOPA before the boycott gained steam.
A boycott of Apple was also threatened after Apple rejected approval of a Christian based app. It does not appear to have the enough support to take flight either.
But now the rumblings of another boycott are starting to be heard, and this one has the potential to actually affect the company. If not directly through a boycott – at least by the bad publicity.
Apple is being accused of turning a blind eye to worker rights and safety when it comes to those that are actually making Apple products. The New York Times, in a lengthy report, claims that Apple products are being built by Chinese workers that toil in harsh, dangerous, conditions. They say that workers live in crowded dorms, some are under-age, and that workers must sometimes work excessive amounts of overtime. They also claim that suppliers illegally dump hazardess waste and falsify records.
The report goes on to say that 137 workers were injured two years ago “after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens,” and that last year two explosions killed 4 and injured 77.
While Apple claims that it takes certain steps to ensure its suppliers provide humane working conditions, that won’t stop it from getting quite a black eye as this report from the Times gains publicity. Neither will the fact that many other tech companies use these and/or similar Chinese based suppliers.
The Times itself does not call for a boycott, their story is simply an exposé. But others are. Even Forbes, while not calling for a boycott itself, is asking if it’s time for one. And this boycott call might actually get some attention. Especially if factions within the human rights and environmental movements get behind it. It may not have a major effect on long term sales of the iPhone and iPad, but it certainly will get Apple’s attention.