Cheap Labour in the Technology Industry: Apple Inc.

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Apple Inc. is an American technology brand which manufactures and designs its own computers, operating software and other popular consumer devices. Apple has established a unique reputation for its various powerful and sleek products. Those who are accustomed to using Apple products regularly tend to be brand loyal and passionate about their Apple devices. Consequently, consumers who are inexperienced in Apples extremely popular devices tend to criticise them and claim they are unreasonably overpriced.[1] (Forbes, 2017).

Cheap Labour Costs

Within the technology industry, moving the manufacturing base of the products to countries where labour is considerably cheaper is becoming quite the norm. More and more tech giants have are inclined to leverage on cheap labour in these third world countries where the workforce is underage, mistreated and highly underpaid.

Through the result of an investigation into China’s ten global brand supplier electronic factories, China Labour Watch unveiled numerous violations of China’s Labour Laws which was introduced in 2008. (China Labour Watch, 2011).

The majority of these violations will fall into these five categories; overtime, contracts, wages, labour intensity and discrimination. Shocking results show that nine out of the ten factories investigated required extreme overtime whilst several of the other factories never signed labour contracts with its employees. Many workers who had signed contracts had them withheld from them by the companies when trying to claim owed wages and benefits.

“Other violations included: forcing workers to work overtime; arbitrarily fining workers; discriminating against workers on the basis of their gender, age, and status as Hepatitis B carriers; adopting methods of production that required high levels of labour intensity; and, finally, using militant management strategies.”[2]

(China Labour Watch, 2011).

These global electronics brands which employ the factories and workers to create their products repeatedly claim that they are not responsible for the violations happening within the factories. The blame and expectancy of reform squarely falls under the factories’ mandate. Tech giants are always looking for lower production costs and are always ready to move their assembly lines and factories abroad to another country they can keep costs low. Due to production costs, physical materials and distribution prices not fluctuating, factories must compete with each other for the big technology company’s business by lowering their own prices. This ultimately affects the workers, lowering wages or compelling them to work ridiculous overtime hours. “When these external pressures become too great, the workers suffer from accidents or tragedies such as suicides. The blame is often directed at factories, while international companies, at most, publish a press release, and vow to implement reform.”[3]

(China Labour Watch, 2011).

Apple Inc. has been reported to have their products and their components manufactured in the same or very similar factories across Asia. As mentioned above it is very easy for someone at the top of brand to issue a press release mentioning accidents which have recently occurred and what measures will be taken to prevent their recurrence in future. Although these globally dominant brands act naïve and claim they are not aware of the issues going on, they are partly responsible. They are the ones paying the factories and their workers to assemble and ship their products. They should take responsibility and ensure ‘their’ workers are treated fairly and are actually paid for the work done.[4]

(The Guardian, 2017).

Realistically, more extreme steps and measures need to be taken to put an end to cheap labour and unfit working environments in these poor countries. Large electronic corporations have been known to brush off the blame and shifting it to the independent factories they have hired or spin press releases in a more positive light. Apple Inc. needs to take care in who and where their products and components are built. Whether true or not, these allegations against the brand can have a negative affect which eventually tarnishes their public image, decreases sales/profits and also decreases the company’s overall stock price.

Questionnaire: Cheap Labour and ‘Electronic Sweatshops’ in the Technology Industry

This questionnaire has been designed to gather information on whether or not consumers are aware of how their phones, computers and other electronic devices are manufactured.

When answering the questions please ensure your relevant answer is clearly marked or if you would like to provide a more in-depth answer, please provide it in the given space.

All data collected will be treated anonymously so please provide accurate and relevant answers. Please do not include your name or any other personal details.

Q1. Are you aware that many tech giants produce/purchase materials implemented in their products abroad?     

Yes / No / Other:

Q2. Did you know that many of the workers manufacturing these devices are massively under paid and treated poorly?

Yes / No / Other:

Q3. Would this knowledge change your mind when it comes to buying a new electronic device?

Yes / No / Other:

Q4. Do you think companies using cheap labour and mistreating their workers should be reprimanded?

Yes / No / Other:

Q5. Do you think it is fair these large companies continue to make huge profits this way?

Yes / No / Other:

Q6. Should companies be awarded a stamp of approval if their products are manufactured in suitable working conditions and labour forces are paid a fair wage?

Yes / No / Other:

Q7. Would you be willing to pay more for your device if the brand has been awarded this stamp of approval?

Yes / No / Other:

Q8. Should these companies be allowed to continue operating this way?

Yes / No / Other:

Q9. Would you still use your electronic devices if you discovered that they were manufactured by severely underpaid workers in unfit working conditions?

Yes / No / Other:

Q10. In your own words, please provide a short answer on how these large companies should be treated for employing cheap labour in unfit working environments:


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A profile of Apples Target Audience

Michael is 28 years old and rents his own apartment in Baker Street, London. Having founded his own Advertising agency, Michael has been very successful early on in his career. Michael has always loved using different electronic devices and the fast pace technology industry with its ever changing products and software. Recently, Michael has just upgraded to the new iPhone X at a staggering £999 which is a regular purchase when Apple release a new iPhone model. The iPhone X is just one of several Apple devices he owns along with an iMac, several iPads and MacBook’s. Although many of these Apple products have been bought by Michael himself, he does not regret buying any of them as they are used daily both at home and at work.[5] (Apple Case Study, Undated).

Growing up, Michael was a single child raised by both his mother and father on the outskirts of Hertfordshire. Although Michael’s parents both worked full time in their family run printing shop, they could not afford the sought after and lavish gadgets and electronic goods. Throughout the majority of Michaels’ childhood, the only time he would be able to use a computer or play video games were at school and his friends’ houses. Looking back Michael does not criticise his childhood and upbringing, but uses it as motivation to become successful and enjoy the latest gadgets. 4 (Apple Case Study, Undated).

When asked why he enjoys using Apple’s many products, Michael simply explained that he is fascinated by the endless opportunities and features which they hold. Michael’s favourite feature is how he can connect all of his devices together and access each of their content remotely. This is particularly handy when it comes to designing new adverts for clients or sharing important information with his employees. 4 (Apple Case Study, Undated).

Michael utilises all of his Apple devices by configuring them to control the majority of electrical appliances within his apartment. These include heating, lighting, televisions, CCTV, surround sound and his home security system. Due to the nature of his job, Michael feels at ease knowing he can keep an eye on his apartment remotely when he is either traveling or at the office for long periods of time. Like Michael, more and more people are beginning to design their homes and businesses around technology. An example of this is that Michael is able to switch on the central heating in his apartment before he comes home, ensuring the apartment is warm and heated ready when he arrives.4 (Apple Case Study, Undated).

Michael is Apples ideal target consumer; he is brand loyal, middle aged, successful and wealthy enough to be able to afford numerous of their products. He finds the devices and software very user friendly and stylish. Apple has always been praised on the appearance and functionality of their products. Avidly upgrading his devices when new models are released, Michael trades in his old devices to receive store credit towards the latest models.

I have based my advert on Apples previous still adverts, showing the same minimal and simple structure. This shows Apple’s strength and self-confidence. Being the market leader and the most valuable company in the world, Apple are simply known by their logo or a picture of one of their products. Not much information is needed at all except four simple words to inform the viewer/consumer of something they already know; Apple is the right choice, the only choice.

Section 5 - A piece of reflective writing exploring your first semester as an independent learner.

My first semester at the University has broadened the scope of my thoughts and streamlined my thinking process. I have grown to be more independent and a meticulous individual. Independence has made me grow to be more responsible and reliable. Having to know that a task that falls within my jurisdiction is my sole responsibility, I have to do my best and deliver far and beyond the expectations. This is contrary to, previously, when I was inclined to depend on group work which did not make me own the task as an individual. This sense of responsibility then spills over to other aspects of life and prepares me for adulthood by making me a critical thinker and decision maker.

I have also learnt the aspects of time management. Time being an essential part of our day to day activities and also considering it is a valuable resource, I schedule my tasks way upfront and faithfully follow my diary. This makes me be able to account for each and every second I have and how I get to spend it as it should. The dividend I have reaped from this attitude is less pressure and met deadlines. I get to submit my assignments it time and avoid the last minute rush of submitting shoddy work. I get to study the contents of my units in a more settled environment which gives me more time to understand the concepts better and have a longer retention capacity. This retention capacity attracts more dividends when the exams come knocking.

Among the benefits being an independent learner are readiness to be a leader of a team, an innovative thinker and a decision maker. All these traits are essential when it comes to facing the real world and making a change in the society. I therefore consider this aspect as the essential part of Education and am so much interested in staying the course so that I eventually graduate as a fully baked graduate. Despite the emphasis on self-confidence and independence in thinking, am I alive to the fact that external advice is another aspect of life that must never be ignored. I have therefore developed to be an open minded individual who holistically looks at situations and circumstances and apply the principle of considering all options.

Another self-improvement I have noticed about myself from this first semester is the ability and willingness to ask more questions and make enquiries that I wouldn’t have thought or wanted to ask. Ones levels of curiosity and motivation are enhanced and broadened which is a huge benefit because lecturers and teachers are only given a set criteria of what to teach and unless a question is asked they cannot give further help.

My level of curiosity has also exponentially grown from my first semester and this has made me more inquisitive than before. The questions that flood my mind need answers and I have made a habit of seeking the answers from all quarters available. I leverage on the power of the internet and when the concept is proving to be elusive, I engage my lecturers to assist with shading more light. This eventually gives me satisfaction but I still get to remain hungry for more knowledge.

After attending several seminars and I was able to gather the fear that often engulf the students despite the encouragement from lecturers that they open up and ask questions. This problem can be attributed to lack of good communication skill coupled with public speaking. I have made a point of privately honing these aspects so as to overcome the fear and build courage within myself.

A remarkable benefit of being an independent learner has also been noted on my social aspect. My fellow students tend to have me included in their groups when it comes to group work. This is attributed to the fact than I have been able to deliver on a personal basis and so would not be unable to replicate the same in a group work. I leverage on this by being an individual who is friendly and approachable. My abilities need not only to serve myself, but my fellow colleagues and the society at large.

The first semester has shaped my mind and unearthed my hidden abilities which I need to capitalize on. I have learnt that laziness and poverty earns interest just as much as hard work attracts dividends. I have, therefore, gone through a paradigm shift and committed to apply my acquired knowledge to best exploit my potential. I have learnt that Education is not only in the confines of a wall in the name of a classroom but also the things one learns outside the classroom. The things one learns become a major pillar of what one intends to be. This has made me exploit the power of the internet to teach myself everything I need to know besides what the lecturer teaches in class.

In general, I have come to learn that being an independent thinker/learner is as important as a basic need. It changes one’s trajectory of thinking which works in line with the cliché of “thinking outside the box”. I therefore find myself easily thinking outside the box which I consider will serve to benefit me in my current studies and future days in the corporate world.


BYRON YORK, 2015. York: Tech giants want cheap labour in foreign workers. Morris Herald, Available from:   

JENNIFER BOOTON, 2016. Tech companies use materials mined illegally by children in Africa. Available from:

JOHN DUDOVSKIY, 2017. Apple Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. Research Methodology, Available from:

Lorna Keane, 2017. York: Tech giants want cheap labour in foreign workers. Global Web Index, Available from:

Saini, J. (n.d.). APPLES TARGET MARKET. [online] APPLE INC. CASE STUDY. Available at:  [Accessed 25 Jul. 2018].

Merchant, B. (2017). Why Are iPhones So Expensive?. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 25 Jul. 2018].

Merchant, B. (2017). Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city. [online] The Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 25 Jul. 2018].






August 04, 2023

Business Economics Life


Corporations Management

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Company Labor

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