An Inside Look at How iPads Are Assembled and Tested

Rob Schmitz of public radio show Marketplace played a key role in debunking a number of Mike Daisey's claims about his trip to China to see working conditions at Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn. As part of his investigation, Schmitz tracked down Daisey's translator and learned that a number of the experiences Daisey related as part of his "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" theater monologue never happened.

ipad assembly foxconn
Foxconn workers assembling iPads (Rob Schmitz/Marketplace)

Following his exposure of Daisey's fabrications, Schmitz has been given access to Foxconn's plants, and he has been filing some reports about what he has seen in those facilities. Among the most interesting contributions is a brief video posted yesterday showing for the first time several of the steps in assembling and testing an iPad.


Marketplace has aired a number of segments interviewing Schmitz about his visits to Foxconn's plants, where has described working conditions and talked with workers about their experiences. Many note that the work is boring and repetitive and that they are sometimes treated like machines, but most seem to acknowledge that Foxconn offers better opportunities than many of the other factories.

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Top Rated Comments

imgonephishin Avatar
159 months ago
Interesting analysis and I think it's so important to compare apples to apples (wages at Foxconn vs. other Chinese factories). Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is an important concept that a simple number like "$14/day" just can't capture.

The biggest thing that surprises me is that almost every article about Foxconn fails to mention that Apple is just one of dozens of major companies that contracts with Foxconn. I recognize Apple is the biggest and with being the big dog comes a lot of scrutiny and attention, but how about some attention for any of these companies? A huge number of non-Apple consumer electronics that we use on a daily basis are manufactured there. Every heard of these prominent Foxconn customers?

* Acer
* Amazon.com
* Cisco
* Dell
* Hewlett-Packard
* Intel
* Microsoft
* Motorola Mobility
* Nintendo
* Nokia
* Samsung Electronics
* Sony
* Toshiba
* Vizio
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
erann Avatar
159 months ago
Many note that the work is boring and repetitive and that they are sometimes treated like machines

What's the news here? I have worked in factories in Scandinavia and the work was boring and repetetive and workes were constantly treated like machines. That's what factory work is everywhere. And compared to the cost of living, the salary was exactly the same the Foxconn workers have.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stouver Avatar
159 months ago
Is it more shocking they only make 14 dollars a day or that 14 dollars a day is actually concidered a good wage for Asian factory workers?

Whether it is right or wrong is one thing but it shouldn't be compared to the "American Way"
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
notabadname Avatar
159 months ago
Value of money

People always make incorrect blanket statements about Chinese salaries though. I doubt many people on this site have been to China, where the average meal can easily be had for the equivalent $1 at local restaurants. There are plenty of jobs in the US that make relatively the same, with lesser working conditions. A min-wage US worker is no more able to afford meals and housing and healthcare than a worker in China.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Caliber26 Avatar
159 months ago
Anytime I hear about the sacrifices some of these people make, just to earn a few bucks a day, it makes me realize how much I take for granted and that I live a very blessed life. It also makes me appreciate my iPad in a whole different way.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Robin4 Avatar
159 months ago
What I would like to know is their standard of living expenses. If the average monthly rent is $50.00/mo, then $14.00 a day may be a decent rate of pay.

We don't know enough to assume it is exploitation.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)