Pegatron, one of Apples suppliers, is facing heat over the working conditions in its factories in China. Some of the 86 alleged violations include failing to pay wages, mandatory overtime, and insufficient worker training. The full 60 page report by New York based China Labor Watch can be read here.
Beside the critics about the working conditions in the Pegatron company, which is one of Apple's biggest partners which assembles their devices, looks like Apple said more than they planned in their report. Organization China Labor Watch has announced one of the most convincing evidence so far that Apple has started with the production of a cheaper version of the iPhone.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple wants to broaden the base of their partners, and therefore instead of Foxconn's, for manufacturing of allegedly cheaper iPhone they will use the services of Pegatron.
When Microsoft announced their Windows RT and Windows 8 based Surface tablets the world was shocked; Microsoft making a tablet for the consumer market? The media went nuts talking about the slim design, the new materials and well everything. We saw multiple “reviews” of the Surface all of which were based on the same Press Demo model and all of which did not really cover what the product could do (how much can you tell in 10 minutes?). Underneath the excitement by the press there was a less enthusiastic response by the people that have actually made Microsoft what they are; the OEM partners. We contacted quite a few right after the launch and while most would not comment publicly on the launch the tone was obvious.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 (both Windows RT and Windows 8 for x86-64) is due to hit the market around November of this year and it has already caused a ton of controversy. But there is one that did not get a ton of press when it was announced that highlights a few issues with Windows that many are not anticipating. Around the first of July it was announced that HP would not be making an ARM based tablet for the next OS and we also know that Acer will probably not as well.
There is an interesting item that has popped up on the internet. It seems that Nokia is concerned about Asus and Google’s new tablet, the Nexus 7. What makes this very interesting is the timing for Nokia coming forward and bringing this to light. According to a statement made by Nokia (and originally reported by The Inquirer) Nokia is not going so far as to file a law suit, but they do encourage both Asus and Google to get in touch… soon.
There has been a lot of talk about how Google is not making any money on the Nexus 7 and in truth they are probably not making much on hardware sales. This is not an uncommon trend to get products to the market at a cost that puts them in the consumers hands only to follow up with services that do generate income (in fact that is the business model of the cloud). The question is; if there is no margin for Google how much is there for Asus and why would they want to make these without making money per unit.
Apple has been having a blast dropping patents for vague concepts and even an entire device type (with their pending Pico Projector patent) regardless of prior art and at times regardless of if the patent is actual technology or not (the look and feel of something). Then they take these patents and wave them in the face of judges that have no real idea of what the patent is (or is not) covering asking for injunctions and outright bans on products from companies that are relatively underfunded in the legal department. If you ask Apple about this they will stand and say that they are protecting their Intellectual Property (which in many cases was “borrowed” from another company that cannot afford a legal fight with Apple like S3). This abuse of the patent and copyright system is detestable, but is an article for another day.
The question I am wondering is, why has Apple not gone after Microsoft? Windows 7 on a tablet has Pinch to Zoom, finger gestures and even the same “look and feel” when you scroll with your finger. Now, I could be wrong, but if Apple is trying to protect their IP you would think they would be going after Microsoft in a big way. I am also pretty sure they would be adding Asus (who has one of the best-selling Windows Based Tablets on the market right now) to their legal wish list as well. So, why do they leave these two obvious copy cats out of the litigation arena?
Well, here are a few reasons that we were able to come up with based on research. Microsoft is safe simply because they have bailed out Apple multiple times in the past and also have several patents and items that Apple needs to survive (Office for Mac is still a huge seller). Whether the Apple faithful and Steve Jobs want to admit it or not Apple owes it very existence to their rival; without Bill Gates and Microsoft we would be talking about Apple in the past tense. Right now Adobe is wishing they had dropped money into that bailout instead of just spending time and money making their products work on Apple’s RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) based systems (the PowerPC days). If they had, they perhaps they would have some leverage in the whole HTML5 Vs. Flash competition. This also applies to Microsoft’s net generation operating system Windows 8. In fact is applies even more as Microsoft is writing it to work on ARM based CPUs. The previews that we have seen also make it very tablet friendly and an obvious threat to Apple’s weakening hold on the tablet market. Yet, we have heard no call to arms from the Apple legal team over this.
So, what about Asus and their tablets? Asus is also untouchable right now because they also have something that Apple wants; A manufacturing facility. Apple has been looking for alternatives to Foxconn due to the bad press surrounding the company’s many suicides. The world now knows that the iPhone, iPod and many other Apple products are assembled there and with the many deaths over working conditions at these plants the eyes are turning to look at Apple. The question has already been raised by many humanitarian groups “why has Apple done nothing about this?” You would think that a company that claims to be so “Green” and Earth Friendly would be appalled by what is happening over there. However, other than a few press releases (which usually tame the faithful) Apple has done nothing. At least on the surface, we have heard rumors that Apple is courting Pegatron as an alternative manufacturing site for the next generation of iToys. If this is true (and as of now we have no evidence to the contrary) then Apple would not want to get Asus upset. After all Asus owns Pegatron. It is their manufacturing company.
So then next time you hear an Apple press representative standing on the soapbox and loudly declaiming how they are protecting their Intellectual Property from the masses of thieves and copy-cats out there, just remember that they are only throwing this around at the companies they feel they can bully into submission. In the end no one likes a bully, and bullies usually reap what they sow in the long run.