For years, cellphone makers had avoided using glass because it required precision in cutting and grinding that was extremely difficult to achieve. Apple had already selected an American company, Corning Inc., to manufacture large panes of strengthened glass. But figuring out how to cut those panes into millions of iPhone screens required finding an empty cutting plant, hundreds of pieces of glass to use in experiments and an army of midlevel engineers. It would cost a fortune simply to prepare.
Then a bid for the work arrived from a Chinese factory.
When an Apple team visited, the Chinese plant's owners were already constructing a new wing. "This is in case you give us the contract," the manager said, according to a former Apple executive. The Chinese government had agreed to underwrite costs for numerous industries, and those subsidies had trickled down to the glass-cutting factory. It had a warehouse filled with glass samples available to Apple, free of charge. The owners made engineers available at almost no cost. They had built on-site dormitories so employees would be available 24 hours a day.
The Chinese plant got the job.
"The entire supply chain is in China now," said another former high-ranking Apple executive.
"You need a thousand rubber gaskets? That's the factory next door. You need a million screws? That factory is a block away. You need that screw made a little bit different? It will take three hours."
An eight-hour drive from that glass factory is a complex, known informally as Foxconn City, where the iPhone is assembled. To Apple executives, Foxconn City was further evidence that China could deliver workers — and diligence — that outpaced their American counterparts.
That's because nothing like Foxconn City exists in the United States.
The facility has 230,000 employees, many working six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant. Over a quarter of Foxconn's work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day. When one Apple executive arrived during a shift change, his car was stuck in a river of employees streaming past. "The scale is unimaginable," he said.
That's not QotD, though I strongly recommend you RTWT. I quoted that so I could quote you this, from an AR15.com thread, "What's the stupidest thing you've ever heard a professor say?":
Yesterday, I had a professor who was born and raised in China try to give a lecture about how offshoring hurts China. Yeah, you read that right, American offshoring hurts China.You want your iPhone, iPad, Macbook AirJordans and $7 quilted winter coats? Offshoring is the cost.
He went through a power point presentation showing environmental problems (dead fish in streams, sand storms, etc.), and I just sat there. He held up a dry-erasable marker and said "Chinese workers only make 100-200 dollars per month making things like these." He kept emphasizing how little they made and how hard they worked.
I couldn't take it any longer. I respectfully raised my hand and asked "how much were these workers making before offshoring was prominent?"