ABC's "Nightline" news show on Feb. 21 will air exclusive footage from inside Apple's controversial Chinese factories that crank out iPhones and other products.
Apple’s factories have been the subject of petitions and protests in the United States and elsewhere based on concerns about safety conditions and in the wake of a high number of employee suicides. Hackers have also claimed that they broke in to Apple manufacturer Foxconn’s network and distributing user names and passwords that could allow unauthorized individuals to make bogus orders.
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Apple has also had to address child labor issues at its Chinese factories, recently airing a list of its suppliers publicly for the first time. It also disclosed a review of its factory conditions and terminated its relationship with one Chinese factory that employed many chidren.
ABC says that anchor Bill Weir has been given exclusive access to Apple factories in Shenzhen “to see firsthand what life is like for factory workers, most of whom have never used an iPod, iPhone or Apple computer.” Weir's report airs at 11:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
"For years, Apple and Foxconn have been synonymous with monster profits and total secrecy so it was fascinating to wander the iPhone and iPod production lines, meet the people who build them and see how they live. Our cameras were rolling when thousands of hopeful applicants rushed the Foxconn gates and I spoke with dozens of line workers and a top executive about everything from hours and pay to the controversies over suicides at the plant and the infamous ‘jumper nets’ that line the factories in Shenzhen. After this trip, I'll never see an Apple product the same way again," said Weir.
The better Apple does financially – and it is showing little signs of slowing down based on fourth quarter results that included record revenue of $46.33 billion and record net profit of $13.06 billion – the more closely Apple’s critics will be watching how the company is getting its returns.
And Apple’s issues in China don’t just have to do with factory conditions. It also now finds itself in a legal tussle with a Chinese company that says Apple is infringing on its iPad trademark – a situation that could result in an iPad 3 customs ban.