Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Apple.

Apple: Make the iPhone 5 ethically

Now may be a good time to petition Apple to overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers.

BlogLESS-readers-slash-Apple-product-owners: here's a chance to do your gadget-crazed bit for corporate responsibility. I quote in full below.

The iPhone factory?

Every day, tens of millions of people will swipe the screens of their iPhones to unlock them.

On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.

Right now we have a huge opportunity as ethical consumers: The launch of the iPhone 5 later this year will be new Apple CEO Tim Cook’s first big product rollout, and he can’t afford for anything to go wrong — including negative publicity around how Apple’s suppliers treat their workers. That’s why we’re launching a campaign this week to get Apple to overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers in time for the launch of the iPhone 5.

In many cases, people literally are dying while making Apple products. Reporters have documented cases of deadly explosions at iPad factories, and repeated instances of employees dying of exhaustion after working thirty to sixty hour shifts. In some of the factories Apple contracts with, so many employees have attempted suicide that management installed nets to prevent employees from dying while jumping off building ledges.

Can Apple do this? Absolutely. Apple is the richest company in the world, posting a profit margin for the last quarter of 42.4% yesterday. They’re sitting on $100 billion in the bank. According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in the New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand it, and it’ll happen – “Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”

We, for one, think this kind of thing can make a difference. If you are like-minded, why not head on over and sign the petition?

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PaulFeb 10, 2012

Four Design Links:
July 1, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week. This week: is design thinking a myth?, the ethics of gadgets, moral super-powers, and an Apple petition.

1. Design Thinking: A Useful Myth

Core77 has an essay from none other than Donald Norman, who criticizes the idea that "design thinking" is unique to designers but considers it a necessary evil if they are to be taken seriously for more than "making things pretty".

2. Death by Gadget

No phone or tablet computer can be considered “cool” if it may be helping perpetuate one of the most brutal wars on the planet.

From the Design Ethics desk: a NYT Op-Ed that asks us to consider the human cost of electronics made with conflict minerals.

3. Strength in naughty or nice

We've often said that if you want your business to do well, you should be morally good. Now you have another reason: Harvard researchers claim that trying to do good may give you super powers.

4. Gizmodo launches Apple iPhone petition

Gizmodo argues that Apple should either fix the iPhone 4 reception problem or give free cases to users (which fix the problem).

It does seem shady that the phones are broken and Apple's best suggestion (other than holding it unnaturally) is to buy a new $30 case from them. Even if that wasn't their strategy (and I doubt it was), they can't afford the perception.

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NickJul 1, 2010

Four Design Links:
June 17, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week. This week: Recovering from presentation problems, a new Tumblr theme, Getting clients to pay your invoices, and a nifty URL service.

1. How Steve Jobs beats presentation panic

Penny Arcade - An Inside Job
Image from Penny Arcade
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NickJun 17, 2010

Four Ethics Links: June 14, 2010

Four ethics links is a review of recent stories in applied ethics. This week: Privacy for Animals, Ethics for Extraterrestrials, iPhone Obsession, and Stolen DNA.

1. Do animals need privacy?

Brett Mills at the University of East Anglia suggests that the ethics of the media and privacy should be extended beyond humans to the animal world. He says it might be acceptable to film "public events" such as animals hunting - but questions more intrusive recording. For humans, he says, it is assumed that documentary makers would need consent to go into people's private lives, but no such boundary exists for wildlife filmmakers.

Albrecht Dürer: Young Hare
Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare
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PaulJun 14, 2010

Inevitable Post about the Apple/Google Voice Incident

A series of events last featuring Apple, AT&T and Google provide more grist for the DLB mill.

Here's something interesting to think about for your Wednesday. Consider the following two (related) events:

Monday, July 27 -- We learn that Apple has begun to pull all Google Voice-enabled applications from the App Store, citing the fact that they "duplicate features that come with the iPhone."

Wednesday, July 29 -- Google Vice President of Search Product and User Experience (VPSPUE :) Marissa Mayer tweets a link to this parody article, and then shortly deletes it.

As innocuous as it may seem, this series has incited quite a bit of Internet backlash -- and hence, it's just dripping with opportunities to reinforce DLB-style design ethics lessons. Below, I spell out a few of them.

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PaulAug 5, 2009
Tagged with: Apple, AT&T, Design Ethics, Google

In Memoriam: Fake Steve Jobs has an ethical crisis

Everything's fine today, that is our illusion. -- Voltaire

As you no doubt know by now, earlier this month, 25-year old Sun Danyong, an employee of Foxconn -- the company that manufactures the iPhone for Apple -- was apparently driven to commit suicide as he was subjected "unbearable interrogation techniques" by his employer's internal security group. Danyong was under investigation for losing a prototype device of a forthcoming iPhone.

Foxconn employees
Image via.

As this incident unfolded, we were naturally following it, preparing to write a lengthy post for BlogLESS detailing the dense web of ethically unattractive business practices that combined to manufacture this grossly tragic event.

Given the magnitude of the tragedy, though, pontificating about business ethics, Apple or Foxconn seemed, if not misplaced, then at least unsavory. What luck for us all then, that Fake Steve Jobs delivered one of his best posts ever, finding an appropriate path to the heart of the problem without degenerating too far into the preachiness or grandstanding that a more sober response threatened.

(For those four of you who are currently reading BlogLESS and have never heard of FSJ -- first of all, god bless you. Secondly, you're in for a treat. FSJ runs a Steve Jobs parody blog, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs -- tagline: "I will restore your sense of childlike wonder. There is nothing you can do to stop me." -- which, under normal auspices, can be very funny.)

Back to the matter at hand, though. I'll now quote the July 21 entry from The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs:

Well, this is the world we are living in. These are the people we are dealing with. This is how we have to deal with them. We can't make these products in the United States. Nobody could afford to buy them if we did...

This time it's getting to me. It really is. For a long time I couldn't stop crying. Since then I've just been sitting in my office with the blinds shut. I can't stop thinking about it. It's why I wasn't on the earnings call today. I'm just numb. I'm asking myself, Is this really worth it? Is this what I want to do with my life? Can I live with myself?

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PaulAug 3, 2009

Four Design Trends: June 11, 2009

After the positive response from the last batch, this week we continue with four more links. Catch up on some stories that just might help you with your next design or client meeting.

1. The 50 dollar logo experiment

50 dollar logo experiment -- FAIL

Should professional designers be worried about crowdsourced spec design sites? Jim Walls spent $50 to find out.

His verdict: professionals have nothing to fear.

The "designers" he hired a.) failed to take into account his obvious pun (or perhaps did not speak English), and b.) never finished the job. You get what you pay for, I guess.

2. Pointing fingers at Wired

If for some reason you have not caught wind of this article on the possible demise of Wired magazine, you might want to check it out. The irony is thick: how could a magazine about the future fail to predict or respond to the impact of the Internet on its business?

The comments are the real meat of the piece. Past and present Wired editors, bloggers, print writers, ad buyers, and lookers-on debate what went wrong and what might save the day. Highly recommended if you're interested in the future of journalism and hearing the many, many sides of the story from informed parties.

3. "Apple is creating an ecosystem of the kind of customers I don’t want"

Garrett Murray believes that Apple's long and opaque approval process for iPhone application support hurts both users and developers. The ratings interface makes it difficult for developers to respond directly to complaints through the Apps Store. Furthermore, they have no idea when or if fixes will be approved. Murray says angry users are more likely to rate software than satisfied ones, resulting in lower overall ratings which can hurt sales.

As a user, I have found it hard to shop the Apps Store for this very reason. It's interesting to consider whether Apple's attempts to control quality may have in fact broken the user experience on another level.

4. Changing search trends say: invest in brands

Chas Edwards, chief revenue officer at Digg, offers this analysis of recent marketing data:

What's happening? "Total traffic going to websites via paid search ads is decreasing relative to traffic via unpaid, organic search listings."

The explanation? As users have gained experience searching, queries are getting longer, thus undermining the effectiveness of most ad buys which use only a few words.

What to do? “As we claw our way up from the bottom, expect that the recovery in online advertising will be driven by faster growth in brand-building activities over cost-per-click and other direct-response programs.”

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NickJun 11, 2009


Check out this incredibly clever advertisement from Canadian hardware retailer Rona.

For those who can't make out the French, they're advertising their paint recycling policy.

RONA's iPod Nano symbiote advertisement
RONA capitalizes on a design trope in a billboard for the iPod nano.

I'm not sure this is intentional, but this ad can also serve the purpose as a funny and subtle jab at Apple's well-known less-than-green design practices.

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PaulMay 12, 2009
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