Apple: Making Tons of Money, Still Not Giving It Away Or Paying Chinese Workers

The company’s earning call was impressive. Now it’s time for it to start thinking different about how it operates.


We can’t but be impressed with Apple for its latest revenue numbers. Everyone wants an Apple product, and people are willing to pay out the nose to get one. But the company isn’t as bright and white and shiny as its products would have you believe. No company–so far, but we’re holding out hope–can get that successful without a few skeletons in the closet. But Apple’s reality seems to be especially different from the image that its progressive, creative-type customers have of the company.

For instance, Greenpeace announced today (PDF) that Apple’s data centers are the least environmentally friendly of any major tech company. Apple received the lowest score of any tech company based on Greenpeace’s measurements. Obviously, you need to use a computer, and the benefits of downloading a music file rather than making a purchasing a whole CD should be rather obvious and aren’t accounted for in Greenpeace’s study. It’s probably not the best way to hit Apple (which has also done a lot to make its products more environmentally responsible).

What is a good way to hit Apple is that, as a company, it’s not that interested in taking care of the people working for it or give back to the world in the form of philanthropy. Take a look at this video. You’ve probably heard it all before piecemeal, but putting it together makes it seem more damning.

People often let themselves forget the fact that Apple products are made in Chinese factories by workers who have a disturbing tendency to take their own lives. They’re also not getting paid much at all: If you made an iPad with American labor, it would cost about $14,000. Apple also steadfastly refuses to give to charity as a company, and Steve Jobs personally doesn’t give to charity. Or, at least, he doesn’t tell anyone about it. If he does give to charity and doesn’t try to get credit for it, that’s doubly impressive and we apologize. But given Apple’s track record that seems unlikely. They don’t even let charities accept donations via mobile apps.


And let’s not forget that it turns out that Apple is now tracking all of our movements; for what nefarious purpose we don’t even know. Does this make Apple different from any other corporate behemoth? Not at all. We all need computers and gadgets, and Apple makes the best, so we’re going to buy them no matter what, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing so. But, as we’ve heard, with great power comes great responsibility. And when you’re raking in money like Apple is, it might be the best and easiest time to start changing the way you operate for the better. Since we’re going to buy the next iPad no matter what they do, though, don’t hold your breath.

Image adapted from Flickr user boltron-‘s

About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Ideas section, formerly