Another step. I recall, vividly, how many times I was told that no one would ever adjust anything in their manufacturing ecosystem to accommodate ideas like human rights or safe and sane work conditions. And this is a gesture, and a PR move, and does not speak to the violations still happening on the ground in China. But it does show that pressure can effect change—Apple never thought along these lines before, and neither have other electronics companies. But be clear who is the driving force here—it’s people. Thanks to millions of people paying attention, the landscape is changing, and this move by Apple is part of its efforts to adapt to that.
I think even if it is primarily a PR move, which I also presume it is, it’s a huge one, and even Daisey himself should be patting himself on the back. Steve Jobs famously told President Obama, “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” and as much as folks wanted badly for Apple’s manufacturing to be subject to U.S. labor standards, we all knew it was never, ever, ever going to happen. The iPhone alone, if it were its own business with nothing else, would eclipse all of Microsoft. They’re not moving an inch.
But they are. Even a token move like this is, I suspect, a huge deal, a nightmare of logistics and upheaval for Apple and its juggernaut manufacturing ecosystem that at times seems to have developed an intelligence all its own. It’s a bone thrown, but what a heavy bone it is.