Sunday, 27 June 2010

Save your soul

I didn't have the privilege of walking past an O2 shop yesterday morning to see dozens of people queuing around the block, rubbing their clammy hands together in anticipation of the iPhone 4. I have been told, however, that it was not a pleasant sight.

Why was I happily surrounded by my Toshiba netbook and ancient Motorola flip-phone as opposed to standing in Oxford Street drooling over Apple's latest gift to humanity, Stephen Fry might ask.

First of all, I don't have a spare £299 lying around to spend on a handset. Neither am I about to take out a mortgage for the sake of owning a better phone, unlike all those extremely unlucky people who recently signed a 24 month contract for an iPhone 3G and are now waving useless Apps in front of fashionably bored iPhone 4 owners.

But to all those of you in the tech-savvy world, with a burning desperation to immediately purchase the latest smartphones, I would put to you that Apple is not the way forward. The knowledge and interest that I lack in the world of technology I make up for in the world of chocolate and I must say that no matter how good a Kit-Kat may taste, I have not bought one in years.

Apple are the Nestle of technology. They're everywhere and they taste good but what about the not-so-shiny shenanigans that go on behind the scenes to create your beloved machines?

Apple outsources the majority of the hardware production to Foxconn, whose factory in China has caused so many suicides that the company sent out a contract to all employees to end its liability should anyone die on site. The media outcry forced Foxconn to withdraw this idea, but the working environment is still a breeding ground for isolation and depression.

Employees told the BBC that the factory that is in charge of creating iPhones and iPads is run like an army training centre. Uniformed employees work at least two hours of overtime each day, and 100 hours of overtime a month are the norm. The pay is the equivalent to around £200 a month and the intensity and pressure put on meeting targets is so extreme that in the run-up to the iPad launch the factory lost 50,000 workers every month because they could not keep up with the expectations.

And if on balance you still feel that the need to buy into Apple's cult-like world, what will you get for your loyalty? Although the smug arrogance of Apple's attempts to ostracise its users from any other company may not seem like a problem at the moment, it will do soon.

Microsoft, Adobe, Google... where will it end? Well, it seems like it's only just begun. Steve Jobs has launched a war against all the big names in the industry. But why will people continue to buy in to a brand that is soon going to be ganged up on by all the other major players who have been shunned and disparaged? The answer is that they won't.

If there were no other alternative out there, I would understand consumers putting to one side their moral dilemmas and pragmatism of the future. But there are so many other smartphones that are just as functional, yet don't require sacrificing your soul.

I mean really, Google's latest operating system is called Android Cupcake. What could be better than that?

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