改善工人权利符合苹果利益 Apple has an incentive to worry about workers’ rights
Imagine a company generating an extra $1.5bn in sales every week compared with what it earned only a year ago – and nearly all of that coming from products that it had dreamt up from scratch within the last half decade. These were things the world didn’t know until recently that it needed.
That would be like General Motors conjuring up its entire North American sales – all the Chevrolets, Cadillacs, Buicks and GMC trucks – from nothing, in the space of just a year.
That gives some idea of the enormity of Apple’s recent success on the back of the iPhone and iPad. Without those inventions it would be a struggling computer maker trying to fill the gap left by shrinking iPod sales. Instead, it is a world-beater with a share price that surged past $500 this week and didn’t stop to catch breath. It was only with the launch of the iPad that Apple’s market value topped Microsoft’s, a company that once seemed unassailable: it is now worth nearly twice as much.
这让人们对苹果(Apple)在相继推出iPhone和iPad之后获得的巨大成功，有了一些 概念。如果没有这些创新产品，苹果会是一家陷入困境、努力填补由iPod销量萎缩造成的空白的电脑制造商。相反，它现在成了举世无双的公司，股价在本周一 路飙升，超过了500美元，并且还没有停顿的趋势。在发布iPad之后，苹果的市值才超过曾被视为不可击败的微软(Microsoft)，如今，苹果市值 接近微软的两倍。
But this latest surge has consequences. When Microsoft’s sales jump on the back of new software releases, it only needs to ship more bits. Apple has an altogether different problem. In late 2010, it was shipping 1.8m shiny new iPhones and iPads a week. A year later, it had upped that weekly quota by nearly 1.5m – and still couldn’t satisfy demand.
This has created one of the great historic challenges of manufacturing. The supply chain of the electronics industry, with its hub in south China, was already one of the most impressive manifestations of the forces that have brought a new, globally distributed workforce into play. But this system is now being tested in the extreme.
This is not just about iPads and iPhones: with the advent of true mobile computing, an industry that once counted its sales in the hundreds of millions will soon be counting it in the billions.
That makes Apple’s handling of the supply chain labour issues that continue to dog it a central concern not just for its own future but for the industry at large. Its scale and conspicuous brand have brought it unwelcome attention. But it is already ahead of its main rivals in trying to grapple with the underage labour, excessive forced overtime and inadequate safety standards that continue to be alleged against it, and the new standards it is helping to set will be felt across the industry.
因此，对于持续把苹果推向舆论中心的供应链劳工问题，苹果的处理不仅涉及自身的未来，还会影响 到整个行业。它的规模和引人注目的品牌，已经给它带来了令人不快的关注。但在努力解决被持续诟病的未成年劳工、过度强迫性加班和安全标准不足的问题上，它 已经领先于主要竞争对手，它正在帮助制定新的标准，将辐射到整个行业。
One implication is that costs will rise. According to one tech industry veteran who has been closely involved with supply chain labour issues in the past, Foxconn, the immense Chinese manufacturer that supplies much of Apple’s output, “clearly has optimised around cost and speed rather than worker rights”.
Changing that will take money. For a company that can charge premium prices, like Apple, that may not present a problem. It is also unlikely to hurt the lowest-cost makers of consumer electronics based in the emerging world, many of which will feel no obligation to meet the new, higher voluntary standards that are likely to emerge. But the same will not be true for consumer electronics brands based in the US or Europe: without Apple’s premium brand they will have little price protection, but they will still need to conform to raised expectations.
改变这一点要花费财力。对于一家能够对产品开出高价的公司——比如苹果——来说，这或许不是问 题。它可能也不会伤害到那些设在新兴国家、享受最低成本的消费电子产品公司，它们中的许多不会感到有义务遵守可能出现的新的、更高的自愿标准。但对于美国 或欧洲的消费电子品牌而言，情况则非如此：它们没有苹果那样的高端品牌，因此没有什么价格保护，但它们仍必须达到提高后的要求。
All of this presumes, of course, that Apple actually has the power to influence how its suppliers treat their own workers. Transparency appears to be one problem. Apple executives argue strenuously that they audit suppliers thoroughly and have identified any problems. Tim Cook, chief executive, says that he gets weekly data on the working hours put in by 500,000 workers around the world – surely giving him a far better understanding than his counterparts in the motor industry had nearly a century ago. Yet independent investigations – most recently one by the New York Times – continue to point to significant shortcomings.
当然，所有这些都建立在一个假设之上，那就是苹果实际上有能力影响其供应商对待工人的方式。透 明似乎是一个问题。苹果的高管极力声称，他们对供应商进行了彻底的审计，已经找出了所有问题。首席执行官蒂姆•库克(Tim Cook)表示，他每周会收到全球50万工人贡献的工作小时数，毫无疑问，与在近一个世纪前的汽车业中与他处于相同位置的人相比，他掌握的情况要清楚得 多。但独立调查仍然指出了严重的缺陷，其中最新的一次是《纽约时报》(New York Times)的调查。
Apple’s leaders certainly have plenty of incentive to get to the root of this problem. The consequences of failing to deal with it would be significant. It is not just a question of appeasing the NGOs that make themselves a nuisance about such issues. As Nike and Reebok found a decade ago, customers can rebel against brands associated with sweatshop practices. Steve Jobs, for whom the Apple brand experience was a big part of delighting his customers, would have understood what is at stake.
显然，苹果领导人有充分的动机从根本上解决这个问题。应对这一问题的失败，将造成严重后果。这 不仅仅是安抚非政府组织(NGO)的问题，那些NGO在这类问题上已经变得令人讨厌。正如耐克(Nike)和锐步(Reebok)在10年前发现的，消费 者会对与血汗工厂有染的品牌产生抵触情绪。对于史蒂夫•乔布斯(Steve Jobs)而言，苹果的品牌体验正是让消费者感到愉悦的重要部分，他一定明白，什么正面临危险。
But for Apple’s brand to thrive as it moves into its new phase of global manufacturing superpower, the heirs of Mr Jobs will have to show that their company is dedicated to the betterment of a large slice of the world’s working population.