How the iPad is Made: Foxconn Gives Marketplace a Rare Peek


Apple’s public relations connection to China supplier Foxconn has improved of late. A key report on labor conditions was not excellent, but contained no scandals. The house that Jobs built appears to have weathered the worst of the China storm.

One sign that Apple is turning the (Chinese Red) corner: a “how it’s made” video of the iPad shot a Foxconn factory and broadcast by American Public Media’s Marketplace, the same show that exposed Apple-Foxconn critic Mike Daisey as a fraud.

Here’s how Marketplace teases its report:

Marketplace Shanghai Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz is only the second reporter ever to gain access to visit the factory floor at Apple’s Chinese producer Foxconn. See highlights from his tour of the assembly line and the Foxconn facilities. Hear his full audio reports on your local public radio station or online.

It’s a fascinating look for both Apple fanboys and Apple critics into the nuts ad bolts (and chips and circuits) process of how the wildly popular device is made. [more]

This new transparency is unusual for Apple but clearly necessary. Also, clearly a winner. See any labor violations in that video? No? Exactly. It all looks kind of sterile and boring, right? Exactly. What it does’t look like is abusive — and that’s also the point.

It seems hardly accidental that after exposing Foxconn critic Daisey, Marketplace suddenly gained exclusive access to the manufacturing process. Marketplace maintains an excellent section titled the “Apple Economy.” But is the show risking its stellar reputation for integrity in exchange for the rare footage? 

Hard to say. And it’s hard to believe that, given his two recent mega-scoops and Apple’s marquee status as both manufacturer and SEO goldmine, Marketplace China correspondent Rob Schmitz would have far fewer Twitter followers than Mike Daisey.

Disclosure: Abe Sauer recently appeared on Marketplace to discuss Brandchannel’s annual Product Placement Awards.