The Chimerist

Yes, like you I covet an iPad 3. Who doesn’t? But like a lot of people, I’m concerned about the recent revelations of inhumane labor practices used by Apple’s suppliers in China.

As many others have pointed out, none of Apple’s competitors can boast a more moral supply chain. Even if they did, switching from the brand I’ve sworn by for almost 30 years is almost impossible to contemplate. I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more to know that building my iPad wasn’t so horrible it caused someone to kill himself. However, I’ve also read that pressure to maintain plantation-style work environments in China has less to do with keeping the costs of labor down than it does with keeping up a brisk pace of innovation and ample stock. 

Tech companies are drunk on novelty and the high makes them want more. Tech journalists and the most avid consumers are always jonesing for something new. 

Maybe some of them need it, but if they’re like most of the average computer and smartphone owners I know, they already have much more machine than they really need or will ever use. The only real problem I have with my iPad 1 is its memory; I’ve downloaded almost 150 apps, and all of them can’t fit at the same time, so I have to swap them out to try something new. That’s annoying, but no hardship.

The truth is that I don’t need to upgrade my hardware as often as I have in the past. I can update the OS and work around any limitations until my computer, my iPhone or my iPad actually breaks. I don’t really need Siri, though it does seem cool. I don’t have to have (sob!) a retina screen on my iPad.

Until Apple cleans up its act a bit more than it already has, I’ve resolved to wait as long as possible between upgrades. I’m guessing that’s at least five years between computers and four years between mobile devices, as opposed to three and two, my previous rate. It’s not a boycott, but that does mean that in any 10 year period, I’ll be buying one less laptop and two fewer mobile devices. 

One more thing: This decision doesn’t mean much unless I communicate it to Apple. They seem to be at least somewhat responsive to such complaints. I’m working on a letter now. 

—Laura Miller