If you've ever wondered how your shiny new iPad was made, this video is for you. Marketplace Shanghai Bureau Chief Rob Schmitz was the second reporter to be allowed a tour of Foxconn and he brought back video showing workers building Apple's latest and greatest product.
You won't see armies of robots slapping motherboards and Retina displays together in Schmitz's expose. Foxconn is mostly operated by migrant workers who left China's countryside in search of better opportunities in cities such as Shenzhen (famous for all of its bootleg products).
At Foxconn, about half a million workers aged 18 to 25-years-old get ready for work at the factory by 7 A.M. As you'd expect from working in a factory, the tasks workers perform are menial and repetitive. Schmitz calls it "boring."
It sounds like an awful life when you hear that these workers make the equivalent of $14 a month. But, consider how Foxconn is structured and operated when compared to other factories and it's kind of decent for the workers. That's mainly why hundreds of workers still line up outside factory doors seeking jobs.
Schmitz says that Foxconn is not just a factory, but that "it's also a city:"
"There's a main drag lined on both sides with fast-food restaurants, banks, cafes, grocery stores, a wedding photo shop, and an automated library. There are basketball courts, tennis courts, a gym, two enormous swimming pools, and a bright green astroturf soccer stadium smack-dab in the middle of campus. There's a radio station — Voice of Foxconn — and a television news station. Longhua even has its own fire department, located right on main street."
As Apple clamps down on abuses and illegal child labor at Foxconn, it's also important to understand that factory life is not glamorous. It never will be.
The sad part is that there's no other way to make critical changes to products at the very last minute without an operation like Foxconn. China's massive workforce is unrivaled.
Next time you pre-order a new iPhone or iPad, be sure to remember that somebody sweated bullets to get it delivered to you by launch day.