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The Massive Secret Apple Revealed This Week

The Apple logo at its flagship retail store in San Francisco, on Jan. 27, 2014.
Robert Galbraith—Reuters The Apple logo at its flagship retail store in San Francisco on Jan. 27, 2014

A unique look inside the world's most valuable technology company

Apple plays its affairs close to the vest. The technology juggernaut is famously tight-lipped about its operations and future product plans, for instance. But pressure from labor groups has pushed Apple to open its kimono—a little. The result? A fascinating view inside the world’s biggest startup.

This week Apple said it had uncovered fewer cases of child labor as part of its annual survey of the international supply chain that makes parts for its iDevices. It is the eighth annual supply-chain report by the company. Apple also said the metal tantalum—an essential component in many electronics—it uses had not been sourced from war zones.

The world’s most valuable technology company, has been accused by labor rights groups of generating enormous profits on the backs of underpaid workers in Asia. Apple, which sold 150 million iPhones last year, audited 451 plants operated by various parts suppliers. Collectively, the plants employ some 1.5 million laborers.

For a company like Apple, supply chain is the sexless but arguably most important part of its massive profitability. CEO Tim Cook became Steve Jobs’ successor in large part by engineering its operations. Take for instance, this map from the report. It shows the provenance of its parts. In total, the report provides a deep look inside Apple’s operation.


(Click to enlarge map.)

You can read the rest of the Supplier Responsibility 2014 Progress Report here.

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