Not Unreasonable to Focus on Apple

Apple's supply chain is the subject of increasing media scrutiny, including in a series of articles in the New York Times (links below). CEO Tim Cook, in a letter to Apple employees posted on, seems to imply that the company is being singled out unfairly. "Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today…Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people. At the same time, no one has been more up front about the challenges we face."

I have given more attention to the environmental issues of Apple's products than I have to those of other manufacturers. (Example: A Greener Apple) And I am aware that serious environmental problems* exist in most other ICT and consumer electronics supply chains.

But my focus on Apple is not an unreasonable one.

One reason is personal. I am invested in the Apple ecosystem, owning several products and using the company's software and services. I want to encourage my vendor to be as responsible as possible.

The other is in the best interests of our industry. Apple is regarded as the smartest and most affluent player in the game, which puts it in a strong position to come up with creative solutions and set new industry standards. Why should we not focus on a point of leverage?

Apple now has the largest market cap and greatest cash reserves of any tech company. It can no longer coast on indy cred, as much as legacy fan boys would like that to be so. With great power comes the expectation of great responsibility. IBM knew that in its time. So did Microsoft in its. Not to understand this sounds naive; to complain about it, immature.

I am confident Apple can live up to the expectations it has created for itself. What happens if it does not?

The New York Times speculates in How the Love Affair With Apple Might End that a "…possibility is that Apple will falter not by being beaten at its current game, but because one of its rivals achieves something that it has failed to do: by developing digital devices, which not only score highly on the traditional design criteria of aesthetics, efficiency and ease of use, but in terms of their ethical and environmental sensitivity." The article goes on to note "…some ecological groups have admitted to criticizing Apple’s environmental record in the past not necessarily because it was poorer than its rivals, but on the grounds that, as a company seen to be an industry leader, it should be held to higher standards."

Apple and Green ICT
China and Green ICT
New York Times articles about Apple supply chain:
How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work
Apple, Electronics and Environmental Ills
In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

* I emphasis environmental issues in e-gear supply chains because that a Vertatique focus, not because I am unaware of the equally important labor issues. They are linked.