It seems that learning about a dead teenage Pegatron worker has got Apple’s attention. Bloomberg reports that Apple has sent a medical team over to China to inspect a Pegatron factory to make sure that working conditions at the plant are not leading to a rash of worker deaths. Pegatron this week acknowledged that “several” of its young workers, including 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun, have died in recent months although the company insists that the deaths were unrelated to conditions in its factory. In a statement sent to Bloomberg, Apple said that while Pegatron has “found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones,” which is why it’s sending its own team to evaluate the situation. Pegatron, which has been largely responsible for manufacturing the iPhone 5c, has come under constant criticism from labor activists who say that the manufacturer provides even worse working conditions than Foxconn.
It’s been a few months since we’ve had an Apple-related labor rights controversy but the death of a teenage Pegatron worker seems to have done the trick. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that iPhone 5c manufacturer Pegatron has come under fire after one of its workers, 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun, died of pneumonia this past October. Pegatron claimed that its workplace environment wasn’t responsible for the young worker’s death even as it acknowledged that “several other young workers at the factory had also died in the past few months,” The Sydney Morning Herald says. Activist group China Labor Watch isn’t buying into Pegatron’s explanation, however, and says that “considering the sudden deaths of five people and the similar reason of the deaths, we believe there should be some relations between the tragedy and the working conditions in the factory.”
Manufacturing Apple products is now an instant ticket to increased scrutiny following the years-long investigation into Apple partner Foxconn’s treatment of workers in its various factories. While manufacturing rival Pegatron no doubt welcomed the recent strengthening of its partnership with Apple, it now finds itself the subject of a China Labor Watch complaint. The U.S.-based watchdog group said in a recently released report that Pegatron’s facilities are even worse than Foxconn’s. It claims to have found at least 86 violations of labor rights during its recent investigation, including 36 legal violations and 50 ethical violations. Apple responded to the group’s claims in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, noting that it will launch its own investigation but it has audited Pegatron’s facilities 15 times in the last six years and its findings do not align with the claims made by China Labor Watch. More →
A report on Monday from NPR has provided new insights into an explosion that injured 59 workers in an iPad plant last December. The incident occurred at a plant run by Pegatron subsidiary Riteng Computer Accessory Company, which manufactures back panel parts for Apple’s iPad tablet, among other products. Last week, NPR met with 25 workers who were hospitalized from the blast, all of whom criticized the plant’s safety and said Apple had inspected it just hours before the explosion. “I saw a fireball coming towards me,” said He Wenwen, an employee who was calibrating his aluminum polishing machine when the explosion hit. “I lost consciousness for a few seconds. Later, when I opened my eyes, I saw dense smoke and fire everywhere. I felt scared, really scared. I could hear people crying and screaming.” Read on for more. More →
Pegatron Technology has reportedly received a small volume of orders for the upcoming iPad 3, which is set to launch in March, according to Digitimes. Apple has reportedly revamped the company’s outsourcing strategy and will have Pegatron focus on production of the iPad series, with Foxconn serving serving as an auxiliary in 2013. Foxconn‘s primary focus will be the iPhone, with Pegatron only producing a small number of smartphones. The new strategy is meant to decrease risk and increase the quality of products, according to the report. The Cupertino-based company has already visited Pegatron‘s plants in China several times. The publication also claimed that Pegatron is expected to see a “significant increase” in orders for an iPad 4 launch reportedly scheduled for October with an initial volume of 7-10 million units. However, last week John Gruber of Daring Fireball called the March launch of the iPad 3 “completely accurate,” but claimed an iPad 4 report was “completely made-up nonsense.”
Aluminum dust, which accumulates during the iPad polishing process, likely contributed to the recent explosion at an iPad plant that injured 61 workers according to the group China Labor Watch. The explosion occurred earlier this week at the Pegatron-owned Ri Teng Computer Accessory factory. According to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Health & Safety administration, aluminum can become explosive if it is “suspended in the air at the right concentration.” Safety has always been a concern at the plants Apple chooses to manufacture its products, and the Cupertino-based firm also recently admitted that 15 of its supply chain plants violate China’s environmental regulations. “We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident,” Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told Bloomberg. “Our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang.” More →
The safety of workers at electronics manufacturing plants has again been called into question on reports that 61 people were injured by an explosion at a Pegatron factory at Shanghai’s Songjiang industrial park in China. Reuters on Monday reported that an explosion at a plant run by Pegatron subsidiary Riteng Computer Accessory Company injured 61 people and sent 23 workers to the hospital. Among other products, the plant manufactures back panel parts for Apple’s iPad 2 tablet. Pegatron Chief Financial Officer Charles Lin confirmed the incident. ”The factory has not started operations yet,” Lin told Reuters. ”Part of the facility is still under pre-operation inspection and part is running trial production.” Riteng spokeswoman Carolyn Wu added, ”Our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang. We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident.” An explosion this past summer at a Foxconn plant that manufactures Apple tablets killed three workers and injured another fifteen. No fatalities resulting from the Riteng explosion have been reported, and the cause of the blast was not immediately clear. More →
Pegatron has received a greater volume of orders for the iPhone 4S than originally expected, Commercial Times said on Wednesday. Reportedly, Pegratron had originally expected to build and ship 10 million iPhone 4S units, but it is now serving an order for 15 million units, DigiTimes said. Pegatron could ship 2-2.5 million iPhone 4S units during the fourth quarter of this year according to the report. The Taiwan-based manufacturer hopes Apple will bless it with iPad 3 orders as well, and has supposedly boosted its ability to build the metal chassis required for the device. More →
Apple’s manufacturing partners have reportedly begun assembling the iPhone 5 according to a new report from Macotakara, which has a mixed track record. The report follows news from this morning that German Apple carrier partner Deutsche Telekom has already begun pre-sales of the next-generation Apple smartphone. Foxconn, which will supposedly handle roughly 85% of iPhone 5 production, and Pegatron, which has picked up a contract for the remaining 15%, are said to have ramped up assembly ahead of Apple’s official announcement of the device, which is expected as soon as next week. Citing information from an anonymous source, the report also notes that finished devices are not yet being packaged, as the release build of iOS 5 has not yet been finalized. More →
The successor to the Barnes & Noble Nook Color will launch this month, DigiTimes reported on Friday. There is no mention if the Nook Color 2 will run Android, as the original did, although we hope Barnes & Noble considers using the more tablet-friendly Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) operating system this time around instead of a the Froyo build, which was designed for use on smartphones. Inventec and Pegatron will assemble the eReaders and supply as many as 2-3 million devices by the end of this year, the report says. TPK Holding will provide the 7-inch color touchscreen panels. DigiTimes also said that the Nook Color 2 E Ink will supply “e-paper backplanes,” which suggests there will be a new E Ink component to the Nook Color 2, although it is unclear what its role will be at this point. Barnes & Noble most recently released its “All New Nook,” a gray-scale device that we favored among all other eReaders. The Nook Color 2 could face stiff competition from Amazon’s new Android-powered tablet, which is also expected to launch this fall. More →
Apple has placed orders with its manufacturing partners for as many as 26 million iPhone 5 handsets in the second half of 2011 as it prepares for a massive launch this fall. In addition to Apple’s iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models, this could bring the vendor’s second-half iPhone shipments up to 56 million units, DigiTimes reported on Monday. Tack that massive figure onto the 18.65 million iPhones Apple shipped in the fiscal second quarter and the 20.34 million units shipped in the fiscal third quarter, and Apple could potentially ship just under 100 million iPhone handsets this year. Apple is expected to unveil at least one new iPhone model in the coming weeks, which will then go on sale in late September or early October. More →
Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron will begin shipping the iPhone 5 in September, DigiTimes reported on Wednesday. Pegatron will join Foxconn as a manufacturer for the phone and has secured an order for 10 million units, according to the report. In July, Taiwan Economic News also reported that Pegatron had inked a deal with Apple to manufacture the iPad 3, although that device may be delayed due to component shortages. The most recent rumors around the iPhone 5 speculate that the update is bigger than initially expected and the phone will be thinner, lighter and more powerful. Early rumors had suggested that Apple was launching an “iPhone 4S” that would offer a minor update to the current iPhone 4 model. More →
Pegatron has been awarded a new contract to build Apple’s next-generation iPad tablets, Taiwan Economic News reports. According to the report, Pegatron underbid Hon Hai for a new contract to manufacture the iPad 3, which will become available some time near the Thanksgiving holiday according to an earlier report. Hon Hai, owner of infamous Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn, manufactures Apple’s current-generation iPad 2 tablet along with a number of other Apple products. Pegatron is seemingly working hard to increase its production share of Apple devices, however; the Taiwan-based manufacturer reportedly also won an order from Apple to manufacture a total of 15 million iPhone 5 handsets. While Apple is shaking up its manufacturing partners according to the report, it will reportedly retain the majority of its component suppliers including TPK Holdings (touch panels), Simplo Technology and Dynapack International Technology (batteries), Largan Precision (camera lenses) and Foxconn Technology (outer casings).
Updated to reflect changes in source report.