Apple is the most valuable company in the world and has a role in our lives like no other. From smartphones to smart watches, earbuds to computers, the technology it has popularized has revolutionized the modern age and reshaped our relationships with each other and our environment. But a company that started out as the cool underdog to Microsoft is now subsumed in a wave of controversies, facing a major backlash.
Criticism of Apple includes allegations of anti-competitive practices, using its App store to copy the best ideas, trapping consumers in the apple ‘ecosystem’, tax avoidance and relying on sweatshop labour. There were reports of people forced into working twenty hour days, chemicals being used that caused irreparable damage, and gruelling conditions for those working the assembly lines in these Apple factories. In 2010, there was a wave of suicides at one of Apple’s largest factories. That year, analysts also noticed that Apple had suddenly stopped making all of their money in the US and instead had shifting billions of dollars of profits to Ireland, where they paid little to no tax. This prompted both the EU and US Senate to launch detailed investigations.
For many years there was a myth in the technology community that when a new iPhone was released, older iPhones would get slower. It was claimed this deliberate ploy would trick people into buying a new device they didn’t need. Then in 2017 it was proved that they were intentionally slowed down older phones. They also make their devices intentionally difficult to fix, citing safety concerns and the need to protect trade secrets. But the Right to Repair movement is now sweeping the world and new laws are close to passing in dozens of countries.
We investigate the true cost of Apple’s rise to the top.