Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apple Watch Out! Here Come The Windows Tablets!

Apple had better watch out for the up and coming convertible tablets offered by its competitors. Companies like Microsoft and Nokia have launched tablets that are operable through both a touchscreen and an attachable keyboard.

While Apple has poked fun at these tablets, claiming that combing a tablet and a PC in one unit is like combining a refrigerator and a toaster; it appears that the Cupertino company may have more competition than expected from them.

NPD DisplaySearch

According to research conducted by NPD DisplaySearch, the tablet market is forecast to see 19.8 million touchscreen notebook PCs shipped this year. This number is equal to about 11 percent of the overall number of tablets shipped in 2013.

The number of notebooks being shipped has also grown throughout the year. In the first half of the year, these miniature PCs controlled only a 7 percent market share. The tablet makers have been adding the touchscreen feature to their “ultra-slim” PC units, and allowing consumers the ability to use it as either a tablet or a computer.

Which Brands Control The Tablet Market

The one manufacturer that has really embraced the touchscreen technology is ASUS, with one fifth of its laptops now operating with touchscreen capabilities. Sony has followed close behind with 17.6 percent of its notebooks utilizing the technology.

In terms of market share, ASUS holds the largest piece of the pie at 26.3 percent. However, Lenovo, which uses touchscreens in only 7.4 percent of the laptops shipped, has a 14.7 percent share in the market.

Apple Refuses To Conform

Apple seems to be the only renegade company on the market. Tim Cook has firmly announced that Apple will be keeping its iPad and iMac lineup separate from each other. Apparently, Apple executives feel that if a consumer wants a tablet, they should buy a tablet, and if they want a laptop, then they should buy a laptop.

Apple Screen Supplier Accused Of Worker Abuse

Reports are surfacing regarding the alleged abuse of worker’s rights in yet another Chinese factory that supplies companies like Apple, Samsung, and HTC with parts for their smartphones. This time the report focuses on Biel Crystal Manufactory, a company that supplies screens for the iPhone to Apple.

Undercover Investigation

According to a report released by the Students Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, also known as SACOM, employees must work for all but one day each month. Each workday is allegedly eleven hours long, which equals three hours of required overtime daily.

The report is built from research that was carried out through 60 off-site interviews with employees. SACOM also launched an undercover investigation into the factories owned by Biel Crystal Manufactory. Biel is one of the largest glass producers in the mobile industry, and reportedly accounts for 60 percent of the glass used by Apple in its products. Samsung receives 20 percent of its glass from the supplier, and other noted customers are HTC, Nokia, and Lenovo.

Worker Speaks Out

One worker interviewed from the quality control area of the company gave the following statement to SACOM:

"Biel has a lot of orders from Apple and Samsung. There's no such thing as peak or non-peak seasons in the factory. Almost every month is a peak season, and we just work and work. We have to work three hours overtime every day from Mondays to Fridays, and we work another two full days (meaning 11 hours per day) on Saturdays and Sundays. There is no break at all until we shift duty at the end of each month."

Safety Is Disregarded

SACOM, which is based in Hong Kong, also claims that Biel is not meeting safety requirements set by the Chinese government. Many of the workers who are injured in the factories are allegedly denied compensation for their injuries. The report also claims that employees have been fined for not meeting production quotas or for falling asleep on the job. Other fines have been levied if a worker breaks glass.
SACOM says the employees are forced to sign a blank contract, which is then required to be returned to the company when the worker decides to quit. This eliminates the ties between the employee and the employer, protecting Biel from lawsuits levied in the future.
Suicide is another issue noted in the report, with one factory in Guangdong reporting five workers having killed themselves in the last three years alone.

Apple’s Response

Apple has responded to the report in a statement to Reuters, saying:

"We insist that our suppliers provide safe working conditions, treat workers with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes wherever Apple products are made. Every year, Apple inspects more factories, going deeper into the supply chain and raising the bar for our suppliers. In 2012, we conducted 393 audits at supplier facilities around the world."