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Essay: Exploring Apples iPhone: 90 Countries, 500,000 a Day and Global Market Impact

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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Apple, formally known as Apple Inc., is a multinational company that was officially incorporated on the 3rd of January, 1977. The company is one of the most powerful and successful in the world, for producing a wide range of technological devices. Within this presentation, I will be exploring one of the most popular devices made by Apple, the iPhone, and the interconnections of the product, between the company, people and places, as well as Apple’s environmental, economic and social issues, that need to be addressed.

In 1976, two college dropouts, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, proposed the idea of making a computer user friendly and small enough for people to have them in their homes and offices. Little did they know, that this first idea would create one of the most well known companies in the world today and sparked the ‘PC revolution’, making Apple an icon of American business. The history of the iPhone began with a request from Steve Jobs to the company’s engineers, asking them to investigate the use of touchscreen devices and tablet computers and on the 29th of June, 2007, the first model of the iPhone was released to the public.

The iPhone is a smartphone designed by Apple, that combines a computer, camera and cellular phone into one device with a touchscreen interface. The purpose of this product was to make life easier by allowing the user to connect with people all over the world and to access information at the touch of a button. Apple explains that the company is “committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to individuals around the world, through its innovative hardware, easy to use software and sleek product design”.

Apple designs and sells the iPhone, however they don’t manufacture its components. Instead, Apple uses third parties such as Foxconn and places from around the world to deliver and make individual parts. These countries include the U.S, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, the U.K, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Denmark, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, Poland, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Israel and Italy. Apple has included so many countries in its production of the iPhone so the products made can get to the factories faster and more can be made as multiple people are working on them. However, majority of the iPhones are constructed in a huge manufacturing facility in the Chinese city, Zhengzhou.

There are 94 production lines at the Zhengzhou manufacturing site and there are roughly 400 steps involved to assemble the iPhone, including polishing, soldering, drilling and fitting screws. It is estimated that this company can produce 500,000 iPhones in a day, or roughly 350 in a minute. The newly assembled iPhone is transported beyond the factory gate to a large customs facility that ensures the iPhones are ready for sale. iPhones heading for the United States and other parts of the world leave customs by truck and are transported approximately 5 kilometers to the Zhengzhou airport and a single wide body Boeing 747 can carry 150,000 iPhones.

The iPhones have many steps involved in making, processing and distributing the product and components from more than 200 suppliers go into each iPhone. There are roughly seven steps that are required to happen before the product gets to the consumer. The first step is where the primary products are sourced from. For the iPhone, the batteries are made by Samsung in South Korea. The camera is made by Sony in Japan, and the display is made in the U.S.A, Japan and Taiwan. The second step is the processing and making of the primary product. The batteries are made from lithium ion, while the screen is ion strengthened glass (a.k.a gorilla glass), and each glass sheet is dipped into a hot salt bath, infusing the potassium ions into the glass. Manufacturing of the finished product as well as the packaging is the next two steps and this takes place in Zhengzhou in China. The marketing and advertising is an important part as without this, no one would know that the product is available. Apple uses television ads, social media (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), Youtube ads as well as their own website, to advertise the latest model of the iPhone, and other products. (PLAY AN AD). The next step is the distribution and transportation of the product. The iPhone is sent to different countries from the Chinese factory by an aeroplane. When it gets to the desired country, it is transported by a truck. Retail is the last step before it gets to the costumer. Apple products, including the iPhone, are sold in over 497 retail stores across 22 different countries. 269 of these stores are located in America.

Apple’s products are extremely popular, especially in America’s as many of its retail stores are located there. This is due to the fact that the company began there and has continued to operate through their headquarters in Cupertino, California. The fact that the product is also designed and managed there, has made it the leading choice for consumers in America. The Global market economy means a place where all the economies of the world merge and transactions of goods and services are carried on and compared at an international level. The top five global markets for the iPhone are Japan (53.8%), U.S.A (47.4%), Australia (44.9%), Great Britain (42.5%) and South Korea (33%). All of the top countries that buy the iphone are very wealthy, making it the perfect place to sell these expensive products.

A stakeholder is defined as a person with an interest in something, especially a business. Apple has stakeholders and these people can be affected in positive or negative ways. The investors of Apple have an economic affect which includes interest rates, technological developments, availability of finance from the banks and economic growth/changes in demand.  The customers of Apple have a personal gain and are affected by how much they have to pay for the product and if they enjoy the usage of the product. Apple's employees and managers have a financial benefit and are affected by the working conditions (workplace safety), their pay and working hours. Apple’s competitors are affected by how well Apple does and the competition between the major brands.

With any business, there are economic positive and negative impacts. The positives include many advantageous benefits. For example, Apple is one of the biggest job creators in the United States, providing thousands of people with employment in design, technology, marketing, retail support and more.The diagram shows the amount of jobs Apple has created in just the Unites States alone. As stated by the company, since the launch of their online App Store in 2008, U.S developers have earned over $16 billion in sales worldwide. This figure is only a small share of a much larger financial gain, that is helping strengthen not only America’s economy but Australia's as well. Although the company has been very important in boosting the economy, there has been some speculation about if Apple are not contributing enough through taxes. The company has also been accused of contributing a significant amount of money towards the U.S trade deficit within China. This allegation has added to the argument, of whether Apple’s manufacturing should be moved to America.

Apple has improved since 2011, as they have brought in new strategies to become more environmentally sustainable. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, has also stated in an article, that Apple is now taking it’s green responsibilities seriously. Within the company's website, Apple has now provided a progress report were people can see what they have already achieved in their goal of being environmentally friendly. The company's facilities are now 100% powered by solar, wind and hydro-power and are currently working on a closed supply chain, where the old phone materials are reprocessed into making the new iPhones. According to Apple, they are now ‘sourcing virgin paper responsibly, protecting sustainable forests, and making iPhone 7 boxes from responsibly managed paper, bamboo, and waste sugarcane.’ The company has now also removed harmful elements, including beryllium and benzene from their final assembly process. These few proposals, even though they don’t sound like much, they are currently making a positive difference to our environment. However, Apple has announced that 77% of the greenhouse gas emissions they produce, comes from manufacturing of the iPhones alone and only 17% is produced by the consumer. This is a negative impact towards the environment as greenhouse gases are being produced, which are harmful for the atmosphere and planet.

Apple’s production of the iPhone has greatly changed how we interconnect with people all over the world and has left a positive social impact. This technology has made access to information quick and easy, in terms of finding information of finance, government, socialisation and even entertainment. The iPhone is extremely useful for business purposes as it keeps you updated with all of the recent news and events, that are occurring all over the globe. Social networking is now much easier to use, with millions of apps available to use that connect you with people and places wherever you are. Despite the positive ways that the iPhone has impacted our society, it has also separated and distracted us as we live life through a screen. Within schools, the number of cyberbullying rates have increased, due to the ability to instantly send photos or emails quickly. The iPhone has also distracted some of us from our own families and friends as people can get caught up social media.

In my opinion, the most important factor to encourage sustainability, would be to look after the environment and the planet, as it is home to millions of living things. Although the economy supports funds to help environmental sustainability, when the environment we live in falls apart, it wouldn’t be very enjoyable to try and fix it when it’s too late.

Apple is extensive in its efforts to improve and create sustainability, whether it be socially, environmentally, or economically. In my research, I have found that Apple is at close to fostering environmental communities through its new strategies. Apple’s companies are now powered by solar, and wind energy and are working on developing a closed supply chain that saves wastage, and have taken dangerous chemicals out of their final assembly. Socially, Apple has made our lives simpler and easier, through instant access to information and communication. The company also boosts the economy through providing millions of jobs internationally and locally.

Apple may be at the forefront of developing sustainable communities and environments, however, there’s always room for improvement, especially socially. Apple needs to start addressing the important issues and concerns within the community, such as the unfair treatment of workers in China, as shown in the media by the BBC workers in the Panorama investigation.

The Fair Labour Association is an International corporation that helps improve the lives of workers around the world. This association has helped many socially responsible companies, universities, colleges and civil society groups. The FLA creates lasting solutions to poor working standards and conditions by providing tools and resource and  training programs to workers and management, which promote better accountability from companies, manufacturers and factories.

Apple have been facing accusations for being associated with an overseas supplier, that has a reputation for poor workplace health, safety, and fair wage standards. Additionally, the same standards have been directed towards one of it’s Chinese manufactures, Foxconn. These accusations have been proved true by the BBC, by conducting an undercover Panorama investigation. One undercover worker whose longest shift was 16 hours said, “Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn’t want to move. I was unable to sleep at night due to the stress.” These accusations are true due to the undercover investigation revealing the poor working conditions, showing footage and images of the workers. The investigation found that there were 18 facilities where workers were not paid the minimum wage, while there were 158 facilities with no approval, inspection report, or certificate for structural safety of the buildings or machines.

To get to the primary production site in Zhengzhou, I would need to catch a plane from the Whitsunday Coast Airport to the Brisbane Airport, where it would then take me to the Zhengzhou Airport. The modes of transport used would be, a car or bus to get to the airport, a plane to fly overseas and a car or bus to take me to the manufacturing site.

I personally interconnect with the company Apple, as I like the products practicality and easy to use structure. The design is sleek and modern and even though these components can be overshadowed  by the high price, I believe the products are durable and long lasting, if they are looked after.

Apple is a well known, multinational company that designs and produces technological devices including the iPhone. The iPhone is a smartphone designed by Apple that incorporates features that are meant to make life easier. However, Apple does not manufacture their products, this is done at the

Zhengzhou manufacturing site, using individual parts that come from all over the globe. iPhones have many steps involved in making and processing the device and the end result is the customer buying the product. With any business, there are positives and negatives to social, environmental and economical issues. Apple has many positives that makes the business better, however the negatives need to be sorted out to make the company even better. A big issue is the workplace health and safety of the workers in the Chinese manufacturing site. The workers aren’t being looked after, so the fair labour association stepped in at conducted and undercover investigation to prove that conditions were bad. Hopefully over time, these issues will be fixed. Overall, the production of the iPhone has many components associated with it, whether it be the making or the distribution and these all create global interconnections between the consumers, workers and stockholders.

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