You may have read a lot about Foxconn last week.

Tl;DR summary:

  • Foxconn is the subcontractor that makes the iPhone and iPad.
  • Foxconn’s CEO called his workers animals.

Here’s the key tl;dr quote, from a current Apple executive:

  • “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

That’s a lot of focus. That’s laser-like precision on a given mission. Because it follows that if Apple produces the best product possible, people won’t care about anything else.

Indeed, isn’t s/he right?

Doesn’t free market and price competition makes hypocrites of us all? (Two-Buck-Chuck anybody?)

What if it didn’t have to?

Implications for Analytics Practitioners:

  • NRCan runs the Energuide program which assigns a single, real number to most major appliances expressing how much electricity it uses over the course of a year, and in so doing, it makes the previously invisible, visible, to the consumer.
  • Is there some mechanism by which we could assign the unseen human cost of a given product and make it visible to the consumer?
  • How could the invisible be made visible, so that at the very least, our collective market can generate preferences that are not based on market price alone?

I make no normative judgements about industrialization in other countries, nor, a statement about the working conditions that people escape when they transition from subsistence agriculture into industrialization. I’m only asking if an analytical solution can drive an incremental disruptive dimension of consumer preference. ILO standards already exist, and have existed for decades. It’s a problem-solution space that I know analytics practitioners have unique insight on.


I’m Christopher Berry.
I tweet about analytics @cjpberry
I write at

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