[Merged] Has Outsourced Assembly in China Contributed to Declines in Apple Quality?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by Luis Ortega, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. Luis Ortega macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    I realize that forums are the place where folks discuss problem issues and that if all is well then we don't often hear about that, but I notice a lot of threads about problems that appear to be the result of manufacturing and assembling issues.
    Being new to Macs, I have no frame of reference, but does there seem to be more of those sorts of problems now than in years past? Were Macs always assembled or manufactured in China? If not, did they suffer less from manufacturing or assembly issues then than they do now?
    The reason that I ask is that lately there have been a lot of news reports of goods produced in China that have been defective or had to be recalled and I was wondering if Mac production facilities in China could be suffering the same sort of problems.
    I assume that producing Macs in China is economically more advantageous for Apple than making them elsewhere, but if there is indeed a quality issue because of their place of manufacture or assembly that results in more warranty returns and repairs then perhaps it would make more economic sense to build them with better quality control and a higher up front price than having to spend a lot of time and money on fixing problems caused by lower quality manufacturing or assembling.
    Like I said, I don't know about Macs but I bought a MBP last week and I am expecting it to arrive in a week or so. That will be my first experience with Apple products. I'm hoping my experience will be positive.
     
  2. l33r0y macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I would expect Apple to have a high level of quality control at the factory. Whether it is actively enforced on a day to day basis is the question.

    I would also expect much of the production line to be as automated as possible, leaving little human interraction and variences in assembly quality.
     
  3. bmcgrath macrumors 65816

    bmcgrath

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    #3
    Some Macs are made here in Ireland. I wonder if they have any quality issues.... :confused:
     
  4. Luis Ortega thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Would this imply that custom orders are more likely to have human interaction and thus more likely to have issues than stock models?
    I asked to have a 7200 rpm hd and a hi resolution screen on mine and I did worry at the time whether it might be wiser to buy a stock model already available at a local Apple store than ask for any spec changes.
     
  5. vicious7 macrumors 6502a

    vicious7

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    #5
    When I first placed my order a couple of months ago, I was not aware of any issues with manufacturing (shoulda researched more ;)). If I had known of Apple's QC hiccups, I would have likely held off buying. That being said, I was both excited and worried about what product I would eventually get.

    I was and still am very happy with my purchase. I am one of many people who received a great product. My only concern would be if the new Macbooks come painted. People may start checking for lead content...lol.
     
  6. speakerwizard macrumors 68000

    speakerwizard

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    #6
    unlike some computer manufacturers apple will refit a whole factory in order to make its very custom designed computers, allowing for such great machines. as you said forums are usually used to vent anger or get help so its an unfair view. also consider how manufacturing of computers is higher compared to years ago, add that to people with internet access growing, doesn't mean quality is depreciating. take the ipod for example, if my information is correct it is still the most reliable mp3 player out there, however because of it HUGE market-share obviously a lot go wrong.
     
  7. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #7
    "Assembled in China"

    I wonder what's the ratio of Apple's return rate is.. I get this odd feeling that the current Penryn series of Macs ar some what more troublesome that it's previous generation, cause just about every single thread on here has been people reporting faults with their NEW Systems.

    Are there any people here, who's actually been satisfied with their original purchase? By this I mean, you've not had to return to the Store for tech support due to something misbehaving, lose, missing etc.. i.e. absolutely PERFECT item.

    So, is it me, or have the quality of our Macs been declining ever since Apple moved it's assembly's plant to nasty, cheap, crappy China? And what on earth is Apple doing about this? Anyone wanna share their view on this?
     
  8. erummel macrumors member

    erummel

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    #8
    Well, I would assume it's all about the bottom line. It's far more cost efficient to run a plant in China than one in Silicon Valley. Also, most of the parts are manufactured in that part of the world, so there is a better (at least geographically closer) link to the supplier.

    I make no value judgment on whether it is right or wrong, or 'crappy'. It's likely a significant savings to Apple, one that I would hope gets passed on to us.
     
  9. PDE macrumors 68020

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    #9
    I have to agree that quality has declined since Apple's moving of the manufacturing from Taiwan to China. I think that happened with the last generation of powerbook G4s a few years ago. Sure Apple saves money this way, but I haven't seen any of that saving extended to me as a customer. Despite much lower manufacturing and assembly costs and a much higher volume of computers, Apple's prices seem to always stay the same = good for shareholders no doubt, but the only difference I've seen is a decline in quality.

    I would have preferred to have kept manufacturing in Taiwan, but since most Taiwanese companies now have moved their assembly to the mainland that would have probably been difficult too.
     
  10. winty03 macrumors regular

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    #10
    I also wonder how many returns there are since I am on number 3, all from damage to MBP during assembly. I took it to Apple store and they said we will set up an exchange, return it. I said well this is my 3rd time. He didn't seemed to surprised of that. When I called in and told them I was very disappointed spending $3500 on my mbp and haven't used it yet, original order was placed March 14th. He gave me the same old "we are sorry...anyways." Ridiculous ordering something and HOPING it is not all chewed up on delivery.
     
  11. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #11
    So.. Are you saying it's perfectly fine and acceptable to inconvenien the consumer, waste their time and petrol money yet they are the one's who is spending lots of money for a supposedly a refined product that's actually imperfect, with a high failures rate which is equally as expensive as it's Taiwanese Made counterpart?

    I personally, don't think this is acceptable...
    It's bloody annoying and Apple should care a **** load more about the quality of it's products.
     
  12. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816

    digitalnicotine

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    #12
    I'm not sure how accurate it is to assume that because there are complaints/issues posted here regarding the newest models, it's an issue across the board. It's a given that MR members are going to post about issues, because they know there is a good chance of finding resolution here. People who have no issues, don't tend to post about the fact that they have no issues. So this seems a rather unscientific theory, and the bashing of China by referring to it as dirty, crappy, and cheap is pretty lame.
     
  13. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #13
    I'd like to think i'm entitled to my opinions, just as you are.
     
  14. heatmiser macrumors 68020

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    #14
    I can't wait until another country becomes the token boogeyman for xenophobes and racists. Macs have been made in China since the G3 iBook/Powerbook days, if not earlier. Bigotry aside, the reasons your crappy Apple products break down so easily is not because lazy (and dirty?) Chinese people put them together for low wages in factories, but because your Blessed Apple™ doesn't give a damn about quality control anymore. But I understand; blaming the Chinamen is much more fun.
     
  15. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #15
    That's along the lines of what I was thinking.

    For example. one of the larger complaints about the MacBook Pros of late has been the yellow-tint on the screen.

    Regardless of where the MacBook Pro was assembled, any of them made with screens from that supplier would have the yellow-tint.

    The OP could have assembled them in his garage, but if he was using the parts that Apple gave him, and the parts were of poor quality, the end result would be the same as if it were assembled in China.
     
  16. winty03 macrumors regular

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    #16
    I agree there is no problem with China assembling them, my grip or disappointment is having to wait 3 to 5 days for a new mbp to be shipped to me, versus a overnight within the states.
     
  17. PDE macrumors 68020

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    #17
    I think you're pushing it here. Of course it's ultimately Apple's fault and Apple's responsibility to ensure that its products are well-made and that don't break down. This could be done by promoting better business practices wherever it has its factories or making sure that whoever is manufacturing the computer for them is actually ethical in its business practices. Apple obviously doesn't do this and most companies don't really critically evaluate what their suppliers/manufacturers are telling them. In my mind, the proof is in the pudding and Apple's pudding is not as tasty as it used to be.


    Apple has only been manufacturing their computers in China (PRC) since a few years back and the last generation of the powerbook G4 aluminum. Before that, they were manufactured in Taiwan where workers are paid much better, working conditions are significantly better, and overall manufacturing quality is higher. I think most would agree that since the transition to the mainland, quality has deteriorated. Unfortunately, Taiwanese companies operating on the mainland are just as likely to abuse their workers as mainland companies.

    It's not about blaming the Chinese. It's just stating an observation and drawing conclusions. Apple is ultimately responsible, not the assembly worker. It's not in any way about nationality, but rather about socio-economic conditions that exist in different places and the exploitation of those conditions by large companies like Apple.
     
  18. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #18
    Let hope it arrive faultless, aye!

    Apple has a responsibility, perhaps you don't see it or understand? Any company which manufacture consumables, for sale has a responsibility, no matter where it's made - End users shouldn't have to waste time and effort to obtain a perfect product, especially if we have to pay a premium for it.

    I didn't say or mean, there's a fault with goods being assembled in china. It's not like they're made and manufactured there, is it? I'm just drawing a imaginary line to say the quality of Apple's products have fallen since it's move to China.
     
  19. GSMiller macrumors 68000

    GSMiller

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    #19
    My white Core 2 Duo iMac has been perfect, not so much a call to Apple for help. I figured it was just me who thought Apple's quality was declining, but I guess not. I'm not sure about the current generation of MacBooks, but last falls update to the line just seemed to cause more problems. Maybe it's just because I am no longer on the outside looking in, who knows, but I still say Apple is light years ahead of their competition.
     
  20. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #20
    IMO, it still seems that the majority of "quality related issues" (as discussed on the forums) are related to either sub-components that Apple's picked, or directly to Apple's design.

    I don't think a MacBook Pro assembled in Taiwan would magically not have the LED yellow-tint or the audio-hiss issues.

    To me, quality issues dealing with assembly = crooked keyboards, scratched up cases, and DOA units.

    If that's the case, you might consider editing the title of the thread. :D
     
  21. WHM macrumors regular

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    #21
    It is strictly a cost savings... I am in a business that also is struggling to compete with the cheap labor that China can offer. ALL of my customers complain that the quality of my competitors has declined but they are willing to turn a blind eye because the price is so much less. One of my largest customers have set up a large warehouse where they send the problem products to be reworked and sometime actually remade if the quality is unacceptable. Over the years I have had at least 25 computers from Apple and only in the last 2/3 years have I had several replaced for problems.
     
  22. PDE macrumors 68020

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    #22


    I think you're right about many sub-components. The main ones are probably not made in China, but I suspect things like fans, speakers, keyboards and the actual case parts are made there. The LCDs from Chimei and AUO are probably also made in China. Not sure where Samsung makes their LCDs. The yellowing problem seems to be related to LED technology so maybe it's more a symptom of the early stages of LED LCD manufacturing for notebook computers?

    I guess the bottom line is that all manufacturers (US, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese...everybody) seem to be skimping and that quality control seems to have declined in pace with the increase PC volume over the past ten years.
     
  23. mox123 macrumors 6502

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    #23
    geeeez....someone from Japan is certainly not too fond of their neighbors across the pond :rolleyes:

    I seem to remember from my history class about how some nasty, cheap, crappy country by the name of Nippon bombed our battleships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.....do you guys still learn that in your history books, or has the gov't banned that too... :eek:
     
  24. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #24
    Part of any issue like this (assuming statistically there is one) is indeed the sheer volume of product made. I have been over to the Chinese corporate cities and these are highly efficient and well-run organizations. We are not talking about second-rate factories that turn out molded plastic toys for instance.

    The supply chain itself is pushed to the limit of costs and delivery, because of the sheer volume as more the computers per capita and consumer electronics per capita ratio of the world grows. If that factor alone caused some some quality degradation, I would not be surprised. The supply chain is in multi-countries as someone here said, not just China.
     
  25. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #25
    From repairing and fixing other people's MacBooks,
    I know the following to be true.

    TFT panels
    LG Philips (used in MB) - Made in China

    Chimei (used in MBP) - Taiwanese Made
    Samsung (used in MBP) - are actually Korean Made.
    LG Philips (used in MBP) - Made in Korean.

    SuperDrive
    MATSHITA (Panasonic) - DVD-R UJ-857 - Made in Philippines/Indonesia (depends on batch)

    H•L Data Storage/LG - LGE-DMGSA-S10N - Product of Korea

    Harddrives
    Fujitsu HD - Made in Thailand

    Other
    Apple Samsung branded memory - Made in Korea

    MBP Keyboard - unknown..?
     

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