It’s here…

My new iBook arrived today! I am very excited about it… although my enthusiasm has somewhat been tainted by the whole China thing.

I knew Apple was “assembling” many of their products, such as the iPods, in China now, although I had previously assumed they were still “assembling” the computers in Mexico. It was just seeing “SHANGHAI CN” as the origination locale on the FedEx tracking site that did it for me. I realize they ship custom-built Macs direct from the factory, but for some reason I hadn’t put together that that meant FedEx would be receiving the package in China and delivering it two-day to my house.

I’m not entirely sure why this is bothering me as much as it is; I guess it’s just that I usually have some (illusory) distance from the fact that the things I am buying are being produced by what might as well be considered slave labor.

I guess I buy into the illusion Apple no doubt intends to engender in its customers that their computers are being assembled at a hippie love-in at Haight-Ashbury. (Why else would they boldly print “Designed by Apple in California” on a card you are forced to look at as you’re taking the computer from the box, while relegating “Assembled in China” to 3-point type on the undercarriage?)

Sure the blueprints are coming from California, but c’mon Steve, it’s time to crank down the reality distortion field: Apple computers are MADE IN CHINA. It’s not just that Chinese products still carry the no-longer-accurate stigma of poor quality. China is a vacuum sucking up manufacturing jobs not just from the United States, but also from the countries like Mexico that had previously taken manufacturing jobs from the U.S.

Now I’m not draping myself in the flag here. I’m not about protectionism. But there are a host of problems that go along with choosing to move your operations to a place like China, and by buying the products of those operations, I’m buying into that choice, like it or not.

So… it’s a bittersweet day for me. I can’t help thinking about those workers in Apple’s factory in Shanghai, and wondering what their lives are like.