Last night I was watching Nightline on ABC where Bill Weir was granted exclusive access to one of the most important manufacturing plants in the world, Foxconn (outside of Hong Kong, China).  Foxconn is the factory where everything "i" is made for Apple - iPods, iPads and iPhones.  In addition they also make electronics for Nintendo, Sony, Dell, HP and many other top name brands.

I was captivated by this special edition of Nightline. It was very interesting to see that most of the components for Apple products were assembled by hand instead of robots.  However, listening to the audio in the background during the story I think I would be disturbed by the female robot saying "Okay, Okay, Okay" over and over again.  Hearing that affirmation means another iPad, iPhone or iPod is born.

I was also taken back by how little the employees of this factory are being paid and that they live in dorm style housing that is offered up by Foxconn.  One of the most shocking things I learned from watching this episode is that at these dorm sites, there are "suicide nets" erected around the building because several employees at the factory have committed suicide over the years.  But the company has answered by increasing available counseling and talking to employees more often.

Bill Weir was granted full access to the plant by Foxconn and Apple and was able to speak with anyone at anytime.  The core worker was between 17 and 27 (not 13 years old like widely believed) and come from very poor parts of China to work.  Most employees seemed to happy and others had grievances (which comes with any job).

In the show Bill also talks about how Apple and Foxconn are addressing working conditions in the factory, the audit they are going through with the Fair Labor Association and to an employee who is putting an iPad together.  The employee had never seen an iPad on or ever used one and Bill had one and showed her pictures of his kid and replies to him,

I want them to know we put a lot of effort in this product so when they use this please use it with care."

Then she goes back to work.

The line is calling.

"Okay." "Okay." "Okay." (

I thought the iFactory Nightline episode was eye opening, learning how the "i" product it was made, knowing who was making the product and learning about their working conditions.  But it left me wondering why in the world an iPod costs $175, an iPhone costing $450 and an iPad costing $500 (for the smallest version).

Watch the episode clips below, let me know what you think.