AppleInsider has a coda to the issue of the conditions under which Apple's iPods are made in mainland Chinese factories. First, things don't appear to be as dire as the original newspaper report made out and, second, Apple's going to take action to fix any issues nonetheless.
Going forward, Apple has enlisted the services of Verité, an internationally recognized leader in workplace standards, to ensure that its manufacturing partners around the world are in compliance with its Code of Conduct.
By the end of the year, Apple said it will complete audits of all final assembly suppliers of its Mac and iPod products.
“Apple is committed to the highest standard of social responsibility in everything we do and will always take necessary action accordingly,” the company said. “We are dedicated to ensuring that working conditions are safe and employees are treated with respect and dignity wherever Apple products are made.”
It's a happy coincidence when the morally right thing and the optically smart thing coincide. Although you can never really tell if the mass market pays attention to these things (Kathy Lee Gifford got raked over the coals, but Nike doesn't seem to be doing too badly), Apple couldn't afford to be tarred with the “sweatshop” brush. It would have been especially disappointing for the true believers—those who think their buddies in Cupertino really do Think Different.