Human costs of innovation.

In the December 2011 quarter, Apple made  $13 billion in profits, an extraordinary figure, 3 billion more than the revenue of Google in the quarter. Apple is an innovation machine, making it so is the legacy of Steve Jobs.

However, there is usually a flip side to the stories of huge success, Jobs was not the nicest person around, brilliant, magnetic, but a real genuine article prick, according to his biographer, and the woes of Apple contract manufacturers in China are well known.

But, who has heard of the mineral Tantalum? Apple uses it, as does every other producer of our electronic gadgets.

Talison, a company headquartered in Perth used to mine tantalum in Australia, a mineral extracted from an ore called Coltan, short for Columbite-tantalite, but no longer due to competitive price pressure coming from African supplies. Pity we lost another market.

Coltan is now one of the minerals being mined in West Africa, using primitive tools, and kids paid slave wages, sold so we can have the latest gadget, and the nasties in charge can buy more guns and anti-personnel mines, and fill their Swiss bank accounts.

This blog is usually about marketing, management, and the stuff that hopefully scratches my readers brains to facilitate improvement. However, from time to time, we need to think about the ethical base of what we do. 

This almost unknown story of Coltan ore, and its derivatives should be on our agenda.

About strategyaudit

StrategyAudit is a boutique strategy and marketing consultancy concentrating on the challenges of the medium sized manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. The particular focus is on their strategic and marketing development. as well as the business and operational efficiency improvements necessary for day to day commercial survival. We not only give advice, we go down "into the weeds" to ensure and enable implementation.
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2 Responses to Human costs of innovation.

  1. Allen says:

    OK, but if we set out to tilt at all the available windmills, we are desined to have no impact on any, some focus is required.

  2. Lyn says:

    The only crit comment I have regarding your comment is the: “from time to time”. Ethics should inform all strategic decisions, whether the customer you’re consulting for is a small, medium or large organisation. We are seeing the ‘real’ cost of decisions that have been made for profit right now, and I doubt our world will recover. A perfect example of this is the current rhetoric in the US in support of Fracking, (oil and gas shale). The incumbent powers are lying, they are poisoning their own water tables, but … it’s profitable. The list goes on, and on … so, no more “from time to time”. Make it “from now on” because the cost to us all, and our children, is too high. (And you can tag that under ‘personal rant’. 😉 ) Otherwise, great post and timely.

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