iPhone 5 Sales Hit 5 Million as Factory Closes for Investigation
Apple has confirmed swift sales of the iPhone 5 and that demand has outstretched supply
After sharing that it sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in the first 24 hours after its Sept. 21 launch, Apple released a second statement, confirming that it sold more than 5 million of the smartphones in the first three days. iOS 6, the mobile operating system run by the iPhone 5 and available to other iPhones, Apple added, has now been downloaded more than 100 million times.
Approximately an hour after the iPhone 5 went on sale, the Apple Web changed its expected shipping date from Sept. 21 to "2 weeks."
"Demand for iPhone 5 has been incredible and we are working hard to get an iPhone 5 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a Sept. 24 statement.
“While we have sold out of our initial supply, stores continue to receive iPhone 5 shipments regularly and customers can continue to order online and receive an estimated delivery date," Cook continued. "We appreciate everyone’s patience and are working hard to build enough iPhone 5s for everyone.”
That process may be slowed by the temporary closure of a Hon Hai Precision-owned Foxconn factory that assembles the iPhone and other electronics. According to a Sept. 24 report, the plant was closed after approximately 2,000 workers in the factory's dormitories were involved in a "brawl" that shortly afterward brought "olive-colored paramilitary police trucks" to the factory's campus.
A Foxconn spokesperson told Reuters that the cause of the dispute is under investigation and appeared not to be work-related. According to a post on a Chinese Twitter equivalent, "four or five security guards beat a worker almost to death."
Another post, said Reuters, "quoted a friend from Taiyuan as saying guards beat up two workers from Henan province and in response, other workers set bed quilts on fire and tossed them out of dormitory windows."
Foxconn factories have frequently made headlines in recent years. Following a string of suicides by workers throwing themselves from dormitory windows, and a fatal explosion on a line assembling iPads, The New York Times and other news outlets ran investigations and lengthy exposes on working conditions at the factories.
Apple responded both by insisting that "no one in our industry" does as much to improve workers' conditions as Apple, and by hiring the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to investigate conditions at the factories.
In March, the FLA reported that it found "serious and pressing noncompliances" with both Chinese labor laws and the FLA's Workplace Code of Conduct. Foxconn has pledged measures toward improvement, which has included worker raises.
However, as Foxconn factories churned out the iPhone 5, an undercover journalist with a Shanghai newspaper, accepting a job at a Foxconn factory, reported that he'd faced excessively long hours, crowded living conditions and pressure to sign a contract saying he experienced no "possible harmful effects" from materials or practices he faced on the job.
According to Reuters, a Foxconn spokesperson said the plant was closed for the day "for investigation," while an employee reached by telephone said the plant's closure could last up to three days.