Firefox Tablet Price: Probably Cheap, Because It's Made Where Workers Work 300 Hours a Month


According to reports, Mozilla unveiled its intention to launch a new Firefox OS tablet in Taiwan earlier today during a joint press conference with Hon Hai, the parent company of gadget manufacturer Foxconn.

So, the rumors swirling around the tech blogosphere were true.

This news is bittersweet as Americans and global consumers alike rapidly integrate tablet-use and new hand-held technology into daily life thanks, in large part, to digital playthings with American-sounding labels made by cheap labor in shadowy corners of the globe.

For its part, Foxconn has made recent headlines for the forced labor of underage workers, labor riots, and employee suicides at some of its plants in mainland China; so why do American tech giants keep signing deals with them? 

This question has bounced back into the spotlight and onto the threads of tech blogs in recent weeks as Apple divorces Foxconn and Mozilla snuggles up to the notorious Taiwanese company (known more for its human rights violations than for its production quality) to produce the new Firefox OS tablet. 

The simple answer is the low price tag for labor, but the corporate semantics surrounding that answer are undoubtedly murkier than that.

The regulatory landscape underpinning China's labor market remains generally ambiguous to a great deal of the outside world. In reality, many of the Taiwanese firm's Chinese plants are still commanding exhaustively long hours from members of their blue-collar workforce. Accordingly, the new deal also sheds light on the fact that even reforms made by Foxconn and similarly admonished companies in response to international calls for better labor practices may not be enough to create a stable work environment for their Chinese employees.

Undoubtedly, it will be interesting to see how Mozilla's new-found influence will impact Foxconn's human rights record moving forward as Apple closes its door on the company after a significantly turbulent relationship to force it to take its iPhone production elsewhere.

Hopefully, the next round of Foxconn headlines will be positive. In the meantime, a foxy new tablet that promises a competitive alternative will enter the market.