Surprised to find photos of a young Chinese factory worker on his new iPhone, a British Apple customer decided to post the pictures online. The girl in the pics has managed to catch the attention of everybody, including her boss...
Switching on his newly acquired phone for the first time, Mark Mitchell, an Apple customer from the UK, was shocked to find images of a young factory worker, all smiles, posing for a photo. Clearly the photos had been taken on the production line. This was confirmed by Foxconn, the Taiwanese company commissioned by Apple to manufacture the phones in Shenzhen, where the girl - now known as "iPhone Girl" - was employed.
On the MacRumours forum where the pictures were posted, there were no less than 360 comments made to the webuser, pseudonym, "markm49uk" (our Observer Mark Mitchell). Some people were immediately worried the girl might lose her job. Others thought it might be a publicity stunt by Apple.
A spokesperson from the company prefers to speak of the incident as a "beautiful mistake". The photos would have been taken to test out the phone, and accidentally got left on the handset, he said. It was assured that the woman has not lost her job. However, frightened by all the commotion (today's South China Morning Post), she might deserve a day off to recuperate. Something of a luxury in the factory she works in - a report from China Labor Watch says that the staff there only get one day off per fortnight and earn on average €80 a month.
The photos that brought the young worker to fame
"I really hope Apple do use her in an advert"
Initially I was a little angry as I thought the handset was a used phone that had been repaired or something similar. Then I looked at the photos in more detail and saw it was of the production facility - and such a great series of images that I showed them to my wife... who showed little interest in them! I showed them to a few colleagues at work who thought they were great - I spent the best part of a week contemplating whether to post them or not but in the end I thought it would be of interest to the wider Apple community, so I did.
Originally on Mac Rumors, they were then on Digg.com shortly followed by Gizmodo.com, and then The New York Times, Reuters and The Sun newspaper. It would appear that this has been one of the top stories on Chinese websites and newspapers too. There have been thousands of responses - I've lost track of how many sites it's now reached. For me it shows that people are interested in understanding more about other cultures and the personalization of mass production and globalization
I think this is great publicity for Apple overall. [The production line] conditions in the pictures appear to be fairly modern and professional. There have been some negative comments but I really hope Apple do use her in an advert or other publicity as it would be great for her. I also hope Apple ensure she is ok - I did email Steve Jobs [Apple CEO] but have had no response as of yet.
It would be great if this turned out as a positive in her life and I would like to get in touch with her if possible - just to hear her side of the story. The Internet attracts all sorts and some comments about her, and indeed China, have been fairly offensive and ignorant. But the vast majority are favourable and at the end of day she is quite attractive!"