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A Chinese teen went to extreme lengths, selling a kidney to pay for the expensive iPad 2 he lusted for.  (Source: The Oatmeal)

The hospital where the kidney was removed claimed it contracted the offices where the surgery was performed to a businessman whose identity they were unsure of. Thus the case has essentially hit a dead end.  (Source: Asia Insider)

In China, Apple gadgets are status symbols among teenagers.  (Source: Simon Blog)
You're buying it wrong?

A Chinese teen has made headlines due to the lengths he went to obtain Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) latest and greatest gadget, the iPad 2 tablet.

I. "I Want The One With the Bigger GBs!"

"I wanted to buy an iPad 2, but I didn't have the money," recalls a 17-year old boy identified only by his surname, "Zheng".

But without a college degree, Zheng's prospects weren't looking great.  Average wages in major Chinese cities range from 1,000 to 5,000 RMB (CN¥).  Zheng would like fall on the low end, making between 1,000 and 1,500 RMB.  At the current going exchange rate of 500 RMB to $77.13 USD, it would take the young man several months to get the slick device.

So he made a shocking decision that brings to mind a legendary webcomic from the comic/satire blog The Oatmeal -- he decided to sell an organ for the Apple device.  He recalls, "When I surfed the internet I found an advert posted online by agent saying they were able to pay RMB20,000 to buy a kidney."

Sneaking out of his home, the youth traveled north to the city of Chenzhou in Hunan Province.  Visiting a local hospital, he had his kidney removed.  He was hospitalized for three days then discharged, with 22,000 RMB (appr. $3,394 USD) in hand.  He used the money to reportedly buy his iPad as well as a MacBook and iPhone.

He tried to conceal his new gains from his mother, but she grew suspicious when she saw the Apple gadgets.  Experiencing medical complications, the young man confessed what he did.  States his mother, identified as "Miss Liu", "When he came back, he had a laptop and a new Apple handset. I wanted to know how he had got so much money and he finally confessed that he had sold one of his kidneys."

Shocked Miss Liu took her son to the Chenzhou police to report that he was the victim of a crime.  But the agents whom Zheng had brokered the deal with had vanished, their cell phones dead.  And the hospital claimed it contracted out its urology department to a private businessman.  It denied knowledge of the businessman's identity or the surgeries he was performing.  It appears the case has now been closed, due to lack of evidence.

II. Case Brings to Light Illicit Organ Trade

The irony of the incident is rather great, given that Apple CEO Steven P. Jobs is himself an organ donor recipient, having received a replacement liver after experiencing complications from his battle with pancreatic cancer.

What makes the incident even more sad and ironic is that Zheng's organ is unlikely to go to one of his many countrymen that need it.  It is estimated that a million people in China need a transplant every year, but less than 10,000 receive organs.  

While some locals are able to purchase organs on the black market, many black market organs instead go to foreign "transplant tourists".  A report in the Japanese media last year claimed that foreigners were paying in excess of $80,000 USD for black market transplants in China.  At that price most Chinese simply cannot afford the potentially life-saving transplant (the yearly income of blue-collar workers in China is around $6,000 USD).

III. Apple Demand: A Double Edged Sword For China

Older citizens in China have seized upon the news story as example of how China has lost its communist ways to the "evils" of unregulated capitalism.  Writes one commenter on Hong Kong's Phoenix TV website, "This is a failure of education, the first purpose of which is to 'propagate morality'. This teenager's stupid behaviour is a manifestation of his radically materialistic values."

Another commenter chimes in, "To sell a kidney in order to buy consumer goods? What vanity! It is undeniable that modern Chinese teenagers' morality is declining. This is something we must all think about."

In China Apple devices are often more expensive then they are in the U.S.  The gadgets are increasingly coveted by youth as status symbols.  The high demand among teens for the devices has led to many other issues, including fights outside Beijing Apple stores during the recent launch of the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4.

The international demand for Apple products has been a double-edged sword for China economically.  While it has created a large number of jobs at manufacturing facilities, Apple's demands of cheaper contracts than its rivals and higher quality have led factories to force tens of thousands of Chinese to slave away long hours in what some say amounts to "sweatshop" conditions.  A recent internal audit from Apple revealed numerous abuses of workers at Chinese plants that contribute to the company's gadgets.

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RE: Meh
By Cerin218 on 6/2/2011 1:18:49 PM , Rating: 5
Naw, you're gullible. There are a multitude of devices that "Do what you want them to do." out there without dealing with Apple. They don't make good products, they make simple products. They usually start out selling you a gimped version of their products then come out with "advancements" in future products that should have actually been their initial products. Like the iPad and iPad 2. There weren't fascinating new technologies that they had to research and study before building iPad 2. They knew all the morons of the world would slobber for whatever they put out, buy it by the ton, then repeat again when they put out their latest version of the product six months or a year later. iPhone 5 is what the iPhone 1 should have been. Because things like Steve Jobs didn't see a future in 3g. Really? Seriously? Even better, they create products with KNOWN defects, like the antenna on the iPhone, and tell you simply "Don't hold it there". Apple doesn't make decent products, they scientifically know how to milk you of your money for mediocre products. No really why would I want an open platform MP3 player that I can plug into ANY computer and transfer files to and FROM the device when I can be locked into a limit of five computers and only transfer files TO the device?

Again, they make simple products for simple people and milk them of tons of money doing it. I knew Apple was a joke in the 80's when you could only buy software and peripherals from Apple, at an inflated price of course. That's why the PC killed them. If it weren't for the iPod and iPhone zombies the company wouldn't even exist (not that I don't love to see all the people scavenging outlets and asking to borrow iPhone chargers at trade shows because the battery lasts 4 hours).

Anyone sufficiently technical can find better products for EVERY offering that Apple has. Simply buying their products is drinking the Kool-Aid, and yet you are proud of and defend your gullibility.

RE: Meh
By FranksAndBeans on 6/2/2011 1:40:24 PM , Rating: 4
Cerin, you've got to be careful with absolutes. What you classify as "simple" is sometimes all someone wants out of a device.

Look, I really don't like apple as a company. For years I shook my head at people buying overpriced desktops that performed worse. But there are some cases where an apple product is the best fit, and it is not being bought for branding.

I still don't own a an apple computer, but I do have two ipods. Previous to the ipods I had six or seven different "open source" type MP3 players and as I much as I hate to say it, the ipods are just a better overall product. Could they be better? Sure. But they are still the best overall player for me.

Point being that people taking a 100% hardline against all apple products are every bit as unreasonable as people taking a 100% hardline for apple products. PC/open source guys tend to greatly underestimate the amount of extra effort (workarounds, hacks, special instructions, etc.) it takes to dial a device in... because in general, they enjoy doing it and like ending up with a device that is tuned exactly how they want it. Not everybody wants that, and it doesn't make them dumb.

No need to get that worked up or insulting about it.

RE: Meh
By nafhan on 6/3/2011 10:13:44 AM , Rating: 2
I've owned a couple Sansa's (most recently, Clip+ I got for $12 on Woot a few years back) and for playing back MP3's it couldn't be any better, and drag and drop file transfer means they are easier to use than an iPod (don't even have to set up iTunes). Obviously, no apps or anything, but that doesn't really matter when I just use it to listen to music while I'm jogging or something.

RE: Meh
By ShadowVlican on 6/3/2011 10:40:16 AM , Rating: 1
I've owned an ipod shuffle and for playing back MP3's it couldn't be any better, and foobar+foo_dop file transfer means they are easy to use (don't even have to set up iTunes). Obviously, no apps or anything, but that doesn't really matter when I just use it to listen to music while I'm jogging or something.

RE: Meh
By nafhan on 6/3/2011 1:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
Probably cost more than $12...

RE: Meh
By justjc on 6/4/2011 7:11:57 PM , Rating: 2
Your iPod probably couldn't play WMA, secure WMA, Audible, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC or have its memory upgraded with a simple MicroSD like the newest Clip+

RE: Meh
By Cerin218 on 6/3/2011 2:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
My WebOS Pre just works. Simply. Beautifully. Powerfully. Period. And capacitive charging ROCKS!!
My Sansa is a drag and drop. Or I can sync with Media Player if I REALLY want to. And it costs WAY less than an iPod. Ipods are NOT an better overall product. When was the last time you changed your iPod battery? Why would I want to be locked into iTunes? So someone else can control my access to my music? Nothing I like better than reloading someone's crashed machine and finding out they have an iTunes library. Most of the time they can't even remember their password to reauthorize their account. Their products are over priced and have crappy technology. You are paying for an image and a brand name, not a great device. Even my rooted Android Nook Color beats the heack out of an iPad. Again, the gullible buy Apple, the rest of us are too smart to fall for the "cool" image.

RE: Meh
By Insomniator on 6/2/2011 3:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
What the hell are you talking about?

I'm not a huge fan of Apple but nothing you mentioned there makes a lot of sense the way you worded it. How long did it take for another phone as good as the iPhone 1 to come out? At least a year if I recall correctly after countless embarrassing attempts from other competitors. Same exact deal with the Ipad and Ipod. In all cases Apple had the best product out light years ahead of anyone else.

Yeah, by the time the second-fourth generation devices have come out the field has leveled (Droid, Zoom etc). That is not a case for Apple slacking and screwing us over by holding back what they could have done. Iphone 5 is what the Iphone 1 should have been? What? They had retina screens and mobile dual cores in 2007? The Iphone 1 was giving people the first actual usable touch screen phone and a revolutionary OS at the time. ALL companies release updates every 6 months to their products. Hell some Android phones get left in the dust well before old Iphones do.

And BTW what smartphones these days do not have people running for chargers every 4 hours?

No doubt its a pain that everything is proprietary but the products are good. I'll probably never ever buy an apple product, but I don't judge people that bought a Macbook Air 6 months before anything like it came out.

RE: Meh
By senbassador on 6/2/2011 6:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
Its kind of a tourtis verses the hare thing, Apple being the hare that runs circles around everybody, and everybody else being the tourtis. I give Apple credit where its due, they know how to make a decent GUI / user interface, and they get it out before everyone else does. Their weakness is their stubborn (and sometimes arrogant) as a mule attitude about keeping their system closed. And by that I don't just mean the kind of stuff that only geeks like me care about, I am talking about things like not supporting USB that can connect to a Windows laptop, which is something that mom would care about. I would say that thats where they're shooting themselves in the foot. And off course we all know who won the tourtis vs hare race ;-)

RE: Meh
By ShadowVlican on 6/3/2011 10:37:57 AM , Rating: 2
well according the you, the hare is winning.

RE: Meh
By senbassador on 6/3/2011 4:03:06 PM , Rating: 2
Well, the hare (Apple) has currently sold more tablets than anyone else. So they are winning the tablet race (at least for now). They did get passed up in phone race by Android.

"well according the you, the hare is winning."

On the other hand, Charlie Sheen was winning not to long ago as well, and that didn't go too well. ;-)

RE: Meh
By Tony Swash on 6/4/2011 5:09:30 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the hare (Apple) has currently sold more tablets than anyone else. So they are winning the tablet race (at least for now). They did get passed up in phone race by Android.

Did you notice that rather deliscously Apple is now worth as much as Microsoft and Intel combined :)

Apparently getting "passed up" turns out to quite a good strategy.

RE: Meh
By Cerin218 on 6/3/2011 3:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
Better MP3 players existed WAY before the iPod. They made the device simple. You didn't have to think to use it, just load iTunes.

Tablets existed WAY before the iPad. Nothing revolutionary there. I had tablets WAY before they actually became the new fad.

iPhone had a neat interface, but touchscreen phones existed WAY before they iPhone. They didn't revolutionize anything spectacular, what they did was effectively capture a target market. Simple people that wanted simple products and were willing to pay a premium for the convenience.

RE: Meh
By justjc on 6/4/2011 8:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
Apple was newer really light years ahead, they just delayed the competition enough to make you think so...

When the iPod came out there were alternatives already on the market, but nobody had though about making a slim device using flash memory. Apple develops the first iPod and at the same time they make sure they secure the rights to most of the flash memory being created by making deals with the factories. Result is that no one could make a similar capacity MP3 player at the same price.

When the iPhone came out there was already a couple of phones using touch interfaces, most noticeably the LG KE850 Prada that was the first with a capacitive touchscreen being used for most of the interaction. Functionally the two was even alike until the 3G arrived and made the application store available from the phone in 2008.
Sadly this device made sure that Apple kept the prices on flash memory high and at the same time they made sure capacitive touchscreens came to cost a lot more for the competition.

Before the iPad there were quite a lot of companies small and big that was planning to launch a tablet in 2010. As you might know very few was able to after Apple stepped up. After all when a company like Apple takes over around 60% of the worlds capacity to make touchscreens the prices for the remaining 40% will rise and the sales go to the big guys. This is also the reason no other high end tablet beats the iPad when it comes to pricing of the entry model.

The above is just the parts I'm aware of, there is likely other areas where Apple have made it more expensive for the competition to use a certain technology, and then we haven't even begun talking about their patents, likely killing more than a couple of worthwhile products.

Truth is that Apple have cost us non Apple users a whole lot of money and innovation, by making deals that gives them control of certain technologies.

The only way to stop this abuse is to not buy Apple products

RE: Meh
By KoolAidMan1 on 6/2/2011 11:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
I've been building my own PCs for fourteen years now. I dare you to find me another notebook that has as good a balance of physical interface (keyboard/trackpad), display, battery life, performance, chassis, weight, software/hardware integration, and accessories (international adapters, etc).

Lenovos are all I would otherwise consider at this point, and the price difference there really isn't much at all. Believe it or not, there are consumers and professionals out there who buy Apple hardware and software for very legitimate reasons.

I can also go on and on about the issues the sub-standard Android platform has. The iPhone and iOS are better in all the ways that matter. I'm so glad Microsoft has a decent mobile OS with WP7, it is something that the irrational Apple-haters can get themselves into and they can stop deluding themselves into thinking that Android is a good platform.

- Typed on my self-assembled Windows 7 PC

RE: Meh
By robinthakur on 6/3/2011 11:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, and they say Apple buyers are smug...FYI, the iPhone4's battery life and the iPad's battery life, not to mention their entire range of laptops are industry leading. The iPhone 1 was completely revolutionary in its interface in 2007, you must have a short memory if you don't remember how hideous the OS's were on SE, Nokia and Motorola phones before Apple showed how it should be done.

They do make simple to use products which work as one would expect without constantly crashing and their support is really good. Why would you want anything otherwise, unless you enjoy configuring devices more than using them? It's not exactly surprising that people are happy to pay for convenience, it has always been this way. I just plug them into iTunes and the rest is pretty much seamless. However don't let the truth get in teh way of a good're clearly far cleverer than the rest of us.

RE: Meh
By KoolAidMan1 on 6/4/2011 7:03:50 AM , Rating: 1
I'm primarily a PC user, and based on forum and real-life interaction I'm positive that there are greater numbers of PC users who are way more smug and condescending than Mac users. Look here on DT on any given day, they lap that shit up. This quote from Garry who created Garry's Mod cracked me up:

Garry's Mod launched on the Mac last month. Mac users are creating stuff as well, though Garry isn't spotting any differences between Mac and Windows users' creativity. "If there's someone in the server on a Mac they're indistinguishable from PC players," he says. "Which is the way it's got to stay since PC gamers are assholes to Mac gamers for some reason."

RE: Meh
By voodoochile123 on 6/4/2011 10:50:02 PM , Rating: 2
For a tech site you sure do get some morons here. There is NO other device that does all the things I need from my iPhone, otherwise I would already have it. Grow up.

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