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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 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

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer

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