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Project #10 Translation Device | Apple Global Suppliers

Designed by Haoshu Yang.

Description and Design Process

Every year, Apple’s fall event catches attention of millions of people across the world. The newly released products become hot topics of the tech media coverage as well as the next-year gossip. Whether people talk about the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch or else, the new features, the more powerful capabilities and the controversial looks always lead to Apple with the word printed on every product’s packing box— ‘Designed by Apple in California’.

Apart from Apple in California, people discuss less about the other manufacturing companies behind the product or think about where the manufactures and assemblers are located. “Made in China!”, some may say without a hesitation. But is it true? As Fred P. Hochberg writes in the article “The iPhone Isn’t Made in China—It’s Made Everywhere”—“American audio chips, Korean batteries, Congolese minerals, Japanese cameras, German accelerometers: The iPhone may well be the most truly global product yet.” [1] Hence, I decide to make an animated visualization showing the Apple suppliers across the world.

I mainly refer to the Principle 7: Make Data Visible [2] from Data Feminism in designing the visualization. A world map is a good container to show all the suppliers equally across the world and make their labor visible. Below are the three initial concepts of this map. The first one is the animation that shows every company and its name one by one on the map. The second one shows all the suppliers on the map and highlights the mouse pointing ones with their names. The third one categorize the suppliers according to mouse pointing countries instead of the locations considering about the low accuracy of the mouse to the overlapping locations in the global map. Finally, I decide to combine the first and the second draft with special process to solve the mouse low precision problem.
The supplier list and retail store list come from Apple.com [3]. The names and the addresses of the top 200 suppliers for fiscal year 2018 are listed in a PDF file and the addresses of all the Apple retail stores can be searched in the website. Next, I manage to transfer the data from PDF to an Excel file. Then, the latitude and longitude of each location are got from Map services and api, including Google Map Geocoding API [4] and Baidu Map LBS API [5]. Then, the names, countries and longitudes and latitudes are stored in a CSV file and loaded by p5.js to complete the animation and data visualization. The base map is provided by Mapbox with Mapbox static images API [6]. Last, I edit the speeches of previous Apple events and the music, WWW Is A Thing by DJ Quads, as the back ground music to enhance the experience.

[1] Hochberg, Fred P. “The iPhone Isn't Made in China-It's Made Everywhere.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 31 Jan. 2020, www.wsj.com/articles/the-iphone-isnt-made-in-chinaits-made-everywhere-11580485139.
[2] D'Ignazio, Catherine, and Lauren Klein. “7. Show Your Work · Data Feminism.” Data Feminism, The MIT Press, 16 Mar. 2020, data-feminism.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/0vgzaln4/release/2.
[3] Apple, Inc.. “Apple Supplier Responsibility 2019 Supplier List.” Apple, 2019, www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/pdf/Apple-Supplier-List.pdf.
[4] Google, Inc.. “Web Services: Geocoding API” Google Developers, 2020, developers.google.com/maps/documentation/geocoding/start.
[5] Baidu, Inc.. “逆地理编码 百度地图API SDK.” 百度地图开放平台, lbsyun.baidu.com/index.php?title=webapi%2Fguide%2Fwebservice-geocoding.
[6] Mapbox, Inc.. “Static Images API manual doc.” Mapbox, 2020, docs.mapbox.com/api/maps/static-images/.


From Apple’s supplier list PDF file, we see a 33-page table of 812 locations of the top 200 suppliers in alphabetical order. With a quick glance, we may only notice the huge amount of factories in China, Japan, and United States, ignoring the others. Therefore, to better make all the suppliers’ effort visible, I use red circle to highlight their locations so that the solitary companies are revealed, say, STMicroelectronics N.V.’s branch in Malta that locates at the center of Mediterranean.

So, I hope this map could give people a more comprehensive understanding of how the daily smartphones on their hands are manufactured. Instead of saying that an iPhone is designed from Apple in California and made in China, it is the product comes from the global efforts, from the people in different races and different places.