iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’)

Cell phone

Year: 2008

Type: MacRumors Forum entry

Authors: markm49uk

Availability: free online (MacRumors here).

Original: markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777 last accessed 29 August 2011)

Page reference: Cook, I. (2011) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). followthethings.com (http://followthethings.com/iphonegirl.shtml last accessed <insert date here>)



Hi, Not sure if this is or is not the 'norm' but I just received my brand new iPhone here in the UK and once it had been activated on iTunes I found that the home screen (the screen you can personalise with a photo) already had a photo set against it !!!! It would appear that someone on the production line was having a bit of fun - has anyone else found this ? These are the photo's (Source: markm49uk 2008, np link click to see photos).


A young woman working in a factory in Shenzhen has become a global internet phenomenon after photos of her smiling on the production line were found on a new iPhone shipped to Britain (Source: Huifeng 2008a, p.4).

Once invisible, the Shenzhen assembly line is now the site of various worlding practices, including that where a migrant worker, completing the assembly of an iPhone, left a photograph of herself on the phone. Dressed in a pink and white striped uniform, smiling, making a peace sign, her image became the indelible trace on the next-generation 3G iPhone that was to eventually make its way into the hands of “markm49uk,” a British consumer. In the circuits of cybercirculation, she came to be known simply as “iPhone girl” (Source: Roy 2011, p.316 link).

The first iPhone girl appeared on a British Apple iPhone buyer’s brand new phone in 2008. markm49uk, proud owner of an “iMac 24”, Macbook Pro, Macbook, Power Mac G5, iPod Touch and Apple TV !,” according to his profile, posted the story in MacRumors on August 8, 2008, along with the photos themselves, which depict a cute Asian girl smiling and posing in a factory setting (Source: Nakamura 2011, p.2 link).

This newest "Internet fairy tale" occurred as follows:  The photos of a Shenzhen female worker with a radiant smile appeared in the brand new iPhone purchased by a young English man.  He posted these photos onto the Internet, and it drew the attention of an uncountable number of netizens.  From overseas to China, from the Internet to the print media, "the prettiest iPhone Chinese girl" became red-hot in a mere six days! (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

Nevermind the dodgy 3G, the tough sales targets or those allegations of poor working conditions on Apple's ...  Chinese production line; life on the iPhone coalface is a laugh a minute - and here's the proof? A British customer named Mark last week turned on his new iPhone to find a number of photos already on the handset. The pictures, which were meant to test the camera but were never deleted and were posted to MacRumors, show a worker at assembly contractor Foxconn's Shenzhen plant posing with a wide smile and making ‘peace’ signs with the gadget while coworkers listen to some banging iTunes tracks (Source: Andrews 2008, np link).

When a young girl in a Chinese iPhone factory tested the new iPhone camera, she might have never thought she will become an international celebrity. The 'iPhone girl ' frenzy started a few days back when cute smiling photos of a Chinese girl appeared on MacRumors.com, a popular forum of Apple product fans.The photographs were posted by a British user Markm49uk, who found the images in his newly purchased iPhone 3G. In the photos, a young Chinese girl dressed in a pink striped factory uniform and wearing a matching white cap and rubber gloves, is seen smiling at a iPhone production line (Source: Anon 2008a, np).

Inspiration / Process / Technology / Methodology

It turned out that the photos were shot as a test of Apple's new 3G handset in a plant in Shenzhen but the tester apparently forgot to delete the pictures from the phone's memory (Source: Shinan 2008, np link).

‘Our production line workers usually take photos on every mobile to check its photo-taking function,’ Mr Liu [head of Foxconn's media office] said. ‘Those shots were taken by our assembly and testing workers for the testing process. But they must have forgotten to delete the photos’ (Source: Huifeng 2008a, p.4).

Mark Mitchell is an IT manager from Hull, UK. He's the Apple customer who found the pictures on his newly bought iPhone. ‘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!" (Source: Mitchell 2008, np link).

Discussion / Responses

Given the scarcity of photographs of electronics assembly, responses tend to see her as emblematic of a large, homogeneous group (Source: Perlow 2011, p.257).

By asserting her place in the global value chain, “iPhone girl” suggests the possibility of an imagined community crafted through the transactions of the global commodity (Source: Roy 2011, p.316 link).

These images help us to trace crossings between the factory work of electronics assembly, the consumer’s affective relation to emergent technologies, the phenomenology of our use of computers, and the receptions, deferrals, and remakings of Asian labor within the consumerist imaginary (Source: Perlow 2011, p.247).

At least its not the sweatshop I had imagined it to be (Source: gdeputy 2008, np link).

She is cute.....looks like she should be serving ice cream at Baskin Robbins or something like that. As a previous poster said it is nice to see it doesn’t look like a sweat shop type deal (Source: imapfsr 2008, np link).

That's a great find. It really is an excellent way to connect with customers and have a good laugh (Source: tdhurst 2008a, np link).

That's cool... If I ever get an iPhone I would love it if this happenned! (Source: Yikin 2008, np link).

i would return my phone and get a new one. i would want to be the first one to play with my phone, not someone else. and even if they did at least delete the picture so i dont know (Source: lakaiordie 2008, np link).

What makes you think you were the first person to "play" with the iPhone you have now? I guarantee you probably weren't. I'd much rather have an iPhone I know went through some sort of QA testing (Source: Geckotek 2008a, np link).

My first thought was that she is going to be fired... but on second thought, maybe the picture shows how humane their working conditions are... and like I said, they have a dental plan! Apple wouldn't fire her for showing how good it is. (I thought it was much worse anyways... and I always thought it was some old hag that put together my iPod and iMac... not a nice looking young girl) (Source: ArtOfWarfare 2008, np link).

This is cute. Every iPhone should come with a photo of the person who packed it in its box before it left the factory to come to you. As long as they're hot (Source: jonnyb 2008, np link).

I agree. But no fatties. Not even ones with cute faces (Source: tdhurst 2008c, np link).

She looks about 12/13 to me! I don't think Stevo [Steve Jobs, Apple CEO?] is going to be impressed at all ... It looks a little bit too much like child labour (Source: sibruk 2008, np link).

[Some forum posters] attack China by comparing iPhone Girl to Chinese figures from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, which were happening in Beijing when she appeared. A forum post jokes that ‘She’s not the one actually assembling iPhones, she’s just the stand-in for the uglier girl with buckteeth who does all the real work’ (2008a – 54) – a reference to Yang Peiyi, the girl made to sing ‘Ode to the Motherland’ for the Opening Ceremony while a prettier girl lip-synched onstage. An article from PCWorld  later visualizes the same joke ... . The article asks, ‘If she is just an assembly-line model, then who is the real ‘‘iPhone Girl’’?’ (Slattery, 2008) Setting aside the ‘real’ iPhone Girl, how does this reworking of her image complicate the significance of electronics assembly? A similar image appears on another iPhone Girl forum; here she is a member of China’s gold-medal women’s gymnastics team, accused of fielding underage athletes ... . The team was cleared, but not before livening Sinophobic and racist discourses of government honesty and ‘body type’. iPhone Girl thus serves a variety of functions within Sinophobic systems of meaning (Source: Perlow 2011, p.258).

no wonder there's defects.. THEYRE HAVING TOO MUCH FUN! (Source: sparkyms 2008, np link).

She is smiling because she is having her picture taken! (Source: EastBayBob 2008, np link).

I'd be happy that my phone works and the people who put it together are (or at least it looks like the are) treated well. I wouldn't have a problem if my phone came like that. It would be pretty cool if there was a photo taken from every place the phone had been. Yes, I know that's impossible because they are sealed, but you get what I mean (Source: tdhurst 2008c, np link).

lets just hope she is over the legal age to work, and makes good money..I would hate to hear the money I drop on Apple doesn't at least a little reach the employee (Source: gcmexico 2008c, np link).

For the sake of the electronics it has to be a clean environment, but besides her smile we have no indication of the working conditions. The picture can't tell us if she is working 16 hour days for $1 (Source: rstansby 2008, np link).

She does look happy for someone who is paid 20 cents an hour (Source: barryjedmonton 2008, np link).

HOW do we know this girl is from China? Don't the Japanese make a lot of electronics? Malaysians?... Why does every time there's a factory worker it has to be Chinese? ... and HOW do we know she's getting 20 cent an hr? just wondering? she told you? (Source: chun_man17 2008, np link).

As our own Don Cherry would say: "She's a good kid!". Just looks like a good natured happy person. You know, that can happen anywhere, under any circumstances. People who speculate on working conditions there... I wonder how many of them have worked in any of our own lovely factories, plants, smelters.  I grew up in Trail, B.C., and I will tell you, even with the monstrosity up the hill, life there can still be very beautiful. Industrial plant invariably have a dark side and working conditions in them are often shadowy at best. Look in your own backyard everyone before judging the iphone girl, her homeland or her working conditions (Source: ccatalano2002 2008, np link).

I hope she doesn't get fired, she looks so bloody happy! I will dedicate my iPhone homescreen to her for the rest of this week (Source: vegasdodger 2008, np link).

I can't even begin to fathom the bizarreness of putting a picture of a random (albeit happy) factory worker on your phone (Source: Interstella5555 2008, np link).

I'll go out on a limb and say (assume) that most of the posters here are white men... It seems to me that most folks here have little familiarity with the China of today, being Chinese and especially Chinese girls/women (Source: evillageprowler 2008, np link).

It amazes me how many ppl assume from this pic that it's a good work environment. I'm not saying that it isn't, but here are some possibilities: 1) She get's paid next to nothing compared to other jobs; 2) She lives at the factory and never gets to see her family (this one is likely); 3) She works 30 hour shifts;  4) She is constantly exposed to Methyl Bromide fumes. However, I'm under the impression that after the iPod Factory fiasco, Apple is on top of things .. .at least a little bit (Source: Geckotek 2008b, np link). 

Wow, I never thought someone having photos of a factory worker on their new iPhone would spark so much attention! While I think I'd be a little annoyed if the pic was something awful, I think I'd be pleasantly surprised if these pics were on my phone. Smiling and flashing the peace sign? Seems like innocent fun to me. I want to go out and get my iPhone 3G now, maybe I too will have a "Willy Wonka Golden Ticket" (Source: bytethese 2008, np link).

I would be delighted to receive a picture like this on my phone or camera or other device when I purchased it. "Untouched By Human Hands" is a falicy when it comes to a device like this, and I think it's no different than "Inspected by" tags in clothing, albeit giving a much more personal and human face to the QA team. Companies making imaging devices are missing out by not doing this as a matter of course (Source: regularg0nz0 2008, np link).

Apple should offer such option. The buyer of the phone can be prompted to decide whether he wants to see the workers, if not, the iphone would delete such photo on initialization (Source: sun bin 2008, np link).

You can write a movie script based on this. Three people cross path because of a mistake. The girl he calls with his brand new iphone is not the girl in the picture, but the girl across the bench who punched in her phone number and took a photo of her beautiful co-worker. Insert your favorit “love triangle”, “beauty and perception” movie plots here (Liu 2008, np link).

My wife and I are convinced we know this girl. She is from Xuchang, Henan and told us two years ago she was moving to Guangzhou. I am sure this is the same girl. Trying to find the old photos we had of her to compare (Source: Kris 2008, np link).

You have to take what you read in Chinese newspapers with a healthy grain of salt. But something beautiful did happen. When we are reminded that actual people make the stuff we buy and that these people have slightly crooked smiles and slightly crooked caps and that they are bursting with personality and somewhere they have a family. We connect with them. iPhone girl reminds us that we give a darn and that there is an iPad Girl, a GAP jeans Girl, a Stapler Girl, and so on. I think all of our things should come with photos of the people who made them and perhaps a little story about their life. An iPhone captured this young worker’s smile. And her smile captured our hearts. It was a beautiful mistake, indeed (Source: Timmerman 2010, np link).

When we see that iPhone girl has a slightly crooked smile and is wearing a slightly crooked cap and that she has a sparkle of personality in her eye, we can’t help but care about her.  The Divide between produces and consumers.  It used to be that when my grandfather bought a shirt, the worker who made his shirt likely didn’t live a life that much different than grandpa’s – although the shirt-makers’ jobs involved less manure (grandpa was a farmer).  Back then folks knew what life was like for the butcher, the baker, and the garment maker. Today there’s a huge divide between producer and consumer and there are a select few companies ... trying to bridge that divide. I believe that we long for a deeper connection with our stuff.  The success of farmers’ markets and handmade crafts (think Etsy) are proof.  If you buy an ear of corn from farmer Dave out on State Route 32, or a necklace handmade by an artisan in a neighboring county, when you serve that corn or give that necklace as a gift, you will tell the story of where and who it came from. When we recognize that the people who make our stuff have hopes, dreams, and personalities, we can’t help but care that the job that they have pays them a living wage and allows them to reach those dreams (Source: Timmerman 2011, np link).

Perhaps everyone on this thread should take 2 minutes to email Apple, just to ask them to ensure that the girl is ok and hasn't lost her job. Personally, I'd be delighted to find pictures like that on my phone (Source: !!11oneone 2008, np link).

I will travel to China and save iPhone Girl from the evil clutches of Communism and bring her to the U.S. so that she have live in "Freedom" (TM) (Source: a small patch of brown liquid 2008, np link).

Why does is a random female factory worker in China (who knows?) spark conversation about Communism and Totalitarianism? (Source: Adrienne8 2008, np link).

She looks geninely happy and well treated, the work condition doesn't look bad, then how can many people here absert she must be paid nothing and be treated terribly by the Chinese comminist government? Remember, this kind of happiness on the picture can't have after abuse. Even if what you said is right: her salary is low, the work condition is bad and she's too young, you should blame her employer --- a company from captilism Taiwan contracted by one of the biggest captilist in the world: Apple America. They open factories in China to take advantage of its cheap labor; they decides hiring or firing workers and their working conditions. These have nothing to do with the Chinese government. If there's expoiting here, it's done by the "democratic" captilist countries. Some people here made sexual comments to this young Chinese factory girl. This's the attitude of many internet commentors here: they think themself as god because they're from the democratic North America. All people in the communist China must have miserable life. So god north Americans can do anything or say anything to poor Chinese. If the Chinese like its government or look happy, they must be faked by the communist devil. WAKE UP PEOPLE!! (Source: song rui 2008, np link).

Gentlemen (using term loosely)...
This is not a political forum
This is not a American bashing forum
This is not a British bashing forum
Bush does suck however, and I do vote and have fought for freedom
This is not a human rights China forum
Please continue, like gentlemen (Sourse: jeffblakely 2008, np link).

Commodities made in China can be found in almost every corner of the world but it was probably the first time ever that consumers at the other side of the globe have seen a Chinese worker who hand-assembled their home appliances. That gave them a real sense, and a happy reminder, of globalization. In recent years, the omnipresent "Made in China" has been criticized in some parts of the world as a synonym for job opportunity robber, child labor abuser and environment polluter and a symbol of the "China threat". It is actually a false story circulated to stay further and further away from the truth ... The smiling "iPhone Girl" probably best represents the present mindset of the Chinese people - confident, full of hope for the future and friendly to the rest of the world (Source: Shinan 2008, np link).

The ... really cute pictures were found on an iPhone shipped to the UK; they’re absolutely adorable! It’s interesting to see the inside of a Chinese iPhone factory, and also to see what kind of people are employed there ... It’s too bad she didn’t leave an address in the phone, then the guy could send her a cute “Thanks for making my iPhone” note! On a more somber note, the girl in question probably makes around 700 RMB a month, and works 15 hour days (Source: Back 2008, np link).

What the pretty I-Phone girl is wearing is an anti-static clean room wear called a smack gown. These so called “operators” come from the simplest of homes seeking good jobs and a good future enduring countless mandatory or voluntary overtime just to deliver the wonders of technology we want to own. Sad to say most of these operators would never get to own such very expensive wonders of technology but they pour out their hearts and soul to manufacture for us in exchange for almost close to minimum wages. I-Phone girl is highly likely a Q/A person if you would deduce in the picture that the I-Phone is set on a Fixture or a Jig with a data cable exposed. Hats off to these wonderful people who do a good job to deliver quality goods. I would rather have a world compassionate enough to understand that these things happen as we are all but humans (Source: Madrio 2008, np link).

"Apple and Foxconn staff have started a joint probe into the incident." But most of the netizens seem to like the girl with a "very cute" face. A netizen named Chris Meadows has written: "If I knew my iPhone would come with a photo of a cute, smiling girl, I would almost be willing to pay extra (especially if it also included her email address)." Netizen ASH has even suggested that Foxconn make the girl its ambassador because her smile shows even assembly line workers can have fun at work (Source: Anon 2008d, np link).

Apple could encourage factory workers in Asia to put their photos - or even their names - on the iPhones, iPods and Macs they build as a fun gimmick so customers could see the person who built their device. Apple could even supply a template for the workers: ‘Designed by Apple in California. Built by [insert name here] in Shenzhen, China.’ Not every device would have a photo of course, so getting one would be like winning a raffle. It could be one more thing that would set Apple apart from the competition and make its products even more personal. Why not? (Source: Zeiler 2008, np).

I was fascinated by the long number on the yellow tube above the head of the girl (Am I sick?). It says 2002010105010611. And that leads to a Chinese document where this number is linked to [see original post for Chinese characters]. If you translate it, you get something like: Shenzhen Jinlong plume cable Development Co., Ltd. Plume? I love Google Translate. So I stick to the Chinese characters and Googled them. It leads me to Google Maps. Could this be the secret location of another factory for iPhones? Nokia, start the engines of your bombers! (Source: van Ess 2008, np link).

The location of the factory is no secret: it's here. Apparently these are the factory conditions: http://www.foxconn.com/Condition.html (Source: wronski 2008, np link).

From her pink-striped uniform and the product [China’s netizens] have not only narrowed it down to the giant Taiwanese manufacturer, FoxConn, and its main factories in the Bao’an district of Shenzhen, Guangdong, but also to the 5th floor of its quality control section (Source: Mutze 2008, np link).

Markm49uk, who uploaded the images, wrote on the site: 'It appears someone on the production line was having a bit of fun. Has anyone else found this?' His posting received hundreds of responses and some customers joked that they were considering returning their phones because they did not come loaded with the woman's photo. Foxconn has described the incident as a 'beautiful mistake' and has given an assurance that the iPhone girl and her supervisor would not be penalised, according to a report in the China Daily. However, some MacRumors.com users hit out at Markm49uk, accusing him of irresponsible behaviour for risking the girl's job by posting the photos online. One poster named 'Demon' wrote: 'The guy who posted the photos to the world should be fired. Things like that should be left private and dealt with via Apple and Foxconn. NOT posted for the world to see ... if that girl really did get fired, it would be entirely due to the idiot who posted her photo on the World Wide Web'. In response to his attackers, Markm49uk wrote: 'I guess I figured that the photos would be of interest to the wider iPhone community and it would appear my guess was correct given the hundreds of thousands of hits across the internet. 'Unfortunately yes it was a risk to post them but if it's judged to be in the public interest then I think the decision was the correct one - at the end of the day the girl in the photo is ultimately responsible for her actions' (Source: Bowser 2008 link).

The MacRumors.com user who posted the photos last week, identified as only "markm49uk" from Kingston-upon-Hull, England, said in a posting that one of the pictures showed up on a new 3G iPhone when the iTunes program was launched. "It would appear that someone on the production line was having a bit of fun. Has anyone else found this?" the posting said. The posting received more than 360 responses on MacRumors.com, with readers commenting and speculating about the woman's age, looks and working conditions and whether the pictures had gotten her into trouble with her managers. "She is so fired," a reader identified as "PredatoryWasp86" said. "That's nice that at least they have some fun in the drab of assembling technology," another reader, "BrownManUPS," said. "She looks about 12 or 13 to me! I don't think Stevo is going to be impressed at all. It looks a little bit too much like child labor," "sibruk" wrote, referring to Apple Inc. News reports say the woman may work at a factory run by an Apple contractor, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen (Source: Lee 2008, np link).

In the normal order of things, the young lady might expect quick dismissal for bringing Lord Jobs' usually pristine empire in to disrepute - but a Foxconn spokesperson called the episode just "a beautiful mistake". This from the same company that was the subject of a 2006 newspaper exposé claiming workers earn just £27 a month and ‘live in dormitories on the site, 100 to a room, arriving with a few possessions and a bucket to wash their clothes’. So this may actually be good PR? perhaps Cupertino should preload a picture of a beaming Chinese worker on every phone? (Source: Andrews 2008, np link).

Foxconn, which makes the iPhone for Apple, has now confirmed that the girl has been identified, and said that her job is not at risk and has called the incident a "beautiful mistake". However, the girl herself is more than a little perturbed by the reaction to the picture. "She is just a young girl who has come to the city from her remote hometown. She is never been in such a situation," a Foxconn representative told the South China Morning Post. "She is really scared by the media. She told me she wanted to quit her job and go back home to get away from this. We let her off work today so she could rest’ (Source: Thomson 2008, np link).

Mr. Guo of Foxconn said that the female worker in the photos was a quality inspector.  At the time, another inspector must check the photo capability of the iPhone and took some photos of this girl.  The inspector forgot to delete the photos which ended up with the end-user. Some questions arise from this explanation: How does Foxconn inspect the production line?  Do they check samples?  Or do they inspect every item?  After testing the photo capability of the iPhone, isn't there a standard procedure for restoring all the factory settings? The yWeekend reporter posed these questions in the interview outline as well as during the telephone interview.  But Mr. Guo of Foxconn never answered them. Previously the media reported that the Shenzhen factory of Foxconn can produced 800,000 iPhone's each week. Are these iPhones tested manually by workers for their photo capability? Mr. Guo did not answer that either (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

On September 3, Chinese media claimed that iPhoneGirl was a hoax and that 'markm49uk' was the webmaster Arnold Kim of macrumors.com.  The netizens analyzed that the evidence from the Chinese media and thought it was fuzzy, unclear and faulty.  Therefore, it is hard to reach that conclusion. The Chinese media raised one question: 'markm49uk' claims to be English, so why is the ISP on the photo the American company AT&T. This is actually a misunderstanding.  The original photos that 'markm49uk' posted did not identify the ISP.  The photo that showed AT&T was composed by Southern Metropolis Daily for its story, according to their reporter Wang Chengbo.  Southern Metropolis Daily provided an explanation alongside the photo. In the original macrumors.com post, some foreign netizens raised questions, and 'markmuk49' make several responses and clarifications. Based upon the content of the original photos, if they are forged, then they must necessarily be connected to people inside China (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

Concerning the doubts about whether the photos came from an iPhone, he countered: Just look at the exif information on the photos and you will find out that they were taken by an iPhone. The reporter used software to look at the exif information in these photos and confirmed that they were taken by an iPhone at around 7:20am on July 26, 2008.  The ten photos were taken during a space of about 20 seconds.  The girl figured in the last three photos. But the reporter understands that exif information on photos can be freely edited. ‘It is meaningless to use exif information to determine whether some photo is real or not.’ A netizen wrote this at the famous photography website Xitek (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

But from a translation of an article in Yweekend ... an interesting twist shows up. According to ‘sources’ ... Foxconn has been setting up the whole hype from A to Z. The Chinese reporter give a nice overview of the affair, and then turns to Li Er, who has a reputation of setting up internet hypes himself. ‘This is clearly a case of Internet promotion. You can tell just from the process. I know who handled this 'case.' It is a team of people. But I cannot tell you who they are, because I am acquainted with them.’ Li Er analyized: ‘This 'most beautiful Chinese worker' is like that 'most beautiful cleaning girl' that we did before. The concept is completely identical. You bring up a clean and pure image of a pleasant-looking beautiful female worker. The only difference is that this affair was triggered by having a foreigner post photos to an overseas website. But this is precisely where it is brilliant. The planners of this affair thoroughly understand the Chinese mind - a lot of Chinese people think that anything that happens overseas must be real. On this point, they were very successful.’ Li Er said that almost all of the popular ‘most beautiful girls’ on the Internet were promoted by Internet promoters from behind the scene. ... The rapidity by which iPhoneGirl became red-hot popular on the Internet showed that the planning and execution of this campaign was perfect and effective. Take care, this is only based on one source, but it sounds pretty convincing to me! When it is true, it is certainly one of the better done scams on the Chinese internet (Source: Anon 2008b, np link).

I have to reply to your article even though it was a long time ago!!! My husband found the photographs on his iPhone and we are not in collusion with Apple nor was it a publicity stunt!!!! Hilarious (Source: Lisa nd, np link).

I sent my MacBook Pro out for service and had some pictures of a service tech in Photobooth when I got it back. I thought it was kinda funny (Source: Darth.Titan 2008, np link).

Not too long ago, someone opened their new iPhone only to find test shots from the factory still floating around in the memory. In what I’m sure is a complete coincidence, the same thing has now happened with the BlackBerry Storm – albeit without the cute asian girl. Photos like this always creep me out a little bit. They seem.. wrong. It’s like if a baby were to come out with a photo album of their adventures in the womb. Well, except that babies don’t have built-in cameras, so that analogy doesn’t really work. Still creepy (Source: Ha 2008, np link).

She can earn a basic salary of 900 RMB, 8 hours a day. But while she is a OQC operator, she has to work overtime for another 2 hours to meet the huge demand of iphone, she will get another 700 in general. Here is the location of that factory: http://ditu.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=22.708898,114.085979&spn=0.075376,0.151234&z=13&msid=113060097631665797311.000455313658381a17a46 (Source: Glyx 2008, np link).

@Glyx – Dude, that’s the golf course. The factory is in Longhua, at 22 degrees 39′ 20″ N, 114 degree 02′ 40″ E. If you don’t believe me, check out the map in this article about the plant: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB118677584137994489.html (Source: FOARP 2008, np link).

Hi, I am a Chinese, I come from Shenzhen, which is the place of factory Foxconn locate in, my job is doing inspection for the brand product, so I go to the factories very often, as my opinion, this girl already 19 at least, I know chinese factory gave all the other countries people a bad impression in the before but as the newest chinese labor law appeared, the situation is getting quite better, normally, in Shenzhen basic salary for the factory labor is RMB1000 (USD1=6RMB) at least, every week works 5 days, everyday 8 hours, every week can not work over 30 hours in total, the overtime work salary is RMB8, and every everyone month will have allowance , so one month the average income for factory labor is around RMB1800. And I have to point out some misunderstand of upper replys, the girl dress in pink because she is in charge of QC, I think they are just forget to delete the pictures, all the iPhone will did inspection for all the funtion and housing before packing. on the production line some one are dress in blue, they are in charge of assembling, different dress means different position, no gender differentiate. Someone said the assembling line worker have to bear the gas or smoke, actually not like this, all the assembling line of every seat have pipe which can exsuction all the exhaust gas, and recently more and more factories in Shenzhen have air-condition in the workshop. But to tell the truth, most of the chair are quite poor, very uncomfortable. Labor's working is boring, but they are very simplicity and nice, but all of them have to bear the bad temper of the manager, some managers who is not from China mainland always shouted with them very often , normally they will back home one time in one year. That's why always crowd near by Chinese new year's day. By the way, Foxconn only do the assemble for Apple, no develop issue. and the assemble cost for one iPod as I know in Foxconn is RMB20. so you can imagine where does your money gone (Source: joiry29 2008, np link).

it's not often that we have honest and open discussions to help balance our skewed perspectives. too often, we who live in the Western world follow along with a world-view that is ethnocentrically self-righteous and blinded to any other perspective. before we make judgments and point the finger at the Chinese government, we really do need to take a good long look in the mirror, and realize that we're all in this together. it's a small, connected world out there (Source: stoicfox 2008, np link).

Reading the iPhone Girl images, we [see] how the body of the Asian female gets doubled – sited both in the factory, where she makes our computers, and onscreen, in orientalist fantasies of sex and domination (Source: Perlow 2011, p.262).

... just a few days ago Time magazine (2009) had named “the Chinese Worker,” specifically Shenzhen’s migrant workers, as one of that year’s four “runners-up” for Person of the Year. Photographed in black and white, Shenzhen’s workers appear on the pages of Time magazine as heroes of the global economy. Crafted as an abstract, composite figure termed “the Chinese Worker,” these women and men are given credit for “leading the world to economic recovery.” It is worth noting that in this same issue, Time named Ben Bernanke, chairman of the American Federal Reserve Bank, as Person of the Year, praising his efforts to manage the financial crisis that erupted on Wall Street. But here, “the Chinese Worker,” her heroism narrated in portraits of sacrifice and aspiration, cannot be understood as the cheap-labor periphery of Wall-Street-centered finance capital. Rather, she is at the heart of a high-speed frontier of emergence and circulation: the “tens of millions of workers who have left their homes, and often their families, to find work in the factories of China’s booming coastal cities.” The “Chinese Worker” is not merely a global construction. As Florence (2007: 140) shows, the theme of model workers has been in circulation for a while in Shenzhen. Articles in the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily thank model workers for their “painful labor” and sacrifices undertaken “for their company and for the zone.” Model workers are saluted, as in one article, for offering “their youth silently” to the company, for having “created the Chinese miracle,” and for thereby having “stepped into the new century.” As a worlding city, Shenzhen then is also a mass dream, that of model workers and their sacrifices for the sake of the model nation. The “Chinese Worker” as composite figure marks a worlding practice, an itinerary that makes possible recognition of the “world’s fastest-growing major economy.” The model worker is the linchpin of the model economy, the harbinger of an Asian future to which cities from Kolkata to Manila aspire. To borrow a phrase from Harvey (2009), such encirclements of the world indicate a reconfiguration of “economic hegemony,” one where American deficits are covered by “those countries with saved surpluses” – China, the Gulf States. In China, Harvey notes, much of the surplus will be “mopped up in the further production of space.” It is thus that the panorama- city of Shenzhen, inhabited by the heroic migrant worker, is deeply implicated in the worlding of late capitalism. But this itinerary of recognition is complicated by the growing phenomenon of worker suicides. At Foxconn Technology, a company that produces the vaunted electronic gadgets of companies such as Apple, Dell, and Hewlett Packard, workers have jumped to their death from dormitory buildings and factory buildings. The suicides have triggered scrutiny of conditions of work at Foxconn, which in turn has responded with steep salary increases for its workers (Barboza 2010: see also our page tracking this story through acivism and press coverage here). Indeed, the suicides are a poignant reminder of worldly entanglements – of how urban cosmopolitan lifestyles fueled by electronic tools such as iPhones and iPads remain dependent on the embodied labor of migrant workers in dreary Shenzhen factories and dormitories (Source: Roy 2011, p.318-9 link).

The labor of electronics assembly often gets ciphered through other identity categories including age, gender, and race. Some suggest that women predominate in factories because they are ‘more diligent’ (Chang, 2008: 56); but most see them as ‘easier to regulate and control’ (Ngai, 2005: 15) – a rationale confirmed by the factory owner in David Redmon’s documentary, Mardi Gras: Made in China (Redmon, 2005 [on our site here]). The preference for women fuses with the logic of factory labor itself. ‘The bio-power of the production machine has no interest in a general body’, but ‘only in a particular body, a feminine body, that is imagined as more obedient, tolerant, and conforming to the factory machine’ (Ngai, 2005: 15). Some studies of Chinese labor exceptionalize the female  as when Chang complains of ‘the smell of migrants’ but notes that ‘the young women were immaculate: They never smelled, and their hair was always sleek and shiny’ (2008: 17, 35). Sleek hair insinuates race as a way of rereading a gender distinction. Race also ciphers discussions of age. In response to concerns about iPhone Girl as an underage laborer – ‘She looks about 12/13 to me! ’ (MacForums, 2008a – 42) – other posts explain that ‘Asian girls tend to look a lot younger than their Western counterparts’ (2008a – 678). A vapid argument unfolds over whether this age/ethnicity correlation is racist. Those casting iPhone Girl as underage can choose racial or national frames – the Asian as childlike or China as allowing child labor.  The overdetermination of iPhone Girl as underage finds its consumerist analogue in the ‘danger’ of children posing as adults online to access ‘adult’ content. iPhone Girl must  be underage, whatever her appearance, just as the online poser must be juvenile because he could be (Source: Perlow 2011 258-9).

Despite her smile, the factory has been accused of workers’ rights violations (Hutcheon, 2008). Despite the accusations, she smiles at us from our screens, themselves made in China. Such tensions indicate a largely unattended critical field: new media studies has drawn very little on the discourse of industrial production. How can we describe the global relations that iPhone Girl points up, the complex forms of world-sharing by which the material, economic, and affective connections between producers and users of consumer electronics get articulated? The embodiment of users has emerged as a major stake in the critical discourse on new media, but scholars have largely avoided the difficult questions about this other set of bodies: those that build our computers, our televisions, our mobile phones. Such attention will enrich materialist historiographies of new media, many of which stress progress instead of production, and will challenge consumerist framings of new media aesthetics (Source: Perlow 2011, p.246).

iPhone Girl’s smile may ‘seduce us to take pleasure in a sort of Taylorian effectivity and the commodification of the mechanization of work and bodies, making it a pleasurable experience’, like a video game (Lahti, 2003: 167). But the question remains: whose pleasure? The playful enjoyment, in virtual worlds, of disciplinary repetition does not fairly describe the embodied relation with technology to be found on the factory floor. Yet iPhone Girl’s poses show her capable of just such play in just such a place (Source: Perlow 2011, p.256).

The discourse of iPhone Girl challenges existing arguments for digital machines as an apparatus for identity-political struggles.Many of these rely on consumerist frames. Theorists who praise the ease of ‘passing’ online, of destabilizing social categories by ‘trying on’ new identities, articulate  an ableistic rhetoric that ignores those for whom digital culture means more exploitation, not transformative possibility. The praise of abundant options makes clear that the user is the only node of the production–consumption circuit considered. In her seminal ‘Race In/For Cyberspace’ (1995), for example, Lisa Nakamura praises online worlds in which gender and racial passing enables ‘critical rearticulations and recombinations of race, gender, and class’. While she scrutinizes ideas of ‘the Internet as a social leveler’, she assumes ‘access’ and elides its differential distribution – not to mention the distribution of labor involved in building computers. Describing how in white collar offices ‘the line which divides work from play has become increasingly fluid’, she bounds the liberative potentials of digital life within practices of leisure that ‘pass’ as work.  While the iPhone Girl images depict a stolen moment of play, that distinction for her is likely far from ‘fluid’ (Source: Perlow 2011, p.259-60).

To call the Apple iPhone a fetish is only to state the obvious. It is, specifically, a commodity fetish. However, it is a special kind of digital fetish: a commodity that enjoys some of the special and exalted social status of a non-commodity. For the iPhone has, from its inception, been set apart from other cellphones; it is both marketed and understood as a tool for “making” as well as a communicative device. The celebration of individual cultural production through the use of digital media devices like the iPhone is reflected in the popularity of magazines and blogs such as Make: Technology on Your Time (the “first magazine devoted to DIY technology projects”) and ReadyMade, which instruct users how to produce food, clothing, devices, and media as both signs of the ingenuity and entrepreneurialism necessary for survival in a neoliberal world and as a form of resistance to mass culture. To call oneself a “maker” is to claim an exalted cultural status, and the term “creative” has achieved the status of a noun to describe workers such as designers and artists who are “makers.” The iPhone is part of this fetish of self-sufficiency and creativity, and thus exempt from critiques of conspicuous consumption that have arisen as a logical response to a worldwide recession. Sure, the iPhone is pricey, but it is “worth it” because it is emphatically not a toy for the idle rich, but rather a tool for industrious “makers” who use it to broadcast updates, photos, and other data (Source: Nakamura 2011, p.1-2 link).

One difference between dressmaking and electronics manufacture ... is that while both induce eyestrain and carpal tunnel in the producers of these objects, only the iPhone transfers the affliction onto the user. iPhones, unlike dresses, are modes of production as well as products. This is why they are the subject of less political agitation even than sweated garment manufacture in much earlier times. It is hard to defend the use value of fancy dresses, and the Victorian public had no trouble viewing them as luxury items. However, the Apple iPhone is still viewed as a privileged tool of cultural production as well as status, a productivity device rather than a frivolous decoration. The ability of the amateur to participate in media production is attributed to easy-to-use tools like the Flip Camera, the Apple iPhone, and other pretty devices made by Asian iPhone girls. Indeed, the Chinese iPhone girl demonstrates this by documenting her own desire to use the device as it was meant to be used—to “share” ourselves with the world (Source: Nakamura 2011, p.8-9 link).

Impacts / Outcomes

This post has generated 11 pages of comment at macrumors.com so far.  One netizen said that this reminded of him of his childhood.  Some netizens even connected these photos to world peace. This incident rapidly went back into China where it was discussed enthusiastically at most of the websites.  At some of the forums, netizens called for a human flesh search for this young girl.  As of September 3, Google has 18,200,000 results for iPhoneGirl; Baidu has 903,000 results where the term is also the ninth hottest search keyword of the week (behind "Chinese national soccer team players going to the hotel"). "In six days, iPhoneGirl became red-hot across the Internet.  This affair was propagated through the Internet at an astonishing speed," said an Internet promoter (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

The pictures have sparked fevered online discussions around the world. Enthusiastic netizens have produced special "iPhone Girl" websites, like iphonegirl.net and iphonegirl.cn, carrying the latest news about the accidental images. Some netizens suspected an Apple public relations tactic to show the good facilities and happy workers making the iPhones, which are produced at electronic giant Foxconn's plant in Shenzhen. But Liu Kun, head of Foxconn's media office, said the photos on the phone were "a beautiful mistake". He said they were only found on markm49uk's phone (Source: Huifeng 2008a, p.4).

Amid the all speculations “iPhone girl” recorded over 20 million searches on Google’s Chinese search site, google.cn & became a fastest growing term in Baidu, making her an Internet Celebrity overnight (Source: Sen 2008, np link).

It's an unremarkable image on its face, but a photo of a young female worker at an Apple iPhone factory in southern China is well on its way to becoming an Internet "meme," or a viral idea that is rapidly and broadly propagated online. ... The iPhone Girl meme has picked up steam quickly. As of Thursday morning, there are nearly 250 news stories about her on Google News' main Sci/Tech cluster for iPhone Girl-related articles. Time will tell if iPhone Girl has the virility of overnight Internet sensations like Chris Crocker of "Leave Britney Alone" fame, much less the staying power of famous ongoing memes like "LOLcats" or "rickrolling". What iPhone Girl has in common with such memes is that it emerged from a Web community, MacRumors.com, devoted in part to creating such viral phenomena over the Internet (or "Intertubes" to reference another meme that began following the spread of a quote by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) describing the Internet as "a series of tubes"). ... So far, iPhone Girl, the woman not the meme, is reportedly "scared" by the media attention she's been receiving. "She's really scared by the media. She told me she wanted to quit her job and go back home to get away from this. We let her off work today so she could rest," a Foxconn spokesperson said, according to the Washington Post. Not a good sign for people who care about the human beings in the middle of some memes (Source: Poeter nd, np link).

The Shenzhen worker dubbed the "iPhone Girl" by netizens when her photo was found on a phone by a British buyer is shocked by her sudden celebrity and afraid of the media spotlight. The daily life of the unidentified worker has been disrupted by the intense interest in her since netizens in Europe and China spread news of the discovery of her photo this week and set up special websites to discuss the issue (Source: Huifeng 2008b, p.7). 

... the unnamed employee's growing fame (she has predictably become a Digg hit and is supposedly being stalked by paparazzi) has freaked out the one they're calling "iPhone girl", the spokesman told today's South China Morning Post? ‘She's just a young girl who has come to the city from her remote hometown. She's never been in such a situation. She's really scared by the media. She told me she wanted to quit her job and go back home to get away from this. We let her off work today so she could rest’ (Source: Andrews 2008, np link).

In the beginning, there were rumors that Taiwanese company FoxConn which makes Apple iPhones had fired her for the mistake she made. But, a Foxconn spokesman termed such rumors as baseless and said such 'beautiful mistakes' are unavoidable. However he didn't disclose the identity of the girl.But Chinese bloggers have narrowed the search down to the quality control section on the fifth floor of one of the FoxConn factory buildings in Shenzhen. A total of 270,000 people work FoxConn's Shenzhen factories.Chinese search engine of Google, Google.cn has received over 20 million searches in one day on the keyword ' iPhone girl '.New websites like iPhonegirl.net and iPhonegirl.cn have come up describing about her (sic) (Source: Anon 2008a, np).

Within the week since the discovery of the photos even a website iphonegirl.net has appeared tracking the mention of the girl in the international press. Foxcon acknowledges that she works for them but she has yet to be identified, although we suspect she is currently negotiating her movie deal and finalizing the details to Factory Worker Barbie with Mattel (Source: Lam 2008, np link).

The English-language website iPhoneGirl.net was said to be established specifically for this girl, and it served an important role in propagating the information. This website stated that ‘this blog searches for all the news around the world on the wonderful iPhoneGirl photos.’ On August 25, the website published two news items: one of them was ‘this blog has been reported on Chinese news" and the other was "Even Holland knows about the iPhoneGirl blog.’ The iPhoneGirl photos appeared on this website was August 20, the same day as 'markm49uk' posted the original photos. ‘That is to say, someone established a website for this girl on the same day. The two events were practically simultaneous.’ This was enough to raise suspicions: Someone saw the post on the iPhoneGirl that day, got the idea to set up a website, registered the domain and obtained a web space all within a single day?  The reporter checked out the website via 'whois' and learned that the registrant is someone named Jeff Blakely.  No matter who that is, he may be deeply connected to the iPhoneGirl incident. The iPhoneGirl.net website also posted some photos about the Foxconn factory and the assembly lines.  The photos seemed very standardized as workers dressed in uniforms go about their work meticulously.  The photos also showed the workers playing basketball and other things. The photos show that the Foxconn workers were leaving a decent life.  On this website, the reporter also saw a video which presented life in a factory dormitory via interviews.  This video was taken before the Spring Festival.  The workers have decent living conditions.  The dormitory was not crowded, and the workers sat around the table eating hot pot. Why would a blog for iPhoneGirl show so many photos about Foxconn workers?  What is it trying to say?  Was this website actually established by netizens? These questions inevitably make one want to link the website with Foxconn (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

When the story was featured in the Chinese media, the two reports from Southern Metropolis Daily were especially influential. The Southern Metropolis Daily reporter Wang Chengbo who wrote those reports told yWeekend that he went twice to the Foxconn factory to look for the girl with no success.  He retold what he went through to find the girl. "At first, I saw the reports about iPhoneGirl at Hexun and other Chinese websites.  Based upon the tips offered by netziens, I went to the Guanlanyuan factory district of Foxconn to find the girl on the afternoon of August 25." The factory district of Foxconn is actually immense.  Wang Chengbo first went to Level 2 of the building indicated on the Internet.  A security guard looked at the photo that he had and said that he has never seen this girl before.  But her uniform looked like the work clothes for the quality inspection department on Level 5. At Level 2 and Level 5, Wang Chengbo asked more than 60 workers.  Oddly enough, none of them said that they knew or met this girl.  Very soon, he was stopped by the security guards.  He did not manage to enter the factory floor on Level 5. On the next day, he took a copy of the newspaper published that day and went to the Foxconn factory district to look for the girl again.  This time, Wang Chengbo was even more unlucky than the day before.  The security guards recognized him and prevented him from entering the building altogether. The Foxconn media office rejected Wang Chengbo's request to meet with the girl.  The reason was to protect the girl from media harassment. According to Wang Chengbo, a woman who claimed to have last name Xu called him on the day when his report appeared in the newspaper.  She said that she is the cousin of iPhoneGirl.  When Wang Chengbo called her back, the other party refused to pick up and only replied by SMS. This Ms. Xu sent a SMS to Wang Chengbo to say that she is forwarding a message from her cousin who did not want her life to be disrupted. After all the effort, the Southern Metropolis Daily did not get to meet the girl.  "We have some doubts.  But since we did not meet the girl, we cannot make any conclusions’ (Source: Jun 2008, np link).

Way to go, iPhone Girl! We still have no idea what your name is or how old you are, but you’ve won a place in Gadget Lab’s hearts. If you ever read this: Would you mind saving photos of yourself on Apple’s next revolutionary device? (Source: Chen 2008, np link).

Don't worry, we won't ever forget you, real iPhone girl, the internet never forgets (Source: Anon 2008c, np link).

The iPhone girl went viral with Apple fans because she was cute and the event was unexpected. However, the iPhone girl also underwrote the illusion that Apple is “cruelty free,” and that users are not contributing to human misery by consuming it. The charm of the company’s image lies in the implication that Apple/Foxconn’s products emerge not from a sweatshop but rather from a happy, creative workplace where laborers have the time and leisure to pose for the camera to visually document their happiness—just as its consumers and “makers” do. The utopian notion that digital tools endow everyone with the same social and cultural entitlements is part of the mythology of the neoliberal commodity. For viewing tool-commodity acquisition as the solution to the problem of social inequality rather than viewing exploitative commodity production as its cause eases the conscience and extends the ideology of technological determinism. While the Chinese iPhone girl is celebrated for her ingenuity, Foxconn has since entered the news in a much less positive way, as the poster child for the ills of the “new China,” where a burgeoning middle class coexists with a hyperexploited digital working or factory class. Since January 2010, eight men and four women have either committed suicide or attempted suicide by leaping out of their factory dormitory windows in Foxconn’s two biggest Shenzhen plants [see our page on this here]. The negative publicity that resulted from this was appreciable, and the iPhone girl story has faded into the background since the story broke (Source: Nakamura 2011, p.3 link).

Over the past couple of years, monologist Mike Daisey has been writing, workshopping, previewing and preparing The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs [soon to be added to our website], his new monologue currently running at The Public Theater. With only a glass of water and a neat stack of notes, Daisey maintains the audience’s rapt attention for 2 hours as he relates the rise of Apple and Jobs while skillfully weaving in the story of how a blog item about a few test photos from a factory in China that were left on an iPhone made this self-proclaimed Mac Fanboy travel to Foxconn to speak to scores of the hundreds of thousands of employees who piece together the electronic devices we use every day. Incredibly, this thought-provoking show on labor, consumerism and the heartbreak of loving a somewhat sinister genius and his work, is also laugh-out-loud funny (Source: Deborah 2011, np link).

I am at the level of geekishness where, to relax, after performances like this one, sometimes, I will go back to my apartment and I will field strip my MacBook Pro into its 43 component pieces. I will clean them with compressed air and I will put them back together again. It soothes me. So the truth is, I never would have questioned this religion, I never would have looked deeply at this belief system—because it gave me so much pleasure—if it hadn’t been for the pictures. Because one day, I was relaxing on the internet—which for me means reading Macintosh news sites, which, I should specify, have no actual news in them. They’re instead filled with rumors about what Apple will do next, written exclusively by people who have no fucking idea what Apple will do next, but, for some reason, I find this soothing. So, I’m reading one of these news sites when this article gets posted. And it’s about the fact that someone bought an iPhone and when they got it, it wasn’t blank—it had information on it from inside the factory. And in fact, in the camera roll, there were pictures on it. From inside the factory. They posted these pictures into the article, and I looked at these pictures, and they took my breath away. They’re not very good pictures, you know—they’re just testing that the camera on the phone works, they’re not of anything, but I’ll never forget them. There were four of them. First was of a stack of pallets, wooden pallets, stacked up; and the second was the edge of a conveyor belt; the third was totally out of focus—it could just be an enormous space—and the fourth was a woman. She doesn’t know her picture’s being taken. She’s looking off in another direction, she’s wearing a clean suit, she has no expression on her face. And I looked at these pictures, and I downloaded these pictures to my desktop, and I put them in a folder on my desktop, and in the weeks and months that followed I found myself returning to them again and again, almost compulsively. I would mouse over, and I would open that folder, and then I would use Exposé and I would fan the pictures across my desktop and I would look at them. Who are these people? Because you have to understand, I have dedicated an embarrassing amount of my life to the study of these machines. I’m an amateur, but I am a dedicated amateur. I understand as best I can how the hardware works and how the software rests on the hardware, and in all that time, until I saw those pictures, it was only then that I realized I had never thought, ever, in a dedicated way, about how they were made. It’s actually hard now to reconstruct what I did think. I think what I thought is they were made by robots. I had an image in my mind that I now realize I just stole from a 60 Minutes story about Japanese automotive plants. I just copy-and-pasted that and I was like, PWOP, Command-V...it looks like that. But smaller. Because they’re laptops. Instead of cars. I started to think how if this phone has four pictures on it, taken by hand in testing, then every iPhone has four pictures on it, taken in testing, every iPhone in the world. By hand. I started to think. And that’s always a problem, for any religion. The moment when you begin to think (Source: Daisey 2012, p.15-16 link).

Sources / Further Reading

!!11oneone (2008) Comment on markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August  (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777&page=17 last accessed 29 August 2011)

Adrienne8 (2008) Comment on bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011)

Andrews, R. (2008) 'iPhone Girl' finds fame and fear on the production line. The Washington Post 28 August (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/28/AR2008082800571.html last accessed 29 August 2011)

Anon (2008a) 'Beautiful mistake' makes Chinese iPhone factory girl a celebrity. Digital Journal 28 August 

Anon (2008b) Was the iPhone Girl a fake? China Herald 5 September (http://www.chinaherald.net/2008/09/was-iphone-girl-fake.html last accessed 29 August 2011)

Anon (2008c) iPhone factory girl just small town girl living in a lonely world, “really scared” by media attention. gizmodo.com 3 September (http://gizmodo.com/5044768/iphone-factory-girl-just-small-town-girl-living-in-a-lonely-world-really-scared-by-media-attention last accessed 29 August)

Anon (2008d) Cute face of ‘beautiful mistake’. People’s Daily Online 27 August (http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90882/6487903.html last accessed 29 August 2011)

ArtOfWarfare (2008) Comment on markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777 last accessed 29 August 2011)

a small patch of brown liquid (2008) Comment on bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011

Back, E. (2008) China’s cute iPhone factory girl. Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam 24 August (http://asia.elliottback.com/chinas-cute-iphone-factory-girl/ last accessed 29 August 2011)

barryjedmonton (2008) Comment on bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011)

Bowser, J. (2008) Factory worker becomes internet celebrity as 'iPhone girl'. Brand Republic 28 August (http://www.brandrepublic.com/news/842090/Factory-worker-becomes-internet-celebrity-iPhone-girl/ last acessed 29 August 2011)

bytethese (2008) Comment on markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777&page=11 last accessed 29 august 2011)

ccatalano2002 (2008) Comment on bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011)

Chen, B. (2008) Factory: ‘iPhone Girl’ is for real, not fired. Wired 27 August (http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/08/factory-iphone/ last accessed 30 August 2011)

chun_man17 (2008) Comment on bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011)

Daisey, M. (2012) The agony and the ecstasy of Steve Jobs (revised script). mikedaisey.blogspot.co.uk 21 February http://mikedaisey.com/Mike_Daisey_TATESJ_transcript.pdf last accessed 6 September 2012)

Darth.Titan (2008) Comment on markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777 last accessed 29 August 2011)

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EastBayBob (2008) Comment on PRI’s The World (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr.com 27 Augus (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pritheworld/2803931920/ last accessed 30 August 2011)

evillageprowler (2008) Comment on markm49uk (2010) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777&page=9 last accessed 29 August 2011)

FOARP (2008) Comment on DJ (2008) The iPhone girl update: no one was fired for a "beautiful mistake". hiddenharmonies.org  27 August (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/08/the-iphone-girl-update-no-one-was-fired-for-a-beautiful-mistake/ last accessed 30 August 2011)

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Zeiler, D. (2008) Impulsive moment brings fame to Chinese ‘iPhone girl’. Apple a Day 27 August

Other factory photos & film found on phones & cameras

Anon (2008e) Photos from inside the iPhone factory. Remove the labels - gadgets and life 28 July (http://www.removethelabels.com/2008/07/28/photos-from-inside-the-iphone-factory/ last accessed 29 August 2011)

Biggs, J. (2012) A unique view inside an HP laptop assembly line. TechCrunch.com 27 July (http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/27/a-unique-view-inside-an-hp-laptop-assembly-line/ last accessed 6 September 2012)

Ha, P. (2008) BlackBerry storm brings along memories of the mothership. techcrunch.com  3 December (http://techcrunch.com/2008/12/03/blackberry-storm-brings-along-memories-of-the-mothership/#more-6026 last accessed 29 August 2011)

markm49uk (2008) Here! Comment on markm49uk (2008) iPhone 3G - already with pictures! (aka ‘iPhone Girl’). Macrumors forum 20 August (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=547777&page=4 last accessed 29 August 2011)

Lego re-creation

A candid shot from the iPhone production line.

Here, we re-create in #Lego a candid shot from #Foxconn's #iPhone production line (Source: Cook 2012, np link & link)

Photo credit

bangdoll (2008) iPhone Girl. Flickr Creative Commons 27 August (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bangdoll/2802624844/in/photostream/  last accessed 30 August 2011 - iPhone Girl photo)

Canter, B. (2010) beth blog iphone. Flickr Creative Commons 4 January (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/4243023711/ last accessed 30 August 2011 - phone body)

Compiled by Ian Cook (last updated September 2012, with thanks to Seth Perlow & Tom Surr et al)