Made in WhereEverLand

My Apacer multi-card reader just broke on me. Upon closer inspection, the pins on both ends of the CompactFlash reader seem to have broken off1. Maybe I was in a stage of ‘excited delirium’, which according to popular belief, makes me as strong as a super hero. But I digress: I think they make this kind of hardware intentionally fragile because they are massively produced in countries where resources are cheap.

It always strikes me as funny, though, to blame the product’s country of origin for any breakage. For some reason, it reminds of anti-Japan sentiments in the late 70s and early 80s (or anti-Malaysia and anti-Taiwan in the 90s) where, at that time seemingly, all electronic hardware came from. Labour in those countries was cheap, so many manufacturers decided to move plants to Asia, which allowed these countries to enjoy an economic boom. Sometimes quality and mass-production don’t go hand in hand2.

To get back to the Apacer card reader: obviously the CF’s pin structural design is at fault (it is way too fragile) as it broke in its first year of usage. So, I end up making the next calculation before I get a new one: I could buy a new reader every year for 20 dollars (‘cheap’) or I could get one that lasts me a bit longer for the price of 30 dollar (My Canon camera seems to have an excellent and solid mechanism for guiding CF cards in its internal memory slot, so I presume there should be sturdier card readers around).

While I’m at it: I recall comments my dad made about the rise of Japanese-made (cheap) products before the Second World War broke out. The quality of these products were (at times) ‘abdominal’ and fueled the belief of European supremacy over the Japanese, that is, if they (the Japanese) decided to go to war3. History tells us the opposite happened, of course.

1 For a moment I was afraid the pins of the camera might have broken off and were stuck in the card. However, I just checked my camera and it looks fine.

2 This is not an entirely fair statement: the point of mass-production is to get consistent quality (compare with the car production by robots), but if the initial design of the product relies on dubious cheap components then something is terribly wrong.

3 Obviously war was on the minds of the colonials in Asia, particularly after Japan signed the Tripartite Pact in September of 1940, well after the German Blitzkrieg successes in Western Europe.