The Price Is Wrong

Apex Digital may have shaved the margins too thin on its $30 DVD player

3 min read
Illustration depicting dissection of an Apex AD2600.
Illustration: Bryan Christie

Not long ago, Apex Digital Inc., a California upstart maker of ultracheap DVD players, televisions, and other consumer electronics, was hailed as an emerging manufacturing paragon. Its Chinese-American chairman, David Ji, was chosen by Time magazine as one of 15 “global influentials” of 2002. And last year, after the company, then just five years old, had raked in a breathtaking US $1 billion in annual sales, The New York Times columnist Rob Walker enthused: “The more people buy Apex players (and jostle one another at stores to get at them), the more it seems downright unthrifty to buy anything else.”

Then a giant skeleton emerged from Apex’s closet. On 24 October, authorities from the province of Sichuan in China detained Ji on fraud charges while he was on a business trip there. Two months later, Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., in Minyang City, one of Apex’s major suppliers, disclosed that it was writing off $310 million of the $467.5 million that Sichuan Changhong said it was owed by Apex. Weeks earlier, according to published reports, Sichuan Changhong had filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Apex, which is based in Ontario, Calif., of using bad checks to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of television sets. IEEE Spectrum’s efforts to reach Apex officials were unsuccessful.

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The Women Behind ENIAC

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6 min read
Two women programmers preparing a computer to be demonstrated.

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas, two of the ENIAC programmers, are preparing the computer for Demonstration Day in February 1946.

University Archives and Records Center/University of Pennsylvania

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computer chip with chinese flag
iStock

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Rohde & Schwarz

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Download this free whitepaper now!

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