In his provocative new book, distinguished American commentator Thomas Friedman argues that digital technology and increasing globalisation have created a 'flat earth'. In this exclusive extract he unravels the dizzyingly complex supply chain behind his laptop - and argues that it will make the world a safer place
Thursday April 21, 2005 The Guardian
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Let me tell you a little bit about the computer I am writing this on. It's a Dell Inspiron 600m notebook, service tag number 9ZRJP41. As part of the research for my book, I visited the management team at Dell, near Austin, Texas. I shared with them the ideas in this book and in return I asked for one favour: I asked them to trace the entire global supply chain that produced my Dell notebook. Here is their report. My computer was conceived when I phoned Dell's 800 number on April 2 2004, and was connected to sales representative Mujteba Naqvi. He typed in both the type of notebook I ordered as well as the special features I wanted, along with my personal information, shipping address, billing address and credit card information. My credit card was verified by Dell through its work-flow connection with Visa, and my order was then released to Dell's production system. Dell has six factories around the world - in Limerick, Ireland; Xiamen, China; Eldorado do Sul, Brazil; Nashville, Tennessee; Austin, Texas; and Penang, Malaysia.