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World AIDS Day: Apple’s Critical Role in Pushing AIDS Programs With (PRODUCT)RED

Apple’s arsenal of (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition iPhones and accessories give the AIDS programs a big push.

Vishal Mathur |

Updated:December 1, 2018, 9:49 AM IST
World AIDS Day: Apple’s Critical Role in Pushing AIDS Programs With (PRODUCT)RED
Apple’s arsenal of (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition iPhones and accessories give the AIDS programs a big push.
The World AIDS Day is observed on 1st December each year. Apple is one of the very few tech companies that actively pushes AIDS programs. The company says that it is planning a major fundraising effort in honor of World AIDS Day, starting this Saturday. From December 1 to December 7, where $1 of every Apple Pay purchase made at an Apple Store, through the Apple Store app, or on the Apple website globally, will be donated to (RED).

All year round, the PRODUCT(RED) line-up of products plays a critical role in that mission. When you and I buy a (RED) branded product, as much as 50% of the profit from each sale is sent directly to the Global Fund, which describes itself as a “partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics.” (RED) says that it has raised $600 million since it was founded, while the Global Fund claims to mobilize and invest as much as $4 billion every year to support programs run in more than 140 countries. (RED)’s numbers suggest that in 2005, more than 1,200 babies were born globally every day with HIV, and that number is now down to 400 a day. Apple is the world’s largest corporate donor to the Global Fund.

At present, the iPhone XR is available in the PRODUCT(RED) avatar, as well as special edition accessories, Beats Audio speakers and Apple Watch Bands, and they all have a purpose beyond just looking gorgeous. All of these special edition iPhones and accessories plug in to the partnership between Apple, (RED) and the Global Fund, which aims to fight AIDS—the first-time Apple has given the (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition treatment to an iPhone was the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus a couple of years ago and followed that up with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. However, this year, the colourful iPhone XR has the philanthropic responsibility too.

But where did all this start?

In 2002, Bono, the lead vocalist of the rock band U2 (also a singer-songwriter, musician, venture capitalist, businessman, and philanthropist) along with activist Bobby Shriver founded a multi-national non-governmental organization called DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa), with the stated purposed of bringing social equality and justice in African countries through debt relief, call for changes to trade rules that are detrimental to African countries, fight the spread of AIDS and even make these countries stronger democracies. In 2004, DATA was one of the founding organizations for the ONE Campaign, a non-profit organization which wanted to secure increased U.S. government funding for international-aid programs. It was in 2006 when Bono and Shriver started a brand licensing company called (RED).

The (RED) organization has multiple partnerships, including with technology companies, fashion labels and even lifestyle brands. Apart from Apple, on board are Coca Cola, Bank of America, Starbucks, Belvedere Vodka, GAP, Mont Blanc, Mophie, Alessi, Vespa as well as aden+anais are some of the product partners. The promotional partnerships include Google, Twitter, Facebook, HBO and Rolling Stone.

There is a rather wide variety of products that are currently on sale with the (RED) branding—an Amazon Echo smart speaker ($99.99), a (BELVEDERE)RED X Lalou Bottle ($27.99 onwards) and a Mont Blanc Rollerball pen ($410) to name a few.

Where Apple comes into the picture is with the special edition PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition device variants and accessories, which the company has launched over the years. Apple is the world’s largest corporate donor to the Global Fund. At present, the Cupertino based company has everything from cases for various generations of the iPhone, smart covers for various iPad, special iPod Touch, Apple Watch bands as well as the Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, Beats Pill+ Portable Speaker and the iPhone Smart Battery Case. Over the years, we have also seen an iPod Classic PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition and even a Mac Pro PRODUCT(RED) Special Edition, which was a one of its kind, and was sold for an eye watering $977,000 at Sotheby’s in November 2013.
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