I certainly enjoyed the appreciation for innovation that shone ever so briefly in the wake of Steve Jobs's death.
Wasn't that awesome? Lefties, moderates, and wingnuts all celebrated the cool things Apple wrought, the prosperity, the freedom, the benefits to other industries like music. One corporation, it seemed, was -- dare one say -- cool. As the Hollies Youngbloods said "just a moment's sunlight, fading on the grass."
Memo: Jobs's corpse is cold and Apple is no longer cool. Two NYTimes stories in a week reveal that anyone who appreciates the greedy corporate conglomerate was caught in Jobs's famous "Reality Distortion Field." As I mentioned, Paul Krugman led the charge last week. Apple didn't really create any jobs in the US (those Apple products unload, sell, and compose software themselves). Not like the GM bailout! Now that was a little-j jobs machine!
Today my niece (no, not that one -- I have nine) posts this NYTimes News story to Facebook, with the caption "Yikes. The hidden costs of our addiction to technology..."
In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers -- as well as dozens of other American industries -- have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious -- sometimes deadly -- safety problems.
Sweatshops! It's like Lochner v New York never happened over there.
I provided some gentle avuncular wisdom in this instance (that was actually pretty well received). But clearly the word is out. The shine is off AAPL.
If you can endure one more story about "Facebook Friends...." Two of the most collectivist I know have both changed their profile pics: one to the Apple logo, and one to Steve Jobs. Each has posted clips from his commencement address.
How. Can. This. Be? Our favorite two-lettered-lefty is hosting a thread on the importance of public broadcasting and one on the evils of America's disparity between CEO pay and worker pay. I did suggest that Steverino likely made a touch more than the guy who affixed the shipping labels to the iPods. And I had the temerity to suggest that, contra his stats, said clerk would be happier with a 10% raise than the news that his CEO took a 50% cut.
Sing, little piggy! No...Breathe from your diaphragm!!!
At the risk of dragging unbeloved Washington into thoughts on the legacy of Steve Jobs, let it also be noted that President Obama spent the better part of his hour-long news conference yesterday moaning about Washington's "failure" to bring his job-creation bill to life. The bill's details aside, it is hard not to notice the differing results of the Washington model of creating jobs and the Jobs model of creating jobs. Perhaps Washington should think different. -- WSJ Ed Page
Mr. Jobs's contribution to the world is Apple and its products, along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions -- his work -- not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism -- the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics -- is that that question does not matter one little bit. -- Kevin Williamson
You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on? In this digital age, that's what the Tokyo Apple stores became. Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones. Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.
Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I'm an admitted fanboy, but because I'm genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I'm also impressed with the way Apple's products (and yes, Google's, Twitter's, and Facebook's) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.
The reviews are a little mixed. but I am enthralled with the AppleTV.
I guess one has to ask what a hundred dollar box is expected to do. No, it does not iron your underwear or provide permanent storage for media. It provides access to your Apple content, with Netflix and YouTube thrown in.
The streaming Netflix was a primary feature. We have been using this on our TiVo® for a long time. Frankly, if the AppleTV were to take that function over, our TiVo will likely be dropped for the cheaper cable DVR.
The AppleTV provides a much richer experience. The TiVo lists items you have placed on your "Instant Queue." The AppleTV allows you to browse the entire Netflix repository. Each movie or episode brings up a detailed search screen to browse.
The hardware is Apple-cool, a bit smaller than a hockey puck, A sleek joystick + 2 button remote, very pretty and intuitive navigation and graphics. Tonight we will be setting up the lovely bride's iPad as a super-remote.
A toast to Brother AC: Apple tops Microsoft in Market Capitalization. WSJ:
Apple — for now — is the new king. At the close of trading, a small decline in Apple shares combined with a 4% drop in Microsoft’s stock to leave Apple’s market value ahead — at nearly $223 billion compared with about $219 billion for Microsoft.
Kneale is one of my favorite of Kudlow guests and CNBC personalities. He's on-board with Apple and links to a painful, cringeworthy six minute video of how to host your own Windows 7 release party. I think that Microsoft has really hit stride in its television commercials. Did the same crew come up with this? Being a PC is sometimes almost as bad as being a Republican.
I find the Apple commercials lack verisimilitude when iTunes -- Apple's flagship software product -- sucks so completely. This enables their popular iPod, manages music on the iTouch and iPhone, and is used by millions of customers on non-Apple platforms. If they cannot or will not bother to get this right, I'm less wowed by a cord that's hard to trip over.
We had this argument years ago. But I bring it up because I have just installed iTunes 9. Nine! The Microsoft plan is that version 1 barely works, version 2 is clunky but mostly functional, and then version 3 is the one you want to buy. These guys are on 9.x and it is still hopeless!
I am glad they finally discovered that computers are networked -- that was a big failing in versions 1-8. I cannot say I have got the home shares to work yet -- but I am just a 15 year+ Unix and Java programmer. I'm sure the Astrophysics PhDs got it going right away.
So I gave up and played some locally stored songs. It got through three before crashing.
I'm JK and I will remain a PC until Apple can fix iTunes.
AlexC's wife is currently in line at the Apple Store to get her husband one for their anniversary:
One very cool thing on the TiVo is that you can subscribe to internet videos. When a new Onion TV video comes out, I get it on my list of recorded programs. I'm trying to talk them into doing it with reason.tv...
I have been very disturbed by the Mac commercials slamming Vista. Macs are verboten where I work, but enforcement is rare. As a result, I have seen a steady stream of emails detailing serious security flaws and have heard a lot of internal complaints about Leopard.
Mostly, the commercials just make me nervous because I believe that all software is going to break, and it seems in poor taste to imply in a commercial that yours won't. If Toyota claimed their cars never broke down, people would say "yeah, right" even though Toyotas are known for reliability.
I'm not sure what ticks me off more about Leoptard (I can't take credit for that nickname—some Brit coined it): the fact that so many of the semi-important changes don't work, the fact that Apple turned a stable OS into a crash-happy glitz fest, or that the annoying, scruffy Live Free or Die Hard actor infecting my TV (and our Web site, by the way) is pretending that Leopard is better than Vista. It's not better than Vista. Leopard is Vista. And Tiger is better than both of them!
I've had decent results with my new Vista box, but have to admit that a few drivers aren't available. If I bought a new box tomorrow, I'd ask for XP. I assume Apple will fix Leopard (even though iTunes still sucks) but the company ought to have a little more superstition than to run that commercial.
Facing a consumer backlash, Apple said it would give a $100 store credit to early iPhone customers, many of whom were angered when the company slashed the price of the gadget by $200 just two months after it first went on sale. In a letter to customers, Apple CEO Steve Jobs defended the decision to cut the price, but apologized to customers. "We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple," he wrote.
Apple revamped its iPod lineup and introduced a new model with an iPhone-like touchscreen and Wi-Fi technology that allows users to wirelessly access the Internet. The device, whose software interface also resembles the iPhone, will be called the iPod Touch and cost either
$299 or $399 depending on the amount of storage.
AT&T Inc., reported a 61% rise in net income amid recent acquisitions and said it activated 146,000 iPhone subscribers the last two days of the quarter, 40% of whom were new AT&T Wireless customers.
AT&T has an exclusive deal with Apple Inc. to sell the iPhone in the U.S., and it hit the market June 29. Expectations for the device were high and the initial results fell short of Wall Street's forecasts. Shares of Apple, which is due to report quarterly results on Wednesday, fell as much as 5% on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Of course, incredible expectations were priced into the Apple shares already. But it's funny to watch the media coverage and think that the iPhone introduction missed expectations.
AlexC posted about Rep Ed Markey's attacking the iPhone for its exclusivity with AT&T. I posted a flip comment. But Holman Jenkins sees some nefarious underpinnings in the superbly titled: Sort of Evil(Paid link)
Jenkins sees this as a grab for rent-seeking by Google, now that its net neutrality dreams are failing.
You're saying to yourself, haven't Google and friends been gnashing their teeth over the landline practices of the Verizons and Comcasts, demanding "net neutrality" regulations to be erected against crimes to be named later? Yes, and without much success. Consider a recent Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute study that found that imposing Google's idea of "net neutrality" (i.e., restricting a network operator's ability to prioritize urgent and non-urgent data) would end up cutting a network's peak capacity in half.
Now Google and friends are turning to wireless, which they hope will prove a softer target. Here operators traditionally have built networks for the restricted purpose of letting customers make voice calls with an operator-supplied cellphone. But most operators have also started rolling out all-purpose broadband on their wireless networks, albeit high-priced and painfully slow (evidence of their need to ration capacity carefully to protect higher-priority voice traffic).
I defended Google around here for pursuing shareholder value over freedom. I guess I must admit they have the right to lobby for advantageous legislation, but I will fight them tooth and nail. And be happy that I am a Yahoo guy.
I have not mentioned in a few months that Apple's iTunes is perhaps THE WORST PIECE OF SOFTWARE EVER!
I moved my library off the network onto a local drive which helps (you wouldn't want to support networks or anything -- I hear they're a flash in the pan) as did my new, faster machine with 2 gigs of RAM.
These changes make it tolerable -- but now it is freezing up when I add a new video file. As always, it is difficult to tell when the program is frozen because it is so completely unresponsive most of the time.
When they make their flagship software product not be a complete piece of junk, I'll think more seriously about buying one of their computers.
The iPhone "highlights both the promise and the problems of the wireless industry today," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecom and the Internet. "This cutting edge technology breaks new ground … [but] consumers can't use this service with other wireless carriers" and those in areas not reached by AT&T cannot use the iPhone at all, he said.
Apple signed an agreement with AT&T to serve as the sole cell phone service provider for the iPhone. Those who purchase the iPhone, therefore, must switch to AT&T in order for their phone to work, incurring cancellation fees from current providers and locking themselves into a two-year contract with AT&T.
"Consumers feel trapped," Markey said at a hearing about regulation in the wireless industry.
"The iPhone could still change the world and be available for any consumer on any network, but we won't know until 2012, the year that AT&T's American exclusivity runs out," said Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. "I think it's time the consumer becomes a decider, not the cell phone carriers."
Michigan Republican Fred Upton has a sensible rejoinder.
"Competition spurs carriers to innovate and build a better mousetrap," he said. "The iPhone is the newest mousetrap and now other carriers will be working to top it."
"By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans," said Eric Nicoli, chief executive of EMI in a statement Monday.
Apple said iTunes will make individual tracks available from EMI artists at twice the sound quality of existing downloads, with their DRM removed, at a price of $1.29. ITunes will continue to offer tracks to consumers at 99 cents but these will have standard sound quality and with DRM still applied. Customers who have already purchased standard tracks with DRM will be able to upgrade to DRM-free tracks for 30 cents.
"We think our customers are going to love this, and we expect to offer more than half of the songs on iTunes in DRM-free versions by the end of this year," said Mr. Jobs in a press release.
Bully for Jobs for pushing this and bully for EMI for diving in. I really believe that it will expand digital music sales more than enough to compensate for piracy. I buy almost all of my music on CD, rip it, and shelve the CD just to protect my "license." If this takes hold, I will move to more digital purchases and with the added convenience, will probably buy more music myself.