Feb
20
2013

Tom Friedman's Apple Hunch

Tom Friedman wrote a column about how government policies are harming the recovery. What we need is some kind of grand bargain to, as the headline puts is, "unparalyze" the economy and spur new growth. What's that mean? Cuts to Social Security and Medicare, along with "tax reform."

Apr
13
2012

Are Apple and Publishers Helping Readers by Ripping Them Off?

Apple iPad (cc photo: Tom Raftery)

The Justice Department alleges that Apple's collusion with book publishers to fix ebook prices has cost readers $100 million. So why are so many news reports on the anti-trust suit suggesting that the Apple/publisher alliance is actually good for consumers? The New York Times' David Streitfeld (4/12/12) warns: Amazon, which already controls about 60 percent of the ebook market, can take a loss on every book it sells to gain market share for its Kindle devices. When it has enough competitive advantage, it can dictate its own terms, something publishers say is beginning to happen. Likewise CNN's Doug Gross (4/11/12): […]

Feb
27
2012

NYT on Diabolical Experiments: Better Than Being Eaten by Sharks

Imagine that there's a mad scientist living on an island surrounded by treacherous, shark-infested waters. When ships are wrecked on the hidden rocks, the survivors swim to the island to escape the sharks, where they become prisoners of the mad scientist, who subjects them to bizarre experiments for his own amusement. When people point out to him that he's a monster, the scientist disagrees, saying, "Hey, those people were going to be eaten by sharks!" That's pretty much New York Times technology writer David Pogue's defense of Apple and its treatment of workers at Foxconn (NYTimes.com, 2/23/12).

Feb
21
2012

Apple's ABC Friends Get China Exclusive

With all the recent critical attention to Apple's manufacturing policies, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the company decided to push back.One way Apple might do this is by granting an "exclusive" to a media outlet that might put out a different kind of story than the one that people have encountered via the New York Times (1/25/12) or This American Life (1/6/12). So here we have the news that ABC has been granted "exclusive" access to the massive Foxconn facility that has been at epicenter of the controversy over Apple's labor practices. Why ABC? Forbes contributor […]

Feb
13
2012

For NYT, Apple Making Less Profit Is Not Even an Option

In the Times Sunday Review Jesse Kornbluth writes (2/12/12): There are things that do not happen in the real world. Noam Chomsky becoming president. Unflattering photos of Jennifer Aniston. Apple doubling the price of iPhones so its Chinese assemblers can work a 40-hour week. OK, I know he's being cheeky (Chomsky hasn't declared as a presidential candidate yet), but there is still something that should be said about this idea that Apple products simply have to be manufactured in sweatshops. Last week, the Times tech writer David Pogue (2/9/12) made a similarly flawed argument: Bringing workplace standards and pay in […]

Jan
20
2012

NYT's Apple Debate Factcheck, Without Facts

If Arthur Brisbane wants the Times to consider becoming factchecking 'truth vigilantes," this is hopefully not what he had in mind. At last night's Republican debate (1/19/12), CNN host John King asked the candidates how they would convince a corporation like Apple to employ more workers in the United States: It employs about 500,000 people in China. It is based in the United States, has some employees here, about 40-something thousand, I think 46,000. Most of them in retail stores and at the headquarters. 500,000 of them are in China. As a president of the United States, what do you […]

Jun
14
2010

It's Apple's Party, and We're Just the Guests There

Media Detector, a New York Times blog, has a post today (6/14/10) about a comic book adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses that Apple is insisting be bowdlerized before it can be turned into an app for the iPad–replacing an image of a bare-breasted "milk lady" with a close-up of her face. While calling Apple's decision "disappointing," artist Robert Berry told Media Detector he did not feel "remotely censored by Apple." "It's their rules," he said. "We're coming to their dinner party at their house." When you watch TV on your Sony television, you're not attending a dinner party at Sony's […]

Apr
27
2010

Can Intent to Commit Journalism Turn a Good Samaritan Into a Felon?

I'm having trouble getting my mind around the legal case against Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, who purchased an iPhone prototype that was apparently mislaid in a bar, published photographs of it on the Gawker-affiliated blog, and then returned it to Apple when the company asked for its property back. Here's a thought experiment: Suppose you're out walking and a neighbor says to you: "Look at this cool dog I found. I think I'm going to keep him." You think you know who actually owns the dog–let's call him Steve–and so you offer the neighbor some money to give it to […]

Apr
20
2010

Unlike Amazon, Publishers Understand Authors–and How to Rip Them Off

Ken Auletta (cc photo: JD Lasica, socialmedia.biz)

In a lengthy New Yorker piece (4/26/10) about the Amazon/Apple battle over e-books, Ken Auletta paints some familiar heroes and villains: "The [publishing] industry's great hope was that the iPad would bring electronic books to the masses–and help make them profitable. E-books are booming…. But publishers were concerned that lower prices would decimate their profits." If Amazon gets away with selling e-books for $9.99, Auletta quotes one publishing CEO, "to my mind it's game over for this business." Amazon is depicted as controlling and mercenary: Many publishers believe that Amazon looks upon books as just another commodity to sell as […]