Is Apple Bringing 700,000 Jobs Back To America?

March 2, 2012

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English: Apple's headquarters at Infinite Loop...

When I logged onto Facebook on Thursday evening, two of my friends has posted a link to an article proclaiming the great news.  Apple was going to bring 700,000 jobs to America – jobs that are now down by workers overseas (mostly in China).

The grand plan was to drop 70,000 on each of ten cities spread throughout the country.  By the end of 2013, all 700,000 jobs would be staffed.  Apple, a company that was fighting for its very existence just 15 years ago, would breath life into the economy and slash the unemployment rate from 8.3% to 7.8% – a tremendous amount of impact from just one company.

The news made sense for a few reasons:

  • Apple’s never been one to follow the lead of other companies, often opting for unconventional paths.  Not only that, but with CEO Tim Cook out of the shadow of Steve Jobs, maybe Cook would make some decisions that Steve wouldn’t have.
  • Apple has around $100 billion in cash and has a market capitalization in excess of a half trillion dollars.  That’s not a typo. Apple is the most valuable company in the world – and it’s not particularly close.  Oil giant Exxon Mobil trails by a hundred billion dollars – meaning that it is worth 20% less than Apple.  If Apple wanted to employ 700,000 workers in the US, it could afford to.
  • Finally, Apple has been under fire for the working conditions at FoxConn, one of its major partners.  FoxConn is a large company that builds components for a lot of tech industry giants, but Apple has been the company taking the most heat.

I wasn’t born yesterday, however, so I hit Google and search for the news on other sites.  Nobody else was running the story.  That seemed odd.  Heck, Apple’s own site didn’t mention it.


Then I read the article more closely.  Really, 700,000 jobs by the end of 2013?  Was it even possibly to get factories built in that amount of time?  Sure, Apple could probably take over the facilities of some bankrupt companies and retrofit the facilities, but that still seems like a pretty aggressive timeline.

And the quote from the Chamber of Commerce seems a bit out of line:

“Just because corporations get the rights of American citizens doesn’t mean they should be burdened by the same responsibilities,” the statement said. “For example, everyone knows people can’t kill people — but sometimes job creators like corporations need to be able to kill people, as the Supreme Court is working on right now.”

So I look at the subject tags.  Yes, one of them was “satire”.  And in the comment, writer Shane Finnegan admitted that this was indeed a satirical piece.  And why not?  It’s his job to write satire for the Ocean Beach Rag.

Well played, Shane.

But why not?

Why doesn’t Apple, or some other tech company, bring jobs back to America?  It’s all about the money, of course.  Labor in China is far cheaper than in the United States, and there’s no hiding the fact that it’s also more expensive to comply with US safety regulations.

If there is ever a flood of manufacturing jobs back into the United States, tech companies will probably be the last ones to the party.  Why?  Because computers, TVs, and smart phones have a very high cost:weight ratio.  The cost of shipping an iPhone or a MacBook Pro from China is a tiny percentage of the cost of the item, so it’s really not that expensive to ship them.  Ramen noodles, on the other hand, have a low cost:weight ratio, so shipping them thousands of miles would be relatively expensive, percentage-wise.

At this point, there’s not much incentive for companies to bring jobs back to the US.  Sure, it’s what the citizens want, but the higher labor costs would make a company’s products much more expensive than those of their competitors.  At this point, I don’t see this changing at an point in the future, unless the government decides to make it prohibitively expensive to import the finished products.


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How Will The Resignation of Steve Jobs Affect Apple?

August 25, 2011

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On Wednesday, Apple announced that CEO Steve Jobs will be stepping down from that role.  Jobs has been battling health issues – including pancreatic cancer – for several years, so the move was not completely unexpected.

For most people, Steve Jobs IS Apple.  Co-founder Jobs was forced out of Apple during a 1985 power struggle with CEO John Sculley (whom Jobs had hired).  By 1997, Apple was in a death spiral and its stock was hovering around $13 per share.  At  the close of day yesterday, Apple’s stock has trading at $373.60.  That’s impressive enough – but there have been two stock splits since then, meaning that a single $13 share has turned into 4 current shares worth a total of $1494.40.  As a longtime fan of Apple products, it was great to see Jobs initiate such a dramatic turnaround.

The big question is how this will affect Apple long-term.  Will the company endure a  recurrence of Jobs withdrawal?  I think things will be different this time, and these are the reasons:

This separation is different – The separation in 1985 was far from amicable.  Jobs was essentially fired.  This is a very different situation, with Jobs continuing as chairman of the board, as well as an Apple employee in some capacity.  He’ll be around to mentor new CEO Tim Cook as needed.  Barring a dramatic downturn in his health, Jobs is not going to simply fade into the background – he’ll still represent Apple.

The company culture is different – When Jobs was forced out in 1985, Apple was a company with a lot of infighting.  The Apple II division and the Macintosh division considered themselves to be rivals, with the Macintosh division flying a pirate flag over their building.  There was no strong sense of direction.  In fact, the Apple IIe line was not discontinued in 1993 … nine years after the introduction of the Macintosh.  While I loved the IIe as a kid, the Mac was an exponentially superior product by the time 1993 rolled around.  At the time Jobs left, the company was just 9 years old – still not fully mature.

The company is more diversified – When Jobs took over in 1997, Apple basically offered just Macs.  Jobs streamlined the number of different Mac models (at the time, there were a large number of models being sold, creating confusion for customers).  Since then, Apple has branched out into new areas (iPod, iTunes, iPhones, iPad, etc).  This diversification makes the company less vulnerable to a downturn in a specific market.

In a nutshell, I expect Apple to continue to charge forward.  Tim Cook has been with Apple since 1998, had been serving as Chief Operating Officer, and was the man Jobs had hand-picked to succeed him.  I expect that Jobs will still be involved in a lot of design decisions, while distancing himself from the more “boring” types of work.

Mac vs. Windows

December 23, 2009

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Right away, I’ll tell you which type of computer to buy. The one that you’re most comfortable with. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Now, we’ll move on to the rest of the article, which will focus on the Mac.

Personal Experience
The first computer I ever used was an Apple IIe. I was soon writing code in BASIC, and was allowed to essentially develop my own curriculum when I was eventually able to take a programming class (since I had already covered the course’s subject matter on my own). I was later introduced to Macs, and thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

For the last twelve years, I have worked in the systems department of a very large company – supporting a user community that uses solely Windows PC ☺ I even fix broken PCs for co-workers when asked.

Nonetheless, I remain a Mac guy. My home contains two Macs that are plugged in – a two year old (soon to be three years old) Mini that we use for most things, and a seven year old eMac that I write these blog articles on. Peek around the house and you’ll see an old Powerbook 5300, a Mac SE, a Mac Plus, and even a Newton Messagepad. You’ll also see the carcasses of a couple of PCs. I do not have the Amiga any more, as I sold that back to Frank (who, in turn, conned someone else out of good money).

Oh, you’ll pay more money for a Mac. If purchase price is your sole determining factor, get a PC.

Lack of software
One argument that you’ll hear from the anti-Mac crowd is that there is a dearth of software for the Mac. While it’s true that there is less software, the available software does a pretty good job of covering the bases for most users. If you’re a hard core gamer, you’re probably better off staying with Windows. But if you’re going to mostly use a browser and email client, either platform would be a good choice.

If you’re looking for Office, Photoshop, Quicken – they are all available on the Mac platform. I’m a bit of a tinkerer, and over the years, have played with a lot of stuff on the Mac. I have edited video, run a web server using PHP/MySql, installed a J2EE environment, and even done a bit of coding with the developer tools that are included (at no additional cost) in the OS. Mac OS X is actually built upon BSD Unix – which means that a lot of unix application will run on the Mac. For example, the graphics program GIMP runs on OS X under the X11 environment. At the cost of FREE, GIMP is hundreds of dollars less that Photoshop and provides much of the functionality. (Yes, I hear you, power Photoshop users, it doesn’t provide 100% of the functionality). Many of the graphics on the site (such as the lion header) were created with GIMP (in spite of my lackluster graphic skills).

Single Source
If you buy a Mac, you’re getting hardware and software from the same company. (One quick caveat – in theory, you could hack together a setup that allows you to run OS X on a regular Intel-based machine, but if you have the skills to do this, you’re probably not reading this article.) This means that there are a relatively finite number of possible combinations, and that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. If there is a problem, nobody can point fingers. Regardless of whether it’s a hardware problem or a software problem, it’s an APPLE problem. Contrast this to the PC world, where Microsoft and a PC vendor could each blame each other for a problem.

Speaking of the actual software, Macs come with a full copy of the operating system on DVD. As far as I know, Macs have always come with a full version of the OS. For reasons that I can’t fathom, some PC makers ship computers without as much as a restore disc. If your hard drive dies (and I actually mean WHEN your hard drive dies, because it is guaranteed to die at some point) you have to contact the computer maker to get a restore disc – and pay shipping for the privilege!

Viruses and Malware
For a variety of reasons, viruses and malware are less prevalent on Macs than on PCs. Mac fans say it is due to an inherent superiority while Windows fans will say that it’s because the Mac user base is smaller, and less not as big of a target for hackers. Quite honestly, I really don’t care what the exact reason is – I’m just happy with the result. Several of my co-workers have impressive horror stories about their virus/malware experiences. A couple of days ago, one of them said “Maybe I should have taken [Kosmo’s] advice and just bought a Mac.” I think it’s quite likely that he’ll do that when they buy their next computer.

I run my computers naked (er, I mean to say, without anti-virus software) and have never had a problem with a virus of malware. Is this the safest idea in the world? No – it would certainly be safer to spend the money on antivirus software. I’m willing to take the slight risk avoid the cost of antivirus software. If the worst were to happen, I’m confident in my ability to wipe my system clean and restore data from backups in roughly an hour.

Would I ever suggest that the owner of a Windows machine forgo anti-virus software? Hell no.

Best of Both Worlds?
With the newer (Intel-based) Macs, you can actually install Windows and have a dual boot system. You would have to purchase your own copy of Windows to do this. Alternately, you could use a product such as Darwine which allows you to run Windows application without having Windows installed. I actually tried out Darwine as a proof of concept, and it seemed to worked reasonably well. I just use it that once, though – Darwine sits on my hard drive gathering dust today. I simply don’t have the need to run Windows applications.

In closing – buy whatever computer best suits your needs. I do ask you to take a fresh look at the Mac if you haven’t worked with one in a few years.

Apple In the Cloud

December 16, 2009

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Recently the New York Times has reported that a deal has been struck between the online music application Lala and Apple. Although the specifics have not been released the deal has been speculated to be around $80 million. This purchase could mean big changes for Apple’s iTunes.

Lala is an online-based music application that allows users to “buy” streams of music for 10 cents a track or a dollar and album. Users are also able to purchase full MP3 tracks for 89 cents each. I love this service and currently use it daily. I’m anxious to see what Apple does with it and how it integrates this service into iTunes.

Apple has claimed that they are not really interested in the company behind Lala, but the people. They are buying the ideas and engineers behind the program. This means that they are interested in getting the experience Lala engineers have in streaming music distributed from a cloud. This could mean quite a few different features brought to Apple’s iTunes.

The first possibility is that Apple will directly port the Lala service to iTunes, allowing people to purchase the right to stream music for a cheap price instead of having to pay full price for other music formats. This seems unlikely to me as Lala’s business model doesn’t seem to be working currently and the other options seem to be more Apple friendly.

The next option is a subscription music service. Many of iTunes competitors already offer this already. Napster and Rhapsody allow you to have “all-you-can-eat” music for one low monthly price. They even allow you to download the music to portable mp3 players for listening on the go. Apple could leverage Lala’s streaming music service to bring a subscription streaming service to iTunes.

The final possibility I see Apple possibly considering is custom web radio. The current up and comer in the online music world is Pandora.

Pandora is probably one of my most used web applications. Pandora allows you to rate music you like and chooses new music for your online radio stations based on your ratings. I love Pandora, it does a great job, and it’s growing at a fantastic rate and I can’t imagine that Apple doesn’t want to get into this. Apple already has a recommendation engine with their music Genius, they could easily incorporate Lala’s streaming service to build their very own Genius radio to compete with Pandora.

Apple and Microsoft

October 24, 2009

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How Do You Like Them AAPLs?

If you had bought shares of Apple Computer (AAPL) in July of 1997, you would have paid $13 per share.  At the close of the trading day on Thursday, shares of Apple were worth more than $200.  Certainly, having an investment return fifteen times your original outlay twelve years later is a great return – it would be an annual rate of return of 25%!

That’s only a quarter of the story, though.  Apple’s stock has also had two splits (2:1 splits) during the timeframe – meaning that one share in 1997 is the equivalent of 4 shares in 2009.  Your original investment of $13 would actually be worth more than $800 today – a 40% annual rate of return.

Michael Dell, founder of the company that bears his name, when asked what he would do with Apple, once remarked “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”  Apple’s market capitalization of $180 billion is now roughly six times that of Dell – and also more than that of IBM ($160B) and Cisco ($140B).  In fact, Apple’s market value is even approaching that of longtime rival Microsoft ($250B).

In 1997, Apple was on the brink of disaster.  The product matrix had become quite muddled, and the company appeared rudderless.  In the midst of the chaos, the company turned to co-founder Steve Jobs.

Jobs has co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak (Woz).  Woz was the technical genius, while Jobs was the savvy salesman.  Jobs was forced out in a power struggle with CEO John Sculley in 1985.  Ironically, it was Jobs who had hired Sculley.  (So, what happened to Woz?  He left the company in 1986 and is heavily involved in philanthropy … when he’s not Dancing With the Stars).

When Jobs was booted out of Apple, he didn’t pout about it.  He took some cash and bought an animation studio from George Lucas for $10 million.  He took more cash and founded a technology company  – NeXT.  NeXT’s computers were technologically advanced – and very pricey.  NeXT eventually transitioned into a pure software company.  Apple bought NeXT in 1996 for $429 million.  Apple had been struggling with their next generation operating system, and NeXT’s NeXTSTEP technology served as the foundation for Mac OS X.

Shortly after Apple bought NeXT, the board of directors fired CEO Gil Amelio and hired Jobs as the new CEO.  The rest is history.  Jobs quickly discontinued many projects and supervised a new, more focused future strategy. 

Under the leadership of Jobs, Apple has launched wildly popular products such as the iMac, iPod, and iPhone as well as the cash cow iTunes Music Store.

While Jobs is a highly compensated CEO, it might be hard to find many investors who would complain about the cost of his leadership – clearly, the company has thrived during his tenure, and shareholders have reaped golden rewards.

And whatever happened to the animation studio that Jobs bought from George Lucas?  Disney bought that studio in 2006 for $7.4 worth of Disney stock.

The name of the studio?  Perhaps you’ve heard of it – Pixar.

Microsoft Windows 7

In an effort to confuse anyone who is trying to decode their product naming system, Microsoft launched Windows 7 on Thursday.  Old version, Vista.  New version, 7.  Yep, definitely a natural progression.

I’m also unclear on why this is Windows 7 when I can think of at least nine different versions (1, 2, 3, 95, 98, Millennium, XP, Vista, 7).

The strongest selling point of Windows 7 is that it is not Vista.

In Japan, Microsoft partnered with Burger King and introduced a product to help promote Windows 7.  I know what you’re thinking – a 7 patty Whopper.  You people have crazy imaginations – that would be just nutty.

I mean, yes.  That’s exactly it. A 7 patty, two thousand calorie burger.  And it doesn’t even come with cheese!

Saturday Stew

July 18, 2009

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Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince opened in theaters at midnight on Wednesday. It broke the record for a midnight screening with $22.2 million is is well on its way to a huge weekend. I’m not fan of the Harry Potter series, but I am definitely a fan of the J.K. Rowling story. Rowling was on welfare before writing the Harry Potter series and becoming a billionaire. What a wonderful rags to riches story. We often hear stories about people who are on welfare for decades and have no real desire to work. Here’s a story about someone who took the assistance offered by the government, and used it to get back on her feet and become a success. The money the British government spent on welfare payments to Rowling ended up being a great investment – as they made it possible for Rowling to pay tremendous tax bills on her subsequent income!

Apple shuts down Palm Pre sync

When the Palm Pre launched, one of its features was the ability to pretend that it was an iPod, allowing it to make use of Apple’s iTunes software. There was some debate over at Lazy Man and Money regarding whether Apple would allow this to occur, or whether they would release a future update to block non-iPod devices. I thought that they would indeed block the Pre, and felt that they had the right to do this, asserting that it was not an unfair barrier to competition to force Palm to bundle a iTunes-like product with the Pre.

On Wednesday, Apple released iTunes version 8.2.1. According to Apple, “iTunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices” – in other words, if iTunes can’t verify that your device is an iPod, you can no longer sync with it. Palm is suggesting that Pre own simply cease upgrading iTunes to retain the ability to sync.


Google has announced plans to launch their own operating system, Chrome OS. Chrome OS will be a simple operating system that is based on Linux. Chrome is not expected to be as feature-rich as operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X or Microsoft’s Windows. On the flip side, the computer should boot more quickly (fewer things to load) and run faster (due to the operating system requiring fewer system resources). Chrome OS will essentially allow a computer to run Google’s Chrome web browser. Will Chrome OS be a solution for everyone? No. But if you spend nearly all of your computer time in your web browser, it may be a good fit for you.

Google’s free web-based productivity suite Google Docs will face competition from Microsoft, as the software giant has announced plan to release a free web-based version of Microsoft Office next year. The web version won’t include all of the features that will be available on the desktop version of Office, but it might be a good solution for many people.


The country of Ukraine has banned the Sacha Baron Cohen movie “Bruno”, saying that the movie is immoral. This will certainly be a death blow to the movie, ensuring lackluster crowds.

Oh, hey, just kidding. What I meant to say is that Sacha Baron Cohen will use this publicity to bolster his “bad boy” image, and that the banning will make more people flock to the theater to see what all the fuss is about.


Bank of America, which is not one of my favorite companies, charged a New Hampshire man 23 quadrillion dollars for a purchase at a local gas station where he often purchased cigarettes. The man was also charged a $15 “over the limit” free. After two hours on the phone, Bank of America removed the charge and the fee from his account.

Capitol Shooting

Officers shot and killed a man near the US Capitol on Wednesday. The man was trying to elude police. He jumped out of his car and began shooting at officers. I stumble across this sort of story occasionally, and always wonder what on earth is going through the person’s head. Do they think that the cops aren’t going to shoot back?

Sears Tower

The Sears Tower is no longer the tallest building in the United States. What happened? Did someone sneakily build a taller building? No, the Sears Towers was renamed Willis Tower as part of an agreement with Willis Group Holdings. The 110 story tall tower opened in 1973. Sears moved out of the building in 1992, but the Sears named has been retained until now. I wonder how many years (or decades) will pass before Chicagoans begin referring to it as Willis Tower?


The Yankees recently signed Damian Arrendondo, a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, to a contract worth $850,000. (Note: international players may be signed as young as 16). Major League Baseball invalidated the contract when it was determined that the player was not actually named Damian Arrendondo, and that he was older than 16. No word yet on whether he is truly a shortstop.

Why the fascination with ages of these kids? After all, if a player is good, he’s good, regardless of whether he is 16 or 18, right?

Not exactly. Take this outside of the baseball world for a bit. If a 1 year old can count to 10, he’s a genius. If a 7 year old can count to 10, you’re not impressed. Yet, it’s the exact same skill. It’s the same with baseball skills. A 16 year old may exhibit the exact same skills as an 18 year old, but the 16 year old is a better prospect because he’s ahead of his peer group in the development curve.

Wednesday Wisps

June 24, 2009

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Today we introduce what I will call “Wednesday Wisps”. This is similar to the potpourri term I have used in the past, except that Wednesday Wisps uses alliteration to creep insidiously inside your brain. Wednesday Wisps will feature an assortment of very short news stories, opinions, or ideas – typically, not much more than 100 words.

How long until we can stop using the word “dial”? We don’t dial phone numbers any more – rotary dial phones are something that the younger generation isn’t even aware of (except for the popular toy for infants). I’m struggling to find a better term. “Enter the number” doesn’t seem to have the same panache.

PGA star John Daly sheared the roof off his RV and sent it flying into the path of an oncoming vehicle when he became confused by signs and hit a tunnel. The other driver suffered back and neck injuries, as well as damage to his vehicle. Just as Daly has started to get his life back to a semblance of normalcy, this happens.

Detroit city council member JoAnn Watson will be forced to pay a maximum of three years of back taxes after having the city correct its assessment of her house. Watson’s home had been re-classified as a vacant lot in 1999, and she had been pay $68 annually in property taxes since then. However, the law only allows the city to collect three years of taxes when a property has been incorrectly assessed. It has been pointed out that the absence of the $300 city trash fee should have been a red flag to Watson – since she had actively fought the fee. Watson believed that the property was reassessed after a tornado damaged the home, although no official records of the tornado can be found, and Watson did not file an insurance claim at the time of the tornado.

University of Georgia gymnast Courtney Kupets won the Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the top female college athlete in the US. Kupets, the winningest gymnast in NCAA history, won four individual titles at this year’s NCAA meet. More impressive is the fact that Kupets was able to bounce back from a torn Achilles tendon that cost her most of her junior season. Not only did Kupets recover from the injury, but she was able to compete at the very highest level.

Voting for Major League Baseball’s All Star Game, held in July, begins in April, when some roster slots are not even set. This is wrong. Delay the start of voting until June 1. With internet voting, anyone who wants to vote will still be allowed to vote. While you’re at it, change the limit from 25 votes per email address. Restrict the voting by IP address instead, to avoid having someone use multiple email address. I personally have more than a half dozen email addresses.

The smart phone war escalated, with Palm releasing their Pre model and Apple releasing their iPhone 3GS to legions of adoring fans. I personally am a “dumb phone” sort of guy, relying on a Samsung Slider – my data connection to the world consists solely of text messages from

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has begun working by email as he bounces back from a battle with pancreatic cancer. The charismatic Jobs, 54, received a liver transplant in April.

Reality stars Jon and Kate Gosselin – from TLC’s Jon & Kate plus 8 – have filed for divorce. This had been widely rumored for months.

Ed McMahon, longtime Tonight Show sidekick to Johnny Carson, and also the longtime spokesman for Publisher’s Clearinghouse, died at age 86. McMahon had suffered several health problems in recent years.