Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

Tim Cook gets about as close as a CEO can to saying STFU and GTFO to some climate change deniers and “free market activists” (NCPPR) at Apple’s shareholder meeting, after their proposal got a whopping 2.95% of the shareholders’ votes:

Mr. Cook didn’t directly answer that question [about climate change], but instead focused on the second question: the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable.

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.

As evidenced by the use of “bloody” in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I’ve ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.

He didn’t stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

Time to look for a new Galt, because Cook obviously ain’t him.






119 replies
  1. 1
    m Quirk says:

    STFU and GTFO with a side order of DIAF.

  2. 2
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    and in Heaven Free Market Jesus and His brother Ronald Regan silently weep.

  3. 3
    dopey-o says:

    ok, fine for him, but is the new pope a mac fanboy? he spouts a lot of the same liebrul claptrap.

  4. 4
    Fred says:

    Mr. Cook’s response only makes sense if he lives on planet Earth with the rest of us peons. He sounds like just the kind of guy I want on my space ship. I wish those NCPPR characters would build their own space ship so they wouldn’t be burdened with the rest of us.

  5. 5
    ruemara says:

    Dang! Proud to be an Apple customer on this occasion.

    I’ve been in a magic world, where they had no internets. Is it still 2014?

  6. 6
    Lil Lebowski says:

    For anyone unaware, and this isn’t to excuse anything else they do as a company, but Apple really does have excellent accessibility features for the blind. I’ve seen them in action; with no additional software or tweaking an apple device is ready to be used by someone blind or nearly so in ways that are really quite incredible. After I learned this it really did make me wish more tech companies were as committed.

  7. 7
    azlib says:

    Good for TIm Cook, but we really do not want to leave it up to the corporations to decide what is right and what is wrong.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    @azlib: Yeah, we let the Pope decide stuff like that.

  9. 9
    eric says:

    what is good is also what is good for the company bottom line. Apple is a “sensibility” as well as a product and they sell the sensibility to consumers. The immediate few responses here show how doing good is good for value. You just meed a longer time horizon,

  10. 10
    aimai says:

    @MattF: I have to agree with this. Its not “leaving it to corporations” to decide what is right and wrong–it is demanding that everyone, regardless of their corporate position or their supposed fiduciary duties, still operate according to a moral compass and not merely to pad the bottom line.

  11. 11
    eric says:

    @azlib: true, but I think when the history of gay civil rights is written, Disney’s eff you to the christianist will show as a seminal moment.

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    @aimai: I’m not really disagreeing. Just suggesting that appealing to authority isn’t quite the right argument here.

  13. 13
    Cermet says:

    Last I checked, Amerikan corp law requires that the ONLY moral, ethic, legal, you name it requirement that any corporate entity has to its share holders is fucking profit – what needs to change is that law. Saying that corporation’s should not decide morality is already on the books. The issue is we are fucked since that is exactly what corporations are not permitted to do – place any other consideration before share holder profit!

  14. 14
    feebog says:

    It really is nice to see some hard push back on these assholes. Unfortunately, for every Tim Cook, there is a David Koch out there.

  15. 15
    eric says:

    @Cermet: that is a misstatement of the law and one that drives much of corporate america. There is a fundamental difference between saying profit and saying shareholder value. Apple stock is not simply defined by quarterly profit. Apple’s income stream is driven in large part by the “goodwill” associated with its name, which is directly related to is non-monetary positions. A sound long term corporate strategy can add more shareholder value than a good quarter.

  16. 16
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    @Cermet:

    The issue is we are fucked since that is exactly what corporations are not permitted to do – place any other consideration before share holder profit!

    American corporate law compels no such thing. Otherwise, Cook’s about to get busted.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cermet:

    Last I checked, Amerikan corp law requires that the ONLY moral, ethic, legal, you name it requirement that any corporate entity has to its share holders is fucking profit – what needs to change is that law.

    There is no law that says that. There is a corporate culture that says that. And again, what’s up with the ‘K”?

  18. 18
    WereBear says:

    How awesomely sensible. This is how ya make fanbois and fangirls.

  19. 19

    @aimai:
    It is a great and fine thing when a major corporation breaks from the pack and shows general decency and sanity in their policies. It should not be left up to them to decide, just like we can’t give up the safety net and rely on charity. The corporate world in general needs to behave responsibly, and only laws and government regulation can make that happen. (As always, that means vote Democrat and kick out the Party of Spite who have drawn a line in the sand and declared ‘No more compassion.’)

  20. 20
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cermet: Actually, I think you’ll find that there are two considerations: profit, and the religious imperative to deny employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

    (Seriously, there are some gray areas here. Demanding that corporations have ethical considerations beyond profit is a fine thing, but it does mean that you’ll also get things like companies run by right-wing Christianists insisting that they then have the right to make impositions on the morals of their employees, or that their corporate morals trump anti-discrimination laws.)

  21. 21
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …as for Tim Cook, I suspect you might get a different result if you ask him about labor relations. Baby steps, I suppose.

  22. 22
    Scott S. says:

    Now the wingnuts will have to boycott Apple. And I assume they’re already boycotting Microsoft because they favor gay rights.

    Maybe all Republicans will stop using computers. That’d make the blogosphere much more pleasant…

  23. 23
    divF says:

    @Matt McIrvin:
    The two situations you describe here are totally different. Apple is doing something that is legal, but not compulsory. Businesses are not permitted to perform illegal actions based on “religious freedom”.

  24. 24
    Mandalay says:

    Unfortunately, for every Tim Cook, there is a David Koch out there.

    NCPPR’s income is derived from begging for donations. It would be interesting to see the extent to which the climate change denial agenda pushed by NCPPR was funded by the Koch brothers, and fossil fuel corporations such as Exxon.

    But I doubt that NCPPR would be very forthcoming about that.

  25. 25
    scav says:

    @Scott S.: As NFL and other major sports are increasingly out of their picture post AZ, there’s going to be a lot of Hobby Lobby craftwork and not much else. Paula Deen cooking events? What else is licit and pure?

  26. 26
    Citizen_X says:

    Why don’t these “shareholder activists” go after problems that are endemic to American corporations–namely, how boards of directors have been captured by CEOs, and keep raising CEO pay farther and farther into the stratosphere, regardless of performance?

  27. 27
    Alex S. says:

    Gays just can’t do capitalism.

  28. 28
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @eric: I even have my doubts about the utility of the “corporation as sociopathic profit-maximizing organism” explanation; a lot of obnoxious corporate behavior isn’t even rationally explainable from that perspective. When a board of directors pays the CEO of a failing Fortune 500 company a king’s ransom for presiding over massive losses while screwing the low-level employees, it’s hard to see that as the action of an inhuman profit-maximizer; it’s more a bunch of rich guys scratching the back of another rich guy who’s basically in the same club.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    Who cares what the “National Center for Public Policy Research” thinks?

    Buncha wankers. I see them standing on a beach, denying the approaching tsunami.

    On the positive side, they don’t like David Gregory much either. Although they also find Marsha Blackburn a more credible expert than Bill Nye. Make of that what you will.

    NCPPR blogpost: Shocker: NBC Debate Featuring Man who plays a Scientist on TV Crashes and Burns.

    Not linking; easy to find if you’re so inclined.

  30. 30
    Mandalay says:

    @Citizen_X:

    Why don’t these “shareholder activists” go after problems that are endemic to American corporations–namely, how boards of directors have been captured by CEOs, and keep raising CEO pay farther and farther into the stratosphere, regardless of performance?

    They do, constantly. But the deck is so stacked in favor of those running corporations that their efforts are largely unsuccessful.

    The situation is now along the lines you suggest in Britain, but pigs will fly before this happens here:

    New rules have come into effect forcing listed firms to give shareholders a binding vote on directors’ pay.

    A firm’s remuneration policy will now require the approval of more than 50% of shareholders for a policy to pass.

    Business Secretary Vince Cable introduced the shift to make a “clearer link between pay and performance”.

    The move came after investor anger over rising boardroom salaries at a time of falling share prices.

    Firms will also need to publish a simple figure every year showing how much executives have been paid.

    They must also publish exit payments – saying how much directors will be paid if they are sacked or resign.

    Companies must then stick to their pay plans for the next three years or have another shareholder vote.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Tim Cook puts up a big sign at Apple:

    “Ferengi-Packled hybrids not wanted here. Go away.”

  32. 32
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Scott S.: At one time there seemed to be a stupid tribal distinction developing with Windows as the “conservative” personal computer OS and Mac OS as the “liberal” one (maybe more accurately the limousine-liberal one). And, of course, Linux neatly slotted itself in as the libertarian flavor, despite the curious lack of profit motive. Republican Windows users would write cackling essays about Apple’s troubles that had this strange political edge.

    IIRC, Rush Limbaugh was an enthusiastic Mac user and the incongruity greatly disturbed people.

    The rise of smartphone/tablet OSes as major players shook everything up…

  33. 33
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    The rise of smartphone/tablet OSes as major players shook everything up.

    Yeah, it has really upset the previously existing paradigm. These kids nowadays, with there flash drives that make my original 20mb hard drive look like postage stamp.

  34. 34
    patrick II says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Dodge v. Ford Motor Company[1] is a case in which the Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford owed a duty to the shareholders of the Ford Motor Company to operate his business to profit his shareholders, rather than the community as a whole or employees. It is often cited as embodying the principle of “shareholder value” in companies.
    For a more recent case, see AP Smith Manufacturing Co v. Barlow 39 ALR 2d 1179 (1953) or Shlensky v. Wrigley, 237 N.E. 2d. 776 (Ill. App. 1968). .[2] It has not been overruled.[3]

    That is a pretty thin line.

  35. 35
    Cassidy says:

    @Cermet: You must have checked…. Well never.

  36. 36
    Baud says:

    Newsmax ads now appearing on bottom of mobile site. They’re like a virus.

  37. 37
    srv says:

    Owning Apple products makes me a better person. I can’t understand people who buy products engineered by that NSA-front Google.

  38. 38
    NonyNony says:

    @Cermet:

    Last I checked, Amerikan corp law requires that the ONLY moral, ethic, legal, you name it requirement that any corporate entity has to its share holders is fucking profit – what needs to change is that law.

    This is actually untrue. I always thought so as well, but that’s because many corporations have a vested interest in getting us to believe it so that they can shrug and say “whatareyougonnado” when their malfeasance is pointed out to the world.

    See here for a useful corrective to the notion. Widespread belief that this is US law causes people to give up instead of holding corporations accountable.

    It’s nice to see that Tim Cook is a CEO who actually understands that his fiduciary responsibility is to the company as a whole and it’s long term success, and not to the immediate ROI that would boost “shareholder value” for people looking to sell out their goddamn shares. It has long been a perplexing thing to me that corporations would be interested in maximizing the value for people looking to disassociate themselves from the company (by selling their interest). Taking stupid short-term decisions to boost short term stock value is actually something that companies should be sued for by their long term investors, instead of worrying that the shortimers looking to flip the stock to make a buck are going to sue them over their decisions.

  39. 39
    Fuzzy says:

    I want a public debate. Tim Cook vs David Koch with a FOX moderator and a live audience with firearms permitted. Yahooo

  40. 40
    scav says:

    @srv: Yeah, chewing on holy wafers will get you into heaven. Will a single pure-profit-maximizing statement by Tim likewise damn you for all eternity? At some point, even pragmatic masters of the universe must get tired of yappy little small-time agitators trying to order them about and restrict their operational decisions in very public fora.

  41. 41
    JDM says:

    Check out the funding section in Sourcewatch’s entry on NCPPR. The usual suspects.

  42. 42
    NonyNony says:

    @srv:

    Owning Apple products makes me a better person. I can’t understand people who buy products engineered by that NSA-front Google.

    My giant megacorp can beat up your giant megacorp.

    Also your megacorp wears combat boots.

    And your megacorp is so fat that when it files its taxes it REALLY files its taxes.

  43. 43
    Citizen_X says:

    @Mandalay:

    They do, constantly.

    Oh, I know, but I was wondering about this NCPPR organization in particular. If they’re “free market activists,” I kind of doubt it. (I interpret that phrase as “suck ups to the rich.”)

  44. 44
    NonyNony says:

    @patrick II:

    That is a pretty thin line.

    Note that when that decision was written, “shareholder value” mostly meant “paying dividends to long term investors in your corporation”.

    It did not mean “pumping up the value of the stock so that a shorttimer can sell blocks of stock quickly to make a fast profit”.

  45. 45
    Mandalay says:

    @NonyNony:

    It’s nice to see that Tim Cook is a CEO who actually understands that his fiduciary responsibility is to the company as a whole and it’s long term success, and not to the immediate ROI that would boost “shareholder value” for people looking to sell out their goddamn shares.

    Cook explicitly raised that very point at the AGM:

    And he warned shareholders not to focus too narrowly on short-term gains. “If you’re in Apple for only a week … or two months, I would encourage you not to invest in Apple,” he said.

  46. 46
    The Other Chuck says:

    @NonyNony:

    It did not mean “pumping up the value of the stock so that a shorttimer can sell blocks of stock quickly to make a fast profit”.

    It does if your company is in a weak enough position to let Carl Icahn buy up enough of the stock. Apple can easily tell vultures like him to FOAD, but others aren’t so fortunate.

  47. 47
    Anoniminous says:

    @Citizen_X:

    I interpret “free market activists” as “people supporting putting melamine in children’s milk.”

    I concede it’s a bit wordy.

  48. 48
    Anoniminous says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    Icahn is an “investor” in the same way the Dutch East India Company was a “transportation company.”

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anoniminous:

    But accurate.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anoniminous:

    And pretty much the way the O’Haras were just “simple country farmers”.

  51. 51
    patrick II says:

    @NonyNony:

    I read your linked article and it asserts a world in which the court cases I cited never existed. I am not saying that the law as currently decided justifies current corporate behavior, but it certainly rationalizes it for those who lean that way anyhow. And as you are aware there is not only a sizable corporate culture but a economic and philosophical one of laissez faire economy that believes that selfish individual (and corporate) actions that lead to profit are, by the natural order of the universe, also lead to the common good.

    I ain’t sayin its right — but it is out there.

  52. 52
    Tommy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: That has been true for a long, long time. And part of it is based in the early history of Apple. I worked at ad agencies. Not a single “creative” person had a Windows machine on their desk. The same could be said for of lot of other “creative” businesses. That was just who, to a large extent, out of education used them.

    Heck it wasn’t that long ago (OK more than 15+ years) it was almost hard to send files to a printer that would take any output other then from a Mac. Just the way it was.

    IMHO (as an ad guy) Apple knows this and they have never tried (even through a Windows machine and Mac are really no different from a “creative” app process these days) to move their advertising away from you are “different” (recall the “Be Different” campaign) and you are “creative” if you use a Mac. You might only use it to post here, write a letter, do your taxes, and surf the Web, nothing that “creative,” but they want you to feel that way.

    That is the way us ad folks sell you shit :).

  53. 53
    Tommy says:

    @Mandalay: Long term is right. Can’t recall his name, but one of the first three “big” shareholders of Apple (individuals, not investment bank) along with Woz and Jobs sold all his shares back a year or so after they went public to each of them. Again I can’t recall his name or what his stock would be worth today, but read it would easily make him one of the 50 richest people in the world.

  54. 54
    eric says:

    @patrick II: the real debate is over the better meaning for “shareholder value,” while the so-called “business judgment rule” will shield almost all decisions in favor or short term profit or long term value. It is up to the corporation to position itself in the market to justify and maximize its strategic position. That is exactly what apple does.

  55. 55
    Eric U. says:

    There was one quarter where Dick Cheney’s salary at Halliburton was equal to the corporate profit — which was overstated and actually non-existant. That was the point when I wondered why any of us buy stocks. Makes me wonder how many of these companies actually borrow money to pay salaries — of course that’s how Mitt Romney made all of his money. It used to make sense to own stocks back when the corps paid dividends, but now we are just gambling on the price going up, which makes little to no sense.

  56. 56
    Calouste says:

    @eric:

    Yeah, for a company with a brand like Apple, not being seen as assholes has a pretty decent ROI.

    Of course these “free market conservatives” from that think tank just showed that for them, it is about being an asshole, and the ROI is secondary. They just don’t get the concept of “respect”. Fear is the only thing they understand.

  57. 57
    Linnaeus says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    When a board of directors pays the CEO of a failing Fortune 500 company a king’s ransom for presiding over massive losses while screwing the low-level employees, it’s hard to see that as the action of an inhuman profit-maximizer; it’s more a bunch of rich guys scratching the back of another rich guy who’s basically in the same club.

    Yep. Class consciousness.

  58. 58
    hoodie says:

    @Cermet: That’s a ridiculous oversimplification of corporate law, one that you apparently share with NCPPR. Corporate officers have fiduciary duties to shareholders, but those duties are broadly defined and give tremendous discretion to the officers because most of what they do is considered business judgment, with shareholders being protected by the ability of shareholders to remove officers for failures in business judgment or to sell their stock if that remedy is not shared by their fellow shareholders. Really, the biggest fiduciary duty of corporate officers (beyond not stealing or committing other criminal acts) in a publicly held corp is transparency, and the companion article talks about how NCPPR could have made their proposal simply a request for additional disclosure, but instead insisted on riding their particular right-wing hobbyhorse to failure because they really don’t give a shit about transparency. I wouldn’t object to more transparency, if just to shed light as to whether Apple is living up to its image as a socially conscious organization. Libertarians and their assorted fellow travelers are so clueless about their emotional attachments.

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste:

    As far as these dipshits are concerned, if you’re not being as assholish as Gordon Gekko, you’re a communist.

  60. 60
    eric says:

    @Matt McIrvin: this is one of the off shoots of the business judgment rule that allows such asshattery in the name of maintaining “quality” corporate management. What you need are shareholders like CALPERS to go after these, but even still it would be tough. That is why you need to set management compensation by statute to trump the common law rule.

  61. 61
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Tommy: Yeah, Macs’ historic user base for a long time was in the creative professions, whereas Windows boxes were what you bought for general office automation, and the cultural and political associations went with that.

    There’s been one change in the past decade, as fallout from Apple’s early-2000s move to a BSD Un*x-based platform. Hardcore hacker types generally had nothing but disdain for Macs (and some are still that way), but in recent years I’ve actually seen a move to software developers using MacBook Pros as their standard development machines, even if they’re not developing for Apple operating systems. While Mac OS isn’t necessarily the best platform for general software development, it’s an OK one. I suspect it’s seen as a good compromise between the developers who want a Linux-like system, and the IT department who want a commercial distro tailored to a machine they can easily buy off the shelf and administer, which also has its very own version of Microsoft Office with Outlook.

  62. 62
    JGabriel says:

    Calouste:

    Yeah, for a company with a brand like Apple, not being seen as assholes has a pretty decent ROI.

    I honestly believe that if a bank or phone company used the slogan, “Bank/Phone with us. We’re not assholes,” and lived up to it … they’d have monopoly within a decade.

    It never ceases to amaze me how so many industries in this country are dominated by corporate assholes. The theory that pure capitalism leads to good service is a fucking joke.

  63. 63
    Tommy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: LOL. Yeah, folks seem to forget that about two years ago Wired was writing stories (which later got picked up my Chris Hayes on his morning MSNBC show — and then everywhere) about how terrible the work conditions were at the Foxconn factory in China (where iPad and iPhones are made). They talked about how the factory had to put up netting around the higher buildings cause so many employees were killing themselves by jumping off of them.

    Look I am not hating on Apple. But I have about 7-10 books on Apple and they are a totally ruthless corporate entity. Sure they make GREAT products and do far more good them most corporations, but if you were competing against them and you thought them some “hippie liberal” corporate “do good entity” you’d get destroyed and they’d dance around your rotting corpse :).

  64. 64
    Gindy51 says:

    @eric: Sadly so many corporations ARE run by whatever the quarterly or yearly bottom line profit is. The main industry in my town fires hundreds based on the bottom line and whatever acquisitions they need to offset. People who buy homes in the area, are raising families, and contributing to the tax base are tossed out on their ears to balance out what the over paid CEO et al bought the year before.
    They could care less about the peons under them and wield the axes like a bunch of money crazed Vikings on a raid. Then they hire more people, for less money than the ones they axed, who repeat the cycle (buy homes, have kids, etc.) Every so often the axing does not work and the current CEO is booted (with golden parachute intact) and they bring in some other moron who starts the whole thing over again. How they stay in business when they treat people like shit is beyond me. I guess hospital corporations just need hospital equipment (over priced and under serviced).

  65. 65
    gene108 says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    It does if your company is in a weak enough position to let Carl Icahn buy up enough of the stock.

    One of the less well publicized effects of the Reagan administration was giving the green light to corporate raiders. That really changed the way corporations behaved, because if they weren’t maximizing their EPS, someone was going to gobble them up and tear them apart to recoup the investment.

    From what I’ve read about the era, Wall Street was surprised the government was letting go ahead with that sort of thing, because it never would have before.

    Now the genie’s out of the bag, it isn’t going back in.

  66. 66
    Tommy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Oh I agree. When that changed happened the head tech guy at my firm, that had never said a nice thing about a Mac, got one (for testing only at first) and fell in love with it.

    Heck I follow a few “geek” sites like this, Set Up, where they interview top programmers, creative folks, film makers, video game programmers, and ask them about their “set up.”* Or the hardware and software they use. I’d say 90% of them use The MacBook Pro.

    *if you spend the rest of this afternoon read the “set ups” I am sorry :).

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I know from personal experience with my serious geek friends that the move to a BSD-based OS turned a lot of geeks into Apple fanatics. Mainly because Apple went with “what works” as opposed to “what kluges” which is what Windoze basically is.

    UNIX geeks migrated in droves, and they are reliable Apple evangelists now. Another coup by Jobs.

  68. 68
    MikeJ says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    There’s been one change in the past decade, as fallout from Apple’s early-2000s move to a BSD Un*x-based platform. Hardcore hacker types generally had nothing but disdain for Macs (and some are still that way),

    Until the move to unix macs were utter crap[1]. Now the only part I don’t like is the UI, and if forced to use one I can mostly avoid it.

  69. 69
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …and the other thing that might be shaking things up in the software-development world is virtualization: it may not even matter much which brand of computer you buy, if the dev box you actually build things on is a virtual Linux machine running in a digital sandbox on that computer that you can call into being and destroy at will in a matter of seconds.

  70. 70
    Tommy says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Oh one last thing. I was a Mac user at home (always a PC at work) from 1987 until a few years ago when I did what I call the reverse switch. I did it for several reasons, cost being #1. I make a good living, but I like to think I have money in the bank and no debit cause I don’t spend money (ok on coffee, books, and food I do) I don’t have to. From my left to right now I have a Nexus 7 tablet, Samsung Galaxy phone, a gaming quality desktop, and my new (got it Friday) HP Chromebook.

    Would I like all that to be Apple? You bet? But the cost would just be too much I could spend on software or services (like wireless, a project management system, to do list, billing, you name it).

    Long winded way to get to your point, I am so happy Apple went away from the Motorola chip. I know it worked for them for a long, long time, but their move away happened at the exact time they saw rocket growth on the desktop and laptop side of things.

  71. 71
    ruemara says:

    @Tommy: *shakes fist*

  72. 72
    Tommy says:

    @MikeJ: Funny. As I said in another comment I was a Apple user from 1987 until a few years ago. Now on Windows. I didn’t like their UI and found way to mimick the Apple UI. Heck I had a advance tech out from my cable company a year or so ago and he asked how I was running Mac OS on my Dell. I said I wasn’t, just found away with things like Rocketdock and Rainmeter to give me the say look and features.

  73. 73
    NonyNony says:

    @patrick II:

    I am not saying that the law as currently decided justifies current corporate behavior, but it certainly rationalizes it for those who lean that way anyhow.

    Sure – I think that’s actually the point. The law as written and as decided in court cases says that the guys who run the company have a fiduciary responsibility to the investors in that company and must prioritize that over the good of the community and the good of the employees themselves. But it doesn’t say that they have to be ruthless assholes who do nothing but look out for ways to pump up the short term value of a stock to sell out. That’s just assholes using “the law” as cover for their assholishness and to try to deflect bad publicity off onto a “our hands are tied, we can’t do anything about it” framework.

    I strongly suspect that Cook is right here and that if these jackasses tried to take Apple to court over their priorities, they would get crushed. And most companies the size of Apple are in the same boat – if they choose to prioritize long term stability and interests of the company over short term stock price, that isn’t the same as “not prioritizing your investors’ interests”. We have this warped and twisted view of what “shareholder responsibility” is because administrations and Congresses since Nixon have all worked to transform the Stock Market into a lottery, and we’ve equated “shareholder value” with “winning the lottery”. That isn’t how shareholder value worked in those older cases, and I suspect that Apple’s lawyers would be good enough to point this out in the proper lawyerly fashion.

    TL;DR: Assholes will use whatever they want to justify being assholes. That doesn’t make them correct. It just makes them assholes.

  74. 74
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: There was a lot of grumbling around the time of the transition from old-school Mac fans who were upset that they dropped a bunch of things that were fairly unique about the pre-OS X system, particularly the filesystem and many details of the Human Interface Guidelines. Similar grumbling happened whenever Apple switched to technologies that were prevailing in the Windows PC world: SCSI to IDE, FireWire to USB2, and of course going from PowerPC to Intel.

    The transition was kind of peculiar. During the Sculley era, Macs were technically eccentric in many ways but looked like ordinary beige boxes, and Mac fans were all about celebrating the technical eccentricities. These days, a Mac is basically an upscale Intel PC that ships with an only slightly unusual Unix-like operating system, but the pretty case designs stand out.

    As someone who heard NeXT’s pitch in the early 1990s, I also find it amusing that in a software sense the iPhone is a direct descendant of the NeXT Cube.

  75. 75
    Calouste says:

    @JGabriel:

    Not a monopoly. 27% will keep banking with RipUOff Bank because not being an asshole is commie.

  76. 76
    scav says:

    @Matt McIrvin: et al. Almost enough to make you believe in computers’ behavior being malleable based on programming (including social) or something. Weird that. Slightly universal even?

  77. 77
    Mandalay says:

    @JGabriel:

    I honestly believe that if a bank or phone company used the slogan, “Bank/Phone with us. We’re not assholes,” and lived up to it … they’d have monopoly within a decade.

    Somewhat like that partner of the NSA and the Chinese government?…

    Don’t be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served—as shareholders and in all other ways—by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.

  78. 78
    🎂 Martin says:

    What’s particularly rich about this is that I guarantee the decision wasn’t about climate change. Apple has more cash than anyone. Solar is all up-front costs, and long term has the lowest cost for power. Apple has the ability to guarantee what their long-term energy costs will be by becoming their own power company. They don’t have to rely on what decisions Duke will make, what happens when the price of coal, oil, etc. change. Apple will know exactly what the price per kilowatt will be 10 years from now.

    That’s the point of Apple’s cash – they don’t have to rely on banks to finance their stuff. If one of their suppliers needs a factory, Apple provides the cash and the supplier pays off the loan when Apple buys the components. Apple gets guaranteed supply. Apple is ALL about being in control. Controlling their power source is new for them, but it’s a great use for the cash. So short term it’s arguable, but long-term its a great move for investors. As usual, the conservatives have it completely backward.

  79. 79
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Tommy: My household is all mixed up: I’ve used mostly Macs for many years, but I’ve become fairly loyal to the Android/Google ecosystem for mobile; whereas my wife uses Windows PCs and goes all Apple for phones and tablets.

  80. 80
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Calouste:

    Sad, but true. These people refuse to buy into the ACA because the ni*CLANG* was involved.

  81. 81
    Suzanne says:

    We are an Apple house in our personal/educational lives, but both Mr. Suzanne and I have to use Windows at work. When I worked in graphic design, it was the Apple show due to the font licensing issue, but the Autodesk (AutoCAD and Revit, among others) software platform was never released for Apple, so the vast majority of the American AEC industry uses Windows. This always struck me as a huge oversight on Apple’s part. It would really have strengthened their creative market share if the country’s buildings, highways, landscape, etc. were designed on Apple machines.

  82. 82
    danielx says:

    Oooh, being publicly dissed by Tim Cook surely did sting. The press release from NCPPR following this now (in)famous confrontation amounts to 1200 words of severe, I say again SEVERE, and earnest butthurt.

    Shorter: Tim Cook was mean to us and doesn’t have an altar to Ayn Rand in his office! Woe is us!

    The stupid, it burns.

  83. 83
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @danielx:

    NCPPR HQ is another prime target for the righteous orbital mass driver to be let loose on.

  84. 84
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: it’s because they know, just know, that “Obamacare” and “welfare” are one and the same. They don’t need it, or if they do, it’s just temporary, not a lifestyle, not like Those People with their culture of dependency and so forth.

  85. 85
    Cervantes says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    …as for Tim Cook, I suspect you might get a different result if you ask him about labor relations. Baby steps, I suppose.

    Maybe:

    CUPERTINO, California—February 13, 2012—Apple® today announced that the Fair Labor Association will conduct special voluntary audits of Apple’s final assembly suppliers, including Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, at Apple’s request. A team of labor rights experts led by FLA president Auret van Heerden began the first inspections Monday morning at the facility in Shenzhen known as Foxconn City.

    “We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”

    That was two years ago. (It’s a press-release. Act accordingly!)

  86. 86
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Tommy: Before the rise of hacker MacBooks, there was an era in which a lot of companies moved to mid-range Wintel laptops running some Linux distro, usually Red Hat. Giving the developers portable machines had a lot of advantages, and it was probably cheaper up front than going Apple; but there was the problem that laptops, especially recent ones, are probably the hardest computers to get decent device support for in Linux, so the developers spent a lot of time just poking around trying to get drivers and installing God knows what to get things to work.

    Moving to the MacBooks helped with that. There’s the problem that the Unix package-manager environment for Macs isn’t quite as well-developed as it is on Linux, but things are getting better there.

  87. 87
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay: I’m starting to understand why Jobs picked Cook, in spite of the fact that Job’s saw him as “not a product guy.”

    In the purple language of Jobs-speak, he said he was interested in doing two things with his life: making “insanely great” products and building a lasting company. The second endeavor gets entirely overlooked. After his return he worked the project of rebuilding Apple the same way he worked on new products: fanatically and with an
    iconoclast’s attitude. I don’t know what Apple’s future holds, but it does seem like the culture there is keeping to the flame in some ways.

  88. 88
    Mandalay says:

    @danielx:

    Oooh, being publicly dissed by Tim Cook surely did sting.

    Cook’s response was indeed masterful – almost too masterful.

    Cook was surely aware in advance that NCPPR might raise this issue, and he was surely also aware that NCPPR had gone after GE’s supposed conflicts of interest with some success.

    So all this stuff about Cook becoming angry, and his body language changing, might just be a testament to his acting ability and excellent preparation. And he may have rehearsed his impromptu one liner “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI” many times before the AGM.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Use the NCPPR as a floor mop by any means necessary.

  89. 89
    Jewish Steel says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    And again, what’s up with the ‘K”?

    I always thought it was ameriKKKa.

  90. 90
    Anoniminous says:

    O/T:

    How truly wonderful:

    Unconfirmed reports that #Poland is moving military units to border with #Ukraine. #Crimea

    [Emphasis added]

    Also:

    The Lithuanian and Polish presidents are calling for NATO consultations under Article 4 of the alliance’s founding treaty because Russia’s actions threaten the security of the entire region, the Lithuanian president’s office said on Sunday, BNS reported.

    [Lithuanian President] Grybauskaite underlined that the territorial integrity of Ukraine is an essential condition for international security.

    Article 4: The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

    ETA: This

  91. 91

    @eric: THIS THIS THIS. Our fucking downfall is treating the quarterly profit & loss statement as the be-all end-all guide for corporate behavior. Spreadsheet mentality is horribly destructive to long-term gains and goals, as it gives incentive to burning down your house to keep warm during the winter.

    Bully for you Tim Cook, and well said. Doesn’t hurt at all to let a little humanity slip into a shareholder meeting, particularly when faced with crackpots.

  92. 92
    The Other Chuck says:

    I’m one of those engineers who’s become a mac convert. It’s definitely not perfect: it never matches what you have on your servers (because no one runs the bad joke that is OSX Server), HFS+ is a craptastic slow filesystem, process overhead is high, X apps can be flakey, there’s weird problems with framework/non-framework builds of things, so on and so forth.

    But the hardware is fantastic and always perfectly supported, and those tasks that do require talking to a Windows environment (Outlook) run perfectly.

    Ironically the thing I miss the most from my former desktop (Fedora KDE) is KDE’s exposé feature, which is actually superior to Apple’s own implementation and certainly Mission Control.

  93. 93
    Cervantes says:

    @Citizen_X:

    Why don’t these “shareholder activists” go after problems that are endemic to American corporations–namely, how boards of directors have been captured by CEOs, and keep raising CEO pay farther and farther into the stratosphere, regardless of performance?

    But they do:

    We study a sample of 134 vote-no campaigns and 1,198 non-binding shareholder proposals related to executive pay between 1997 and 2007. […] Activists target firms with high CEO pay, whether excessive or not, while voting support is higher in firms with excess CEO pay. Proposals that try to micromanage level or structure of CEO pay receive little or no voting support. Instead, shareholders favor proposals related to the pay setting process (e.g., subject certain compensation items to shareholder approval). These proposals are also more likely to be implemented. Firms with excess CEO pay targeted by vote-no campaigns experience a $7.3 million reduction in total CEO pay. […]

    Part of the abstract from “Shareholder Activism and CEO Pay,” Yonca Ertimur, Volkan Muslu, and Fabrizio Ferri, Review of Financial Studies, Vol. 24 No. 2 (2011), pp. 535-592.

  94. 94
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mandalay: Or it might be that he was prepared and did rehearse but his genuine anger got to him in the moment nonetheless.

    So many mights are possible.

  95. 95
    Pogonip says:

    @Tommy: I was going to say I was reserving judgement until we heard from a Foxconn employee. You beat me to it.

  96. 96
    meander says:

    The proposed new Apple headquarters is hardly a green design overall — being a giant torus that is disconnected from the city of Cupertino and will have 11,000 parking spaces (see commentary at Treehugger, for example) — and seems like something out of the 1950s or 1960s, not a forward-looking design that takes climate change into account.

  97. 97

    @Tommy:

    *if you spend the rest of this afternoon read the “set ups” I am sorry :).

    Yes I did, and no, you’re not. ;)

    To be fair, I sent it to a bunch of other people just to spread the love.

  98. 98
    Cervantes says:

    @meander: The same author at Treehugger looks at the big picture here. Commuting is an issue, yes, but there are also things to encourage (if not praise).

  99. 99
    Mandalay says:

    @Tommy:

    I’d say 90% of them use The MacBook Pro.

    Sure they do. Most of them are also probably somewhere between financially comfortable and very rich.

    Why not also ask them all what car they drive? I expect that there will be plenty with an Audi, Mercedes, Lexus or BMW, and not too many with an Oldsmobile Cutlass or a Toyota Corolla. What would we conclude from that? That a BMW is better than a Corolla? Or that if you ask rich people about what they own it turns out that they buy the most expensive stuff? Who knew?

  100. 100
    Baud says:

    Where have all the cowboys front pagers gone?

  101. 101
    Tommy says:

    @BruceFromOhio: Pretty cool shit isn’t it. I see another comment, left here I want to address, then will come back to this/you :).

  102. 102
    Tommy says:

    @Mandalay: LOL. I drive a 2001 V6 VW Passat, Has 35,000 miles on it. Garaged. I get your point. I paid at the time I thought a ton for that car, and I baby it. Or those folks have a lot of money. Maybe you and I don’t. We can’t buy the “new” this or that ever week. Why I mentioned my car. It rocks. Took care of it. No need for a new VW (or Audio which I’d like).

    I noted in another comment I have on my desk (one my father and I built, it is huge and spans a corner) a Nexus 7 Tablet, Samsung Galaxy phone, gaming quality laptop, and a HP Chromebook (just bought Friday).

    I don’t have the number in front of me. But when I went from being the VP of Marketing for a tech company and working for myself I went to look for a computer. I put the specs in. 2007. I could get a PC for HALF the price of the Mac. I wanted the Mac, but alas I couldn’t afford it.

    I might be able to afford some Mac products, but alas why mix and match? I got Windows. I got Andriod. Not always happy. But they all work together.

  103. 103
    Tommy says:

    @BruceFromOhio: I love me a conversation about a person’s set-up. How they work. What they use. How they use it.

    Yesterday, I kid you not, I spent 14 hours reworking my entire home office.

  104. 104
    MikeJ says:

    @meander:

    being a giant torus that is disconnected from the city of Cupertino and will have 11,000 parking spaces

    If they try to run buses for employees people will complain about that too.

  105. 105
    Mandalay says:

    @Tommy: Actually the most surprising thing about your link to me was how few of them owned Linux, Mac and Windows apart from the security folks.

  106. 106
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Baud: bye bye mon cowboy

  107. 107
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Baud: bye bye mon cowboy

  108. 108
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Tommy: I spent my big bucks on displays figuring I could always add extra horsepower to the desktop machines I run if I needed it but there’s no way spending a little extra cash would stretch the screen in front of me or improve its gamut. That means I’ve got more than a thousand bucks of displays on my desk (a 27″ Dell IPS 2560×1440 and another 24″ Dell IPS 1920×1200 in portrait) being driven by a rather basic Win 8 desktop (AMD dual core, SSD boot drive plus 3TB data drive, junkbox video card, surplus memory) that cost me less than 400 bucks to build. My eyeballs thank me for the decision.

  109. 109
    joel hanes says:

    I love me a conversation about a person’s set-up.

    If you have room, go for one or two six-foot twelve-outlet plugstrips behind each of your electronics benches. Simplifies the cable web no end, and thus reduces swearing when it’s time to crawl under the desk.

  110. 110
    🎂 Martin says:

    @Mandalay:

    Sure they do. Most of them are also probably somewhere between financially comfortable and very rich.

    A MacBook Pro has a safe lifespan of about 3 years. That means it costs about $1.50 a day to own, and at the end of 3 years you could resell it for ⅓ of what you paid, knocking that down to $1 a day. Unless you want redefine ‘wealthy’ as people that can afford a cup of coffee every day, then you need to rethink the value of things – particularly tools for work. $1.50/day is cheaper than what almost any profession invests in their tools.

  111. 111
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Mandalay: I can’t speak for the video (haven’t watched it), but the shift I’ve seen has more to do with corporate purchasing practices than what people buy for themselves. They’re spending more on the Macs, but they may think paying the premium is worthwhile just because it’s easier for the IT department to deal with the Macs than to service and administer boxes made for Windows that have had Linux installed on them instead.

    (And 15 years ago they’d have been using Solaris or IRIX workstations instead. Talk about overpriced! I remember how amazing it was at the job I had back then when we had a sort of office insurgency that resulted in most code development moving over from SPARCstations to consumer tower PCs running Linux. Suddenly everything was both cheaper and way faster and it was possible to buy parts at the local computer store.)

  112. 112
    Mandalay says:

    @🎂 Martin:

    Unless you want redefine ‘wealthy’ as people that can afford a cup of coffee every day, then you need to rethink the value of things

    Your “cup of coffee” argument is so bogus and you know it. People could also buy Ferragamo shoes and Gucci handbags and even Illy coffee, but they don’t. Most buy perfectly fine lower priced alternatives . Hmmmm…wonder why, since they only cost as much as “a cup of coffee every day”? So strange!

    You have enough brains to know better, yet you post this consumerism drivel. You’re the one who sorely needs “to rethink the value of things”.

  113. 113
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Just another group of people whose pictures we add to the database of people who get no help if they’re in a life or death situation, that’s all.

    Oh, yeah-it’s time to end all tax deductions to all PAC’s and religious groups once and for all. Enough of this shit.

  114. 114
    NobodySpecial says:

    @🎂 Martin: …and if you could pay by the day, maybe more people would buy them. Unfortunately, you have to have 100% in hand before you do so, which is why most of America looks at a Mac…and then goes and buys something else.

  115. 115
    Cervantes says:

    @Mandalay:

    People could also buy Ferragamo shoes and Gucci handbags and even Illy coffee, but they don’t. Most buy perfectly fine lower priced alternatives

    Sure — but speaking of “consumerism” … can you explain briefly how you relate it to the purchase of an Apple device? (Thanks.)

  116. 116
    Cervantes says:

    @NobodySpecial:

    Unfortunately, you have to have 100% in hand before you do so

    Not really.

  117. 117
    randy_khan says:

    First, bully for Tim Cook, both for the specific response and for the more general philosophy of not worrying about the next quarter.

    On the Mac v. PC price issue, there have been tons of studies on overall ownership cost, and they generally come out close to the same or favoring Macs. The price of entry for a Mac these days is about $1,000, clearly more than the cost of a Wintel PC, but not a lot more than the price of a *comparable* Wintel PC. If you factor in support costs – and it’s amazing how much free support you can get from Apple, even when you’re not supposed to be getting it – price differences tend to get evened out.

  118. 118
    Free thinker says:

    Who cares about shareholders…bigger issue here is how this tantrum plays with customers??? Been a Mac user family since 1987. Currently,5 home macs,5 iPhones, 2 iPads. After that outburst? Goodbye apple! Been a great run, but who the f are you to tell anyone else what to think! You elitist snobs!

  119. 119
    Malovich says:

    …and now I have a reason to respect Apple. Crap. I’m conflicted.

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