Facts about Foxconn – your move, Apple

As a follow up to the ongoing and groundbreaking series at the New York Times about Apple’s dark side (labor exploitation of Chinese workers at Foxconn), Nightline just aired their own investigation, and courtesy of the Verge here’s the takeaway message in handy factoid form:

Bloody Apple Valentine

  • It takes 141 steps to make an iPhone, and the devices are essentially all handmade
  • It takes five days and 325 hands to make a single iPad
  • Foxconn produces 300k iPad camera modules per day
  • Foxconn workers pay for their own food — about $.70 per meal, and work 12 hour shifts
  • Workers who live in the dorms sleep six to eight a room, and pay $17.50 a month to do so
  • Workers make $1.78 an hour
  • (Foxconn CEO) Louis Woo, when asked if he would accept Apple demanding double pay for employees replied “Why not?”

your move, Apple, indeed. The question is, will consumers also be willing to pay $20 more for their iPads? (If not, will Apple be willing to eat that cost?)

What Would Steve Do?


I think the best way to honor Steve Jobs’ legacy as a visionary is to refuse to be content.

Why was the Mac such a success? Because of user discontent with computers at that time – and the existence of Macs is why Windows 95 was such a revelation to me, and why I love Windows 7. The same applies to music players, to handheld PDAs, to phones, to tablets. I love my Blackberry Bold Touch and I lust after a Kindle Fire, but they wouldn’t be worth lusting after if not for the iPhone and the iPad.

Discontent drives innovation, and stagnation creates opportunity.

I think that Steve Jobs understood this more deeply than many of the users of his devices. He created user experiences from start to finish – but he was always pushing the envelope. The intensity of Apple users’ fandom is testament to the value of those experiences, but it also in a sense created the same stagnation that afflicted the technologies obsoleted by Apple. It was Jobs’ genius that he refused to be content, even though his products created contentment.

Jobs created the iPad out of nothing, but suppose he hadn’t? Apple aficionados would still be happily using iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks. If some other manufacturer had created the tablet, Apple’s users would have dismissed, pointing out the many advantages of their elegant Apple products over such ungainly eyesores. Apple users have always been content with what they were given. Steve Jobs, alone, pushed the envelope, innovating not out of discontent by Apple users but by the discontent of everyone outside Apple’s fold.

That was a mighty burden and a challenge for Jobs, surely – one that I suspect he needed to maintain his creative output. After all, he could have easily milked the supply of loyal Apple fans endlessly without any real innovation at all. But it was his eye on the rest of us, still using Windows and Blackberries and Android, that pushed him onwards. It was our discontent with Windows 95, with our StarTacs, our Handsprings, even our mice and our monitors, that were the inspiration for his innovation and it was the stagnation of Microsoft, Logitech, Motorola, Samsung, etc that gave him the opportunity.

I think that without Steve Jobs, Apple risks that same stagnation. It’s already happened, in a sense, to the MacBook line and the iPod. And that’s ok, because Apple raised the bar, and could easily continue on autopilot on its existing product line and customer loyalty. It would then fall to another company to exploit that stagnation, and keep the engine of innovation moving forward. That’s Steve Jobs’ true legacy.

Are you content with your iPad? I’m not, even though I love it. And I think that there’s already signs that the next round of innovation is upon us. What better way to honor Steve’s legacy than to stay hungry for the next better thing, rather than the next same thing?

wanted: used mac mini for iPhone app development

I’m throwing in the towel on getting my hackintoshed Dell Mini to work. It’s just too hard to get things going on it.

All I want to do is run the development environment, so if anyone out there has a Mac Mini they are looking to closet in favor of the new hotness, please let me know. Much appreciated…

/defeated

UPDATE: It occurs to me that the AppleTV boxes are only $100. Do they run OSX under the hood? Is it posible to hack these to install the development environment?

Apple Cloud of FUD: it just works

What the hell is Techcrunch smoking?

ooooooh! The Cloud! The Truth is in the Cloud!

With iCloud, Apple is transforming the cloud from an almost tangible place that you visit to find your stuff, to a place that only exists in the background. It’s never seen. You never interact with it, your apps do — and you never realize it. It’s magic.

Compare this to Google, the company perhaps most associated with the cloud. Google’s approach has been to make the cloud more accessible to existing PC users. They’re doing this by extending familiar concepts. Google Docs is Microsoft Office, but in the cloud. Your main point of interaction is a file system, but in the cloud. Gmail is Outlook, but in the cloud. Etc.

Meanwhile, another company now largely associated with the cloud, Amazon, has essentially turned it into one giant server/hard drive that anyone can use for a fee. But it takes developers to build something on top of it to give users a product to use. Some are great. But many again just extend the idea of the cloud as a remote hard drive.

While the fundamentals are the same, Apple’s approach to the concept of the cloud is the opposite of their competitors. Apple’s belief is clearly that users will not and should not care how the cloud actually works. When Jobs gave a brief glimpse of their new North Carolina datacenter that is the centerpiece of iCloud, he only noted that it was full of “stuff” — “expensive stuff,” he quipped.

How on earth can Apple’s approach to the cloud be the same and also the opposite? There’s a cloud alright, and it’s being smoked big time.

Someone explain to me how Amazon or Google force the user to care how the cloud actually works? When I read books on the Kindle app, “it just works” on iPad, Blackberry, or iPod – i put one device down, pick up the other, and start reading right where i left off. When I open a document in google docs in one web browser at work, I save my document and go home and open the same document from my PC at home, and “it just works”.

OK, I think Gruber had a better insight in pointing out that for Google, the Cloud is accessed through a browser window, whereas for Apple, it’s accessed through your entire screen. But then again, have we forgotten about AWS? Or App Engine?

whatever. get ready for endless droning on by the MG Sieglers of the world about how the Truth is In the Cloud. ooooooh!

Kindle for the Web

J complains that the Mac version of Kindle is not exactly stable:

The Kindle for Mac application is crap. Not in the sense of “limited functionality and poor UI” (although those are true, too), but in a more serious “corrupts user identity every time it does its (weekly?) auto-update”. I had originally thought the problem was with the version available in the Mac App Store (which, thanks to Apple, is much, much older), but no, the direct download from Amazon does it as well.

I’m guessing that Amazon is starting to wean itself from Apple given that there’s the issue of in-app purchasing hanging over their heads. I’m not really sure if there wll even BE a Kindle version in the App Store in two months, esp if Apple sticks to the June 30th deadline for in-app compliance.

Even if Amazon and Apple divorce, iOS/OSX users will eventually be able to use the web-based version of Kindle though. I haven’t used it yet, it’s still in beta, but it should be available soon. At such point I would expect Amazon to dump a lot of dev resources into the web version as well to keep people from jumping ship to ibooks.

iPad vs Kindle – no contest

The quintessential question – buy an iPad or a Kindle? – is rather glibly answered by Mark Jaquith here: buy both.

Well, that’s what you’d expect an iPad owner to say, because they are the sort that can afford to blow $500 on an oversized iPod (the new 4th generation version of which is, as even Jobs himself conceded, basically iPhone 4 without the flawed phone or exorbitant monthly expenses).

But Jaquith also makes a pretty solid case on the philosophical merits for one of the devices over the other. It’s implicit, but pretty much impossible to deny which device is superior, from this:

With the Kindle, you’re becoming absorbed in a story for an hour or more at a time. You can read in bed, right before you go to sleep, without worrying that it will rile you up. To the contrary, the Kindle relaxes you. You might even take it outside to the pool or to the hammock. Flight attendants will chastise the iPhone-using passenger next to you as the plane descends for landing; but you, the gentle Kindle user, she’ll merely touch on the shoulder and tell you with a smile to make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened.

The iPad wakes you up. BAM! Here’s the news, with pictures and video. TWEET! Here’s the torrential banality of Twitter to distract you from something (or everything) important. TWEET! Here’s the same exclamation used again because you’re paying the insanely addictive Angry Birds game. ZAP! Here’s you firing off an e-mail over your morning coffee.

I’ve never found myself struggling which to pick, much in the same way that nobody is ever torn between having tea and going sky diving. They are different devices, for different purposes. And that’s a good thing in the case of the Kindle. There is something almost drug-like about having a device that can do anything. It’s hard to turn off that ability. With the Kindle, you won’t be thinking about increasing your Fruit Ninja high score, or frantically checking and re-checking your e-mail. You’ll be in the only state that is appropriate when reading a book: completely lost in it.

And the iPad? It lets you live your soul crushing, hyper connected, vanity searching, e-mail enslaved life in any room of the house, instead of being planted in a desk chair in a darkened basement. And it has two other things going for it: it’s easy to set it down and rejoin the world, and sometimes you’ll lose it in a stack of mail for a day and be forced to do something edifying instead.

I just bought an iPod Touch 4th Gen because my kids took my 3rd Gen away from me. I intend to use it entirely for two things: Skype and Facetime with my iPhone-4-totin’ wife. For everything else, I have my blackberry – and if I really want to play Angry Birds, I can ask my kids’ permission.