Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Else Steve Jobs Knew

Apple's Fifth Ave. Store
I've been thinking about a way to present some facts that startled me in the wake of our national mourning for Steve Jobs - who was the embodiment of the American dream of personal enterprise leading to great wealth.  In the light of Occupy Wall Street and the growing national awareness that Houston, we have a problem, I think we can consider the whole truth about his wealth and Apple's obscene profitability.  For instance -
  • Apple made $208 on every $499 iPad (Computer World)
  • This year Apple's gross profit margin topped 40% (Bloomberg)
  • After resuming control of Apple in 1997, Jobs eliminated all corporate philanthropy programs; they were never reinstated.(Wikipedia)
  • He was widely (but quietly) known for not giving any of his $7-8 billion in wealth to philanthropy, ignoring the model of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. (New York Times)
  • There have been numerous allegations of life-threatening sweatshop abuse in Foxconn, the factory in Taiwan that makes many Apple products.  (note: this is the outsourcing that has cost so many American jobs.)  I encourage you to scan this recent article in Time.  
To bring these figures home, what percent of your net income do you give to charity each year?  He didn't.  Your Mom-and-Pop pizza store, is it making 40% profit on every pizza sold?  No way.  Does the company you work for match your charitable donations?  Apple doesn't.

What Jobs knew was that we - not just Americans, but people everywhere - really like shiny new toys. That we can be scammed.  That a pitchman extraordinaire could get people to buy, buy.  That many of us would buy cool things on credit, that is, with money we didn't have (think about what that has contributed to the crisis of personal debt).  That we don't like to be inhibited by ethical considerations of products.  And, it seems, neither did he.


  1. this is an EXCELLENT article. So there are still some clear thinking individuals around, and not just a bunch of people on facebook using the "sad mac" as their profile pic. Ah, I feel refreshed!

  2. But you're ignoring the fact that his leadership of apple propelled it forward into the 21st century ahead of all its competitors, a success that lead to a countless amount of new American jobs. Because of the change in charitable donations policy at Apple that money can now go into research to develop new technologies that will lead to company expansion and potentially more jobs for people who desperately need them. As for 40% profits, those profits were taxed heavily and then used to pay policemen, fire fighters, school teachers, road crews, sewer treatment plants, water treatment plants, and the list goes on and on. It’s easy to blame the rich, the powerful in this country for all of problems. We want someone to point the finger at but the pointing should be at ourselves. The people vote at the poles, the people buy their products, the people finance things we don’t need. So thank you rich and powerful people of the world, because without you, I wouldn’t be able to sit in my comfortable living room on my Lazyboy recliner and rant my opinions on my apple computer. :)

  3. I think Apple reproduced Braun of the the 1960's; clean design, effective performance, and a cult following.
    Somehow they lost it, and are now reduced to men's shavers and electric toothbrushes. Whither Apple?

  4. Thank you for presenting both his strengths (last post) and his weaknesses (this one).