Tag Archives: Apple

The Big Tech Backlash of 2018, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

There’s a revolt brewing against the tech titans that have been stock market darlings the last few years. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

Something must be terribly wrong with the world. A few days ago Elizabeth Warren agreed with Trump on China, now Bernie Sanders agrees with him about Amazon. What’s happening?

Bernie Sanders Agrees With Trump: Amazon Has Too Much Power

Independent Vermont senator and 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders echoed President Donald Trump in expressing concern about retail giant Amazon. Sanders said that he felt Amazon had gotten too big on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, and added that Amazon’s place in society should be examined.

“And I think this is, look, this is an issue that has got to be looked at. What we are seeing all over this country is the decline in retail. We’re seeing this incredibly large company getting involved in almost every area of commerce. And I think it is important to take a look at the power and influence that Amazon has,” said Sanders.

A backlash against Facebook, a backlash against Amazon. Are these things connected? Actually, yes, they are connected. But not in a way that either Trump or Sanders has clued in to. Someone who has, a for now lone voice, is David Stockman. Here’s what he wrote last week.

The Donald’s Blind Squirrel Nails An Acorn

It is said that even a blind squirrel occasionally finds an acorn, and so it goes with the Donald. Banging on his Twitter keyboard in the morning darkness, he drilled Jeff Bezos a new one – or at least that’s what most people would call having their net worth lightened by about $2 billion:

“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!” You can’t get more accurate than that. Amazon is a monstrous predator enabled by the state, but Amazon’s outrageous postal subsidy – a $1.46 gift card from the USPS stabled on each box – isn’t the half of it.

To continue reading: The Big Tech Backlash of 2018

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Silicon Valley Joins War On Cash: Tim Cook Seeks “Elimination Of Money”, by Tyler Durden

Eliminating cash is an idea whose time will never come. It’s anonymous, which is why governments hate it and people who want to maintain a semblance of their privacy like it. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Apple CEO Tim Cook has one big hope for the future – that he lives to see the end of money.

“…I’m hoping that I’m still going to be alive to see the elimination of money.”

Speaking at a meeting for Apple shareholders in Cupertino, California earlier this month, Cook made it clear that he is firmly on the side of the war-on-cash establishment.

“Because why would you have this stuff! Why go through all the expense of printing this stuff and then some people steal it, and you’ve got to worry about counterfeits and all these things,” he continued.

As Apple’s CEO talked about the downsides of cash, BI reported that he became more animated, revealing his real passion about the topic…

“We can provide a solution for the customer that’s simpler, more convenient, you don’t carry around a wallet with a bunch of cards in it, or a purse with a bunch of cards in it,”Cook said.

“And it’s more secure, if you’ve ever had your credit card ripped off, I’m sure a lot of you have, I have, it’s not a good experience.”

Until now, it has tended to be politicians and central bankers leading the call for a cashless society… for your own good.

The enemies of cash claim that only crooks and cranks need large-denomination bills.They want large transactions to be made electronically so government can follow them. Yet these are some of the same European politicians who blew a gasket when they learned that U.S. counterterrorist officials were monitoring money through the Swift global system. Criminals will find a way, large bills or not.

The real reason the war on cash is gearing up now is political: Politicians and central bankers fear that holders of currency could undermine their brave new monetary world of negative interest rates. Japan and Europe are already deep into negative territory, and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last week the U.S. should be prepared for the possibility. Translation: That’s where the Fed is going in the next recession.

To continue reading: Silicon Valley Joins War On Cash: Tim Cook Seeks “Elimination Of Money”

Net Neutrality – The End of Google’s Biggest Subsidy, by Tom Luongo

It turns out net neutrality has been a godsend for the bandwith hogs. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Net Neutrality is gone.  Good riddance.

Lost in all of the theoretical debate about how evil ISPs will create a have/have-not divide in Internet access, is the reality that it already exists along with massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth pigs on the planet – Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and the porn industry.

Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the ‘desktop’ one in your home and office.  Google and Apple control the on-ramps to the mobile web in a way that Net Neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.

Because, in truth, they can’t.  Consumers are ultimately the ones who decide how much bandwidth costs, not the ISPs.  We decide how much we can afford these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies (if that’s even a thing anymore).

Non-Neutrality Pricing

Net Neutrality took pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers.  It handed the profits from it to Google, Facebook and all the crappy advertisers spamming video ads, malware, scams, and the like everywhere.

By mandating ‘equal access’ and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook would spend their budgets without much thought or care.  Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers’ needs are not aligned with Google’s bottom line, but with consumers’.

And, because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google’s cost of goods sold (COGS), thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low.  And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference.

They grew uncontrollably.  In the case of Google and Facebook, uncontrollably powerful.

That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer.

All thanks to Net Neutrality.

To continue reading: Net Neutrality – The End of Google’s Biggest Subsidy

 

Apple Diversity Chief Forced Out After Saying White Men Can Also Be ‘Diverse’, by Tyler Durden

A woman lost her diversity job because she said that within a group of white males, there could be diversity. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Silicon Valley’s disdain for its mostly white, mostly male tech workforce has reached absurd new heights.

The New York Post is reporting that, after just six months on the job, Apple Diversity Chief Denise Young Smith, who was named vice president of diversity and inclusion in May, has resigned her post after making a “controversial” comment last month during a summit in Bogota, Colombia.

What was Young’s crime? She insinuated that “diversity” can still exist among a group of white men because of their different life experiences.

“There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blond men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation,” the inaugural diversity chief said.

“Diversity is the human experience,” she said, according to Quartz. “I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.”

That’s right: Young, who is – for the record – a black woman, has been forced out of Apple because her views on diversity were too inclusive.

As the Post pointed out, Young’s comments appeared to defend Apple’s overwhelmingly white and male leadership at a time when the company’s makeup is markedly uneven. This begs the question: What, exactly, was she defending them from?

Young, a 20-year Apple veteran who previously served as the company’s head of worldwide human resources (a senior level position), was later forced to apologize for her remarks, telling Apple staff that her comments “were not representative of how I think about diversity or how Apple sees it.”

“For that, I’m sorry,” she said in an email. “More importantly, I want to assure you Apple’s view and our dedication to diversity has not changed.”

To continue reading: Apple Diversity Chief Forced Out After Saying White Men Can Also Be ‘Diverse’

The Friendly Faces of Fascism, by Robert Gore

Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There are two modes of human interaction: voluntary and involuntary. The symbol of the former is the market; the symbol of the latter is government. Historically, the pendulum has swung back and forth. Since the early 1900s the pendulum has swung towards government and the involuntary. Humanity’s future hinges on whether or not it will swing back. Ominously, many of the biggest beneficiaries of voluntary free choice are ideologically opposed to it.

It may seem paradoxical that Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook, among others, build fortunes on the voluntary choices of billions of customers, then join forces with those aligned against voluntary choice. Silicon Valley used to be almost a libertarian outpost, now it’s a bastion of statism. However, there are skewed rationales for it, lodged in the nature of government and business in the 21st century, psychology, and historical precedent.

Government has become so big and all-pervasive that once a business reaches a certain size, it’s going to run into the behemoth blob. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are huge, and aside from Apple, they dominate their markets. (Apple had a little under 15 percent of the smart phone market in the first quarter of 2017). Computers and the internet are at the heart of the national security state, and Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are the heart of social media, search, smartphones, communications, and business computing. Along with Amazon, they all have significant roles in cloud data storage. In its voracious quest for information with which to track, blackmail, and subjugate the citizenry, it was inevitable the government would turn to these treasure troves.

How does a company say no to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the NSA, and other intrusive government agencies? With difficulty. The “war on terrorism and drugs” rhetoric probably doesn’t cut any mustard, but as Senator Chuck Schumer said, the agencies, “have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” You get along by going along. Large shareholders—hedge, pension, and mutual funds—and the corporate collections of cowards known as boards of directors would take a dim view of a CEO who for ideological reasons fought a quixotic and ultimately unprofitable battle with the federal government over something as trivial as a principle.

Let’s not forget that the government has $4 trillion a year to throw around. Amazon received a $600 million dollar contract from the CIA in 2013. Tucked into the latest National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment authorizing $54 billion in online purchases by the government. Amazon will undoubtedly get the lion’s share. The government buys billions of dollars worth of computer and smart phone hardware and software every year. It also buys a lot of advertising, and Facebook and Google are the dominant online advertising platforms. You have to keep a customer that large satisfied.

Beyond payola, there’s publicity, prestige, pride, politics, and power. The first thing you do once you’ve acquired your tens of billions is set up a tax-exempt foundation. Founder and foundation then dive head first into the pool of altruistic goop into which anyone who acquires any measure of fame and fortune in contemporary America dives. It simply won’t do to say you’ve accomplished all you’ve accomplished for yourself. You must find a cause greater than yourself and proclaim your devotion to it.

That incantation serves several purposes. Bill Gates transformed from evil monopolist to philanthropic saint after he established his foundation and retired from Microsoft to devote his efforts full-time to it. Once you’ve acquired the halo, you’re ready to grab the power to which you’re wealth and superior intellect entitle you. Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There’s nothing new about this. In America, the prototype is John D. Rockefeller. He used state of the art refining technology, ruthless negotiating tactics, industrial consolidation, bribery, and governmental suppression of competitors to become the nation’s first billionaire. Rockefeller was a charter member of the oligarchy that guided the US into central banking, the income tax, foreign interventionism, and its nascent empire in the first few decades of the 1900s. His foundation sheltered his fortune from taxes, gave a bunch of money to worthy causes, burnished his image, augmented his power, and promoted world government organs like the Council on Foreign Relations and, after his death, the Trilateral Commission.

Anyone who gets involved with the behemoth blob wants power, the ability to use force to direct the actions of others. Any shred of a morality that recoils at coercively exacting involuntary compliance is abandoned. Involvement with the corrupt obscenity that is our government means either a conscious or unconscious surrender to the Dark Side paradigm: might makes the only wrong and right.

At the heart of it lies a simple truth: governments can anything they want to you if they claim they’re doing it for you. The altruistic veneer conceals every horror, from history’s bloodthirstiest regimes down to nanny state bureaucrats dictating toilets’ flush capacity. A warm place in hell is reserved for those who covet power under cover of professed good intentions. The hottest fires are reserved for those give it to them, surrendering without protest control of their own lives.

Once the government has assumed control, the entrepreneurs and executives of ostensibly private businesses toe the government’s line. It’s the only way to survive and indeed thrive under fascism, the correct label for the current system. All under cover of noble aims and approved good causes, of course. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand drew a sharp distinction between her competent champions of freedom and the incompetent toadies of soul-crushing altruism, collectivism, and statism. In real life freedom’s biggest beneficiaries have become some of its biggest—because of their competence and gargantuan fortunes— enemies.

The gravest threats to the most basic civil liberties—freedom of thought, expression, and transaction—come from the technology giants. Not simply because they’re the dominant commercial, communications and computing platforms, but because they’ve aligned themselves with the government. They’re engaging in creeping censorship, gathering massive amounts of data, cooperating with the surveillance state, and propagating propaganda. Call it the Orwellian or Panopticon state: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft will be invaluable in establishing it. We’re at least halfway there. No surprise that these companies have been stock market leaders. It’s the first rule of fascist investing: buy the companies the government favors.

Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) argued that regardless of the label given to a system of government, a ruling class always emerges and enriches itself. There are no historical counterexamples, certainly not 2017 America. What’s historically unprecedented, however, is the power and control America’s technological oligarchy can potentially exercise, and the relative weakness of those who champion freedom and warn of impending involuntary servitude. The louder the oligarchs proclaim their good intentions and hail tomorrow’s better world, the graver the threat becomes.

The Story of a Man Who

Did It For Himself

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De-FANGed: Five Ways The Disrupters Could Be Disrupted, by Tyler Durden

Everybody loves the FANG stocks: Facebook, both Apple and Amazon for the A, Netflix, and Google (now Alphabet). That may not last. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

We highlighted the launch of the ICE FANG futures contract earlier this week (here) and what an auspicious moment it was for the launch.

The argument put forward by our guest author, Kevin Muir via The Macro Tourist blog, was that it is possible to be “bearish on the FANG stocks, but not be some perma-bear who thinks the world is about to collapse”. As Muir explained.

The reality of today’s limited alpha market is that when an investing theme gets some legs, it often becomes overdone and prone to disappointment. I have written about how, all too often, this results in a series of rolling mini-bubbles. There is nothing wrong with observing that the new era tech stocks are stupidly overbought, and that the risks are to the downside in the coming months. You can be bearish on FANG without thinking all stocks are going to zero…This new FANG contract offers some great opportunities to short the speculative names that have been the source of such over-exuberance, while maybe hedging it with a long position in the S&P 500 futures contract.
Muir commented wryly that now he would be able to get in as much trouble as high-profile bear, David Eeinhorn of Greenlight Capital by buying “old economy stocks and shorting the new tech darlings.” Another investor, with more than one gray hair of experience, has penned a thoughtful bearish piece on the FANGs in recent days, this time Neil Dwayne of Allianz Global Investors. Dwane’s piece is titled “De-FANGed: 5 Ways the Disrupters Could be Disrupted.” Dwane begins by noting that while consumers love the services they provide, the regulators are taking an increasingly close look at their anti-competitive practices.

Apple Does Right by Users, and Advertisers Are Not Amused, by Andrés Arrieta and Alan Toner

Apple’s operating system makes it difficult for third parties to plant cookies on websites, frustrating advertisers. From Andrés Arrieta and Alan Toner at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, via wolfstreet.com:

It’s not “destroying the Internet’s economic model.”

With the new Safari 11 update, Apple takes an important step to protect your privacy, specifically how your browsing habits are tracked and shared with parties other than the sites you visit. In response, Apple is getting criticized by the advertising industryfor “destroying the Internet’s economic model.”

While the advertising industry is trying to shift the conversation to what they call the economic model of the Internet, the conversation must instead focus on the indiscriminate tracking of users and the violation of their privacy.

When you browse the web, you might think that your information only lives in the service you choose to visit. However, many sites load elements that share your data with third parties. First-party cookies are set by the domain you are visiting, allowing sites to recognize you from your previous visits but not to track you across other sites. For example, if you visit first examplemedia.com and then socialmedia.com, your visit would only be known to each site.

In contrast, third-party cookies are those set by any other domains than the one you are visiting, and were created to circumvent the original design of cookies. In this case, when you would visit examplemedia.com and loads tracker.socialmedia.com as well, socialmedia.com would be able to track you an all sites that you visit where it’s tracker is loaded.

Websites commonly use third-party tracking to allow analytics services, data brokerages, and advertising companies to set unique cookies. This data is aggregated into individual profiles and fed into a real-time auction process where companies get to bid for the right to serve an ad to a user when they visit a page.

To continue reading: Apple Does Right by Users, and Advertisers Are Not Amused