The Handicap-Themselves Edition Monday, September 9, 2019

How Apple Stacked The App Store With Its Own Products, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Presented with the results of the analysis, two senior Apple executives acknowledged in a recent interview that, for more than a year, the top results of many common searches in the iPhone App Store were packed with the company’s own apps. That was the case even when the Apple apps were less relevant and less popular than ones from its competitors. The executives said the company had since adjusted the algorithm so that fewer of its own apps appeared at the top of search results.


Mr. Schiller and Mr. Cue said the algorithm had been working properly. They simply decided to handicap themselves to help other developers.

“We make mistakes all the time,” Mr. Cue said.

“We’re happy to admit when we do,” Mr. Schiller said. “This wasn’t a mistake.”

How Each Big Tech Company May Be Targeted By Regulators, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have been the envy of corporate America, admired for their size, influence and remarkable growth.

Now that success is attracting a different kind of spotlight. In Washington, Brussels and beyond, regulators and lawmakers are investigating whether the four technology companies have used their size and wealth to quash competition and expand their dominance.

iPhone City

Apple, Foxconn Broke A Chinese Labor Law To Build Latest iPhones, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. and manufacturing partner Foxconn violated a Chinese labor rule by using too many temporary staff in the world’s largest iPhone factory, the companies confirmed following a report that also alleged harsh working conditions.


Foxconn said it found “evidence that the use of dispatch workers and the number of hours of overtime work carried out by employees, which we have confirmed was always voluntary, was not consistent with company guidelines.”

In China’s “iPhone City,” Overtime Is Used For Both Punishment And Reward, by Echo Huang, Quartz

One of the ways in which overtime is used to punish is linked to referrals. Workers in the factory have been required to refer others to join the factory since 2016. The report says it’s mandatory to make referrals when the factory needs workers most—usually in August to October, or about the time every year Apple releases new iPhone models. “If a worker refuses to refer others to work at the factory, they will receive fewer overtime working hours in the following weeks. Fewer overtime hours is seen as a punishment for many workers, as the base wage is pittance,” reads the report.


Apple said it looked into the complaints raised by CLW and said it found “most of the allegations are false,” but did admit that its own investigation showed the percentage of temporary workers exceeded its standards and that it is working with Foxconn to address the issue. “We have confirmed all workers are being compensated appropriately, including any overtime wages and bonuses, all overtime work was voluntary and there was no evidence of forced labor,” read the statement from Apple. It didn’t respond to follow-up questions from Quartz seeking clarifications about the allegations.


Can Apple's iPhone 11 Still Surprise In An Age Of Leaks?, by Jason Snell, Tom's Guide

Will Apple ever surprise us again at a media event? Of course it will. But it will most likely come in the details, in small features and marketing spin. Every few years, if we're lucky, we might get surprised by an entirely new hardware product. But Apple has become too important a company to rely on obscurity to keep details of its future products hidden. And as a result, we'll have to take the small surprises where we can get them.

Apple App Store Kvetching, by Jean-Louis Gassée, Monday Note

[W]ithout getting too deep into lawyerly craft, we should keep in mind that intellectual property law only protects the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. Ironically, Steve Jobs, who is quoted in the piece as being “shameless about stealing great ideas”, often got mightily annoyed when other companies copied his own. But the fact remains that in order to be successful, a business must constantly be on the lookout for new ideas.

Apple Store Veteran: We're Like Car Salesmen Or Best Buy Employees Now, by Chris Matyszczyk, ZDNet

"Store leaders and senior managers benefit from metrics, but employees see no benefit. There's no holiday bonus and no incentive. And as for promotions, they're a joke," he told me.

You might think this is fairly standard fare for so many businesses. Stay in them long enough and you'll see the principles that made you stay there erode like, well, faith in most institutions these days.

This Apple store employee, however, believes there's a specific reason for the new, new, ugly world: Apple's enthusiasm for building its services business and the local management's methods to kowtow to that enthusiasm.

Bottom of the Page

Apple need to have higher bars for themselves.


Thanks for reading.