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Who wouldn’t have wanted to be a fly on the wall when Apple’s senior executives were discussing pricing of the new iPad Mini? At $329 (£269 in the UK), the relatively high price now appears to be making investors nervous.
What would Steve Jobs have done? Overpricing of the original Macintosh computer – conceived as a $1,000 machine, which increased to $1,995 because of Jobs’ tinkering with the design – was one of the first big disagreements between Jobs and John Sculley, then Apple’s chief executive.
As Walter Isaacson writes in his biography of the late Apple founder, Mr Sculley’s decision in 1983 to add a further $500 to the price and charge $2,495, to help pay for the huge launch and marketing push, made Jobs furious: “It will destroy everything we stand for,” he said. “I want to make this a revolution, not an effort to squeeze out profits.” Read more
Here’s a quiz: which large US corporation calls itself a “devices and services” company?
b) General Electric
d) Microsoft Read more
The outcry over Apple’s switch on its new operating system and iPhone to its own mapping technology rather than Google Maps strikes me as more serious for the Cupertino wizards than past glitches.
There have been widespread complaints over Siri, the voice-activated artificial intelligence application in the iPhone 4GS and now iPhone 5. But Siri is at least an optional extra, while maps are now a key product feature of smartphones.
The trouble is that Apple is playing catch-up with Google over its mapping technology – it switched to its own information service because it felt that Google was favouring Android phones, leaving the iPhone vulnerable. Read more
Apple $60m settlement with Proview Technology of Shenzhen, the manufacturing city in the Pearl River delta, to gain undisputed control of its iPad trademark, shows how tricky controlling intellectual property in China remains.
China is still stuck between its official policy of moving to more innovation and protection of intellectual property and the sketchier reality on the ground. It remains very easy to buy knock-off Apple phones and components in the Pearl River. Read more
Microsoft’s launch of the Surface, its belated rival to Apple’s iPad, brought an interesting declaration from Steve Ballmer, its chief executive, as reported by the FT:
“We believe that any intersection between human and machine can be made better when all aspects of the experience – hardware and software – are working together,” said Mr Ballmer. Read more
Ron Johnson, the former head of Apple Stores, who is now trying to revitalise J.C. Penney, the historic US department store chain, has started with a good idea – eliminating sales commissions.
The Dallas Morning News reports that J.C. Penney hourly workers at its 1,100 stores have been told that commisions are being eliminated and they will instead receive a higher hourly rate (via Business Insider). Read more
Warren Buffett’s early stage prostate cancer is so commonplace and treatable that you might legitimately ask whether it was worth declaring. But there is no question that it was better for Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman to make his statement than to conceal the condition.
While there are good reasons to respect the privacy of patients, Apple’s failure to detail Steve Jobs’ condition during his leave of absence for health reasons in 2009 spread unnecessary uncertainty about the future of the company and its succession planning.
If Mr Buffett had any doubts about whether to make his statement, he could have asked a fellow senior citizen: Rupert Murdoch. Read more
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