Fox to begin contract negotiations with NASCAR

Feb 26, 2012

The best and the worst of Apple are on display this week. On one side of the coin, its stock cruised through $US500, making Apple the biggest company in the world (but still not the biggest ever). Not bad for an outfit that nearly went broke in the 1990s and was only saved by the good grace (and cynicism) of Microsoft, which desperately needed a viable competitor to ward off antitrust scrutiny at the time.

In addition to its stock price, here's some other big numbers about Apple : The company's market cap is closing in on half a trillion dollars ($470 billion) and it currently has $100 billion in cash. The cash pile is up another $24 billion since Steve Jobs died late last year.

On the other side of the coin, Jobs was the CEO who thought nothing of conspiring with his 'gazillionaire' peers in Silicon Valley to suppress the cost of labour for his US workforce. And famously, he was not shy about taking advantage of the far sighted industrial relations policies in the worker's paradise of modern China. Deng Xiaoping called it “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and Jobs evidently approved. Alas for employees of Apple's partners — partners like Foxconn, first world problems like Jobs’ penchant for anti-poaching programmes are simply the stuff such as dreams are made of.

[ Keep your finger on the pulse with the latest developments in mobile technology—such as phones and tablets—in Computerworld's Mobility & Wireless newsletter ]
Now, to overcome the unpleasant stench of its business practices, or at least those of its partners (not that we would ever judge a company by the company it keeps), Apple has appointed an external organisation to monitor and report on conditions.

These are not the droids you are seeking...

Apple's choice of external monitors, however, hasn't exactly filled critics with confidence. The Fair Labour Association has represented other companies such as Nike — also well known for its progressive approach to third world employment. The New York Times quotes Jeff Ballinger, who is the director of labour rights group Press for Change, describing the FLA as “largely a fig leaf” .

Still we should acknowledge that shining a light — even a dim one — into dark places is a step up from Apple's previous behaviour. For a sample of what Grok means, here's a snippet from Wikipedia's entry about Foxconn:“In reaction to a spate of worker suicides where fourteen died in 2010, a report by twenty Chinese universities described Foxconn factories as labour camps and detailed widespread worker abuse and illegal overtime. In response to the suicides, Foxconn installed suicide-prevention netting at some facilities, and it promised to offer substantially higher wages at its Shenzhen production bases. Workers were also forced to sign a legally binding document guaranteeing that they and their descendants would not sue the company as a result of unexpected death, self-injury, or suicide.”

Apple makes great products. Grok's house is bulging with Apple’s shiny, shiny toys. This column was written on his irreplaceable Mac Book Pro, so we guess that makes him partly complicit. But nobody should cut Apple any slack over its record on these matters just because its indentured labourers made prettier baubles than anyone else's. Still, a little shame never went astray.

But of course, not everyone agrees. Just as Grok was submitting this story, a story popped up on the radar — 'Apple beats out Google, Amazon for Highest Corporate Reputation Score' . If you didn't laugh, you'd cry.

Creative destruction cuts both ways

It's been a good week for the tech sector's latter day Zaibatsu with regulators all over the world rolling over to have their tummies tickled. The big one, of course, was Google clearing the regulatory hurdles in the US and Europe for its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobile.

As The New York Times pointed out in this piece , there are still a few minor jurisdictional issues to overcome, but the turkey, as they say, is in the oven.

Now that the US government and those cheese eating surrender monkeys in Europe have acquiesced, all those Android mobile phone manufacturers might like to start ramping up their own personal anxiety levels. Somebody somewhere is going to get crushed.

Separately, the Justice Department in the US decided there was no reason to stop Microsoft, Apple and Research in Motion picking over the bones of Nortel Network's patents, or Apple's purchase of various Novel patents.

Cue the musical score from The Lion King…It’s the 'circle of life'.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of Silicon Gully Investment

UPTON WATCH: Move over, Danica Patrick. There's a new woman turning heads in the NASCAR garage.

Supermodel Kate Upton was at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, serving as grand marshal for the Daytona 500 along with her "The Three Stooges" co-star Jane Lynch.

Upton grew up in nearby Melbourne riding horses but has come a long way since.

She landed the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue released earlier this month and has modeled for Guess, Dooney & Bourke and Victoria's Secret.

Not surprisingly, she was a big hit among drivers, crew members and race fans.

She really could have turned things up a notch had she decided to dance. Last year, a video of Upton dancing the "Dougie" at a Los Angeles Clippers game went viral and increased her popularity.

"I learned a new one, the `Cat Daddy,'" Upton told The Associated Press. "I can't wait to throw that one out. I did it the other day on a shoot in my cover bikini, so who knows."

Upton and Lynch took part in the 500 to help promote their upcoming movie. They play nuns in the movie, which is scheduled to be released April 13. Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos and Will Sasso star as the Stooges and were selected to drop the green flag.

"It will introduce the Stooges to a new generation," Lynch said. "It's very much like the series, except it's not shot in black and white. All the colors are muted. Even though it takes place today, it looks like it was shot back then."

Lynch also raved about Upton and offered a hint about what moviegoers can expect from Upton's role.

"She's very game," Lynch said. "There's a great shot when she comes out of swimming pool. She plays a nun, but she does emerge from a swimming pool in an interesting get-up."


TOUGH TALK: UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones, the honorary official for the Daytona 500, didn't hold back when asked about his upcoming fight against Rashad Evans.

When a reporter asked Jones about Evans' calling him fake in a recent interview, Jones lashed out at his former friend and now top rival.

"Yeah, he's been calling me that since the beginning of my career," Jones said. "He's the guy who's the fake really, you know. A lot of his actions really don't add up to the person that he portrays. It's interesting. It's pre-fight drama, and I plan on kicking his butt. That's my only option really."

Jones and Evans are scheduled to fight as the main event during UFC 145 on April 21 in Atlanta.

Jones toured Daytona International Speedway, said he loves cars and was planning to pull for former Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick. He added that NASCAR drivers and mixed martial arts fighters have a bond that stems from putting their bodies at risk every time they compete.

"What I think attracts NASCAR drivers to mixed martial arts is just it's as real as it gets," Jones said. "In the cage, it's not really a game, you know. If you mess up, you can get seriously injured. It's live speed, and it's extremely real. I think that's something maybe drivers relate to. When you're on the track, every movement counts, and a mess-up could be really dangerous."


GIANT VISITORS: New York Giants defensive ends Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora were on hand for The Great American Race. The Super Bowl champions were introduced at the pre-race drivers' meeting, and the most significant part of their appearance was Tuck's left shoulder.

Tuck's arm was in a sling, evidence of his recent shoulder surgery.

Coach Tom Coughlin revealed the surgery Friday at the NFL Combine.

Tuck battled through a number of injuries during the regular season and missed four games. He was held out of a practice prior to New York's NFC wild-card round game against the Atlanta Falcons because of his ailing shoulder.


WAKE-UP CALL: Lenny Kravitz wasn't quite ready for his midday concert.

Kravitz preformed the pre-race event and strolled into Daytona International Speedway wearing dark shades and moving somewhat slowly.

"Once I wake up, we should be OK," he said.

The seven-time Grammy Award winner eventually got things rolling and played some fan favorites in the rain, including "American Woman" and "Are You Gonna Go My Way."

He joked about how different his lifestyle is from the normal.

"It's oddball every night," he said. "Nothing normal about this life."

Much different from NASCAR?

"You guys go fast; we play loud," he said.


Post a Comment