Cannibalism is good, and other things I learned from 60 Minutes’ Apple report

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple’s Cook on encryption and the tax code.

An inside look at Apple’s laboratories isn’t as rare as it once was. COOK DEFENDS APPLE’S ENCRYPTION, TAX PRACTICES — Apple CEO Tim Cook repeated his opposition to government-mandated “backdoors” into online communications in an interview Sunday night on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Cook said a backdoor to help decode encrypted messages would be available “for everybody, for good guys and for bad guys.” The interview was taped before the attacks in Paris, but 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose said Cook has since told the program that while Apple is cooperating with authorities in the fight against terrorism, he has not changed his stance on encryption. Over the past year, Apple has opened up its doors to Good Morning America, Backchannel and The New Yorker in a seeming effort to change its image as an ultra-secretive, inaccessible company ruled by the specter of an iron fist.

Last night, 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose was the latest journalist invited into the inner sanctum, and Apple practically rolled out the red carpet for him. We should have both,” Cook told Charlie Rose in a 60 Minutes interview that aired on Sunday night. “Here’s the situation,” Cook told Rose. “On your iPhone, there’s likely health information, there’s financial information. Lawmakers a few years ago accused Apple of stashing billions of dollars overseas to avoid higher U.S. rates — but asked about it, Cook derided the criticism as “total political crap.” He repeated his argument that Apple “pay[s] more taxes in this country than anyone,” and he stressed it’s “past time” for Congress to reform the tax code. “I’d love to bring it home,” Cook said of Apple’s foreign cash, but the CEO said he had not because “it costs me 40 percent to bring it home, and I don’t think that’s reasonable.” CLINTON PITCHES ‘MANHATTAN PROJECT’ FOR ENCRYPTION — The former Secretary of State made her most direct comments yet on the balance between data security and national security at Saturday’s Democratic debate, calling on tech firms and the intelligence community to work together creatively. “I would hope that, given the extraordinary capabilities the tech community has, and the legitimate needs and questions from law enforcement, there could be a Manhattan-like Project,” Clinton said in reference to the government effort that helped develop nuclear weapons. FEDS CHECKING PUBLIC SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS IN VISA PROCESS, OBAMA SAYS — The president told reporters at his pre-holiday press conference Friday that national security officials are “constantly monitoring public posts” on social media, seeking to knock down insinuations that the feds are missing obvious red flags when reviewing visa applications. “It’s important to distinguish between posts that are public, social media on a Facebook page, versus private communications through various social media or apps,” Obama said. Every peek we’ve gotten in the media has shed the smallest sliver of light on Apple’s private operations, but Rose’s report wasn’t the usual sanitized glimpse at life within Apple’s walled garden.

Throughout the tour, he revealed more than just how Tim Cook, Phil Schiller, and Eddy Cue operate between the public unveilings of new products; he showed a remarkably human side of the both company and its CEO, and even uncovered a few surprises along the way. Here are five things I learned: Cook has every right to want to distance himself from his larger-than-life predecessor, but when Steve Jobs’s name was uttered—before Rose took a single step onto Apple’s campus, mind you—he was respectful and reverent in a way that suggests he misses him as a friend more than an inventor.

That means communications on devices with newer versions of Android and iOS are inaccessible to Google and Apple, so they cannot turn over things like iMessage chats to the feds. Everything Cook does is viewed through the prism of Jobs’s genius, and in many ways his legacy has already been written; even if he succeeds, Steve will receive much of the credit, having built Apple from a company on the brink of bankruptcy into one of the largest in the world. The FBI says this hampers investigations, but in a post-Snowden era, major tech companies do not want it to look like they are in cahoots with the government. “If the government lays a proper warrant on us today then we will give the specific information that is requested,” Cook said. “Because we have to by law. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said last week his agency has pilot programs to do so, but stressed that there were “legal limits on what the Feds could do.” The president also spoke frankly about the technical limitations: “[W]e’re going to have to recognize that no government is going to have the capacity to read every single person’s texts or social media if it’s not posted publicly,” he said. It would be easy for Tim Cook to rattle off his own accomplishments—after all, he was with Steve nearly every step of the way—and talk about how Apple is different now, with a whole line of products designed after Jobs, but instead he spoke in glowing terms, saying, “I’ve never met anyone on the face of the earth like him before … who had this incredible and uncanny ability to see around the corner.

NCTA asked the FCC to direct the coalition to answer a series of questions about its presentation and proposal. “The Commission should not permit such obfuscation in any proceeding, let alone a proceeding like this one where highly technical issues should be fully disclosed and subjected to full analysis before the Commission takes further action,” the cable group wrote. It didn’t seem like lip service, and while some people want to believe that Apple’s halls are haunted, Cook made it seem like they’re blessed, even protected, by its late founder. “I loved Steve.

I want to do every single thing I can do and use every ounce of energy I’ve got to do as well as I can.” No tour of Apple is complete without a trip to Jony Ive’s laboratories. Apple has since limited the work week to 60 hours, raised pay, and cracked down on child labor; still, 30 percent of global facilities building iDevices do not meet Cupertino’s safety standards, 60 Minutes reported. Rose spent a good deal of time there, looking at Apple Watch sketches, a CNC milling machine that carves out precision prototypes, and some of the hundreds of color shades that weren’t quite right for the bands. On a lighter note, the TV news magazine got a closer look at the iPhone camera, with its 12-megapixel advanced technology and 4K 3,840-by-2,160 video capabilities.

Before the 4.7- and 5.5-inch displays were chosen, Ive and his team went through nearly a dozen handsets in varying sizes and finishes to see which one “felt right … emotionally.” Ive continued: “We’ve found that different textures considerably impact your perception of the object, of the product, what it’s like to hold, and what it’s like to feel. So the only way that we know how to resolve, and address, and develop all of those issues is to make models, is to make prototypes.” But while it sounds exhausting, there is very little turnover in the most sacred of spaces at 1 Infinite Loop.

Catch the entire two-part interview—including conversations with Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue, and Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores—via CBS News. It was beautiful, incredible and crazy all at once; listening to Angela Ahrendts describe how they want to bring the “dynamic, emotive, immersive” to life inside the Apple Store was eye-opening. Fighting Samsung isn’t the only battle Apple is waging in U.S. courts, and Cook wasn’t shy about speaking out about the two major ones: encryption and taxes. That, for a consumer company is the thing that really begins to grow the market in a big way.” But even more than the growth opportunity, Apple’s manufacturing ties to China are equally important. Cook bumbled through a question about whether cheap labor was the primary reason for building the vast majority of its products in China, citing workers’ skill level as the primary motivator, and he was clearly uncomfortable during that segment of the interview, particularly when asked about the safety and wages of workers. “We have a responsibility and we do it,” Cook said. “We are constantly auditing our supply chain, making sure that safety standards are the highest.

All of the things that you would expect us to look for and more, we’re doing it.” But as China becomes an increasingly bigger market, these issues will only become more illuminated. To make a great product, it obviously has to hold its against all others in its class, but it also has to embrace its compromises and understand its weaknesses.

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