$40 Billion Comments: A Response

I was reading over the comments on my article Apple’s $40 Billion What to do: Big and Bold thoughts. There were 20 comments, which honestly is more than I expect on any of my articles. However, there were two particular comments that stuck out.

The first comment is from Federico. It states:

“Yeah, deprive the tax coffers of billions, just like those “philanthrophists” do, while their foundations play the markets.

Then they pretend and protest why their secretaries pay more in taxes than they do. I say pay the tax, then donate the money.”

While I respect Federico’s viewpoint on CEO’s finding any way possible to avoid paying taxes (I whole heartedly agree that it’s ridiculous that they pay less than most), I may not have been clear in what I was attempting to convey. So let me try again.

I wasn’t saying that Steve Jobs would be the head of this foundation, and that it would be him making the sole decisions. I meant, like most foundations, that there be a board of people who oversee the decisions that are being made.

I am not necessarily insinuating that Steve Jobs even really be involved, besides lending his name, or the Apple, Inc. name. I’m merely stating that he may initially fund the foundation, or Apple may, but that it be an entirely different entity from Apple Inc. itself.

The second comment is by Jose_X. He states:

“I would add to federico’s comment:

– Use the tax-free money (and other donors’ money) as the marketing muscle of your for-profit companies (helping spread freebies or subsidized products as necessary to hurt competition while promoting your for-profit products and even to helping meet revenue/sales goals).

– Use the organization to help lock-in lucrative government (and private) contracts for the for-profit businesses.

– Use the organization to help pass laws (and establish standards) that favor your for-profit companies.

– Use the organization to spread misleading lofty ideas about the (imaginary) value of patents (and other monopolies) in helping society and promoting progress, monopolies that ultimately help you gouge the public more easily.

– Do all of this while keeping a straight face.”

What Jose fails to realize is that this is no different from what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has been doing since 2002. The BMGF has been giving software and hardware to libraries since 2002. It first started with Gateway Desktop computers, along with all of the FREE Microsoft software that goes along with that. Windows 2000, Office 2000, 5 Magic School Bus Games, Streets and Trips, Encarta, all of the language packs and more.

After that, they provided free upgrades to Windows XP, with Office XP, updated games, and all of the other software upgrades. This all propped up the continuation for libraries to use Microsoft products. But we’re not done yet kids, no.

The third go around was for Wireless Computer Labs. This came complete with carts, 12 laptops, antivirus, Windows XP, Office 2003, wireless access point, router and more.

Did the BMGF do this entirely out of pure generosity and desire to expand a library’s ability to provide computers for the Public? I don’t think so. I do believe it was mostly of a philanthropic nature and a desire to see library’s provide computers to their constituents; however, the BMGF used what they had, Microsoft Products, to accomplish this goal. For those libraries that have since replaced their computers how many of them decided to switch to Macs, not many. How many went with open source linux machines as replacements, probably a few. But for the most part they have stuck with Microsoft.

Why stick with Microsoft Products? Quite simple, you give them some stuff for free, but when it comes time to update instead of having to deal with the backlash from their users, they just go ahead and buy Microsoft products again because it’s what their users know. I do not see how Apple doing the same thing could be seen any differently than Microsoft’s approach.

Maybe I’m looking at the whole thing wrong, maybe I’m being naive. Maybe everybody is instantly bashing Apple just because they appear to be consumer unfriendly and do not care what they think. Well, they are a business and a public entity. They are responsible for reporting to the share holders. Share holders expect a profit.

If you have any thoughts on this, or any other article, please let us know in the comments.

Image source is Apple.com.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.