Is “profits not people” what drives Google, Apple?

Alastair Aitken 6 February 2014 0

To me, Eric Schmidt has always had “something of the night” about him; he kind of looks and acts like the face of an evil over-reaching corporation. On the one hand he pronounced “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”, yet appeared to want to wage a personal war against a news agency that he felt had invaded his privacy. Even the probably soon-to-be-forgotten Google slogan, “don’t be evil”, now sounds like a primary example of Newspeak. Perhaps, “do as I say, not do as I do”, is a more fitting motto.

He’s just killed a hippie!

But now if anyone doubted that Steve Jobs wasn’t a reformed hippie, then the news that he is alleged to have been in cahoots with most of the other big tech companies, including Schmidt’s Google, in order to keep workers’ wages artificially low, then the cat seems to be finally out of the bag, and making a high speed getaway. Guess what? He was a breadhead all along.

Worker and parasite

But this news can’t really be any sort of a surprise. The war between managers and workers has been going on for as long as there have been jobs. By way of contrast I offer Meg Whitman’s 150 million percent pay rise for acting as chief executive at HP. This despite facing a law suit from investors over her role in the takeover of what was the UK’s biggest tech company, Autonomy.

Muttley! A medal if you save me!

Ah, Autonomy. Nobody ever really knew what they did, made or sold. I vaguely recall installing Autonomy software back in 1996. It had a cartoon dog avatar that looked like a blatant rip-off of Muttley, Dick Dastardly’s canine sidekick, but after that pooch had made it’s presence known I was no further informed as to Autonomy’s purpose. That sense of confusion appears to have lingered at HP until at least 2010 when they splashed out $11 billion for, let’s be honest, a bit of a hound.

Life in the fast-track

So when the UK government offers fast-track visas for tech workers for innovative technology firms, the first question is really, “what tech firms?” In the UK there are no real large tech companies that stand to benefit from such a move; the winners will be service companies and the financial services industry and the losers will be the workers.

It’s the economy, stupid

Profits at Apple, Google, et al are sky high not just because their products are superior or more desirable but because they drive hard bargains with all actors in their supply chain. That supply chain does not just include the various suppliers and wholesalers but takes in their workers and almost any government, in the shape of ministries that require IT services and tax collection agencies. You didn’t seriously think that tech companies operated any differently to those in any other industry?

Alastair Aitken (124 Posts)

As a contract developer and manager I’ve worked in a wide range of enterprises in a variety of countries where I’ve encountered everything from great work, awful work, bizarre work, all the way down to quasi-legal work. If you think that you recognise your own organisation within my articles then you’re undoubtedly wrong, where you work isn’t that unique.

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