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Apple CEO “outraged” at “offensive” factory claims
Apple CEO Tim Cook has responded angrily to allegations that the company knowingly used manufacturing partners guilty of labor abuses, telling staff that “we care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain” and calling the accusations “offensive.” Cook blasted the NY Times report in an internal email to Apple employees, spilled to 9to5Mac; “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us” the CEO wrote. “As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.”
The original report had consulted current and previous Apple executives, as well as sources at Chinese factories and the workers themselves, piecing together a picture of companies like Apple – though others, such as Samsung, got a passing mention – as juggling human rights for workers with the need to create timely, affordable products at the best possible rates. “An unresolved tension” inside Apple was cited, with high-level execs supposedly aware that production partners such as Foxconn were cutting corners in safety and working conditions, but made only passing attempts to address the problem as it would sap Apple’s device momentum.
The claims were followed by strong responses from Chinese factory workers themselves, some protesting Apple’s actions in the country, but others suggesting that the company was not alone in its priorities and, in some cases, was doing considerably better than other firms.
Apple has taken a vocal stance on employee rights in recent years, releasing a responsibility report detailing the investigations it had undertaken, and becoming the first tech firm to join the Fair Labor Association. “We will continue to dig deeper, and we will undoubtedly find more issues” Cook warns. “What we will not do — and never have done — is stand still or turn a blind eye to problems in our supply chain.”
“As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.
For the many hundreds of you who are based at our suppliers’ manufacturing sites around the world, or spend long stretches working there away from your families, I know you are as outraged by this as I am. For the people who aren’t as close to the supply chain, you have a right to know the facts.
Every year we inspect more factories, raising the bar for our partners and going deeper into the supply chain. As we reported earlier this month, we’ve made a great deal of progress and improved conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers. We know of no one in our industry doing as much as we are, in as many places, touching as many people” Tim Cook, CEO Apple
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Epic Games currently finds itself locked in a legal battle with both Apple and Google. And that was by choice. While it was rumored, and expected, to be the case right from the start, the CEO of Epic Games has confirmed it was a planned, and well-organized, effort to try and change Apple’s and Google’s digital storefronts.
CNN Business spoke with Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney, to get the lowdown on the situation between the company and Apple and Google. Sweeney is never one to mince words, and that remains the case here. While he does say that his legal battle is with Google, too, he doesn’t shy away from saying he’s particularly aiming at Apple.
Epic’s frustration with Apple especially, and Google to some extent, had been building up for at least three years. Ever since Fortnite grew to have a large audience, we felt stifled by several things.
So, as Fortnite, the mega-popular battle royale game grew in popularity (and earned Epic Games more money), the company grew tired of giving any of that money to other companies. Makes sense! And, as a result of that, a plan was set in motion. So much so, in fact, that Epic Games actually had an internal name for the effort: “Project Liberty”.
Sweeney confirms in this interview what many had suspected right out of the gate: this was all a plan, right from the start. You see, Epic Games added the ability for Fortnite players to pay Epic Games directly, avoiding Apple’s first-party payment system. That goes against Apple’s App Store rules and Epic Games was fully aware of that. But they did it anyway. And basically right after Apple pulled the game from the digital storefront, Epic launched its lawsuit.
Sweeney says the company “spent months” preparing the whole thing, from the lawsuit, to the planned in-app purchases, to even the marketing effort that launched soon after, too. That included an ad similar to Apple’s original “1984” marketing push from many years ago (which you can watch in the timeline below).
But, while this appears to be an argument against Apple’s (and Google’s) built-in fees, Sweeney has said it’s more than that, both in the past and in this interview:
I grew up in a time in which anybody could make software. This is my first computer, an Apple II,” said Sweeney, gesturing towards the iconic blocky, grey machine on the desk behind him. “You turn it on and it comes up with a programming language prompt,” he continued. “So I felt all along that open platforms are the key to free markets and the future of computing.
It’s not a secret, either, that Epic Games is struggling, at least somewhat, in these legal battles. While it’s technically possible for Android users to keep playing Fortnite, even without the game being available in the mobile OS’s storefront, that’s not the case for iOS users. And, as Apple and Epic Games have confirmed in the past, that was raking in millions of dollars for Epic thanks to in-app purchases. But, Sweeney says the battle is worth it, and doesn’t plan on backing down anytime soon.
[The companies] will just do that industry by industry and app category by app category until they’ve gobbled up everything that matters. And who will be left?” said Sweeney. “A million indie developers who collectively together make a small percentage of revenues on the app store because these businesses are too small to be attractive to steal.
The full interview is worth a read. It also includes some additional background on Sweeney himself.
You can check out the timeline of events so far in the Apple vs Epic Games battle below.The timeline August 13, 2023
Epic Games updates Fortnite on the
, bypassing the App Store review
. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the
Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to
breaking the App Store rules.
Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:
Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
Epic sues Google, too.
Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its
to stand up against Apple.August 14, 2023
Facebook says Apple’s
fees make it impossible to help
impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.August 17, 2023
Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’
accounts for not only
, but also
. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2023.August 18, 2023
Apple issues an official statement on the matter in
to Epic Games.
Epic Games is revealed to have sought a coalition of “Apple critics” to help fight against Apple.August 20, 2023
The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its
fees down to a standard 15%.August 21, 2023
Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or
, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.August 24, 2023
Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine
tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for
Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.August 26, 2023
Epic confirms that the new season of Fortnite, which is Marvel-themed, will not be available on iOS or Mac. Cross-platform functionality with those
is also removed.August 28, 2023
Epic lets Fortnite players know in an email that it’s Apple’s fault they can’t
the new season of the game.
Apple revokes Epic Games’ App Store and developer accounts.September 8, 2023
Apple countersues Epic Games in what it claims is a “breach of contract” related to its App Store practices.September 9, 2023
Epic Games says Apple is going to disable the “Sign in with Apple”
as soon as Friday, September 11.
Apple changes its mind regarding “Sign in with Apple”, allows existing
to keep using it.September 10, 2023 September 18, 2023
Epic Games shuts down Fortnite: Save the World for Mac as of September 23.September 24, 2023
Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and other
create the “Coalition for App Fairness” to take on Apple’s and Google’s digital storefront policies.September 28, 2023
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers says the public’s opinion regarding the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games should be considered, suggests a jury should be involved.October 7, 2023
Judge rules that the court battle between Apple and Epic Games will resume in May 2023.November 5, 2023
Fortnite returns to iOS thanks to GeForce Now game
, and only available via Safari.December 17, 2023
Judge orders both Tim
and Craig Federighi to testify in the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games.December 21, 2023
Epic Games sends out “Free Fortnite” loot boxes to influencers, trying to drum up supportJanuary 14, 2023
Epic Games expands its legal battle with Apple and Google to the United KingdomFebruary 1, 2023
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, is ordered to sit through a 7-hour deposition
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is facing a fresh headache this week, as an activist investor has publicly sought his resignation in a sharp criticism of his corporate leadership.
Fink, who co-founded the company in 1988, has been asked to leave by senior figures in Bluebell Capital Partners. It’s an organisation with a track record of attacking senior figures for perceived ESG failings.
Broadly, BlackRock is caught in a polarised political dilemma, and this latest development may be a pivotal warning. If your firm gets swept into politics, your governance will come under fire.
What’s going on?
Top leaders in Bluebell have written to Fink and asked for his resignation. Their main gripe is that BlackRock’s ESG record has been inconsistent.
Investing in fossil fuels while touting sustainability commitments is just one example.
Bluebell’s co-chief investment officers Giuseppe Bivona and Marco Taricco told Fink that there was an “apparent hypocrisy” in how it approached ESG criteria, which it said had “alienated clients.”
“The reputational damage of being dragged into this politically charged debate, is very significant because it calls into question the independence of BlackRock as an asset manager,” the letter said.
“We see BlackRock endorsing a number of bad practices from governance, social and environmental perspective, which is not exactly in tune with what they say,” Bivona said in a recent interview with CNBC.
BlackRock has played the dismissal game, effectively saying that Bluebell’s tactics have happened before and will happen again. It did not acknowledge any plans to comply with the request.
The firm noted that Bluebell had “waged a number of campaigns” in the last year and a half and that BlackRock disagreed with their message because “we did not consider them to be in the best economic interests of our clients.”
What does it mean?
BlackRock is the world’s largest investor and makes governance – particularly ESG – a centrepiece of its investment criteria. So, it can’t come as good news that its governance and ESG logic is coming under fire.
What’s more, though, is that BlackRock is under sustained fire from both sides of the ESG debate.
Bluebell is unhappy that its ESG principles are inconsistent, but many fiscal-right politicians, particularly in the United States, have blasted the company for having any ESG principles at all. They maintain that it’s an undeserved attack on the fossil fuel industry and harms stakeholder return.
In effect, BlackRock now finds itself in the middle of a politicised tug of war. No company will ever want its core principles swept up into polarised politics – particularly a debate as volatile as ESG’s place in our corporate future.
What should we take from this?
The bottom line is that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has earned critics on both sides of ESG. It’s only natural that his corporate strategy and governance will come under fire.
It is challenging but not entirely avoidable, given BlackRock is such a large firm with a vocal policy around ESG.
Is it a sign that any large firm with robust ESG policies faces a governance grilling? No.
But it may be a sign that robust ESG policies will put governance under the microscope, as investors will want to see the method behind major decision-making. From this process, expect criticism.
Lastly, will Bluebell’s campaign succeed?
It doesn’t appear so. Bluebell owns nothing close to a significant stake in BlackRock (estimates currently land at 0.01%), and Bivona refused to give a specific number when pressed in his CNBC interview.
It would suggest more posturing at this point than a drive for results.
That said, don’t rule out their efforts entirely yet. Bluebell was instrumental in the resignation of Danone’s chief executive Emmanuel Faber in 2023, even though it owned a small stake in that company.
Ultimately, it all depends on whether other investors echo Bluebell’s thoughts.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made a massive impact in the modern world. The use of AI at any level has proved to be fantastic. It automated a significant number of tasks, reducing human effort and has led everyone to believe that there is even more to come. Infigon Futures is a company that empowers the lives of individuals who are seeking educational and career goals to help them make decisions for a brighter future. Speaking with Analytics Insight, Omkar Patil, CEO,Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that Infigon Futures offers.
Infigon Futures is one of the EdTech segment’s fastest growing education and career planning platforms. Individuals ranging from 11 to 30 in age can plan for their educational and career goals using our industry-leading Artificial Intelligence platform. As the market’s leading one-stop-shop, we guarantee that everyone who visits our platform will find something interesting and will leave satisfied. Disrupting the costly and time-consuming process of career development and ensuring that a lack of guidance or financial constraints does not become a barrier to pure talent and passion.With what mission and objective, the company was set up? Tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
The mission is to make use of innovative, leading-edge technology and bring career mentorship for everyone at the tip of their fingers to help them make decisions for a brighter future. As the world’s most trusted career-planning company, any individual irrespective of their financial, geographical or lingual bounds can find everything they need to build for themselves a successful future. In April 2023, Infigon Futures launched The Summit Alliance, a youth organization. They are the organization’s President and Vice President, respectively. They gained insight into the education industry and interacted with over 10,000 students and parents, which gave them the motivation and idea to start a business in the field of career and education counselling.Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.
Founded in August 2023, Infigon Futures saw its inception amidst the uncertain times of the pandemic. For any business entity, the starting phase is crucial and is a period of growth and commitment. All our staff had to work remotely from home during the pandemic, which added constraints to our team management. Innumerable meetings, video and audio calls over multiple platforms like Zoom, Google Meets etc. were our only medium to navigate through the crucial stage of strategic growth planning. Another issue that we faced was operations management. Our marketing campaign started from 15th February 2023 and it essentially comprised of collaborations with colleges, schools and other institutes; wherein these collaborations led us to our present target group – students from class 8 & above college students. Unexpectedly, by April 2023, we had associations with more than 60 colleges/institutions, which we had previously estimated at around 15-20. This remarkable growth was unanticipated, so we had to ramp up our operations and brace ourselves for this growth at very short notice.Tell us how your company is contributing to the IoT/AI/Big Data Analytics/Robotics/Self-Driving Vehicles/Cloud Computing industry of the nation and how the company is benefiting the clients. How do you see the company and the industry in the future ahead?
We have already started with career counselling. In the coming years, we would like to improve our tech algorithm to the point where a student can use our mobile application to answer any question they have about his/her career, education, or other topics. In addition, we will be expanding into the areas of international admissions, skill development, and job opportunities. We want to establish a sense of trust in the minds of school students and their parents in the initial couple of years by providing them with the highest quality services. And once we have that, we will be the one-stop-shop for all of their child’s needs.What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors? What is your Leadership Mantra?
We do not have a leadership mantra at Infigon. Our organization is a start-up and it faced various constraints and uncertainties that come from being one. Our main ideology is not just to impose our targets, strategies and expected results on our employees, but look out for what our employees truly want. Each employee at our organization goes through extensive HR screening, wherein we analyze their personal requirements, expectations and growth objectives of joining Infigon. From our wide spectrum of work profile, each employee is consigned into teams catered to their CV and requirements. Employees are assigned into groups under each department, and projects are divided into manageable tasks. With a lesser workload, each employee can hence exert maximum productivity while gaining quality experience.Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how do they get value out of it.
Our career and education mentorship process is completely automated. All of our services, including self-assessment, career selection, educational planning, and expert mentor connections, will be provided through our mobile application, which employs Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. It will be a straightforward four-step process that will begin with self-assessment and progress through career selection, educational planning, and skill development.Which industry verticals are you currently focusing on? And what is your go-to market strategy for the same?
Our focus remains on career guidance and mentorship. Our target consumer base consists of students in schools and colleges. Hence, our priority marketing strategy is to associate with various schools, colleges and private institutions. This gives us extensive access to reach out to students in need of effective guidance and counselling. Our integral goal is to guide young minds into deciphering their academic prospects and dream career.What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?
As a long-time competitor of, and what many believe to be a casualty of, the iPhone, we’ve been keeping a close eye on BlackBerry’s situation over the past several months. The last we heard, the company had agreed to sell itself to Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion.
But apparently that’s no longer the plan. In a bit of a surprise move, BlackBerry announced this morning that it has given up on its effort to sell itself to a large investor, and that it will be replacing Thorsten Heins with former Sybase chief John Chen as interim CEO…
The news came in the form of a press release, where BlackBerry announced that rather than bid for it, Fairfax Financial will lead a group of investors that will pour more than $1 billion into the battered Waterloo-based company. The money will come in the form of a debt sale.
From the press release:
“BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY; TSX: BB), a world leader in the mobile communications market, today announced that it has entered into an agreement pursuant to which Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (“Fairfax”) and other institutional investors (collectively, the “Purchasers”) will invest in BlackBerry through a U.S. $1 billion private placement of convertible debentures. Fairfax has agreed to acquire U.S.$250 million principal amount of the Debentures. The transaction is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.”
BlackBerry says that today’s announcement marks the conclusion of the review of strategic alternatives it announced on August 12, 2013. It’s confident that an immediate cash injection is the best route for the company to take, and says it’s already begun making necessary changes.
Here’s more on the executive shuffle:
“Upon the closing of the transaction, John S. Chen will be appointed Executive Chair of BlackBerry’s Board of Directors and, in that role, will be responsible for the strategic direction, strategic relationships and organizational goals of BlackBerry. Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation, Nomination and Governance Committee and Thorsten Heins and David Kerr intend to resign from the Board at closing.
In addition, Mr. Heins will step down as Chief Executive Officer at closing and Mr. Chen will serve as Interim Chief Executive Officer pending completion of a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.”
In addition to ceding the CEO post, Heins will step down from the board of directors, as will director David Kerr. Heins was hired as BlackBerry’s chief executive following the exit of its then co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie—well after the company began its downward spiral.
But Heins hasn’t done much, if anything, to slow the bleeding. BlackBerry announced back in September that it would be writing off nearly $1 billion in unsold smartphones and cutting 40% of its workforce. That’s over 4,500 layoffs, one of the largest ever for a Canadian company.
Putting all of that behind us, though, it will be interesting to see what John Chen and the new board members can do. I think it’s admirable that they’re going to try to rebuild (although I’m not sure if they really had a choice or not), instead of taking the easy way out like Palm.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Is there any hope for BlackBerry?
An intelligent search platform is powered by artificial intelligence technology, which removes data silos and assists employees and customers to find the information they need rapidly and easily. End-users make use of intelligent search to extract information from anywhere Intelligent search and enterprise search are synonymous with natural language search, AI search, or AI-powered search and cognitive search. Communicating with Analytics Insight, Alexandre Bilger, the CEO at Sinequa sheds light on the powerful and intelligent search for enterprises that the company offers. He also gives insights into the role of disruptive technologies in the industry.With what mission and objectives was the company set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company?
Sinequa was set up with the mission to offer enterprises the services that tech giants such as Google offer to the consumer: powerful and intelligent search. We recognized that enterprises’ valuable information was not being used to its full potential and that an intelligent search tool would enable organizations to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise contained within their enterprise data. We knew that insight from existing data sources would drive innovation, efficiency, and productivity for businesses, ultimately helping them to grow and stay agile. As the company has grown and gained momentum, its value has been acknowledged by key analysts in the intelligent search space. Sinequa has been repeatedly recognized as a leader by Gartner and Forrester, including in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Insight Engines 2023, and in the Forrester Wave™: Cognitive Search 2023 reports. Our client base has grown to include significant players across multiple industries, including Alstom, AstraZeneca, Biogen, BMS, Pfizer, Siemens, Thales, TotalEnergies, and Volkswagen. As the President and CEO of Sinequa for over 10 years, I have seen the company evolve and expand to deal with the increasing volumes of data that organizations now produce. As the quantity of data has grown, so have our technological capabilities and our scope to cater to different use cases. As Sinequa continues to grow, I am excited to see continued progress in the value it can bring to customers.What is your biggest USP that diﬀerentiates the company from competitors?
Sinequa’s platform is comprehensive and customizable, making it suitable for the highest value use cases. It’s built to support professionals across a range of industries, from life sciences and financial services to manufacturing and intelligence agencies. Whether driving faster drug discovery and delivery or underpinning safety and compliance in the energy industry, Sinequa’s unique value lies in its ability to provide insights highly relevant to the professional context. The platform automates the analysis of millions of files and offers a 360-degree view of all data sources, processes, and expertise. With these capabilities, the platform drives informed decision-making and acts as an enabler of vital processes.Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how they get value out of it.
Sinequa supports on-premises, cloud, and hybrid deployments and supports hosting on the leading cloud platforms. Sinequa recently partnered with Microsoft to run on Azure and, in July, announced the addition of Sinequa for Microsoft Teams.How does your company’s strategy facilitate the transformation of an enterprise?
Businesses today are increasingly focused on being data-driven to make better decisions, as well as drive efficiency and innovation. However, many organizations continue to focus only on their structured data – accounting for 20% of enterprise data – as a means to gain insight, missing out on the wealth of information and knowledge that can be gained from unstructured data, representing the other 80%. Sinequa’s platform enables companies to tap into both structured and unstructured data to gain insights that ultimately drive business efficiency, innovation, and by extension, growth.How is IoT/Big Data/AI/Robotics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important trends that you see emerging across the globe?
Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is only really in its infancy. While companies are beginning to use AI to examine their quantitative data, qualitative data remains relatively neglected. Tapping into qualitative and unstructured data is a growing and important trend, especially as the quantity of data that companies produce continues to grow. There’s a wealth of information in unstructured data, which includes everything from PDF documents and emails to videos and images. AI solutions can help an employee or customer extract value quicker, without having to read and digest all the data. If such information is effectively harnessed, the value for businesses could be immeasurable.How can businesses efficiently extract the value from data, without increasing cost and complexity?
Extracting value from data can be a costly and lengthy process. The challenge is made harder by the exponential growth in the volume of data being produced by businesses. In this context, a well-thought-out data strategy is essential, and the right tools are needed to underpin such a strategy. The ultimate goal is to obtain a solution that enables the extraction of value from all sources of data, whether structured or unstructured. To best harness the value of data, employees should be able to use one interface to search across all applications and all types of data. With such a tool, searching for information is made simpler and faster, ensuring that knowledge and expertise are not buried and lost.What are your growth plans for the next 12 months?
Sinequa is on a strong growth trajectory and is seeking to accelerate its international expansion. In 2023, the company performed well, despite the circumstances of the pandemic. It increased its total customer billings by 30 percent and signed new logos across the globe, from global pharmaceutical and healthcare manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to the second largest energy and power company in the world, Électricité de France (EDF).
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