Apple have ripped me off again

Launched a new product and then one month later increased specs and dropped pricing on the related models. It’s a type of bait and switch – people (like me) wait for the announcement, then once we know what the new model(s) are we then make a decision to buy.

A month or two later, they then drop the prices and up the specs on the related models. This is not insignficant – 100’s of dollars off, and significant performance and spec improvements.

If they cared about their customers, they would announce the price and spec changes at the same time as the new models. Of course, they just want to clear their old stock – doesn’t matter. It still sucks to be a fan of Apple.

As a customer, I’ve felt ripped off by Apple’s behaviour on my last three purchases (my Powerbook, my iMac, and now the MacBook). I just wish there was a reasonable alternative… I wonder if this is the sort of thing to report to the ACCC?

It’s growth Jim, but not as we know it…

Akshay posts a great article on “growth-based climate politics” over a The money quote (‘scuse the pun):

As Australia’s income grows, the methodology of calculating GDP needs to be revised to incorporate the higher goods that are now demanded by consumers. Current methods of calculating income only explain standards of living up to a certain level, after which they become redundant. If air pollution decreases our standard of living, pollution should be deducted from GDP estimates. Likewise, if reduced risk of catastrophic natural disasters creates a more favourable business outlook, then efforts to decrease the likelihood of adverse climate change should add to GDP. Such a revaluation of income measurements would mean that a transition to a sustainable future would present us with more opportunities for growth, rather than be a threat to our standard of living.

Policy that does not emphasise the growth opportunities of a more sustainable future, concentrating only on emission reduction, is dangerous. The term “emission targets” sends a pessimistic and alarmist message that bad times are coming. The public may react unfavourably to the realisation that more and greater costs will fall on them as a result of treaties which promise emissions cuts.

(Emphasis mine) I’ve been in favour of this perspective for some time. In fact, my new business venture is founded on this principle – that a “bright green” future is what we want. There’s plenty of opportunity, but we have to think differently about what “growth” means – not just hard and fast numbers, but quality of life. Akshay’s suggestion that “the methodology of calculating GDP needs to be revised to incorporate the higher goods that are now demanded by consumers” is spot on the money.

I take issue with two aspects of the article – Akshay points out that:

A quick look at Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ shows that people first satisfy their basic material needs for food, shelter, physical security and health, after which they satiate so called “higher needs” – including creative freedom, justice, opportunities for political expression and even environmental goods such as clean air, clean drinking water and certainty of their own and their children’s economic future.

Isn’t “food, shelter, physical security and health” directly tied to the environment? Perhaps Akshay’s point is that they’re not perceived as being linked, but it’s clear they are.

Do we really need to continually run on this treadmill of environmental destruction before we realise that it is a primary need? We’ve done it in industrialised economies, and we’re doing it again in China, India and elsewhere.

I also don’t think that we can continually grow ad infinitum – there are natural limits to growth. And suggesting we need to get richer so that environmental issues increase in perceived importance, falls into the same trap that Akshay argues against in the article – economic growth above all else. But I suspect that’s more headline grabbing than central to Akshay’s argument.

Brett’s comment sums up this latter point pretty well.

P.S. thanks to GraemeF, who in the comments said “It’s growth Jim, but not as we know it” – which perfectly sums up the sentiment for me.

DRM silliness

I wanted to purchase an eBook off Amazon today. When I went to pay, the only option was the “One-click ordering” option, which requires a U.S. credit card.

I emailed Amazon asking how I could get access to the book. The response (in part):

I am sorry, due to import/export laws and other restrictions, we are only able to sell eDocs, Amazon Upgrade, Amazon Unbox videos, MP3 Music Downloads, Kindle content, and other downloadable products to customers who use a credit or debit card issued by a U.S. bank with a U.S. billing address. Most product download services also are only available for U.S. customers located in the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.

Amazon can ship a physical product anywhere in the world. Yet the easier task of providing me access to electronic content, which costs less, uses less resources, and is made possible by the internet on which Amazon thrives, is not possible because of “import/export laws and other restrictions”.

Is it just me, or does that seem incredibly backward?

The irony in all this was that I wanted to download a paper on internet censorship in China…

Is it all unethical?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “ethical” in relation to my clothing business. When I was writing this post the other day, I was thinking – how amazing is it that we kind of accept that the fashion industry operates unethically.

I thought, how hard must it be to turn up to work knowing that you’re contributing to sweatshop labour and environmental damage just so you can do your day job? That by accepting working in the industry, you are effectively accepting unethical work practices.

Having spoken to a few folks since, however, I’ve started to work out that there are a lot of folks working in the industry that are, in fact, wanting and trying to do the right thing – it’s not as clear cut as I once thought.

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Priscilla does a wonderful job of not only eloquently expressing her feelings about saying sorry, but also mine (thanks P.)

I too have set my Facebook status to say I’m sorry – but I’ll also repost what Priscilla says ‘coz it’s exactly what I want to say too:

I regret that this happened to you, and I realise that it caused suffering and anguish for you and your family. I hope this never happens again.

P.S. I feel like this new government is sorting out a whole bunch of unfinished business. Still lots to do, but we’ve signed Kyoto, and now said sorry (both of which are far too long overdue). In the coming weeks WorkChoices will be scrapped. It’s progress – but back to the starting-line, not forward. Hopefully the momentum will continue to push across the line…