Thursday, March 8, 2012

Apple's big lie about job creation, and other bogus claims


Just look at these statistics!
Suspicious stats are a staple of tech marketing that deserve to be exposed for the flimflammery they are

Apple has created or supported more than 500,000 jobs. Phishing attacks cost the economy $234 billion a year. And giving social and mobile CRM tools to salespeople makes them 26.4 percent more productive. All these preposterous numbers are floating around the Web these days, peddled by PR people who count on easy hooks to sell their products, burnish their clients' images, or advance an agenda.

Apple's attempt at statistical flimflammery is the most offensive because it's a transparent attempt to change the public conversation about Apple from the question of atrocious labor practices in the Chinese factories that make iPhones and iPads to job creation. (Of course, yesterday's announcement of "the new iPad" will help in the diversion as well.)

Apple's bogus labor study
Here's what Apple posted on its website last week: "Throughout our history, Apple has created entirely new products -- and entirely new industries -- by focusing on innovation. As a result, we've created or supported more than 500,000 jobs for U.S. workers: from the engineer who helped invent the iPad to the delivery person who brings it to your door."

Breaking down those stats, Apple says it is responsible for 304,000 current jobs across a wide array of industries, including engineering, manufacturing, and transportation, as well as another 210,000 in the "app economy."

Apple actually employs 47,000 people in the United States, so where did the other 450,000 come from? Multipliers, a standard statistical tool that economists use to derive the effects of spending (or not spending) on the economy. But as you learned a long time ago, garbage in equals garbage out.

Take, for example, this statement: "This figure [the jobs number] also includes workers in Texas who manufacture processors for iOS products, Corning employees in Kentucky and New York who create the majority of the glass for iPhone, and FedEx and UPS employees."

Wow. Sure, delivery companies derive revenue when its drivers drop off your new iPad. But -- duh! -- they'd be working anyway delivering books from and towels from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Do Corning employees do nothing but make glass for the iPhone, and do those folks in the bunny suits in Texas only work to make CPUs for Apple? Obviously not. But those are the kind of assumptions built into that projection. Speaking of projections, Apple assumes that its new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., will create 7,000 jobs.

Similarly, it assumes that "the 248,000 registered iOS developers in the U.S." develop only for Apple. I seriously doubt that. What's more, the success of iOS has obviously had a very negative effect on developers of other operating systems, such as BlackBerry, and those folks are out of work or now developing for Apple. How big is the actual gain? We can't tell, though I'm sure there is one.

I could go on at some length, but I'm sure you see my point. What's more, the timing of this release makes it all the clearer that Apple is desperately trying to clean up its badly tarnished corporate image.

Apple does create lots of jobs and makes real contributions to our economy. Inflating those numbers for the sake of favorable PR simply makes the company look petty, dishonest, and -- maybe worst of all -- contemptuous of the smarts of its customers. Likewise, security companies make products that are needed, but as their products have become more commoditized, they increasingly rely on scare tactics and bogus studies to sell their services.

If it sounds too good to be true ...
Generally, bogus numbers dazzle us with their sheer size. But there's another tactic to watch out for: amazingly exact numbers.

Witness Nucleus Research, which claims that mobile CRM makes salespeople more productive. It doesn't give just a ballpark estimate; it presents a precise number: 26.4 percent.

I read through the study and saw lots of anecdotal evidence that mobile and social CRM is helpful to salespeople. I believe it -- but how it derived that number is something we simply don't know, nor can we tell who paid for the study. One could guess.

Don't be fooled by the axis of fakery.


  1. Without Apple's significant business, would its suppliers (including delivery services) have to lay off some people? Most certainly they would. Downsizing occurs all the time when companies lose major contracts. Just because Apple doesn't cut someone a paycheck directly is no reason to to disregard their contribution to employment overall. The multipliers ridiculed in the article are a perfectly valid tool for capturing this effect.

    Apple didn't lie about anything. They were very explicit about how the numbers were derived. Haters are always seeking an angle to deny Apple credit where it is due.

    if Apple were to buy all its supplier companies (thus increasing direct employee count), Haters would instead complain that Apple was too big or something. Nothing short of Apple actually going out of business will ever satisfy a hater.

  2. Apple should get out of business ASAP. Nothing good ever comes out of this company - bunch of liars and copycats polluting market with their outdated and fugly crap. No respect for them whatsoever.

    Apple invented NOTHING. They're just sad and boring copycats, marketing whoring company trying to trick stupid to buy their obsolete shit. IDK it's only that maybe some party whores / douchebags dig it, or maybe some sad journalists who only use it as a notepad - BORING... BORING design, BORING hardware. Don't give a shit about those loosers.

    The only thing that bothers me is that this cancer company good at capitalising on stupidity and some people still believe them.

  3. Thank you. I couldn't have said it better if I was to attempting to parody hater irrationality.

  4. (Happily) Former Apple user here. I tend to agree with anonymous. Their designs are getting tired and really aren't cool anymore. I was sick of hearing about what everyone else was able to do so I switched and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of my new Windows 7 system. I don't think he's being irrational at all.

  5. With Bretts mentality here's the run-down. I buy a product. The store, its employees and the manufacturer makes money from it. All of those employees can, in turn, buy things and pay their bills. Those purchases and payments go to companies that pay many more employees as well. In fact, because of my purchase, many people were able to afford to eat and pay medical bills in order to survive. There are millions of lives that I have saved for purchasing a product. It goes on and on until I am responsible for the creation of every job and life on the planet! Without me, everyone would be broke or dead.

    Um.... YOUR WELCOME!

  6. Dillion, The multiplier used in the Apple analysis is a standard tool used by economists, and not the infinitely recursive exaggeration of your fantasy. But don't let that stop you from running off the rails.

  7. actually used up some of your precious time on this earth, creating an irrational reality desert to indulge your obsessional hatred of a business?
    Sad that someone's life is so devoid of meaning. Truly...GET A LIFE!

  8. Please guys, you Apple fag-boys should just stay off this site. It's not for you. Unless you're actually haters living in denial.

    1. If you can't handle the heat then stay out of the kitchen.

  9. Thanks for the mention.

    It’s good to be skeptical about research but for the record, no company commissioned the mobile and social CRM benefits report ( I agree with the premise that precision can give the false illusion of accuracy and it’s something credible firms try to balance. In this case, with over 200 surveys our policy is to note the “n” number and round to the nearest tenth of a point. Best to let the reader decide.

    Ian Campbell
    Chief Executive Officer
    Nucleus Research

  10. Apple probably pays media outloets to make the misleading headlines. In most cases, misleading is the same as lying.