Has The Rot Set In For Apple?

Something very serious is happening to Apple. I am not given to melodrama or overstatement. And it would be overstating by a considerable margin to describe Apple as rotten to the core. But the fruit of a once great company is looking seedy, tarnished and blighted of late. It certainly isn’t the way Steve Jobs would have done business.

Apple was once a brand synonymous with reliability and innovation. It drew in customers with its magical, consumer friendly, wizardry. Gadgets, that looked state-of-the-art, attractive and did phenomenal things. But I think it’s now safe to say the magic has left the building. It’s been replaced by one blunder after another. And the product launches, proudly proclaiming the latest innovation, are looking more like catch-up than innovation.

The company keeps doing dumb things. Firstly, there were the holes in its security you could literally drive a truck through. Hackers were able to exploit the security weakness and gain access to the private photos of celebrities. Many of the photos showed people in a state of undress. These photos were then scattered over the internet. Things got a whole lot worse for Apple when it was revealed it knew about the security hole in its system, for six months, but did nothing about it. The carefully crafted Apple image of being an impenetrable fortress where all of your very private information could be kept securely, evaporated overnight.

Then just recently, the launch of the much, hyped iPhone 6. This was touted as Apple’s answer to the market gains of its major competitor, the Korean giant Samsung. Once again a very different Apple fell from the tree literally. A technical glitch meant the live streaming of the event didn’t work. Oh my God. The old Apple would never have allowed this to happen. It would have worked flawlessly just like their products. But in keeping with all Apple announcements, there was that expect the unexpected moment: the release of the new Apple watch. This was more like the Apple of old. The kind of breakthrough innovation that Steve Jobs would have been proud to put his name to. It is a device that takes all of the shortcomings already known about these kinds of devices and fixed them in one gorgeously designed bundle. Then Apple dropped the ball completely. It did not say you can go immediately into any Apple retail and online store and buy the Apple watch. That would have got everyone excited and believing again. Instead, the watch won’t be available for six months. Talk about an anti-climax. What were they thinking?

Then Apple delivered the coup de grace. It was a PR disaster of epic proportions. I am talking about their not so great, U2 music promotion. What seemed like the most generous music giveaway in history, installing the new U2 album, Songs of Innocence, directly into the library of the company’s half a billion iTunes subscribers, very quickly turned to custard. Social media was awash with people complaining they were getting a product they didn’t want or ask for. It was meant to benefit both Apple and the band but Apple was forced into creating and releasing a tool so that iTunes customers could remove the album from their library.

The next major cock-up is something I would never have thought possible. Apple has always done very well with the release of their iPhones. So no surprise iPhone 6 and 6 plus prompted consumers to line up for days to get their hands on the new devices. But it wasn’t long before the complaints started rolling in. Some of them unjustified but others were inexcusable. There were complaints that the iPhone 6 was prone to bending. To be frank so would anything if you apply enough direct force. The second complaint was sadly all Apple’s fault. The company released a phone update that, of all things, took away the device’s fundamental feature: the ability to use it as a phone. The other key feature of iPhone 6, Touch ID also didn’t work. The old Apple would never have allowed something so fundamentally flawed to pass quality control. Maybe it was an indication of how badly Apple has slipped in its market share that it felt the need to rush the release of a product that still had major flaws in its design. Then Apple compounded what was already a disaster by releasing a software fix that didn’t fix the problem.

So where does that now leave people like me who are lovers of everything Apple? Sadly I hear a little voice inside me asking the question: Do I still want to buy this fruit?

The World Is Really Flat

Forget about global warming. What we should all be worried about is global cooling.

So where did that ‘genius’ idea originate? Would you believe from a senior economic advisor to the Australian Government.

Yes I am being serious. Maurice Newman is the Government’s chief economic advisor. In fact he chair’s the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council.

Newman says there is “ evidence that the world is set for a period of cooling, rather than warming, leading to significant geopolitical problems because of a lack of preparedness.

He also warned “ Australia is ill prepared for global cooling owing to widespread “warming propaganda.”

In an opinion piece for a major national daily newspaper, Mr Newman wrote: “What if the warmth the world has enjoyed for the past 50 years is the result of solar activity, not man-made CO2?

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its acolytes pay scant attention to any science, however strong the empirical evidence, that may relegate human causes to a lesser status.”

Newman says money spent on studying climate change has been “to largely preordain scientific conclusions”. He says this has caused “serious damage on economies and diminished the west’s standing and effectiveness in world affairs”.

Newman claims scientists discovered a rapid drop in solar activity, with a “global warming pause” occurring in the past 18 years.

“But the political establishment is deaf to this,” he says. “Having put all our eggs in one basket and having made science a religion, it bravely persists with its global warming narrative, ignoring at its peril and ours, the clear warnings being given by mother-nature.

“If the world does indeed move into a cooling period, its citizens are ill-prepared.”

Newman, who has no scientific background, has repeatedly attacked mainstream climate science over the past year, claiming that Australia has become “hostage to climate change madness” and dismissing the overwhelming evidence of warming caused by carbon emissions. He is also strongly critical of investment in renewable energy.

Needless to say there are a lot of people including a significant number of climate scientists itching to take on Maurice Newman. They are accusing him of being misguided and “arrogant” for dismissing well-established evidence of warming in favour of a theory of global cooling

“There’s nothing credible to what he says”, according to Professor Mathew England from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. “I can’t believe this stuff about cosmic rays is being raised again after it has been discredited

Professor England’s work has demonstrated how strong Pacific winds are pushing surface heat underwater, contributing to the slowdown, or “pause”, in the rise of global temperatures.

“The amount of greenhouses gases we are pumping into the atmosphere means that the solar minimum is just a blip in the next few decades,” he says. “The idea that solar cycles can override climate change driven by greenhouse gases is fanciful.

“Saying we aren’t prepared for global cooling is like saying we aren’t prepared for an alien invasion. There is no credible scientist saying this is on the horizon.

“I think he’s arrogant to think he knows the answer to climate physics when he hasn’t studied it.”

Another climate specialist Professor Steve Sherwood says he isn’t sure how to respond to Newman, given the number of errors in his article.

“The sun doesn’t have as much influence on the climate as we previously thought, the latest estimates are that it explains only 5% of the warming over the last 150 years,” he said.

“We have been in a solar minimum and no one really knows what the sun will do next. I don’t think anyone is saying that the sun will compete with greenhouses gases when it comes to warming the planet.

“What he says may be entertaining but it’s also scary because it’s so out there. It’s so prominent that it’s concerning.”

Despite the warming “pause” that Newman repeatedly refers to, 13 of the 14 warmest years occurred in the 21st century.

2001 to 2010 was the warmest decade on record, while each of the past three decades were warmer than the previous one.

According to the experts, the world has warmed by about 1C over the past century and will get even warmer – by between 0.3C and 4.8C – by 2100, based largely on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

In fact climate scientists in Australia are clinging to the vain hope that they might be able to meet with Maurice Newman to explain the facts.

The head of Australia’s Climate Council sees the Newman remarks as deeply disturbing.

“ Maurice Newman is a business adviser to the prime minister; you’d expect him to be representing the interests of the business community.

“But what he’s saying fundamentally misrepresents the interests of business, which faces a huge risk, along with the rest of us, from climate change. He’s using his position for a personal crusade in what, I think, is a serious dereliction of duty.”

The former head of BP Australasia, granted a company not noted for its commitment to the environment, had this to say about the Newman opinions:

“Newman holds views that are out of step with those held by serious energy businesses globally and mainstream business in general.

“His views are scientifically wrong and completely ignore the economic and business risks that climate change presents. It is worrying that he is providing this sort of ill-informed advice on energy policy and climate risk to the highest levels of government.”

The next thing the Australian Government will be saying is that the world is really flat. But I don’t want to say it too loudly. It might give them ideas.