Buying From China Is in Fact Buying American

madeinchina-e1334235573328

Recently there are quite a few heated exchanges going on among the current roster of politicians running for president. Trump has been at the forefront of some of the criticism as even his own line of Trump clothing is made in China.

With boatloads of Chinese-made goods coming this way, and empty ships going the other way, some argue, we run a huge trade deficit. The argument then suggests that the “deficit” effectively exports U.S. jobs to China while we are importing goods from there. In my new company we are importers of high tech hardware from Shenzhen. I now believe that argument is complete nonsense.

Before I started my company I probably listened to too much of what our politicians preached. But then I began to look in more depth at the situation. Without using any Chinese-made products we would be lost, with no phones, no computers, no TVs, and so on. America has been running a trade deficit against China for a long time. It is importing from China lots of Apple iPhones, Dell computers, Gap shirts, Hasbro toys, Mattel dolls and Nike shoes. The list can go very long.

Careful eyes may immediately spot that those are all American companies. In fact, in a recent Forbes magazine article, Baizhu Chen, a professor of clinical finance and business economics at USC Marshall School of Business, pointed out the San Francisco Federal Reserve’s study that found 55% of the value of American imported goods from China actually goes to American companies and workers.

In comparison, American companies and workers only capture 36% of the value added of the import from all countries combined. Buying from China gives America a much better deal than buying from other countries in the world.

My manufacturer, Foxconn, is the same company that makes the iPhone so lets look at that as an example. In 2009, iPhones contributed about $2 billion, equivalent to 0.8% of the Sino-U.S. bilateral trade deficit. One iPhone 3GS is sold for about $600. These phones were exclusively manufactured by Foxconn.

To produce them, Foxconn had to import $10.75 worth of parts from American companies. The rest of its $172.46 components came from Korea, Japan, Germany, and elsewhere. Out of a $600 iPhone, how much does China get? A puny $6.50, or 1% of the value. Apple makes vastly more. Combining with other American companies making parts, America receives close to 70% of the value. The portion of America’s trade deficit against China truly contributed by iPhones based on value-added calculation is only a very small portion of $2 billion. Most of that $2 billion is, in fact, value captured by Apple and other American companies.

China Trade 2

China makes it possible for those companies to reward their shareholders handsomely and to provide thousands of high paying jobs in America. Yet our politicians, though they likely also use Chinese made Apple iPhones, blame China for stealing American jobs. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, America imported $375 billion of goods and services from China in 2010 and exported $115 billion to China. The Sino-U.S. bilateral trade deficit is $260 billion, more than 50% of America’s total of that year.

If we calculate based on value-added contribution by the two countries, using the San Francisco Federal Reserve study, America actually has a trade surplus of $70 billion. So it is quite puzzling to me that people in Washington are worried about America’s trade deficit with China. Using trade policies such as the trade bill being debated now to punish China for alleged currency manipulation actually penalizes companies like Apple, Dell, Gap, Hasbro, Mattel, Nike, and others. It penalizes not only poor American families and small businesses, like my own, that make ends meet by relying on inexpensive Chinese products, but also thousands of high-paid American workers who work for those companies

Advertisements

Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Let His Kids Use iPads!

ipad

Steve Jobs was the father of two teenage girls and a son when he passed away in 2011. These kids grew up with a visionary father who co-founded one of the best-known tech companies. Jobs led the world into the digital age with gadgets that transformed the way we listen to music, watch movies, communicate, live our lives.

You would imagine that his children’s rooms would have been filled with iPods, iPhones and iPads.

That’s not the case. In an article in the Sunday New York Times, reporter Nick Bilton says he once asked Jobs “So, your kids must love the iPad?” Jobs response: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

03

The Times article examines the growing trend among the California Silicon Valley tech set to limit children’s technology use. Many of the people behind the social media platforms, gadgets and games that are consuming our kids’ time and minds aren’t actually allowing their own children to waste an entire Saturday afternoon playing Minecraft on the iPad.

A quote in The Times from Chris Anderson, father of five and chief executive of 3D Robotics, pretty much defines why Anderson and his colleagues are limiting technology at home. “My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” says Anderson, formerly the editor of Wired. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

Some of these Silicon Valley engineers and execs are even going to the extreme of sending their kids to computer-free schools. A Times story from 2011 reported that engineers and execs from Apple, eBay, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo are sending their kids to a Waldorf elementary school in Los Altos, Calif., where you won’t find a single computer or screen of any sort. Also, kids are discouraged from watching television or logging on at home.

Alan Eagle, who works in executive communications at Google and has a degree in computer science from Dartmouth, has a fifth grader who attends the school and he told the Times that she “doesn’t know how to use Google.”

The thinking is that technology interferes with creativity and young minds learn best through movement, hands-on tasks, and human-to-human interaction. Students at this school are gaining math, patterning, and problem-solving skills by knitting socks. They aren’t exposed to fractions through a computer program. Instead they learn about halves and quarters by cutting up food.

Are you surprised by any of this? Bilton certainly was when he had that conversation with Jobs in 2010. Bilton spoke with the Apple boss many times and says learning that Jobs was a low-tech parent was the most shocking bit of information that he ever heard. Shocking for me too…and now I wonder is tech good or bad at such a young age…my grand daughter is already an iPad expert.

Google Caught in Our “Cookie” Jars

Cookie-Monster-Google-doo-001
Google intentionally circumvented the default privacy settings of Apple’s Safari browser, using a backdoor to set cookies on browsers set to reject them, in the latest privacy debacle for the search and advertising giant.

Google immediately disabled the practice after the Wall Street Journal disclosed the practice this week..

Safari, which accounts for about 6% of desktop browsing and more than 50% of mobile browsing, is the only major browser to block so-called third party cookies by default..at least I thought so before the article…

When you visit a website, all browsers, including Safari, allow that site to put a small tracking file on your computer, which allows the site to identify a unique user, track what they have done and remember settings. However, many sites also have Facebook “Like” buttons, ads served by third parties, weather widgets powered by other sites or comment systems run by a third party.

Safari blocks the sites that power those services from setting or reading cookies, so a Facebook widget on a third-party site, for instance, can’t tell if you are logged in, so it can’t load a personalized widget. Google, along with a number of ad servers, were caught by Mayer avoiding this block, using a loophole in Safari that lets third parties set cookies if the browser thinks you are filling out an online form.

Google’s rationale seems to be that Apple’s default settings don’t adhere to standard web practices and don’t actually reflect what users want, since the browser never asks users if that’s the privacy setting they want. Facebook even goes so far as to suggest to outside developers that getting around the block is a best practice! Ha we are all already concerned about privacy and they call this back door approach a best practice?

Google said it used the backdoor so that it could place +1 buttons on ads it places around the web via its Adsense program, so that logged-in Google+ users could press the button to share an ad. Without the work-around, the button wouldn’t be able to tell Google which Google account to link the button to.

Now if Safari weren’t so dominant on mobile to the popularity of the iPhone, it’d hardly be worth the code to get at the 6% of desktop users.

But more to the point, if this is a problem for Google and Facebook, and if the defaults actually do mess with user’s expectations, it would seem that there are better ways to bring attention to the issue than getting busted working around them. What do you guys think? Are we watched every cyber second of the day?

My American business hero died today…Steve Jobs

Steve_Jobs_Onstage_with_Young_Steve_Jobs
Steve Jobs the innovative co-founder of Apple who transformed personal use of technology as well as entire industries with products such as the iPod, iPad, iPhone, Macintosh computer and the iTunes music store, died today.

The iconic American CEO, whose impact many have compared to auto magnate Henry Ford and Walt Disney— whom Jobs openly admired — abruptly stepped down from his position as CEO of Apple in August because of health concerns. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, a former Apple board member, called Jobs the best CEO of the past 50 years — perhaps 100 years. I would agree…he has become almost a cult hero among all of us in the tech community.

A seminal business and technology leader, Jobs’ success flowed from a relentless focus on making products that were easy and intuitive for the average consumer to use. His products were characterized by groundbreaking design and style that, along with their technological usefulness, made them objects of intense desire by consumers around the world.

He was known as a demanding, mercurial boss and an almost mystical figure in technology circles as well as American popular culture. Author and business consultant Jim Collins once called Jobs the “Beethoven of business.” He was one of the figures who made Silicon Valley the capital of technological innovation and related venture capital fortunes.
pixar_01
He revolutionized the computing business with Mac, he revolutionized the music business with iTunes and he turned the telephony business on its ear with the iPhone. He reinvented several businesses too, Pixar gave animation a whole new life. A fact that I just learned today as a retailer, Apple Stores are the most profitable per square foot retail spaces in the world.

And finally as a marketer…my former ad agency network produced the advertising for Apple and without a doubt created some of the most outstanding commercials in the industry for the Apple Brand. Who does remember the famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial or the iconic “think Different” campaign.
33807142_ac1e7cd1a6
Jobs’ work at Apple and other projects made him a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine in 2011 at $8.3 billion. He was No.110 on Forbes’ list of billionaires worldwide and No.34 in the United States, as of the magazine’s March 2011 estimates.

It will surely be missed and everyone has to wonder who will lead Apple not just in the Boardroom but in the “kitchen” where the ideas are created.

Twitter Cofounder Shakes Up the Credit Card Biz

ipad1
Jack Dorsey specializes in simple ideas with outsize impact. Twitter, which he cofounded in 2007, began as a way for users to broadcast quick status updates to friends. Now it’s a 200-million-member communications platform, where Dorsey serves as executive chair.
Square_Logo_Portrait
His new company began with similarly modest aims: give anyone the ability to accept credit card payments through a tiny reader that plugs into their iPads and smartphones. Called Square, it has signed up hundreds of thousands of merchants and processed $66 million in transactions in the first quarter of 2011 alone. The startup is also building a vast database of financial information that its customers can tap into. It tracks each sale conducted through its credit card readers, allowing the company to calculate everything from the busiest sales day of the week (Saturday) to the average price of a cappuccino ($3.09 as of April 18).

The power of that kind of data analysis helps explain why Square was able to close a second round of funding in January: $27.5 million from Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, and others, which valued the young company at $240 million. Then Visa invested an undisclosed sum in April.

iPhone tracking function…is our privacy all but gone?

steve-jobs-is-watching-you
When I first saw the MacIntosh 1984 Super Bowl spot I had really no idea that big brother would be placing a tracking device right in the palm of my hand…well it is 2011 and by now you have probably all heard the stories about the iPhone tracking function.

If you’re worried about privacy, you can turn off the function on your smartphone that tracks where you go. But that means giving up the services that probably made you want a smartphone in the first place. After all, how smart is an iPhone or an Android if you can’t use it to map your car trip or scan reviews of nearby restaurants?

The debate over digital privacy flamed higher this week with news that Apple’s popular iPhones and iPads store users’ GPS coordinates for a year or more. Phones that run Google’s Android software also store users’ location data. And not only is the data stored — allowing anyone who can get their hands on the device to piece together a chillingly accurate profile of where you’ve been — but it’s also transmitted back to the companies to use for their own research.

Now, cellphone service providers have had customers’ location data for almost as long as there have been cellphones. That’s how they make sure to route calls and Internet traffic to the right place. Law enforcement analyzes location data on iPhones for criminal evidence — a practice that Alex Levinson, technical lead for firm Katana Forensics, said has helped lead to convictions. And both Apple and Google have said that the location data that they collect from the phones is anonymous and not able to be tied back to specific users. But hey remember that movie Eagle Eye? I don’t trust anyone these days…do you?
eagle-eye-movie-29
But lawmakers and many users say storing the data creates an opportunity for one’s private information to be misused. Levinson, who raised the iPhone tracking issue last year, agrees that people should start thinking about location data as just as valuable and worth protecting as a wallet or bank account number.

“We don’t know what they’re going to do with that information,” said Dawn Anderson, a creative director and Web developer in Glen Mills, Pa., who turned off the GPS feature on her Android-based phone even before the latest debate about location data. She said she doesn’t miss any of the location-based services in the phone. She uses the GPS unit in her car instead.

“With any technology, there are security risks and breaches,” she added. “How do we know that it can’t be compromised in some way and used for criminal things?”

Privacy watchdogs note that location data opens a big window into very private details of a person’s life, including the doctors they see, the friends they have and the places where they like to spend their time. Besides hackers, databases filled with such information could become inviting targets for stalkers, even divorce lawyers.

Do you sync your iPhone to your computer? Well, all it would take to find out where you’ve been is simple, free software that pulls information from the computer. Carumba! Your comings and goings, clandestine or otherwise, helpfully pinpointed on a map.

One could make the case that privacy isn’t all that prized these days. People knowingly trade it away each day, checking in to restaurants and stores via social media sites like Foursquare, uploading party photos to Facebook to be seen by friends of friends of friends, and freely tweeting the minutiae of their lives on Twitter.
googlespy-768450
More than 500 million people have shared their personal information with Facebook to connect with friends on the social networking service. Billions of people search Google and Yahoo each month, accepting their tracking “cookies” in exchange for access to the world’s digital information. And with about 5 billion people now using cellphones, a person’s location has become just another data point to be used for marketing, the same way that advertisers now use records of Web searches to show you online ads tailored to your interest in the Red Sox, or dancing, or certain stores.

The very fact that your location is a moving target makes it that much more alluring for advertisers. Every new place you go represents a new selling opportunity. In that sense, smartphone technology is the ultimate matchmaker for marketers looking to assemble profiles on prospective customers.

What do you guys think?

iPhone Confession App!

I read an article by Sandra Zummo and it made me queasy, she writes. “Even after all this time, these seven little words still have the power to make me break out in a cold sweat: “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” “
article-1354872-0D167950000005DC-57_468x703
It has been many years since my last confession too, but the memory of the weekly trip to the penalty box las a child still ingers.

No meat on Fridays? No problem. Fasting for 12 hours before receiving Holy Communion? Piece of cake…anyone can do these.

But entering a darkened booth, perching on a kneeler and shaking until the door slides open and the priest’s face appears in shadow, waiting for me to spill my guts? Terrifying.

I just hear about the newly released “Confessions: A Roman Catholic App” at IHOP talking about whether we would skip Mass tomorrow.

I knew the Church had come a long way since my days memorizing the “Act of Contrition” as a 7-year-old, but I didn’t think it had gotten to the point of allowing sinners to bypass the confessional.

Further investigation revealed that it hasn’t. For $1.99, the “Confessions iPhone App” only helps you prepare for the Rite of Penance. As a Vatican spokesman has made very clear, “Penance cannot be replaced by a computer application.” Although that may be just a hop, skip and a jump away.

From the sound of it, the App does pretty much everything but give you absolution. Once you enter basic information about yourself, you either can create customized categories or be guided through an “examination of conscience” based solely on the Ten Commandments.

Tap on a particular commandment and you’ll be prompted to answer questions around a range of issues connected with it. Once you’ve got your sins in order, you’re ready to proceed to confession mode, where, armed with your checklist of offenses, the App provides the words to the “Sign of the Cross” and leads you into the familiar, “Bless me, Father …” Test run complete, you’re ready to head to church. Heck at that point why not just Tweet the sins?!

The penance in my youth for my “garden variety” sins generally was a very do-able three “Our Fathers” and three “Hail Mary’s.”

Every once in a while, I’d try to change things up by adding a new sin, usually something like, “I was late for Mass,” which might add three “Glory Be’s” to my penance. I clearly remember the time I also confessed to having “impure thoughts”! I was truly afraid to confess that one.

To me, a sinner is someone who takes something he or she has no right to take. Murderers are sinners. Thieves on the order of Bernie Madoff are sinners. Parents who abuse their children are sinners. Pedophiles and the people who protect them are sinners. Not sure to this day a simple act of contrition truly erases those sins…only God knows what is in their hearts.

It has been many years since my last confession. The last time was to a 90 year old Italian priest in Tokyo…that pretty well may have been the last time I will go…it took over an hour and he told me perhaps we should discuss the confession over an espresso…you can guess what those discretions may have been.

But I do think the creators of “Confessions: A Roman Catholic App” are on to something. If the Vatican is looking to draw more lapsed Catholics back into the fold, it might consider developing a confession App of its own that could somehow measure whether a penitent was truly sincere and then confer absolution.