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The Almighty Buck Businesses Apple

The Impact of Low Salaries At Apple 782

Posted by kdawson
from the baby-needs-a-new-pair-of-shoes dept.
orenh writes "Recent data indicate that Apple engineers have significantly lower salaries than their Silicon Valley peers: $89,000 at Apple, versus $105,000 at Yahoo and $112,000 at Google. Paying lower salaries had a major impact on Apple's bottom line when it was struggling in the market up until 2004. But now that Apple is highly profitable, these lower salaries are no longer a factor in Apple's success. Will Apple have to raise salaries to match the market rate, or face defections?"
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The Impact of Low Salaries At Apple

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  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:54PM (#23831759)
    Maybe these people are fanatics about the platform.

    Maybe there are benefits packages apple is offering which even google does not (though it's highly unlikely).
  • You get what you pay for;-)
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yBLUEahoo.com minus berry> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:56PM (#23831783) Homepage Journal
    Your loking at just the salary? don't be stupid.
    Benefits. I make less then I could, but the benefits of where I work more then make up for it.
    So, what are their benefits?

  • by derspankster (1081309) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:57PM (#23831799)
    I thought all the "engineering" was done in China. Not bad money over there.
  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yoder (178161) * <progressivepenguin@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:58PM (#23831803) Homepage Journal
    Perks and benefits are great, but when the novelty wears off they will be looking for greener grass (or at least more green).
  • by kidgenius (704962) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:58PM (#23831813)
    Now, I know Google is supposed to be an absolute delight to work for, but there is also a certain "coolness" to working at Apple. Think about it, you get to work at the company that makes some of the coolest electronics and computers out there, wouldn't it be awesome to work there? That will go quite a ways towards bridging the salary gap. In addition, if Apple really started noticing its employees leaving en masse and couldn't find competent people at the salaries they offer, then they would definitely raise salaries to attract top talent. I don't think they are having much of a problem doing that with their current situation. And, if you don't have to arbitrarily raise salaries, why would you as a company do something that would cost you more if it wasn't required?
  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:02PM (#23831875) Homepage
    It really depends how you define "green". Would you rather have iMovie or Windows Movie Maker on your resume? How about MobileMe vs Windows Live Spaces? What about iTunes vs Sonic Stage?
  • by bigtangringo (800328) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:02PM (#23831877) Homepage
    I DNRTFA, but compensation includes benefits and options.

    Additionally, and more to the point, the environment has a huge impact on the salary I'll require.

    In the words of a friend of mine: My ability to tolerate bullshit is commensurate with my salary.
  • It depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:02PM (#23831883)

    Will Apple have to raise salaries to match the market rate, or face defections?
    Depends on what else they can offer employees and how good they are at recruiting talent. Salaries are an important part of the equation but not the only one. The perks at Google are legendary which is perhaps the clearest admission that salary isn't everything.

    We have to remember too that Apple is not really a direct competitor to Yahoo or Google. Sure there is some significant overlap but the real question is what are their competitors at Dell, HP, Nokia, RIM, Motorola, and Microsoft paying. I suspect Apple is likely fairly competitive on the pay. HR folks are pretty aware of what the going rate for talent is in a given area.

    I don't know too much about Apple's corporate culture but clearly they are able to attract some pretty talented folks. All other things being equal people talent will migrate towards higher pay but things are rarely equal. Speaking for myself I'd rather make a little less in a fun place with interesting work and cool co-workers. Benefits are also a consideration.
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot AT worf DOT net> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:05PM (#23831919)

    I can't wait to see how the Apple faithful attempt to defend this one.


    How about "non-monetary benefits"?

    Not everyone will jump at a job that pays more - I suspect for a growing number of people, there are certain non-monetary benefits that are worth way more than dollars. Things like flex time, telecommuting, vacation are often things that people may value more than their equivalent dollar value.

    Maybe Apple offers a no-nonsense environment where they can work on their stuff until "it's done right" rather than "we must ship, fix it later" mentality. Maybe they like Apple. Maybe Apple as an employer treats them fairly. Who knows (I don't work for Apple). Or maybe the work environment is such that it's a healthy one, or stimulating, or something people can feel happy about and look forward to going to everyday. Or maybe they're working on a pet project (after all, Apple has hired a number of people from the open-source community, like FreeBSD developers), and they're getting paid for what would otherwise be volunteer work.

    Money isn't everything to a job. For some, it's the most important thing, but for others, once they have enough to satisfy their material needs and current wants, excess money just goes to taxes. Sure other jobs can pay more, but they may make demands that are incompatible with how one wishes to spend their time. In fact, I might say if all that keeps one to a job is money, then there's something wrong.

    Or, to answer the original quote - maybe the reality distortion field works great.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:06PM (#23831931) Homepage
    "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" [pbs.org]

    There's more to a job than the salary.

    Of course, we all know how well that worked out for John Sculley.
  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by delysid-x (18948) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:08PM (#23831949)
    I'd want the one with the most market share to make me valuable to the highest number of employers and they'd want to market to the highest viewership, which would make iAnything out of the picture. Do people still use Quicktime? I sure don't. It was the second worst to realplayer.
  • by piojo (995934) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:15PM (#23832029)

    Maybe there are benefits packages apple is offering which even google does not (though it's highly unlikely).
    Or maybe people would rather work on OS development and desktop software than improve systems to sell ads.
  • by Wansu (846) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:15PM (#23832033)
    Anyone who has a good paying job in the US today is lucky.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NumbDr9 (601117) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:15PM (#23832035)
    While you're on the topic of benefits, don't forget about the golden handcuffs. Any employee who was around for the bump and has unvested stock options has a compelling reason to stay.

    I worked for a company that went through a profit cycle after a long period of doing nothing. I was expecting the company to do something to compensate the engineers who had been patient through the hard times, but then I realized something. They didn't have to. We all had significant stock options, and now that the stock was worth something we would all think twice about leaving (even though there were no raises or bonuses that year).

    On the other hand, when the stock price went back down, people were dropping like flies. Eventually Apple will have to make corrections, but they are probably not there yet.
  • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:20PM (#23832085) Journal
    Even more to the point, the "data" here are a handful of self-selected, self-reported anonymous reports, and therefore completely meaningless.
  • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:21PM (#23832099) Homepage

    you get to work at the company that makes some of the coolest electronics and computers out there, wouldn't it be awesome to work there?
    "Coolness" and "awesomeness" are hardly things that would tilt a talented person's interest in their favor. If you were offered $19K/yr to muck out the toilets at Apple when you could get $24K/yr at IBM, I doubt neither the "awesomeness" of working at Apple, nor the "coolness" of their products would significantly influence your decision.

    No, if you're working in an engineering capacity what matters are things like how "interesting" the projects you're assigned are, and the support you receive from the non-engineering staff. I have worked on software projects that were utterly mundane in their purpose and end use (military fuel management systems), but were extremely interesting to work on. Slick packaging and good interface design aren't what make you want to get up in the morning to go to work.
  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:21PM (#23832105)
    Well, the contest used to be between who was the richest tech CEO in America. Gates pretty much took that crown, so now they slug it out as to who is the biggest asshole. And I gotta tell ya, it's tough picking between the likes of Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, and the Gates/Ballmer combine. They're all royal jerks.
  • The Novelty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:24PM (#23832153)
    Yeah, good heath care plans and options are just the kind of thing that wears thin and makes you seek something else.

    Or not.

    It's not like we're just talking free soda here.
  • by skelly33 (891182) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:25PM (#23832163)
    Agreed - also, sorry but $90K is not chump change. "engineers" maybe convincing themselves of an over-inflated sense of self-worth just because of what's happening at another company. The fact is that Google cannot and will not hire 100% of engineers, thus the reality of being "able" to make better money at Google is tempered by the fact that the opportunity needs to actually present itself.

    To me, that's a bit like a store with a low price guarantee on a product - if you show them a competitor's ad that has a lower price, they call and find out if the product is actually in stock and the shopper can head over right that moment and buy it. If so, then the opportunity has actually presented itself and so they honor the price.

    If you take a poll of competitive salaries for similar positions at Google to your employer and demand a match, the might be inclined to determine whether any of those positions are actually opportunities for you, or if you're just trying to give them the squeeze.

    Not saying that you will never get what you want, but:

    a) Consider how important the difference is to you , versus...;
    b) Consider the risk of losing your job over such a high differential demand with no backup plan.

    For what it's worth, companies DO (sometimes) review employee compensation to ensure that they are keeping the ones they want and trimming the ones they don't, and in time Apple may end up doing the same. Any corporation worth its salt knows that its greatest asset is its workforce talent.
  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cmacb (547347) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:26PM (#23832177) Homepage Journal
    Doesn't do any good to have those things on your resume if you aren't planning to leave Apple. If they want to keep their best people they had better compensate them.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:27PM (#23832187)
    All i'm saying is, unless the salary is horrendously low, you have to look at more than just the pay.
  • by bomanbot (980297) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:29PM (#23832203)
    Well, I RTFA and while the data from the TechCrunch posting is quite interesting, the conclusion drawn from the blog post mentioned in the blurb is missing one important factor:

    It takes Apples R&D budget and spreads it over the total number of employees from Apple. It then gets to the conclusion that Apple has underpaid its software engineers especially in the last few years as the R&D budget was not nearly as big as it should have been for the number of employees Apple has.

    The problem with this conclusion is found in this article [daringfireball.net], which estimates that half of Apples employees are now working in retail i.e. in an Apple Store. Since Google and the likes do not have a brick and mortar business, so most employees are actually engineers, the simple calculation from the article might work there, but with Apple, it is a bit more complicated than that, especially since the retail store business has just been built in the last couple years

    Dont understand me wrong, Apple could still by all means underpay its engineers, but the conclusion of the article is too simple, I think.
  • Work/Life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:30PM (#23832221)
    People love working for Google, but my friends there tell me they work 70+ hrs/week.
    People like working for Yahoo, but my friends there tell me they work 60+ hrs/week.
    People tell me they love working for Apple, because they only work 50hrs/week.

    Maybe the salaries reflect that? Maybe the salary difference between Yahoo/Apple reflects the relative financial positions of the company? Maybe the salary differences have to do with Cupertino vs Mountain View cost of living? Maybe Apple employees have made buttloads of stock and HR doesn't need to pay them $20k more because they're making $50k each year in restricted stock that's vesting? Maybe Apple gives 30% bonuses and the others don't?

    I don't know, you tell me. I know Salary vs Salary is normally a weak comparison.
  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PieSquared (867490) <isosceles2006&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:30PM (#23832229)
    I seem to recall google having a pretty excellent benefits package in *addition* to their superior salary.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:31PM (#23832239) Journal

    YES! They probably are mostly zealots and fanboys otherwise they'd be working for M$. Pretty much anyone with an Apple becomes a zealboy so they have about 5% of the computing audience to hire from and most of them don't know they're being shafted, they're just working a dream job for the company that made the friendly overpriced computer they love.


    I know you're being sarcastic, but that does touch a subject that I've genuinely wondered about.

    See most stories we're graced with from Apple (which isn't to say it's a comprehensive set, but just that that's the image that Apple itself is perfectly happy to give) is that everything happened because of the Great Man Steve Jobs, and (thinly veiled) in spite of those lazy incompetent engineers. X is all due to the Great Man's vision. Y was personally tested by the Great Man. Z only happened because the Great Man yelled at the engineers and told them to make the things He wants. W happened because, frighteningly enough, the Great Man didn't yell for a change, but just fixed the engineers with his iciest stare and asked them when are they going to get it done. Etc.

    Frankly, it gives the impression of something more like Stalin's USSR or Mao's China than anything even vaguely resembling a company or a boss I'd like to work for. Not saying that it's necessarily that bad, I wouldn't know, but that's the impression that Apple's propaganda machine leaves. Seen from outside, and if the question came, "well, would I want to quit my job and try to get a job there?", it doesn't exactly sound motivational, to say the least.

    Even skipping past the other implications, I never heard the Great Man giving credit to anyone else but himself. You hear all the time about how the iPod's success is because Steve Jobs himself said how loud the volume button should go, but you never hear who was actually the guy who designed the bloody thing. Well, not from Apple. It's not hard to dig up the names, but I'd like just once to hear Apple just come out and say "we'd like to thank these guys for making it possible."

    Even from MS, for all its other sins, you hear about who championed, say, their getting into the whole Internet thing, against Bill Gates's vision. Or about those two guys whose bright idea was to make DirectX instead of just going with the OpenGL flow. Heck, you even hear about the Bob clusterfuck being the brain child of Melinda Gates. Good or bad, it's not particularly hard to find out who was really behind what.

    I'm not saying that Bill Gates is a nice guy, and Ballmer probably even less so. But between one narcissistic bully who at least gives credit, and a narcissistic bully who doesn't, Bill comes out as a bit less of a low life on my scale.

    Frankly, just about the only positive thing I hear about Apple as an employer, is that they don't discriminate against anyone. Their world is so centered around the cult of Steve Jobs, that there is no room for caring whether you're black, gay or whatever else. You're the worthless peon, and that's enough about you already.

    Now I hear that the wages aren't that great either.

    So, really, please help me understand. Why _do_ those guys go work there? I'm genuinely curious.
  • by mbessey (304651) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:35PM (#23832299) Homepage Journal
    I doubt those numbers are worth the paper they're (virtually) printed on. For Google, their results are based on TEN responses, according to the article. That's not statistically meaningful for a population of several thousand.

    In addition, they don't verify the information they're given (how could they, anyway?), nor do they have any idea who is actually posting those salaries. Interesting idea, but very suspect methodology.
  • by $random_var (919061) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:39PM (#23832351)
    Actually, package design is a complex and in-demand field, and top package engineers are paid well. When you're making millions of iPod boxes, suddenly questions of balancing manufacturing ease, strength, size, weight (both contributing to transportation costs), materials (supply chain), appearance in the store, etc. become very very important questions.
  • by cowscows (103644) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:48PM (#23832481) Journal
    I have no direct experience or knowledge, but I'd imagine that it's not nearly as bad as you make it out to be. Steve Jobs might not give a rats ass about most of his employees beyond whether or not they're being productive (I doubt most CEO's of large companies are), but that doesn't mean he'd kick dirt in your face just for the fun of it.

    I don't think it's really possible for any company to make products that so many consumers are ridiculously passionate about unless the employees working on it are at least as passionate about their work. I'm not sure how Apple specifically motivates their employees, but I'd wager a guess that they seek out people who are already fairly strongly-self motivated for whatever reason, and once you've got people like that, as long as you keep them busy with work that they feel is worthwhile and they feel like they're producing something of quality, then it's pretty self-perpetuating.

    We've all had the experience where a project that we were doing (maybe not at work, maybe as a hobby) becomes so engrossing that we willingly stay up to the wee hours of the morning, because we're really enjoying what we're doing. If a job can provide that on any sort of consistent basis, then it's a good place to be. The stuff that I read about Apple makes it sound like it's that sort of place for a lot of people.
  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:51PM (#23832507) Journal
    This is the kind of shit that bothers me about modern America. Oh noes, those guys get paid more than me, I am the suck and must leave for greener grass. It is unbelievably short sighted and materialistic to base these kinds of comparisons strictly on salary. Even outside of taking into account other benefits such as medical, retirements, or other such things there is who you work with, who you work for, where you work, where you live, what you actually do. You know, lots of job satisfaction things. It saddens me to watch people constantly bail on jobs they like for more money only to find they hate their new job, don't get to do what they want, have completely lost seniority, etc.

    I turned down job offers easily 30k more than what I make now. They weren't where I wanted to be for one. Also, while at my current employ I had to have some major surgery on my ankle. I spent 3 weeks "working" from home, which was really little more than keep up on what was going on and help with what I could through the fog of pain killers. No vacation or sick time used. Then when I did take some vacation time they had to get a hold of me for a few things, on those days they didn't charge me vacation time. I enjoy the people I work with, my boss is great about letting me just get things done (I have worked for micromanaging cockmasters before so this is GOLD in my book), and generally enjoy doing my work even on the shitty days.
  • by jaxtherat (1165473) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:51PM (#23832517) Homepage

    "Will Apple have to raise salaries to match the market rate, or face defections?"

    Yes!
    Nope. Not only are Apple employees more than likely as fanatical about the product as the loyal Apple consumers (and if you're unkind you can say that they drank the Kool-Aid).

    Pride in what you do and a sense of corporate individuality is a huge factor in determinining the loyalty of employees.

    Look at Games Workshop as an example. They borderline brainwash staff to love their job, and then they pay them so little that they generally have to share accomodation with fellow staff. And yet the staff turnover is surprisingly low for such a relatively crappy and intensive job.
  • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:52PM (#23832523) Homepage Journal
    While I doubt working at Apple would be much more fun and mentally stimulating than working at google, as long as I enjoy my job and can pay the bills plus a few luxuries (mostly music, movies and video games for me), I honeslty wouldn't care how much I earned. Those salaries are all above mine, though for the average 24 year old in western civilisation I'm probably doing quite well for myself tbh. My rent is only £215 a month including broadband though, in an area where £300 or more per person is standard - them's the perks of your landlord being your room-mate's brother! :)
  • job security? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jadin (65295) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:59PM (#23832595) Homepage
    I'm sure a lot of people would take lower pay if they knew they would have a job for the next 20 or 30 years vs a job that pays great, but you don't know if there will be layoffs a week, a month, or a year from now.

    No clue as to whether Apple has job security, but I'm guessing it would be a huge factor if they do.
  • by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:04PM (#23832641)
    Maybe not for you, but for Apple employees it obviously is what makes them want to get up in the morning.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:06PM (#23832665)
    I worked there, and defected when I found a job paying around 80% more (not a typo) at Dell. It was a great environment with (mostly) cool people, but if you ever say anything against Apple, God help you. The fanboys got to be too much, and the corporate manipulation was unsettling. "Apple loves you, we care about you as a person.. No, really we do! Seriously!". Anyone who understands the function of a corporation (ANY corporation) knows that this is extremely highly unlikely if not altogether impossible.
  • by juuri (7678) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:13PM (#23832745) Homepage
    Outside the Bay it might note known, but there is a running joke about the coming downfall of Google from within due to it's arrogance. Google actually doesn't pay that well and uses a *lot* of 3rd party contractors who make shit on the hope of coming onto google for real.

    What's really terrible is Google operates with a quit long interview process, often with a number of people. These people are all very similar and have huge chips on their shoulder and only look to hire people much like themselves. That is people from academia with not too much real market experience. They are quickly becoming a very self referential mono-culture of people who genuinely believe they are better, but without the actual experience to back it up. A telling sign is their over reliance on logic puzzle interviews, raw information queries and needing to gel solidly with a large number of people. They ask very few "how would you do X" or "how do you deal with Y" questions, instead thinking that the raw intelligence is the best feature to grade an applicant on.

    Anyone who has dealt with tech "darlings" knows the danger of this. Sure they may be smart as fuck, but it doesn't mean they know how to finish or deliver. It may be hard for the slashdot poster to believe but people used to dream of working at microsoft (and before that IBM) the way they talk about google now. It's just another cycle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:24PM (#23832865)
    I've met the man, and he's a jerk. But since I'm an Apple Zealot, I always thought of him as our jerk. And as you pointed out, this is not exactly a secret. There's a wonderful site called Folklore.com [folklore.org], created by Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original creators of the original Mac OS and Apple Employee #435. The site is filled with plenty of stories about Steve, of course, but my favorites are the ones about the other engineers, such as those about Burrel Smith [folklore.org].

    At the end of the day, however, Steve Jobs is the face of Apple, the figurehead. He couldn't have achieved Apple's current success without thousands of people supporting him, but Apple couldn't have gotten to this point without him either. Remember that the Board of Directors was considering selling the company off when Jobs returned to the company in in 1997.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:27PM (#23832879)
    I think the Chinese would be really smart if, instead of making outright counterfeits, started making "improved versions" of Apple's products: things that look much like Apple's stuff, but has all the same features and functionality, and maybe more. For instance, how hard would it be to make something like the iPhone, but which has a removable SIM card and can be used on any GSM network? I don't know about other people, but I'd be happy to buy something like this, because I like the way the iPhone works, but there's no way in hell I'm paying that much for a phone just to locked into some provider's proprietary network.

    Then again, this probably won't work, since frequently the most recognizable things about Apple products, such as the iPod's click-wheel, are patented. Other companies have made excellent competitors to the iPod, with more and better features (like Ogg support, FM radio, voice recording, etc. which my iRiver H330 has), and none of them have done very well in the marketplace against the iPod.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:30PM (#23832921)
    Where do you work? Mexico?

    I make about as much as those Apple engineers, and I don't have to live in overpriced Silicon Valley. I'm a software engineer with a college degree. You did something very wrong if you're only making a pathetic $30k as a programmer, unless your "college degree" is in something that has nothing to do with computers. I recommend that you quit your job, and apply for a job with the Post Office as a mail carrier. You'll make more money than $14/hour there.
  • Puget Sound (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:32PM (#23832943)

    It's reading things like this that help put my little worldview in perspective. I'm out in the sticks of Eastern Washington (the state), earning ~52k writing software, paying 645 for a two-bed, and maybe a mile from the Columbia River and the mess of parks cluttering the shore.

    That sound fantastic, as long as it's a mortgage you're paying not rent. At one tyme I wanted to move there so I could scuba dive and observe the J, K, and L pods of orcas as well as do some hiking.

    Falcon
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:36PM (#23832983)
    All Americans are lucky.

    However, by historical standards, "good paying" is about the same today relative to inflation as it was in 1998, and 1998 was better than 1988. Don't believe the doom and gloom the press pushes in an election year. By any European country's standards (except Ireland), the USA has an awesome economy.

      Unemployment is low, exports are surging, national debt as a percentage of GDP is relatively low.

    France has 12% unemployment even with a less tan 40 hour week.
    Germany has 8% unemployment.
    USA has 5.5% unemployment.

    Union jobs in manufacturing have declined in the USA for 35 years, but that is hardly the whole economy.

  • by cvos (716982) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:47PM (#23833087) Homepage Journal
    This article is based on an extremely small set of sample data contributed by anonymous users. The conclusions shouldn't even be used even for entertainment purposes. Alas the mob has spoken (at least 200 so far)
  • by crunchy_one (1047426) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:53PM (#23833149)

    Steve Jobs trots out a half-dozen people, remarks how this person worked on this and that person lead this great team who did that, and generally gives credit to lots of other people, including people who aren't even directly part of Apple. He's done this at EVERY keynote speech pretty much since he's been giving them.

    Note that he trots out the suits. Always the same suits, too.

    Never, ever an engineer on the stage.

  • The vast majority of those perks apply only to Google headquarters. Google has many more employees scattered around the country. They get food, yes, but not "professional chef" quality, more like "somewhere between Denny's and Red Robin," and even that is only once a week, tops. Other than that, it's a cabinet full of what would normally be in a vending machine.

    No car wash, oil change, dry cleaning, massage, gym, etc, etc, etc. They do have a Wi-Fi equipped shuttle bus, though.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:57PM (#23833185) Homepage

    do you want a pay cut when we lose money, no,


    Um, most people do expect that there will be layoffs and cutbacks when a company is losing money. It's certainly not uncommon. Getting let go with 10 minutes notice is a pretty steep pay cut by any standard.

    I'm glad you're not my boss, though. Not only do you seem to be completely clueless about the value of experience and qualifications (no, interns or Indians really can't replace most skilled labor, no matter what your consultants try to sell you for $600/hour), you seem to be downright contemptuous of anyone who isn't sufficiently grateful that they aren't homeless and starving.

    Of course, given your words here, I suspect all your qualified people have already quit, so hiring a bunch of Indians probably WOULD be just as good as whomever has such lack of career options as to stick around and take your attitude.

    It makes me think of all the ads I see on craigslist where companies want to pay $10/hour for someone to do some technical job, inevitably they get several replies telling them what cheapskates they are and that nobody qualified would apply. The beauty is, they'll get all sorts of unqualified people applying, and then when the project fails, they'll pat themselves on the back for being so smart as not to pay more than $10/hour, because after all, if the cheap ones couldn't do the job, the more expensive ones would have just wasted even more money!
  • by phreakincool (975248) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:58PM (#23833187)
    "There ARE people within a few miles of my house paying 25 thousand dollars a month in RENT"

    Anyone who pays that amount of money just to rent, needs to have their head examined.
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eclectic4 (665330) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:09PM (#23833269)
    Benefits: Working in a genuinely cool atmosphere (I see guys walking around with blue dreadlocked hair, eating at Café Mac (great food, BTW) sitting across from Steve eating his veggies and vegan gourmet cookies, playing volleyball on lunch in the inner lawn of 1 Infinite Loop, etc...

    But I think the greatest thing is working with other extraordinarily talented people passionate about Apple. I don't know how else to explain it. I've told this to countless people, but I think the thing that Apple does the best, bar none, is hire the right people. The process is long and arduous (even for the lowest of the low), and they make you feel very special. It's also something you notice after a while, but almost everyone else at Apple kind of behaves the same. Always upbeat, hip, and very passionate. Most have hardcore hobbies (from playing in bands to mountain climbing, almost to a person it seems), and are very goal driven. But, who wouldn't want to hire people like that? The execution at Apple in this regard is just brilliant.

    Lastly, and why this has to be explained, and why nearly no one here has mentioned it is quite strange... money is not everything, not even close. Yes, the stock (not options, actual stock placed in an ETrade account, all set up for you to sell at your convenience, although I wouldn't!), 25% off product is nice, the free shit is also nice, and well, working for a great company means a hell of a lot, but the salary isn't at the top of the list of things most of the employees are wanting as far as compensation, it's all the rest, and being able to be who they are (when you saw a suit, you knew they were from out of town) and being pushed to be passionate... it's not that money, at least to the type of people Apple hires... which is my point.
  • As the other poster said, when a company in this country loses money, layoffs are common. Hell, half the time they're common just to bump up the stock of a publicly traded company a few points.

    You better bet that we, as employees, look out for our own best interests, and that includes the amount we are paid. Nobody else will.

    That said, I have to tell you that there is basically zero chance I would want to work for you. In a few lines, you've proved that, if you *are* a manager (which I doubt), you don't value your employees, aren't in touch with the realities of business, and create an adversarial environment in your workplace.

    That's not conducive to getting good people.

    I have news for you - quality people *aren't* cheap and *aren't* easily replaced. This is especially true mid-project when the time for a new person to figure out what they are doing is, to say the least, non-trivial.
  • by catwh0re (540371) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:26PM (#23833427)
    It's a gross over simplification to pretend that the vision of steve jobs is the reason why apple has been seemingly consistently good recently. (Note jobs was evicted from his own company due to his poor "vision" at a time. In this poor performing time many apple engineers moved to microsoft.)

    Jobs himself often points out that it's the apple staff as a whole which produces great products. Their success has been due mostly to good research, listening to their customers and realising that their survival relies on innovation (apple have one of the largest r&d capabilities of tech companies, originally apple directed all advertising dollars into r&d.)

    For every apple success there is a history of modern flops such as: apple hifi, apple tv mk 1, the cube, xserve raid, etc, many of which Jobs had a direct hand in designing. Apple's modern successes are Mac OS X, iMac, iPod, iPhone and iTunes. Which are maintained and proliferated by huge teams of staff which Jobs does not oversee directly.

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:46PM (#23833575) Homepage
    And yet, there are plenty of motivated, capable people out there who do not have jobs, let alone jobs which pay well.

    Motivation is not the sole determinant.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:49PM (#23833597) Journal
    I'm certain the man is an asshole, tremendously difficult to work for and has an gargantuan ego.

    That's the impression you'd get if you never met him yourself, and only had the word of reporters who were bent out of shape about not getting an interview to go on.

    There are two sides to every story, and if the reporter wants a lot of traffic, he's going to do something like tell a story about someone getting canned, and never even consider whether the person was worth his salary.

    -jcr
  • Re:What? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @10:35PM (#23833945)

    Any employee who was around for the bump and has unvested stock options has a compelling reason to stay.
    By design.

    For any employer, you have to look at the total package, above and beyond salary and enumerable benefits. For me, it goes like this:
    • Do I like my job?
    • Does it give me quality of life?
    • Is the total pay/benefit package acceptable?
    • Could I do much better elsewhere?
    • Is it a stable employer?
    • What is the future career potential?

    I love my job now. I know for a fact that I could get better pay somewhere else. But the overall qualities of my job are top notch.

    Most of my colleagues are great, or at least decent. We all want the best for each other and the company.

    Financial compensation is only the most important item on your list if it's all you have to look forward to.

    For me, career growth potential, quality of the projects I work on, work hours, paid-time-off, the intelligence of my boss, and the quality of my coworkers has a value in the range of $20,000 per year. Perhaps more.

  • You just keep at it, don't you? You really make this too easy. I know this response wasn't directed at me, but I'll put in my 2 cents.

    For one thing did I say anything about any indians, are you singleing them out for any specific reason?

    Probably because, at the moment, they are the most common in this country when it comes to outsourcing and/or H1B holders.

    Also, anyone that is dumb enough to use consulants is an idiot

    Nice generalization there. Sorry, man, but while some consultants are overpaid, a lot of us are more than worth what we get paid. Then again, I'm talking as one of the consultants that people call when there's an emergency or things absolutely have to be done right and have to be done right now.

    Maybe I didn't explain my self enough earlier, american employees in general are too spoiled, and expect too much from companies.

    Oh really? Is that why so many companies that I've seen expect their employees to work insane hours with absolutely no job security? In fact, they work longer hours than other countries who, apparently according to you, are less "spoiled".

    It seems that you think people are "too spoiled" because they look out for themselves because they *know* that half of the companies out there are going to try to screw them over.

    But anyone that agreed to do a job and signed a contract to work for a company, and then thinks that they should get more because the company did well all of the sudden, is a greedy bastard and doesn't deserve a job with them.

    Expecting a wage in line with the average in the area for your position and skill level is not being greedy. In fact, in most companies in this country, in order to get a raise that amounts to anything at all, you have to change jobs.

    Sorry to tell you this, but that rather points at the company as being the greedy bastard; not the person who wants a decent wage.

    I have to say honestly that you have no idea what in the hell you're talking about. Quit while you're ahead.
  • by Buran (150348) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:08PM (#23834175)
    In other words, anyone who wants to say something without their name being attached to it is an idiot. I'm sure Deep Throat would love to meet you.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:43PM (#23834441)
    I'm not saying following orders is a failing. I'm saying that following orders is not the particular characteristic R&D shops select for.

    As a rule, PhD types are trained to do their own thing, and are never given specific tasks. In fact, the thesis is supposed to be a test to see if they can come up with something interesting entirely on their own. In most research departments around the world, there's no leadership, and there's no real job specification for the researchers. It's only expected that they show their value somehow, but nobody tells them what to do. They'd probably resign and move to another department if this happened regularly.

  • What a crock (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @11:57PM (#23834565) Homepage Journal


    "This isn't like Wal-Mart dragging down the wages of an entire town"

    Everywhere Wal Mart has gone, its had beneficial effects for the area as a whole. Mom and Pop dime store go out of business because of big bad Wal Mart? So what? Small food stores and delis go under because of chain grocery stores too. General stores and hardware stores went under when Sears and JC Penney were dominant.

    Wherever a chain store like Wal Mart or Target or Costco opens, a whole ecosystem of small stores spring up around it. You not only get cheaper prices with chains, you also get a much better selection of goods. The tax base always... always increases in that area, not decreases. And last I checked, Wal Mart isn't the only chain that doesn't pay big bucks to their employees. Are you bitching about Best Buy, Circuit City, and Food Lion as well? Do you shop at those stores anyway, or do you voluntarily pay higher prices at places like Whole Foods? Do you seriously expect anyone to pay good money for slinging stock at a department store? Had Wal Mart never come to these small towns, how is it that you figure their income or the town's tax base would have increased otherwise?

    You people act like Wal Mart conquers and forces entire populations to shopping enslavement. This is a market economy, and businesses succeed because they give customers what they want, or someone else comes and takes their business away. If there's money, there's going to be competition for it. Mom and Pop stores, cute and quaint Americana that they were, weren't getting it done. Someone else built a better mousetrap. For that matter, why don't you bemoan the loss of small bookstores, neighborhood gas stations, and Five and Dimes while you're at it? They've all been swept away too, and Wal Mart had nothing to do with their death.

    While you're at it, would you like to curse the web? Amazon and their like are also doing what Wal Mart did, only on a wider scale, and you don't get the benefit of any local brick and mortar presence... or the tax funds they bring. But would you argue that Amazon has been a bad thing? If you feel that strongly about small businesses, you patronize them, by all means. But don't expect to be able to force myself and other customers to shop at such places when there's a better alternative.
  • by jaylw2000 (234987) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:18AM (#23834713)
    No, they won't.

    For Apple fans it is a PRIVILEGE to work at Apple. It's not just a job...they are part of a revolution.

    After a few years some employees will naturally move on for greener pastures/more money, but there will always be new engineering and programming talent to take their place.

    Don't forget the siren call: Steve Jobs needs ARTISTS!!! Not a bunch of clock-punching morons...and REAL artists SHIP!!!

    People who are concerned with the long-term financial viability of Apple, Inc. shouldn't be at all concerned with how much they are paying the employees---they should be concerned with the long-term health of Steve Jobs.
  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:26AM (#23834769)
    Got anything less than thirty years old?

    Seriously, he's made peace with Wozniak long since. It broke their friendship, but it's before many current Apple users were even *born*.

    And further - who has the same personality they had thirty years ago?

    Your quote is true, and informative, but it's also reaching way back into the past. It's just not relevant to the man today.
  • Re:Pathetic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:29AM (#23834793)
    No, that is the great thing about modern America. You can choose to work at the level for which you wish to be compensated.

    Want to work 70 hrs. a week for an asshole? Go right ahead. Want to put in your 40 and leave the job at work? Find that job.

    Everyone wins.
  • by religious freak (1005821) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:48AM (#23834907)
    What a load of bullshit... (I'm sorry, I'm not being personal here, but I'm calling it as I see it)

    Have you seen some of the tech the military is dreaming up? THAT is the frontier of IT... yes, they readily engage academia, but what successful cutting edge organization doesn't?

    I've worked with many former military people and I tend to be impressed with their self discipline and ability to deliver... they are by no means automatons. In fact, they are usually the people who have the balls to speak up when a project goes south, and are willing to put the work in (and cut the fat) when others are too timid.

    I'd be surprised if you've actually worked with a military person in IT, or perhaps you don't know who on your team has been in the military.

    Lastly, on top of the obvious flaw in your logic, by your assumptions, you're clearly shitting on the heads of those that have served the US to the best of their ability. It's your choice, but I think it's a bad one. Whenever I interview I give deference to the people who have served, and I've never been disappointed.
  • Non-money issues. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:22AM (#23835101) Homepage
    • Google Google is really an ad agency. Search is just another traffic builder. Most new hires outside of Mountain View are ad sales execs. Over time, this will change the culture, as ad execs move up in the organization. Google has never had a second profitable product - AdWords generates all the profits. Despite all the new "product" rollouts, none of the new stuff makes money. When I've been over there, I get the feeling of "overfunded dot-com". There's all this activity, but it's not contributing to their bottom line. The technical work that does contribute to revenue revolves around ad optimization. The stock peaked a while back, and it's way overpriced for the revenue, so don't rely on stock options. Yes, they have free food, but the feeding schedule is designed to make people spend their whole life at work.
    • Intel Dilbertland. By design. Tiny grey cubicles out to the horizon. Just visiting Intel HQ is depressing. Yet incredible CPU design work is done there, by huge teams.
    • Apple The Mac people hate the iPod people. The iPod people hate the iPhone people. If you're in a visible position, Steve Jobs yells at you. Some of that attitude permeates the culture. Too much excess stress.
  • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:01AM (#23835285)
    I agree. I recently went from $110K/year with 15% bonus to $95K/year without a bonus for better job security and satisfaction. Company I left has since removed bonus, frozen pay increases, decreased 401K matching, and now fires people w/o severance instead of layoffs. I have a great job with a small company, a great boss that I respect, and work fewer hours.

    A couple of adjustments, like paying off a car and riding my motorcycle to work everyday instead of 3 or 4 times a week and I hardly notice. The bills are paid, I still have a growing 401k, and the credit card debt is going down instead of up. Maybe not as fast as it did a year ago, but in the right direction.

    I can't speak to the Apple engineers, but I will argue that taking another job purely on salary isn't always the best thing to do. And ratings in magazines rarely add in other perks.
  • Re:Options (Score:3, Insightful)

    by servognome (738846) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:24AM (#23835373)
    Option based compensation is great as long as the company is growing.
    If they hit a growth wall, not only do you have the upper management retiring off their options, they can't replace them because of low base pay. Tech companies used to attract talent with options in the 90's, once that crashed engineers moved to more entrenched positions valuing base pay and job security over potential riches.
  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @03:03AM (#23835557)

    What a load of bullshit... (I'm sorry, I'm not being personal here, but I'm calling it as I see it)
    No offence taken, call away :)

    Have you seen some of the tech the military is dreaming up? THAT is the frontier of IT... yes, they readily engage academia, but what successful cutting edge organization doesn't?
    I'm not sure I understand your point. Outsourcing military research projects to academics somehow proves that vets are suitable researchers? Or do you mean all those basic research grants paid for by the military?

    I've worked with many former military people and I tend to be impressed with their self discipline and ability to deliver...
    Yes, but deliver what exactly? Delivering presupposes some kind of task that was set by someone, a goal if you like. What if the goal is nebulous and there are no clear metrics to start with? Improve search.

    Lastly, on top of the obvious flaw in your logic, by your assumptions, you're clearly shitting on the heads of those that have served the US to the best of their ability. It's your choice, but I think it's a bad one. Whenever I interview I give deference to the people who have served, and I've never been disappointed.
    You're free to read into my comment what you like, but all I've written is that military people work in a very hierarchical environment, which is the complete opposite of the highly egalitarian and informal environmnent that R&D is usually conducted in. People who thrive in one type of environment don't tend to do well in the other.
  • by uncqual (836337) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @03:10AM (#23835583)
    Medians and averages have little meaning on an individual basis.

    One rationale for having a progressive tax system is that people should be taxed less on that portion of their income necessary to meet basic needs (like renting a two bedroom apartment) than on the optional "luxury" expenses (like golf club memberships). The problem is that the United States Federal Income Tax rates are not indexed by geographical cost of living. A family making $80K a year in a small, low cost, burg in Indiana can join a low end golf club while the same family living and working in San Mateo, CA will barely be able to rent an apartment, eat, and buy gas.

    Note that Medicare benefits are already, to some extent, indexed geographically. The amount that the Feds will pay for taking out an appendix in Burg Town, IN is much less than they will pay in San Mateo, CA. Why not afford this to taxes as well?

    IMHO, if we are going to have a progressive Federal income tax, the tax tables should be indexed by cost of living by geographical area. (Although, I'd rather just have a flat tax with no deductions for things like mortgage deductions).

    Also, anything that raises an individual's taxes when not accompanied by an income increase is a tax increase. Allowing a long standing law to expire is no different than passing a new law that that reverts an existing law. Ethically and morally, they are identical as each lawmaker should make exactly the same decision in both cases regardless of if the tax increase is the result of failing to sponsor/vote for a bill to continue the "expiring" law X or actively sponsoring/voting for a bill to override X.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @03:19AM (#23835623)

    I wouldn't say 20% time is a myth. What I would say is that people radically under-estimate the discipline required to take it. A lot of people just magically expect that day to carve itself out of the week, and of course it doesn't - like any side project, you have to make it happen.

    For what it's worth, I work at Google and have a 20% project. So does my boss. Most of my colleagues don't, but that's more because they aren't feeling particularly inspired to take it rather than because they can't. Fact is, and this has been clarified many times by management, your boss (nor his boss, etc) cannot deny you 20% time if you want to take it. He can ask you to bank it for later if the team is heading towards a deadline, but 20% time is a "right" or as close to it as a business can get.

    There's actually a little room for 20% time in the latter areas, but the barrier to entry is non-trivial. Long gone are the days when you could host some new whizz-bang idea on your workstation or a borrowed machine in a coloc. If you want to integrate with existing services, you have to speak borg, borgmon, etc.

    Er, you realise there aren't any published papers on those programs right?

    Anyway, it's a shame you found it that way, but I routinely use demos and prototypes that people have simply started running in a datacenter. In fact I'm running some servers and a BigTable for my 20% project in a datacenter right now, and I didn't have to ask anybody or get permission to do so. I just went ahead and did it. Anybody in the company can use those servers.

    Sure, if I wanted to go ahead and launch it as a product, that's a much more difficult thing, but how can it be any other way? Anything Google launches, no matter how small, immediately gets jumped on by gazillions of people who will derive an opinion of the company based on it. If the product is hard to use, slow, buggy or (worse) insecure then it'll seriously tarnish the good name that everybody else has built. So I'd expect a more rigourous process there.

    Anyway, I agree with the rest of what you write. The promotions process is a rather frustratingly opaque black box at times. I work in operations so fairly regularly am putting out fires, etc, and whilst sometimes I work long hours, I'm usually careful to make it up by going in late or leaving early on quieter days. Everybody is cool with that. As far as I can tell most people aren't really stressed here.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:09AM (#23836135)
    They convinced you that you are better than everybody else because you went through a long and difficult process to be accepted into a group of people who themselves believe they are better than everybody else.

    They provide employees with some unusual (but reasonably cheap) benefits and promote an image to both the inside and the outside that by being with them you are somehow part of a select clique.

    The same process is used in elite military forces, religious cults and even in street gangs.

    I bet you're surrounded by mostly males, in their late teens and twenties - they tend to be the most susceptible to this kind of group conditioning.
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @05:14AM (#23836163) Journal

    By 25 most programmers are "used up"... at least by their standards.

    And another nail in Google's eventual coffin; the obsession with youth isn't all it's cracked up to be. In my experience, most software developers don't come into their prime until they are at least 25. Before then, they are still too inexperienced and make too many mistakes due to inexperience.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @08:08AM (#23836951)
    TFA shows that the Google numbers come from a huge sample of 10 (in words: ten) Google engineers. No number is given how many Apple engineers participated.

    Actually, all that we really know is that ten people visited the page who _claimed_ to be Google engineers, and they put in numbers that they _claimed_ was their salary, plus an unknown number _claiming_ to be Apple engineers doing the same.

    Trying to draw conclusions about which company pays how well from a sample size of ten is nonsense. It would be nonsense even if you knew that the information they got is actually correct. But you don't know even that.
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:38AM (#23839985) Homepage
    I'm going to second the guy saying that you have to take 20% time rather than just having it given to you - I had a 20% project the entire time I worked at Google, and I would occasionally say things like "okay, the new server's up, I'm taking a 20% week". Nobody minded at all, and I got a lot done.

    (Most of which never did, and therefore never will, see the light of day. But so it goes. At least I fixed up the Calculator quite a bit.)

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