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The Impact of Low Salaries At Apple 782

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 Anonymous Freak ( 16973 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @06:58PM (#23831807) Journal
    I have multiple friends who work for Google, that used to work for Intel.

    They got paid significantly more at Intel, for what was effectively a lower-level job. (Not directly comparable in job function, but in heirarchy.) Google pays on the order of 25% less.

    Comparing one single job isn't the way to go. Apple may pay less than Google or Yahoo, but, really, what job position at Apple are they referring to? TFA just say "engineers". Well, what kind? If you're comparing, say, the guy who designs the box that the iPod comes in to the guy who designs Google's customized Linux kernel, then it's not even close to comparable.
  • by Toll_Free ( 1295136 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:30PM (#23832223)
    Nah, they won't.

    I live in the area, and let me tell you, people would rather KNOW they are going to have a paycheck, at least in theory because of seniority if nothing else, than NOT because they jumped ship to get a 20K a year raise.

    Not when you paid nearly a million dollars for your 3 bedroom house.

    There ARE people within a few miles of my house paying 25 thousand dollars a month in RENT.... My neighborhood is in the 2 to 3K a month range, and if I KNEW I could pay my bills with the economy going to the toilet, there is NO good reason for me to jump ship for a raise.

    Three years ago, they ALL would have jumped ship. It's a different type of world now, since foreclosures, etc. are looming everywhere. Local trash mags have foreclosure sales listed, as do newspapers.

    Apple should pony up some of those profits, but a smart board and CFO would realize, they might need a bit of cheese to get them through the thin period we can all see coming.

  • Re:Free iPhones! (Score:2, Informative)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:34PM (#23832291) Homepage Journal
    Except the engineers at Apple are second to none, and the industry knows it.

    I would higher a Apple Engineer before I hired a .net programmer.

    Even if it was to program in .net.

  • by NDPTAL85 ( 260093 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @07:56PM (#23832569)
    If you ever actually watched the end of keynote you'd see that often Lord Jobs asks the engineers to stand for a round of applause. The atmosphere of the company is secretive though. Most tech companies issue endless press releases and promises of things to come and then produce crap where as Apple stays quiet until they're actually ready to release something of value.
  • by GarfBond ( 565331 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:02PM (#23832629)
    I'm not going to say anything about what the data means, but I am going to call into question the data itself. The site is based on two different types of surveys, employer ratings and salary numbers, and the site has different response results on both.

    So how much does a Google software engineer really make? The average, based on ten submissions, is $97,840. And the range is between $80,000 and $150,000, with annual cash bonuses coming in anywhere from $20,000 to $45,000. Adding salary and bonus together, the Google engineers that have entered information on Glassdoor average $112,573 in take-home pay. (And then there are stock options on top of that). Yahoo and Microsoft engineers get about the same salaries, but smaller bonuses, leaving their take-home pay at an average of $105,642 and $105,375, respectively. Apple software engineers make only about $89,000, on average, but they get to create some of the most loved products on Earth.
    I'm pretty sure with only 10 responses, this data is completely meaningless. However, now that people know about this site, maybe we'll see some more interesting results as more people report in.

    These ratings are by no means scientific. They are based on 124 responses for Microsoft, 50 for Yahoo, and 37 for Google, all collected during the companyâ(TM)s private beta. The more honest responses the site collects from any given company, the more accurate the results will be.
  • by oberondarksoul ( 723118 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:06PM (#23832667) Homepage

    Even skipping past the other implications, I never heard the Great Man giving credit to anyone else but himself.
    Watch the WWDC and MacWorld keynote addresses. Jobs always makes a point of thanking the Apple engineers, asking them to stand up and be applauded, and so on.
  • Steve Jobs style (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:06PM (#23832669)

    If you ever actually watched the end of keynote you'd see that often Lord Jobs asks the engineers to stand for a round of applause.
    Jobs is also well known for being aggressive, demanding and egotistical []. He frequently has been not-very-nice to those who work for him. He's a talented manager but has rarely been described as kind or gentle. He gets results which is why people tolerate his style. I suspect he does care about the people who work for him but he appears to be hard to work for at times.
  • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:23PM (#23832847)
    When the other companies in the Valley are hiring again, and Apple continues to have lower salaries, yes they will need to raise them.

    $89K/year won't get you a house even with today's market. Maybe an OK condo, assuming a bank will give you a loan. But if you don't mind driving 100+ miles each way, then you could get a decent structure, though the neighborhood might be in the middle of nowhere. Rents are going back up, but if you don't mind living in small apartments to be able to have some play money, then sure, $89K is enough.

    For those who just see the numbers and have no idea about cost of living, $700 for an apartment is awesome in the midwest, but $1400-1600 in the Valley will at least keep you out of the bad neighborhoods. After gas, food, and utilities, you'd be lucky to have anything left over to go out and socialize. In the midwest, you'd live like royalty.
  • by thzinc ( 679235 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:30PM (#23832925) Homepage
    The iPhone does have a removable SIM card in the top of the device...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:34PM (#23832971)
    ($removable_SIM && $can_use_on_any_GSM_network) == (true && false) == false

  • by bigstrat2003 ( 1058574 ) * on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:36PM (#23832977)

    $700 for an apartment is awesome in the midwest
    I live in the midwest, and $700 is crap for an apartment here. An average, one-bedroom apartment should run you like $400-$500.
  • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:37PM (#23832999)
    The point was that the apartment you could get for $700 would be awesome. Perhaps I could have phrased it slightly better.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:38PM (#23833009) Homepage Journal
    "$89K/year won't get you a house even with today's market. Maybe an OK condo, assuming a bank will give you a loan. But if you don't mind driving 100+ miles each way, then you could get a decent structure, though the neighborhood might be in the middle of nowhere. Rents are going back up, but if you don't mind living in small apartments to be able to have some play money, then sure, $89K is enough.

    Wow....I mean, I figure if you've got a few years experience under your belt...$89K/yr is really NOT that great?!?! And I mean not great in areas that aren't nearly as expensive as out there in Silicon Valley.

    As the parent said...people paid over a million dollars a pop for homes out there that aren't that palatial. How they hell does anyone make a house payment like that on $89K/yr? do you pay for what a condo or apt must cost out there on that salary? I'm not even talking having wife and kids to support....

    $89K is not a high salary in this day in is middle class...medium-low end of it really.

    This is what bothers me in the presidential rederick that is going on wanting to raise taxes on the rich. Use to..the rich was $250K and, apparently it is $75K and up from what I've seen. Notice where the tax rebates started declining in full value recently? Yep....$75K and you start getting rich and don't deserve a full rebate.

  • by bagofbeans ( 567926 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @08:40PM (#23833025)
    See [] for Consumer Reports piece:

    28% - Your monthly mortgage payment (including property taxes and insurance) shouldn't exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income.

    It's worse than you stated...
  • by cbrocious ( 764766 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:08PM (#23833257) Homepage
    I wish that was true of anywhere (anywhere worth living, that is) in CA, really. When I lived in San Diego I was paying $1200/mo for a pretty terrible 1br apartment. Now in PA, I'm paying $500/mo for a nice 2br house.
  • by calstraycat ( 320736 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:18PM (#23833363)
    ...I never heard the Great Man giving credit to anyone else but himself.

    Then you must have never watched a single keynote or any interviews with Steve Jobs.

    I'm certain the man is an asshole, tremendously difficult to work for and has an gargantuan ego. But, you could not be more wrong in terms of the way he speaks publicly. In interviews, he almost never speaks in the first person about the achievements at Apple. I always talks about the "great team" that is key to Apple's success. In fact, I can't think of single time when heard him say "I did this" or "I did that" regarding Apple's achievements. It's always "At Apple we....blah, blah."

    And, at the end every single keynote, Steve Jobs thanks all of the employees and their families for their hard work and sacrifices. Then he asks the employees in the audience to stand up and asks the audience to give them around of applause.

    Now, it's quite possible that it's all false modesty and/or clever, disingenuous PR. But, your assertion that publicly credits only himself for Apple's success is complete bullshit.
  • by Peaquod ( 1200623 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:27PM (#23833439)

    presidential rederick
    can't resist the urge... it's rhetoric
  • Re:Steve Jobs style (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:34PM (#23833479)
    If you want to see how much of an asshole Jobs can really be to employees, just see what he would do to his best friend.... (nicked from wikipedia):

    He returned to his previous job at Atari and was given the task of creating a circuit board for the game Breakout. According to Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari had offered US$100 for each chip that was reduced in the machine. Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the bonus evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Much to the amazement of Atari, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, a design so tight that it was impossible to reproduce on an assembly line. At the time, Jobs told Wozniak that Atari had only given them US$600 (instead of the actual US$5000) and that Wozniak's share was thus US$300
  • by AmigaMMC ( 1103025 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:34PM (#23833485)
    The iPhone HAS a removable SIM card and can be used on the GSM network. Have you ever bought an iPhone in Europe?
  • by plsuh ( 129598 ) <plsuh AT goodeast DOT com> on Tuesday June 17, 2008 @09:42PM (#23833545) Homepage
    I haven't seen much from people who have actually been there on this thread. I was an engineer with Apple for seven years, and I think I can speak to what it's like there. Yes, the pay is less than at comparable companies. The hiring managers gripe about it; I know that we lost many good candidates because we couldn't match the offers they got from other high tech companies.

    What offsets this? First, like many high tech companies, we got stock options. When the stock price soared recently, employees hit a jackpot. Second, there are long-term benefits from being an Apple employee. Having Apple on your resume is a definite plus in the industry -- it's something that potential employers definitely give weight to.

    Additionally, the environment is incredibly stimulating. You are surrounded by the best of the best, and I found myself working up at a level I wouldn't have thought possible. There's also the feeling of being a part of something that you couldn't do by yourself -- and the company culture recognizes more than just the core engineering teams.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:01AM (#23834579)
    You, sir, do not know what you are talking about.

    Mac OS X is the *first* UNIX(tm) *not* derived from AT&T sources.

    I was one of the people who made Mac OS X into UNIX(tm), and we started from not even being able to compile the test suite.

    My first one line header file change to xnu to test the water (not defining size_t in ) broke 156 projects, including Open Source that was written by people who assumed promiscuous #include files, in violation of the standard.

    A relatively small team of us fixed well over 40,000 total test case failures in a period of about 2.5 years, many of those in command line tools, most of that code being pushed back out to the various Open Source projects. Like, oh, "gcc", "bash", "vim", "tar", "bc", "pax", and hundreds of others, which are now UNIX conformant because of us.

    In the middle of things we were working 80 hour weeks, sometimes more.

    At the end... *almost no one noticed the changes*, because we worked our *asses* off to make sure there was so close to zero *both binary and source* compatibility issues that it would *not* be noticed. One member of the team put it this way: "It's like raising everyone 12 feet into the air, and replacing the Earth underneath them, then lowering them back down to the ground".

    All told, we changed more lines of code in the kernel, libraries, compiler, and UNIX(tm) standardized utilities, than all of the non-conformance related changes in Tiger and Leopard combined. I counted.

    And then we published the sources for everything needed to build your own Darwin system that could pass the UNIX(tm) conformance test, including our kernel.

    So let me repeat: you, sir, do not know what you are talking about.

    -- Terry
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @02:02AM (#23835293)
    Hi. I work at Apple, though I'm not speaking on behalf of the company. There seems to be a lot of speculation going on here, most of it unfounded (in the FA as well), which I will not comment on.

    What I will say is that Apple is growing, rapidly. We need engineers. Software, hardware, embedded, QA, IT, tech support. You could be working on Macs, iPods, iPhones, or one of our many applications. Start here: Apple Jobs []. Talk to a recruiter or a hiring manager. Ask them about compensation if that's what you're worried about. I bet you'll find everything to your satisfaction and a great environment full of smart people and challenging work. I know I did and that's why I started working here.
  • In the valley if you're not making at least $150k per year you will hate money and life. I would not recommend taking even what sounds like a high salary from Google at 112k... in the midwest that's a ton of money, but in the valley, nope. You couldn't live close enough to bike to work for less than 2000 per month unless you like rats. either work for someone that will pay a living wage, or move someplace else. (or have dual income with a spouse... but hey, this is /.)
  • by DrakeMcSmooth ( 1281862 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @09:50AM (#23838299)
    This posting is a joke. The "average Google salary" is based on 10 self-submissions. Aren't /.ers supposed to have a better grasp of statistics than this? kdawson has accounted for more wasted productivity this week than that Tiger Woods character.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @10:46AM (#23839145)
    This is how I saw Apple. I left on my own and they've since called to ask me to return. I joined when Apple was at $60 and didn't sell my original options until I left. These were my observations on the topics I've seen brought up...

    1) money - definitely low but they do keep up with everyone else. What I mean by this is if you accept the lower salary you'll always be lower then every other engineer in the valley but you won't fall behind even worse. I was at a company which suspended salary increases for years because of hard times (2000-2005) and only began adjusting when the salary differences became extreme.

    2) benefits - same as everyone else. Actually, the 401k is a little weak as they only match 1/4 the first year, 1/2 the 2nd year, etc etc until the 4th year. My previous employer matched 100% on the 1st year but vests at 25% a year (if you stay 4 years you get 100% the first year in other words). My medical is much much better now then it was at Apple but no match on the 401k. Exercise facility costs additional money. Give and take... I call it par for Apple... nothing exceptional.

    3) coolness factor - sorry to burst people's bubble here but as a slashdot reader you're probably an engineer working on code and/or hardware. that's the same where ever you work. It's easy for a data base guy to say that working at Apple would be great because of the iPhone but really... if they worked at Apple they would still be working on the data base.
    What most people talk about when they're talking cool is the industrial design and UI but unless you're Steve Jobs or one of the people that work in the studio (and that's like 5 guys) you have absolutely no say in what is cool or not. I spent weeks on incredibly minor cosmetic changes because the ID guys would come in for 15 mins... play with the results and decide to revise what they said the last time they walked in. The product ends up with exceptional thought behind it but a hardware/software engineer at Apple has NO say... sorry.

    3) technical growth - Apple allows $8k of funding for classes relating to your work. You can take a couple of classes at Stanford if you have the time (which you won't). That's about the same as most other large companies. There's no technical career ladder like there is in some other large companies. You plug away at your job and grow on your own time... Apple won't really recognize your growth and achievement unless you become a major leader in your field.

    4) golden handcuffs - ever since Steve came back there hasn't been an evergreening (you don't get more options/stocks every year). Stock options are given out but engineers are on the bottom of the stack (don't let them tell you different on the interview). I thought evergreening was the norm so I asked around and of all the engineers I've worked with only a small handful (5%) have gotten additional options since Steve came back. Also, what I've noticed is that people who exercise all their options get a trickle of new options. Basically, Apple only gives you more options (and very little) if you don't have any reason to stay anymore. They focus on the "golden handcuff" effect and not on rewarding the loyal employee. It's a subtle difference... if you believe in the company and never sell you're probably not get any more options. I've worked with engineers on skunk projects (multitouch), lifers (15+ years) and engineers considered "elite" (not an Apple title) and it's all the same. Consider that when they give you an offer. I personally found it insulting that Steve gets a $1 salary and a ton of options. I would have traded my salary for some options as well.

    5) life - engineers accumulate an incredible amount of vacation. when they eventually cash it in to take a breather we basically write them off. People almost never come back from a big vacation/sabbatical. That's why they've suspended the sabbatical program at Apple. Once people leave the distortion field, the cool aid wears off and the blind
  • $89K is not a high salary in this day in is middle class...medium-low end of it really.
    The median household income for the U.S. as of 2006 was $48000. The median individual income was $26000.
    But the median income is pretty much the definition of the lower bound for the American middle class [] income. Middle class is not the middle third of the population, but the upper half minus the 1% rich.

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