Global CIO: Apple's iPad, Electric Cars, And Runaway CEOs - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/13/2010
10:56 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Building Security for the IoT
Nov 09, 2017
In this webcast, experts discuss the most effective approaches to securing Internet-enabled system ...Read More>>

Global CIO: Apple's iPad, Electric Cars, And Runaway CEOs

We're all paying for electric cars—even if we don't buy one. So why shouldn't Steve Jobs demand tax breaks for the tree-saving iPad?

Watching some of the goings-on in the automobile industry, it's extraordinary to recall that not so long ago American car companies were delivering cutting-edge designs, bold new concepts, lifestyle-changing products, and innovations in marketing, packaging, pricing, and financing.

But today, with the exception of Ford, they've become financially emasculated hulks, pathetically dependent on the federal government for life-lengthening cash infusions, regulatory and tariff protection, and now—most ominous of all—strategic direction by environmental fiat.

There's a huge cautionary tale in here for the technology business, and we would be profoundly foolish to ignore it. Just as it would have been impossible only a few decades ago for U.S. auto companies to imagine the breathtaking decline in their creativity and innovation and dynamism, so too is it unfathomable for us in the IT business to even consider such a descent into mediocrity, mismanagement, and failure.

To get a sense for how low the formerly magnificent automobile industry has fallen, take a look at a provocative column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by Holman Jenkins analyzing the wheeling and dealing among car companies and various governmental bodies all bound and determined to crank out electric cars that are too expensive and too limited to succeed. That is, without some big-time help from the government.

As you read this excerpt from Jenkins' column, ask yourself why in the world tech companies shouldn't be lining up for the same type of largesse—after all, aren't the computer and software businesses indispensable? Don't they employ millions of Americans in an industry that's vital to our long-term economic interests? Aren't they saving the planet by reducing the number of trees that are cut down, and the lowering the number of miles driven by shoppers who can now handle those chores online?

Or, as I believe, does that way madness lie? Here's Jenkins on Nissan's electric-car funding strategy:

But understand something else: By pricing low and going for volume, Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn is making a calculated grab for the lion's share of the available tax dollars—and also pressuring Washington to extend the program when the money runs out.

Mr. Ghosn has made no secret of his expectations—"We are negotiating with the U.S. government to make sure we have a reasonable return on our investments and continue to develop the technology," he said last year.

And so a boondoggle is born.

Maybe Google should begin "negotiating with the U.S. government to make sure we have a reasonable return on our investments and continue to develop the technology" behind Android—after all, Apple's iPhone was becoming awfully popular out there among consumers and was gaining market share at a rate that might have monopolized the world.

Global CIO
Global CIOs: A Site Just For You
Visit InformationWeek's Global CIO -- our new online community and information resource for CIOs operating in the global economy.

And speaking of Apple—remember a few months ago when the CEOs of big book-publishing companies were prostrating themselves in front of Steve Jobs as they pleaded with him to spare them from pulp-based extinction by taking them on as content partners for the iPad? Anybody do the math on how many trees that will save? Since nobody wants to defoliate the planet, which the book publishers have clearly been trying to do for centuries, then why shouldn't Jobs begin "negotiating with the U.S. government to make sure we have a reasonable return on our investment and continue to develop the technology" to keep Arbor Day more than just a memory?

Then there's the temptation of using tax dollars for data-center technology:

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll