Apple Inc. is once again the world's most valuable company by market capitalization. Yesterday, the company's share price surpassed $500 for the first time, prompting some to play the parlor game of whether the iPad maker could become the world's first trillion dollar company.
Even as Apple enjoyed the glamor of its financial success, it also moved to address criticisms of labor practices at the Chinese factories where its handsome devices are manufactured, Bits reports. The company said it has allowed a semi-independent observer, the Fair Labor Association, to investigate working conditions at facilities including Foxconn City in Shenzhen, China, where reports have surfaced of long hours, forced overtime, unsafe working conditions and worker suicides.
Apple is the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit group that is funded by member companies like Nike and Disney that have been criticized for their foreign labor practices, Bits reports. Some critics say that the FLA isn't a sufficiently independent monitoring body. But others say Apple's move could have wide-ranging impact on the tech community. Companies such as Dell and I.B.M. also produce many of their electronics in the country. The FLA's findings could be posted online as early as March.
Last month, Apple released the names of its supply partners, and by allowing an outside group to investigate factories, it has slightly lifted the veil in front of its vaunted supply chain. The moves are seen by some analysts as an attempt to circumvent a public relations battle over labor practices, Bits reports.
But while some small groups of protesters have taken to Apple retail stores to protest its labor practices, American -- and Chinese -- consumers seem more concerned about the release of the latest iPad than with the conditions under which it's made. Also yesterday, Apple supplanted Google as the company with the best public image, according to a Harris Interactive survey. (Bits)
Get Your Contract On (Bloomberg)
Bad news: President Obama is calling for a 1.2% decrease in federal technology spending next year. Good news: the $78.9 billion that the government does spend will go into cloud computing, data-center consolidation, cybersecurity and mobile technology.
Icy Hiring (FINS)
Ontario's IGLOO Inc. will hire at least 10 new employees this year after raising $5 million in financing. IGLOO makes "social business software," which is used by companies to facilitate collaboration between employees and improve productivity.
In Demand (Mashable)
Tech companies aren't just looking for people with technical skills. IT specialists who can also work with project managers to fulfill businesses are also hot.
Changing Times (CRN)
Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Meg Whitman has ingratiated herself with employees with a series of small changes that add up to a big culture shift. Executives have been moved out of offices and into cubicles, high-speed wireless Internet has been installed and the barbed-wire fence that separated the parking lots of executives and rank-and-file employees has been torn down.
Almost Cleared (WSJ)
Google's $12.5 billion bid to buy Motorola Mobility gained clearance from anti-trust regulators in the U.S. and European Union. The deal could be finalized in weeks.
Valentine's Day (WSJ)
The popular Zynga mobile phone game, "Words With Friends," is creating love connections between far-flung players who use the game's "random opponent" option to connect them with strangers.
For nearly a decade, Chinese hackers had spying software installed on the computers of Nortel Networks executives and employees and siphoned research and development reports and emails.
Control Freak (WSJ)
A respected advisory firm says that Mark Zuckerberg's control of 57% of Facebook's voting power puts the company at risk by making it less responsive to shareholder sentiment.
Buzz Around the Office
A brief history of Thomas Edison.
List of the Day: Office Talk
We're not saying don't ever broach these topics at work, but avoid boring your colleagues with every detail.
1. Your weekend or weeknight plans.
2. What your child did or said at their school play. Save it for the grandparents.
3. Wedding planning.
(Source: The Daily Muse)