Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 26th Feb 2014 12:31 UTC
Google

John Gruber, on Google's Project Tango:

Google is starting to remind me of Apple in the '90s: announcing more cool R&D prototypes than they release actual cool products. Even the R&D team names are similar - Google's is called "Advanced Technology and Projects"; Apple's was called "Advanced Technology Group".

Funny. Google's 'moonshots' actually remind me more of another R&D-focused company. Interestingly enough, without that company, the computer industry would have been set back decades, and Apple would most likely have been reduced to a footnote in computer history.

I would rather large companies spend their cash on potentially awesome research that may (or may not) advance computer technology and the human race, than have them stash it away in shady overseas bank accounts.

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Variant
by Kochise on Wed 26th Feb 2014 12:35 UTC
Kochise
Member since:
2006-03-03

Let's create another FAT and/or MPEG variation and license it ;)

Kochise

Reply Score: 1

RE: Variant
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 26th Feb 2014 22:12 UTC in reply to "Variant"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

Let's create another FAT and/or MPEG variation and license it ;)

Kochise


That's not entirely fair - HFS+ isn't comparable to FAT, it's much MUCH worse. And MOV isn't really a "variation" of anything, unless you define "variation" as "exact same format with a different file extension".

Edited 2014-02-26 22:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Different discussions
by Torbjorn Vik Lunde on Wed 26th Feb 2014 12:56 UTC
Torbjorn Vik Lunde
Member since:
2009-09-04

I think maybe people are talking a bit past each other here. If I understand correctly, Gruber talking about what strategies that will quickly lead to user friendly products (and sales). In this view I think he's right. It's a very narrow view though.

Somebody have to do non-product focused research, and Apple have many times reaped the fruits (hah!) of such research (TouchWorks comes to mind).

Considering the cash Apple has I think they should at least fund some research. Not for business reasons, but for ethical contribute-back-to-society reasons.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Different discussions
by JAlexoid on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:03 UTC in reply to "Different discussions"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Apple's role is reduced to funding the research post-success. Unless they start investing into earlier stage research, it'll bite them later on.

Apple is the productiser company today. Take successful tech/research and create a product with it.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Different discussions
by bryanv on Wed 26th Feb 2014 20:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Different discussions"
bryanv Member since:
2005-08-26

That has always been Apple's key to success. They never were 'first', but very often were the first to be successful.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Different discussions
by Priest on Wed 26th Feb 2014 21:21 UTC in reply to "Different discussions"
Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

Yes but a lot of technology companies have more lawyers than they do engineers. It's sometimes not enough to just deploy/adopt technologies after they have matured because the next company might pretend to have invented the idea no matter how obvious and you might need documentation of prior art just for legal reasons.

It's so expensive to be late legally that you might as well just get in on future technologies and have a hand in their development.

Reply Score: 3

Very much in agreement Thom
by The123king on Wed 26th Feb 2014 13:37 UTC
The123king
Member since:
2009-05-28

IMHO i'd rather companies such as Google and MS came up with ridiculous concepts such as Microsoft's Home of the Future, and Googles many many moonshot projects instead of hoarding money (looking at you, Apple) because at least then, another Steve Jobs might get inspiration for a new Macintosh. Very rarely does a company ever get something revolutionary right first time. Often, as with the GUI, ethernet, the iPad etc etc they have to go through many iterations before something becomes commercially viable, and Google etc are blazing the trail that others will eventually follow

Reply Score: 7

RE: Very much in agreement Thom
by majipoor on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:02 UTC in reply to "Very much in agreement Thom"
majipoor Member since:
2009-01-22

IMHO i'd rather companies such as Google and MS came up with ridiculous concepts such as Microsoft's Home of the Future, and Googles many many moonshot projects instead of hoarding money (looking at you, Apple)


Because Google and MS doesn't have a lot of cash and are not hoarding money? Because Apple's R&D engineers are playing Angry Birds all day instead of designing Ax SoC or coding iOS 8 or OS X 10.10 or designing the next disruptive product?

because at least then, another Steve Jobs might get inspiration for a new Macintosh.


Steve Jobs? The CEO of the company which is hoarding money instead of making the future with some real products anybody can actually use and purchase (unlike XeroX PARC)?

Google etc are blazing the trail that others will eventually follow


Eventually. Or not. Or Apple will do it. Or not.

Edited 2014-02-26 14:05 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Because Google and MS doesn't have a lot of cash and are not hoarding money? Because Apple's R&D engineers are playing Angry Birds all day instead of designing Ax SoC or coding iOS 8 or OS X 10.10 or designing the next disruptive product?


As of November 2013, Microsoft was #3 in R&D Spending, totaling $10.6 Billion. Google was #13 at $6.7 Billion.

Apple was #46, spending $3.5 Billion.

Meanwhile, Apple's cash horde is more than double that of Microsoft's, and the largest of any non-financial corporation, at $137 Billion (Microsoft is #2).

There is a huge difference between the cash vs R&D budgets of Microsoft and Google, versus that of Apple.

Reply Score: 9

majipoor Member since:
2009-01-22

All these companies makes a LOT of cash and spend a LOT on R&D but apparently you have put a limit on "good R&D companies" and "greedy cash hoarders" somewhere between Microsoft/Google and Apple.

I would be interested to know your analysis and how you set this limit.

And BTW, how much money you put on R&D is not in direct relationship to how useful this R&D is for humanity.

If you want an example, I am sure the US DoD spend more than all these companies on R&D.

But I understand that some absolutely need to find another reason to dislike Apple. What I understand less is that the same consider Google as an altruistic company.

Reply Score: 1

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

This is how the line is drawn:

Google, Microsoft: Close to the top in cash hoards, also close to the top in R&D.

Apple: At the top of the cash hoard (By a significant margin), nowhere near the top of R&D spending.

See the difference?

But I understand that some absolutely need to find another reason to dislike Apple.


Nope. Guess not. I don't expect that you do, considering that you seem to automatically assume that any criticism of Apple must not be honest criticism, but rooted in a powerful dislike for the company.

Reply Score: 3

Set Back Decades
by Brendan on Wed 26th Feb 2014 13:37 UTC
Brendan
Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

I'm honestly not convinced that, without the R&D done by Xerox/PARC, the computer industry would have been set back decades.

For example, I'd assume that once hardware capable of handling decent graphics (rather than just monochrome text) became available, someone somewhere would've "joined the dots" within 12 months. It might not have been identical (e.g. it could've been keypad or joystick or touchpad instead of mouse), but it would've still happened and followed a similar evolutionary path, and would've resulted in something extremely similar to what we have now in the same amount of time.

In the same way, I'd expect the same for other technologies (e.g. OOP, ethernet, etc).

Mostly it's like trying to pretend that if Christopher Columbus didn't "discover" America, nobody else would've realised there's a huge chunk of sparsely populated land sitting there waiting to be taken from the natives.

- Brendan

Reply Score: 7

RE: Set Back Decades
by christian on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:07 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Hi,

I'm honestly not convinced that, without the R&D done by Xerox/PARC, the computer industry would have been set back decades.

For example, I'd assume that once hardware capable of handling decent graphics (rather than just monochrome text) became available, someone somewhere would've "joined the dots" within 12 months. It might not have been identical (e.g. it could've been keypad or joystick or touchpad instead of mouse), but it would've still happened and followed a similar evolutionary path, and would've resulted in something extremely similar to what we have now in the same amount of time.

In the same way, I'd expect the same for other technologies (e.g. OOP, ethernet, etc).

Mostly it's like trying to pretend that if Christopher Columbus didn't "discover" America, nobody else would've realised there's a huge chunk of sparsely populated land sitting there waiting to be taken from the natives.

- Brendan


The problem is that such blue sky thinking often produces answers for questions yet to be asked.

The LASER is a classic example. No practical use when invented, yet indispensable to modern life and science.

More fundamental is the wheel. There are probably human beings alive today, living in dense Amazon jungle, that have no concept of the wheel, yet are no less intelligent than you or I. They have no use for such a device, and necessity being the mother of invention and all that, never will until the colonials come in and destroy their home.

Computer graphics certainly predate PARC, as did computer networks and the mouse as an input device, but PARC put it together into a machine with a window based GUI connected to a shared medium packet based network. Without this work, we might have been stuck with window-less (but still graphical) UIs connected to some god awful token ring network for some time.

What is obvious now was not always so.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Set Back Decades
by JAlexoid on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:14 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Well... Here's the thing. Without funding from government/monopoly/businesses without expectations of immediate returns we could have had stagnant computing sector.

I suspect that without PARC*, we would have stayed with the console for a long time. It's maybe not decades on the GUI alone, but it's a few years that would have caused an avalanche that would have resulted in the whole computing industry to not progress as fast as it has. And in compound we very well may have been set back by 10 years.

As an example - today's GPU performance was mainly driven by a need for better graphics and we don't need to wait a second for the newest GPU to be taxed to it's maximum. So saying "build it and they will come" is not universally true. DotCom bubble was the best example where it was built but nobody came.

* - or Bell Labs and other research organisations funded by dominant market players/monopolies.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:24 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Brendan,

I'm honestly not convinced that, without the R&D done by Xerox/PARC, the computer industry would have been set back decades.


I have to agree, there's very little that would not have happened given the natural course of technological evolution (edit: as well as a healthy economy to fund it). As such, most of the industry figureheads ought to be credited more for 'riding the wave' rather than _causing_ it - it could have easily been someone else in their place.

Of course we have no way to tell exactly how differently things might have turned out. It could have been better: the dominant OS in the 80s (MSDOS with exclusive bundling rights) was technologically well behind alternatives. Or it could have been worse had PCs been locked down.

Edited 2014-02-26 14:35 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Set Back Decades
by Jbso on Wed 26th Feb 2014 16:34 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
Jbso Member since:
2013-01-05

I'm honestly not convinced that, without the R&D done by Xerox/PARC, the computer industry would have been set back decades.


You are focusing too narrowly on PARC. The important point is not that Xerox was the only company that could have done it, but rather, Xerox was the company that did do it because they were the ones willing to spend money on it. There are lots of advancements that can't be made without spending a good deal of cash, no matter how smart the researchers are.

Also, the GUI thing probably would have happened not too much later because all the groundwork had been laid. You have to think in the aggregate, if all the building blocks had been delayed, and all their prerequisites had been delayed, and so on recursively forever, we could still be without GUIs.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 16:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Jbso,

You are focusing too narrowly on PARC. The important point is not that Xerox was the only company that could have done it, but rather, Xerox was the company that did do it because they were the ones willing to spend money on it. There are lots of advancements that can't be made without spending a good deal of cash, no matter how smart the researchers are.


There's no debating that they deserve tremendous credit as the earliest pioneers in GUI and in many cases directly influenced the commercially successful computers which would follow. However I think if we view this is terms of moores law, the increasing accessibility of computers/components deserves more credit than any single player in the industry for the highly innovative period which followed.

This timeline gives a glance into all the activity that was going at the time:
http://oldcomputers.net/indexwp.html

This is an excellent source for reviewing the technology / prices of computers from our past.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Set Back Decades
by Vanders on Wed 26th Feb 2014 23:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Set Back Decades"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

There's no debating that they deserve tremendous credit as the earliest pioneers in GUI..


Apart from the small detail that they weren't.

Edited 2014-02-26 23:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Thu 27th Feb 2014 00:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Vanders,

Apart from the small detail that they weren't.


Well, I was referring to the multi-window GUI we are familiar with today. As far as I know, this kind of GUI is historically rooted at Xerox.

Wikipedia says of the Alto
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_graphical_user_interfac...
"It had a bitmapped screen, and was the first computer to demonstrate the desktop metaphor and graphical user interface (GUI)."

However if you still think I'm mistaken I'd very much like to see examples of earlier work.

Edit: Early computing history is fascinating and full of lessor known entities. It's strange to think I would be learning MSDOS v4 years later and be completely oblivious to the GUIs and networking that others had developed much earlier.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PERQ
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Computer

Edited 2014-02-27 00:52 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Set Back Decades
by Vanders on Thu 27th Feb 2014 10:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Set Back Decades"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

However if you still think I'm mistaken I'd very much like to see examples of earlier work.


Well, that'd be Doug Engelbart. A lot of the researchers from his lab went to work at PARC, which is why PARC developed a GUI; they'd already learnt how through decades of research done by Doug and passed onto them as students.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Thu 27th Feb 2014 23:20 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Vanders,

Well, that'd be Doug Engelbart. A lot of the researchers from his lab went to work at PARC, which is why PARC developed a GUI; they'd already learnt how through decades of research done by Doug and passed onto them as students.


I am aware of Doug Engelbart's work, I even referred to it earlier. He was a pioneer also. This is not to discredit Engelbart at all, however given the evidence I'm still inclined to believe the multiwindow interface itself was pioneered at xerox even though it evolved out of earlier work.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Set Back Decades
by Lennie on Wed 26th Feb 2014 20:10 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Without Amerigo Vespucci I doubt what Christopher Columbus did would have had as much impact it did.

It's always more complicated, it's not just the technology that matters. You need to be noticed by the right people and your timing needs to be right.

Especially in those days.

At least now you can find people that talk about the same things online and talk about your discoveries there and maybe start a kickstarter or something.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Set Back Decades
by Snial on Wed 26th Feb 2014 21:23 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
Snial Member since:
2011-12-30

This is not correct and it's worth considering why by looking into actual computing history.

Firstly, there's no inevitability about hardware development. Prior to the Xerox Alto, computer graphics were predominantly vector graphics rather than raster graphics and graphics libraries were designed around that technology. This could easily have been propagated to the 70s world of personal computers. Without raster graphics GUIs would have been hard to create.

Secondly, the Xerox Alto vision was the driver behind many of the technologies that underpin GUIs. Their vision created the technology we take for granted. Prior to the Xerox Alto no-one was creating GUI systems (NLS notwithstanding, since it wasn't a GUI inasmuch a knowledge-worker demo). But after the Xerox Alto, research machines (e.g. ETH university's Lilith in 1981) and commercial machines such as the ICL PERQ (1980) or the original 1980-1982 SUN Workstation or the Apollo computers from 1980. Technology follows real vision, not the other way around. In the mid-80s several viable GUI systems started to appear, most notably Apple's Lisa and Macintosh computers; Digital Research's GEM interface and the Amiga Workbench.

Thirdly, mainstream GUI computing was in fact set back at least 7 years thanks to the dominance of real-mode MSDOS and the text-oriented IBM PC. Three cases in point are:

(a) all the GUI-based systems in the mid 80s, which already had adequate processing power and superior computing capability compared with 8086-based systems fell in market share (PC sales rose faster).

(b) IBM PCs and Clones were perfectly capable of displaying graphics competitively with commercial GUI-based computers (The 720x348 Hercules Graphics Card had a higher resolution than the Mac and was similar to the Atari ST). This didn't automatically result in GUI computing being adopted.

(c) Microsoft knew what they needed to do, and in fact were pioneers in GUI software development (it's just that they were pioneering Macintosh developers!).

So, despite having all the dots joined for them; having the hardware availability, capability and experience and having a pre-existing market to chase, it still took a decade (1981 to 1991) for Microsoft to create a popular GUI for PCs and clones, not 12 months.

Why was this? Because the inertia of modal, keyboard-driven text-driven computing paradigms was overwhelming. Therefore, without the Xerox Alto project it isn't hard at all to believe GUI computing would have been set back by another 10 years or so.

-cheers Julz

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 23:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Snial,

So, despite having all the dots joined for them; having the hardware availability, capability and experience and having a pre-existing market to chase, it still took a decade (1981 to 1991) for Microsoft to create a popular GUI for PCs and clones, not 12 months.


But then Microsoft weren't really the ones pushing technological boundaries. If not for their partnership with IBM, we'd be much less likely to find MS on the map today. One would be hard pressed to find many ways that DOS was superior to alternatives of it's time.

Why was this? Because the inertia of modal, keyboard-driven text-driven computing paradigms was overwhelming. Therefore, without the Xerox Alto project it isn't hard at all to believe GUI computing would have been set back by another 10 years or so.


It's all just speculation though. What if apple and MS did not have the xerox connection? What if Douglas Engelbart had worked for a company more receptive to developing his inventions? What if Atari WorkBench or one of the many others had become the market leader? What if Texas Instruments had gotten Michael Jackson to advertise their home computer instead of Bill Cosby ( http://oldcomputers.net/oldads/80s/ti992-a.jpg ;) )?

How would such events change the technological timelines? It's impossible to say with any degree of certainty.

In the bell-curve of all possible timelines, it's statistically probable that we are close to the middle, not the most optimal, nor the least optimal.

Edited 2014-02-26 23:41 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Set Back Decades
by zima on Fri 28th Feb 2014 12:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Set Back Decades"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What if Atari WorkBench or one of the many others had become the market leader?

You mean Amiga Workbench ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Set Back Decades
by Alfman on Fri 28th Feb 2014 15:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Set Back Decades"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

zima,

You mean Amiga Workbench ;)


Haha....a few minutes of gimping says no ;)

http://imgur.com/ozj6yjn

Reply Score: 2

RE: Set Back Decades
by Vanders on Wed 26th Feb 2014 23:00 UTC in reply to "Set Back Decades"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

For example, I'd assume that once hardware capable of handling decent graphics (rather than just monochrome text) became available

Why would that hardware have become available without a driver to make it viable to develop in the first place?

I'd expect the same for other technologies (e.g. OOP, ethernet, etc).

Possibly, yes: network technologies existed before ethernet (TDM was a known concept, even). Smalltalk was grounded in work done outside of PARC.

However the question is: if Xerox hadn't done these things, who would have? If the answer is simply "Another research group" then your argument is invalid. If the answer is "A commercial company" then the follow on question is simply "To what end?"

Undirected research is necessary.

Edited 2014-02-26 23:00 UTC

Reply Score: 3

The short-sightedness of it all
by JAlexoid on Wed 26th Feb 2014 13:59 UTC
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

People like Gruber forget that most of what ATG did at Apple is the base of most products that Apple is built on today. Jobs had to kill ATG, because the company was in a bad financial situation and they probably never integrated well.
On the other hand, ATG is probably alive and well at Apple. It's just not named ATG.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by flydpnkrtn
by flydpnkrtn on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:07 UTC
flydpnkrtn
Member since:
2009-01-02

Appropriate and timely OSnews link:
http://www.osnews.com/comments/1462

"In early 1986, a team in Apple's Advanced Technology Group began a research project that was code-named Pink, with the goal to create an operating system for the next generation of computers. In 1990, the project became TalOS�the property of Taligent�a joint venture between Apple and IBM. In 1994, Pink's OS dreams died as Taligent redirected its efforts toward CommonPoint, a non-OS application environment which would exist as a layer on other operating systems (as an API)." Old, but good read. More information about the OS who's heart stopped beating around 1997 can be found here.

Reply Score: 6

...
by Hiev on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:08 UTC
Hiev
Member since:
2005-09-27

Imagine that a cellphone can recognize the enviroment, imagine that it can know that your are in a subway, in a parking lot, drinking a coffee, with your GF or playing with your kids, it is aware of your enviroment, then, they will be able to understand you more, to show you more accurated adds, this is where this technology is going to.

Reply Score: 4

RE: ...
by JAlexoid on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:22 UTC in reply to "..."
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

If it makes your life significantly less painful, it may be that showing ads is a minor issue.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: ...
by Hiev on Wed 26th Feb 2014 15:27 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
Hiev Member since:
2005-09-27

It is a double edged sword IMHO.

Reply Score: 3

RE: ...
by WorknMan on Wed 26th Feb 2014 23:00 UTC in reply to "..."
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

hey will be able to understand you more, to show you more accurated adds, this is where this technology is going to.


My cell phone does not shown me ads, and never will. As soon as they come up with something I can't block (or don't have the option of opting out) will be the last day I own a cell phone.

Reply Score: 2

Basic research moves us forward
by wargum on Wed 26th Feb 2014 14:47 UTC
wargum
Member since:
2006-12-15

I think the R&D approach taken by Apple is only good for them, whereas companies like HP or IBM do basic research that is ultimately good for anybody. Just think of the memristor! And there are many other areas, like quantum computing, that Apple doesn't want to touch because they are only interrested in the next cool product. Anybody dismissing all the hard research many companies are willing to pay for is not seeing the big picture, IMHO. Anyways, go basic research!

Edited 2014-02-26 14:54 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Basic research moves us forward
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 16:12 UTC in reply to "Basic research moves us forward"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

wargum,

I agree it's good to do research for the sake of research. And I think it's good when the research can be shared among others to maximize public benefit, it is not good to lock it up in vaults. However it seems there is a risk that those who do the R&D won't be credited for it. Some companies just aren't altruistic enough to do research for the public good. Altruism is hard.

From personal experience, I've learned just how difficult it is to do work and NOT get credited for it. At a previous employer I conceived a new way to embed mainframe applications inside client applications, they liked my prototype so I took the project from conception to R&D. My employer built a product out of it. I was really taken aback when the boss promoting the product to a client claimed it was the achievement of a higher ranking coworker, who had made no material code contributions whatsoever. It makes me wonder about all the other faceless "cogs" in companies who's work was used to promote the image of those above them.

Edited 2014-02-26 16:21 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Shady?
by emarkp on Wed 26th Feb 2014 16:31 UTC
emarkp
Member since:
2005-09-10

You mean, not getting gang raped by taxes by bringing it home?

I'm in favor of anyone following the law to reduce their tax burden. Maybe Google should open up more research outside of the US so they can use their non-US revenue to do work in non-US regions.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Shady?
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 17:52 UTC in reply to "Shady?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

emarkp,

I'm in favor of anyone following the law to reduce their tax burden


It's obviously true that many people are unhappy with tax policy, but I certainly would hope everyone would agree that we all need to share the burden. It's *wrong* for a privileged few (in particular the huge multinational corporations most able to afford taxes) to be excluded from the tax obligations of everyone else.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-22/google-joins-apple-avoidin...
The shifting of profits by multinational companies is costing the U.S. and Europe at least $100 billion per year in lost tax revenue, according to Kimberly Clausing, an economics professor at Reed University in Portland, Oregon.


U.S. Senate scrutiny of Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s tax strategies turned the spotlight on a unit with $30 billion in profit since 2009 that’s incorporated in Ireland, controlled by a board in California, and doesn’t pay taxes in either place.


Google, for example, has used a pair of tax shelters known by tax attorneys as the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich” that move foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda to avoid about $2 billion in income taxes a year, according to the company’s filings in the U.S.



Now what do you think happens when some don't pay their share? Tax avoidance does not happen in a vacuum, it is ordinary people like me (and I presume you) who end up covering their share of taxes. I'm all for reducing unwanted taxation, but it's not a good reason to condone tax avoidance.


Maybe Google should open up more research outside of the US so they can use their non-US revenue to do work in non-US regions.


Maybe they should. If the US gov gets the message that their taxes are not competitive with that of other countries, then they might actually be motivated to do something about it. I'd much rather see our tax system reformed fairly than with targeted loopholes.

Edited 2014-02-26 17:52 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Shady?
by emarkp on Wed 26th Feb 2014 18:32 UTC in reply to "RE: Shady?"
emarkp Member since:
2005-09-10

Now what do you think happens when some don't pay their share? Tax avoidance does not happen in a vacuum, it is ordinary people like me (and I presume you) who end up covering their share of taxes. I'm all for reducing unwanted taxation, but it's not a good reason to condone tax avoidance.

This is a bit silly. Companies don't exist in a vacuum either. Increased taxes affect costs. Costs and revenue determine prices. Taxes in the end are all paid by individuals, whither it goes through a corporation or not.

But that's a tax debate, not a tech one.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Shady?
by Alfman on Wed 26th Feb 2014 21:16 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Shady?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

emarkp,

This is a bit silly. Companies don't exist in a vacuum either. Increased taxes affect costs.


If they had to pay a fair share of taxes, they *might* raise their prices, however the free market principals still apply. Price is largely determined by supply and demand. Since software and IT services scale very well without huge investments (owing to relatively low marginal costs), it isn't really inherently obvious that supply would be negatively effected.

Small/medium businesses ALREADY pay their fair share of taxes, why should the mega-corps be unwilling/unable to pay theirs? I think it's a matter of greed and corruption. They are hording billions, they could afford to pay their taxes without any operational changes at all.

Besides, having horded so much wealth has made many of these giants pretty careless with money: wasting billions on lawsuits and flinging absurd amounts at corporate acquisitions. Ordinary people and businesses end up subsidizing the waste of tax evading giants. Truth be told, the money would very likely be put to better use by small companies who are used to doing a lot more with a lot less.

Edited 2014-02-26 21:19 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Shady?
by emarkp on Fri 28th Feb 2014 03:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Shady?"
emarkp Member since:
2005-09-10

If they had to pay a fair share of taxes

Ah you're a "fair shairer" -- in other words, sock it to whoever you want, for however much you want.

they *might* raise their prices, however the free market principals still apply. Price is largely determined by supply and demand.

<sigh> The first statement is ignorance, the second it like saying "gravity is largely determined by mass".

Price has nothing to do with cost. Price - cost = profit. If costs rise, it threatens profitability. If you can't make a profit, you got out of business. Price is ENTIRELY determined by supply and demand (with the exception of course of government interference).

Besides, having horded so much wealth

Envy is so petty and sad.

Edited 2014-02-28 03:55 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: Shady?
by Alfman on Fri 28th Feb 2014 05:07 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Shady?"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

emarkp,

Envy is so petty and sad.


Your response is hardly a fair characterization of what I've said. I can and do respect different opinions than mine, however I really don't feel you've addressed the point of tax fairness at all. Judging by the lines between the wise-ass commentary, it seems like you might understand the unfairness of small businesses getting taxed compared to the MNCs not being taxed.

However what perplexes me is why you'd be ok and even encouraging of it... Large corporations already have the benefit of scales of economy, brand recognition, market positioning, monopoly power, etc. Why do they need or deserve tax advantages compared to smaller businesses who have to pay those taxes?

If you reread this thread, I never claimed we shouldn't lower taxes or that taxes don't negatively affects the market, I just claimed they should be *fair*. Do you actually disagree we me on this? And if so, how do you rationalize it?

Edited 2014-02-28 05:09 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Flatland_Spider
by Flatland_Spider on Wed 26th Feb 2014 20:34 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

Companies are there to make money, and while research helps them achieve this goal, they need to get a return on their investment. Most companies don't have the resources to spend money of pet projects. However those that do, need to find ways to turn the research into a product.

As for Project Tango, this is probably an off shoot of the self-driving car initiative. http://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/img/hero-tango-phone.png"&... looks strangely familiar from the various explanations of the self-driving car technology, and Project Tango is probably the first step to making a product out of that technology. Most states aren't going to let self-driving cars on the road, so this would be the next best thing to an extended prototype phase.

There are a couple of things Google gets out of this. The first is a large data set of spacial data. AI needs datasets, and building this into Android would make everyone a walking data collector.

The second is testing algorithms. People can quite quickly tell that something is off, and people QA'ing the created models would produce higher quality data.

The third is Google Maps. Once again everyone is a walking data collector. Google gets the GPS location and spacial data of wherever the person goes. Soon we would be able to use Google Maps to navigate the local shopping mall even though Google has never been there.

Reply Score: 2

Rather what?
by bram on Wed 26th Feb 2014 21:51 UTC
bram
Member since:
2009-04-03

You would rather what?

Reply Score: 3

Laughable
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 26th Feb 2014 22:09 UTC
BallmerKnowsBest
Member since:
2008-06-02

Google is starting to remind me of Apple in the '90s: announcing more cool R&D prototypes than they release actual cool products. Even the R&D team names are similar - Google's is called "Advanced Technology and Projects"; Apple's was called "Advanced Technology Group".


Call me when Google bets the future of their company on a succession of "moon shot" projects, only to scrap each of them after years of directionless floundering that would embarrass even George Broussard, leaving themselves with no other option but to buy their way into the "not hopelessly obsolete" club by purchasing another company. THEN the comparison will be valid.

(See also: Pink, Taligent, Copland, etc)

Reply Score: 3