June 5, 2023
Dear Tim Cook,
Did a few Bad Apples spoil your day? Did you even notice picketers outside Apple’s Cupertino headquarters, or at dozens of Apple locations around the country?
June 5th was Bad Apple Day, but to you it will always be WWDC 2023, Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, which is always a BFD. This year was extra special, thanks to the spiffy new $3,500… face computer? Is that what we’re calling the Apple Vision Pro?
This gizmo works using internal cameras and sensors operated by the eye’s unique iris pattern and allows users to play games, watch 3D movies (provided there are writers around to write them) and do all kinds of VR/AR stuff. Congratulations on pushing a new piece of upscale technology into the world. Hopefully it won’t fry any retinas with laser beams.
While all this fun stuff was happening, just outside the walls of the Infinite Loop, approximately 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America decided your special day was also the day to call Apple out for refusing to negotiate a new contract. How’s that for a coincidence?
They dubbed it #BadApple Day. Cute. You see, the implication is, Apple, with its $2.9 trillion market cap, isn’t such a fun place to work. To prove it, writers used the BadApple hashtag to post stories of the working conditions on AppleTV+ shows. I’ve captured a few of them from Twitter and provided them below. I’m sure you’ll get to them once you’re finished celebrating that other thing.
Why are they picking on you? After all, Apple TV+, has the smallest library of any streamer. Many wonder if it’s even worth a monthly subscription fee, which is probably why a lot of subscriptions were passed out free with the purchase of an Apple product. At $6.99, it’s also the least expensive fee.
The Writers Guild of America likes to point out that in 2021, eight CEOs of the top entertainment companies received $772M in compensation. You were not among them, though it’s worth noting in 2021, your total compensation was a not-so-paltry $99M. Overall, the leadership of Apple appears to be doing quite well.
Which begs the question, why won’t you cough up $17M for the poor starving writers? Drew Carey has been feeding them to the tune of $20K since May 20th. That Price Is Right money won’t last forever.
Seventeen million, or less than 20% of your yearly nut will take care of 11,500 writers. It’s Apple’s fair share of the $429M compensation package the WGA has been trying to negotiate from AMPTP, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, of which you are a member. AMPTP member companies include the major motion picture studios (including Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.), the principal broadcast television networks (including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC), and streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+, & Amazon.
But, see here’s the thing. I’m actually going to come to your defense. Crazy, I know. Most people don’t realize, Apple’s not really a studio. Not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. You’ll notice Apple is considered a “streaming service” in the eyes of the AMPTP.
But, wait a minute. Netflix develops original shows. Amazon has a studio. And, we’ve seen Apple “shows” on Apple TV+. What about CODA? It won an Oscar!
Here’s the dirty little secret… Apple projects were developed and produced through partnerships with other, more established, studios and production companies. For as big as it is, Apple is just not a major player within AMPTP. Because if it was, my guess is, the strike thingy would be over by now. Apple’s lawyers probably cost more than its share of the compensation package, so why would they be fighting over chump change?
In all likelihood, Apple is beholden to the whims of the other players in the room. The studios it partners with in order to produce its original content. (Tim, please feel free to confirm this conjecture anytime you like.) Until the big guys like Disney, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, and Paramount decide it’s time to negotiate, Apple is really just along for the ride.
But, that didn’t stop people from sharing their stories about working for Apple, though whether it was Apple calling the shots, or one of these other studios is anyone’s guess. Here they are for your edification.