Fast Company

Re: July/August 2010

The Big Apple

Nice job, Farhad Manjoo ("Apple Nation"). Not only do you peel back the layers to reveal what makes Apple Apple, you do so systematically -- offering clear, insightful messages to other companies striving to be Apple. I also applaud you for being able to express and share the essence of the Apple experience -- why and how Apple succeeds -- while simultaneously offering readers a rarely opened gateway into experience and reflection. The questions you ask personify the qualities you identify, and in my book, you have written an Apple of a corporate profile. Thanks!

Rachel Kaberon
Chicago, Illinois

You have heaped praise on Apple, and many probably follow you. Count me out in praising Steve Jobs. Not one atom of the iPad is manufactured in the U.S. No wonder Apple can sell cheap by using sweatshop labor. I bought an iPad, and when I saw that its components had nothing made in the U.S., I returned it to the store, telling the salespeople that they should call me when Apple starts manufacturing here. If every company outsources manufacturing, we can never solve the country's unemployment problem, not to speak of the outflow of our wealth.

Srini Jayaraman
San Diego, California

I couldn't help but notice that Rush Limbaugh, one of the most influential fans of Apple products, failed to make Jeremy Caplan's list ("iCensus: Who Matters in Apple Nation"). As a new subscriber, I enjoy your magazine. However, I believe that you're missing a much larger audience by not showcasing a more balanced mix.

Jim Mundy
Northport, Alabama

Apple is great and I love my iPad, but I am missing a lot because of no Flash capability.

Leo Baron
St. John, New Brunswick

Love Drug

Paul Zak is doing great research that has important applications for how businesses are run ("Doctor Love"). I especially like the idea of treating customers as "trusted friends." Such refreshing human terms to use for customers. We could get the oxytocin flowing in the business environment by putting people first. The idea seems simple since business is composed of people, whether they're customers, employees, or partners. Maybe this article is pointing to the need to humanize business.

Mary Beth McEuen
St. Louis, Missouri

As he mentions in the article, Adam L. Penenberg is a sample size of one. I would love to see a study done on a larger scale. If it is replicated, then it does point to the idea that social networks mimic real-life positive socializing. And since you can pick your friends online, it is a hell of a lot easier to have a positive, like-minded experience.

Michael Lovitch
Fort Worth, Texas

This is fascinating, and after reading the article, it seems so true. What happens when two social-media enthusiasts fall in love with each other? Is it double the cuddles?

Diane Prince Johnston
Glendale, California

Music Notes

Focusing on innovation, while certainly necessary for the music industry to survive and/or flourish in the emerging economy, is kind of missing the point of the true source of slumping sales ("Take Us to the River"). Before all the big music labels were run by multinationals and bottom-line-oriented businesspeople, they were run by music lovers who were willing to take risks with creative and interesting music, artists who would never see the light of day in today's climate. In short, until the majors stop releasing assembly-line, uninspiring garbage to appeal to focus groups, true music lovers will never stop illegally downloading their products, if for no other reason than you can't charge for something that has no inherent value.

Mike Jerugim
Montreal, Quebec

Waste Not

I'm thrilled that clothing and textile manufacturers have started to pay attention to preconsumer waste ("Scrappy Couture"). Ideally, of course, wouldn't it be better to make only what you need and not have all that extra? One of the problems in the textile industry is that companies have to print off large quantities of fabric. Even if all of it isn't needed, the factory produces it anyway. There are alternatives to the traditional process that save not only fabric but water and energy, too. Our take at AirDye is that it's better not to generate the waste in the first place. We're able to produce the exact amount needed and rerun it later with no difference in quality or color.

Robin Bertelsen
Orinda, California

Great to see progressive companies now coming together to address preconsumer waste. One concern I had, though peripheral to the article's focus, is the practice of stamping a person's contact information on the back of business cards "from other companies." Doesn't that run close to violating the "right of publicity"? If so, let's hope this creative, sustainable idea does not catch on.

Brian Brunkow
Seattle, Washington

The Price of Free

Giving away one's products and services is a great come-on, but it's not profitable in the long term, or even the short term ("Remember the Money"). And with such a tactic, one risks alienating those who have come to demand the service or product at no cost. This is all tangential, but intimately related, to the entire "expectation of free" culture that the Internet has created. It has devalued (literally de-valued) many products and those offering professional services, and that has contributed to the massive wage deflation of the past decade.

Stephen Abbott
Manchester, New Hampshire

Ask and You Shall Receive

Mastering the art of the "smart ask" is an increasingly essential skill for not-for-profits ("Get What You Want for Nothing"). We have been asking the members of the Tennessee Concrete Association to support ongoing projects at our Nashville campus that display various concrete applications, and over the past two years, we have received in-kind donations of more than $150,000 to make improvements. Part of the ask involves giving back to the industry and another is about creating future demand for concrete products. I concur with Nancy Lublin's observation about being specific in the ask -- that has really helped us connect with interested members who can help on specific projects. I also agree wholeheartedly that saying "thank you" is essential. We try to recognize each donor in our communications with the entire membership. I have found this also encourages other members to get involved with giving. A final comment about the author's observation of the "ginormous" conglomerate's sense of entitlement: I have found that to be exactly the case in our industry. The largest corporations feel entitled to have others bear the expense for projects that primarily benefit only them.

Alan Sparkman
Nashville, Tennessee

Fast Fixes

In "I'm With Aviv," in the June issue, we incorrectly reported that Mike Mitchell was an employee of Think Brilliant, and that Think Brilliant licensed the Coco image to Conan O'Brien. Mitchell worked with Think Brilliant, but was not on the staff, and he licensed the image.

In the July/August issue, the Numerology graphic "Wham! Bang! Pow!" erroneously stated that Marvel and DC secured a patent for the term "super hero." The companies were issued trademark registration for it.

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