Apple推出新版Macbook、iMac、Magic Mouse與Mac mini

新版iMac其實與前一代外觀上差異不大,雖然改成一體成形,還有加大螢幕到27吋。

新版的Macbook則是和鎂鋁合金的Macbook pro一樣,也改走一體成形風。機器轉角也修得更為圓弧,更像是女生拿的筆電….看來男子漢們以後往Macbook pro投靠的比例會變高。
拿掉了可替換電池模組,換來的是延長到7小時使用時間(官方宣稱)。
讓我覺得可惜的,是拿掉了Firewire 400….雖然這東西有如雞肋,食之無味,但畢竟棄之也是可惜。

至於看準小公司、工作室愛用Mac mini這「俗又大碗」的機器來當伺服器的市場,Apple也推出一款拿掉光碟機,多加一顆硬碟的便當版伺服器。

這玩意我認為應付100人以下的公司,一些簡單的伺服器(如e-mail、Apache、database…)應用應該是綽綽有餘。性價比很高的一台機器(美國報價是999美元一台)。

比較有點意思的是新的滑鼠。

過去被戲稱為「激凸鼠」的Mighty Mouse,因為商標權的問題這次改名為Magic Mouse,魔術鼠。

連激凸鼠的滾球都拿掉,整個用感應方式來操作。至少解決了滾輪用久容易卡灰塵,影響靈敏度的老問題。

以下是官方影片介紹:

諾貝爾和平獎的創舉

看來諾貝爾和平獎創造了一個很神奇的頒發獎項規則:獎勵意圖!

以後有人想要拍一部曠世巨著、註定成為經典的電影,光這樣的計畫就足以讓他拿到奧斯卡金像獎最佳電影了!

A guy who did nothing but only the tautologous speeches and “Yes, we can” dreams is worth of a prize.
It’s so funny!

星巴克即溶咖啡

最近電視Starbucks狂打這廣告,今天去超市時順便跟Starbucks要了一包試喝包。

真的挺神奇的,喝起來味道比許多速食店提供的Brewed Coffee還要好,當然離Starbucks自家的Brewed Coffee還有點距離。
但就即溶咖啡來說,能做到這樣真的令人驚艷!

一群不知「言論自由」為何物的豬

台灣政府歷來對言論自由諸多箝制,即便民進黨這群當年號稱捍衛言論自由的人上台執政,也是頻頻出手干預。

前幾年,凡是不合執政當局利益的,往往被打為「不愛台灣」或「中共同路人」。

現在國民黨重新執政,腦袋更退化到蔣氏政權時代,依然在那邊「凡中必反」。

明明大法官在憲法解釋文第445號裡已經說清楚,言論形式某種程度政府可以管,但言論的內容政府在絕大多數的情形下是不能管制的(除了猥褻、教唆犯罪….)。

蘋果日報報導,台灣的TVBS、中天、東森等新聞台全程轉播中華人民共和國的國慶閱兵大典,竟然可能面臨新聞局開罰?

新聞局廣電處長何乃麒昨表示,新聞局初步認為有違法之虞;中國節目應先送審,三台若全程擷取中央電視台畫面,未先送審,呈現方式連貫,將罰4到20萬元。

這種腦袋裝屎的官吏,真是讓人搖頭。

繼續閱讀 “一群不知「言論自由」為何物的豬”

愚蠢廣告一則:「WWF Change the way you think」

World Wildelife Fund (世界野生動物基金會)做了一個很蠢的廣告,大家可以看一下:

廣告大意不外乎告訴你,早上一杯Latte可能要用掉200公升以上的水。何解?

這個蠢廣告把咖啡本身的水份、製造杯蓋的用水、製造方糖的用水、生產牛奶的用水(媽的,牛喝水也是人類的錯就是了)、種植咖啡的用水,通通算了進來。

然後結論就是如果大家都每天來一杯,地球遲早負荷不了這樣的用水量。

整個廣告的「蠢」點太多。

首先,人類生產的各式產品裡,最耗水的肯定不會是「一杯咖啡」,我相信各位電腦裡隨便一塊晶片的製成,所用的「乾淨水」肯定是一杯咖啡的上萬倍!因為一個12吋晶圓廠一天用水量遠超過數千公噸!

廣告顯然輕重緩急分不清。真要訴諸「不明究理」地省水,那WWF應該要鼓吹大家都別用電腦和其他電子產品,而不是在小兒科的Latte上打轉。

再來,上述整部廣告,似乎都忘了大家小學就會看過的一張「水循環」圖:
水循環圖
圖片引自維基百科

種甘蔗、咖啡豆的水、牛喝下去又撒出來的尿、人喝下去後「一江春水向東流」的成品……,難道都不會回到水循環裡面?都神奇地消失在地球上了?這部廣告簡直鬼扯!

搞環保的用這麼沒大腦的廣告,挺多也是騙到一群沒大腦的支持者,環保怎麼可能搞得好?

後面訴諸商業人士的部份,就更是荒謬得可笑了。
只要工業用水是要量度付錢的,那上軌道有效率的工廠,省水的功夫肯定只會多不會少!拜託,這是攸關「錢」的問題耶!
環保人士的道德訴求真是薄弱到好笑。

Review of “Lor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc.(1959)"

With the progress on economics, we could find a lot of judgments, or even the law itself, were based on some erroneous and misguided legal and economic concepts, such as predatory pricing, competition, market definition, cost concept, etc.

Take “Lor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc. 359 U.S. 207, 79 S. Ct. 705, 3 L.Ed.2d 741 (1959)” as an example.

In this case, the plaintiff, which was an independent electronic products retail store, claimed that manufacturers and distributors of many well-know brands as GE, RCA, Emerson, etc. refused to sell or sold their products at so-called “discriminatory price.” The reason was the manufacturers or distributors of these well-known brands sold their products to the chained stores in lower prices than to them.

The Supreme Court held this common commercial behavior as a violation of Sherman Act. Obviously, the court just showed their lack of cost concept.

All the meaningful costs shall be “opportunity costs.” Thus the costs between selling products to chained stores and to an independent retail store are tremendously different. The factors, like predictable constant purchase, reliable payments, and the vast amount of quantity, make the manufacturers or distributors less cost to sell their products to chained stores. There are some costs existing in setting up and maintaining a transaction channel between two parties. Sometimes the costs are absorbed by the seller, sometimes are paid by the buyers. However, it does exist. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Since the difference of cost structures, discriminatory pricing would be very popular in most businesses.

Formosa Plastic Corporation, a Taiwan company and the largest manufacturer of PVC resins in the world, made their revenue more than 5 billion US dolor last year. They require a substantial deposit and highest purchasing quota to any new customer. The amount of PVC that is exceeded the quota won’t be sold even the buyer is voluntary to pay more.

I also had a similar experience. The company, which I worked for, refused to sell products to a new customer who wanted to buy more than ten machines at one time in the first several deals unless they were willing to pay cash before we deliver.

Because there are some uncertain risks that cost us too much to do business with an unfamiliar new customer. We didn’t know whether the credit of the new customer was good. We didn’t know what the real purpose they had. To sell our products or to try reverse-engineering? That’s a question to us. I believe the situation would be similar to Formosa Plastic Corporation and other companies around the world.

It is the concern of cost, not of “anti-competition,” causes a businessman much prefer to sell his goods to a customer he knows in lower prices or larger volumes, especially in B2B relationships.

This common commercial phenomenon can be explained perfectly by the correct cost concept. Unfortunately, the court in Lor’s case was unable to distinguish the costs on economics form the costs on accounting. No wonder the court came out a decision that sounded so surreal to normal businessmen.

The judges, scholars, and people who believe in the function of antitrust laws are just unable to see the real world clearer.

Apple iPhone 3GS的三支新廣告

Apple針對iPhone推出的新廣告

如果我們搭配先前的三支,不難發現Apple一直在強調他們已經形成的「軟體市集」。

為何他們要強調這點並不難想像,因為當年微軟能從一家小小的軟體公司達到稱霸桌面系統的一個主要原因,就是微軟的系統在開發端夠開放、夠自由,進而形成軟體市集;在微軟作業平台上你能找到的夠水準的解決方案遠比當年其他競爭的系統平台多得多!

經濟學上,稱這個現象為「網路效應(network effectiveness)」:亦即這種系統平台越多人加入,每個人加入並使用的邊際成本與平均成本都越低。
反之,就可能同時使需求增強、需求量增大:前者是因為效益增加,後者則是因為成本降低。

經濟學家愛舉的例子通常是–電話。 一台電話有啥屁用?兩台電話或許有點用;100台電話就挺有看頭;現在世界上有上百億以上的電話吧?自然效果就十分驚人!甚至可以創造出許多依賴電話維生的產業!

簡單概念介紹一下就好,還是來看看影片吧:

Why the unemployment still climbs at recovery?

Gary S. Becker, a Nobel Prize laureate, wrote an article — Productivity, Unemployment, and the End of the Recession— on September 9th.

He talked about his op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal (“We’re Not Head for a Depression”) in which he possessed an optimism about the future economy of the United States. Otherwise, he also brought out an interesting point.

Dr. Becker supposes that most pessimism comes from erroneous interpretation of the unemployment.

Some people argue about the decline of unemployment is not satisfying; and some argue that the real unemployment is getting severe. Some other people even claim that we should include the underemployment.

Actually, no matter what number you apply, the growth of unemployment would not turn around so fast.

The reason that Becker expressed is the “productivity per person.”

The total domestic productivity is actually accumulated by countless individual productivity. Dr. Becker noticed that the productivity per person continues growing, no matter how severe the economy is. Therefore, when facing a decrease in total domestic output, say, a recession or a depression, the increasing individual productivity will cause more people lose their jobs (or make them turn to part-time ones). It’s just a simple arithmetic question.

Unless the number of total domestic output passes the prior highest record, we would hardly notice the improvement of the job market.

Conclusively, the economists who only focus on the statistics of unemployment may just make a mistake in the economics logic.

Dr. Becker’s viewpoint is not only interesting but persuasive.

Nonetheless, I wrote an article about the law growth of wages in Taiwan and the U.S. through the “Comparative advantages theorem.” See, “開放大陸勞工來台會降低台灣人薪資水平?.”Considering the social-welfare regulations, unions, and the minimum-wage limitation, the wages in the U.S. and Europe are more difficult to be adjusted in the downturn. This may be why their unemployment situation has been severer than Asian countries.

I have no idea of which factor matterring more. But it’s a question worthy of thinking.

為何景氣復甦,失業率仍然會攀升?

諾貝爾經濟學獎得主Gary S. Becker 在9月9日寫了這篇文章「Productivity, Unemployment, and the End of the Recession」。裡頭除了談到他在去年底於華爾街日報投稿的「我們才不會走向蕭條(We’re Not Head for a Depression)」一文中,對美國經濟的樂觀預測維持不變之外,還提出了一個相當有趣的論點,值得記一下。

Becker提到目前許多對美國經濟依然感到悲觀的看法,多半不脫對於美國失業率的解讀。

有些人看到失業率數字下降得並不令人滿意;有人則認為政府的失業率數字不可靠,實際情況是失業率仍在微幅上升;更有人主張要把做part time工作的人也算成失業才行。

Becker則提出一個論點,解釋為何經濟復甦時,失業率可能會繼續攀升。

其關鍵點在於「生產力」。

一國的產出,其實是由無數個人的生產所累積而成。而每人每單位時間的產出,我們稱之為個人生產力。

Becker觀察到即便在去年,景氣跌到谷底之時,其實美國的個人生產力仍然是在上升的。換句話說,每個在工作崗位上的勞工生產的效率還是一年勝過一年。

(這個數字,也是過去我在文章或回覆網友強調過的,證明資本主義讓我們生活更好的一個事實)

但是所謂的不景氣,或是衰退,某方面可以看成是總產出(output)大幅衰退的現象。那麼根據簡單的數學運算,總產出下降,但個人生產力卻上升,這即意味著 — 失業率要上升!

換言之,即便總產出開始回穩或緩步上升,但只要個人生產力還大過於先前,則我們會看到失業率仍居高不下,直到總產出追過先前數字才會有所改善。

因此,一些總體經濟學家抓著失業率未下跌這事,來反推說經濟情況仍不佳,很可能是犯了經濟學思維上的錯誤了。

Becker的論點相當有趣,我覺得也具有某種程度的說服力。

但過去我曾經寫過一篇文章(開放大陸勞工來台會降低台灣人薪資水平?),從「比較優勢定律」來解釋為何美國、台灣等國家近年來薪資成長有限。

如果加進社會福利與工會、最低工資限制等侷限條件來看,新興市場的廉價勞力也會造成先進國家的失業率上升(因為工資調整的剛性很強)。

換言之,是比較優勢定律所著重的點,影響歐美失業率更甚?亦或Becker所提的「個人生產力上升」?

我沒有答案,但我相信值得大家好好想想。

About Conspiracy

Many people imagine that businessmen could set in a room and come to a conspiracy decision to raise the prices up then increase their profits.

However, it’s really only an imagination.

It’s always not easy to form a cartel or collusive group in any business. There are some obstacles must be overcome with a critical tactic.

I wrote them down as following:

1. To form a cartel or a collusive group, the first problem the founder must face is that it’s hard to figure out who are all the possible competitors?
For example, if medical doctors successfully raise their treatment fee as high as they want, then people would turn to get medical advices from their druggists, god, or themselves.
This phenomenon did happen in Taiwan in 1950’s.

2.The second natural obstacle to form a collusive group is that each competitor has their own unique cost curve. And this fact will cause them has different motives to choose to get in or to get out the group.
This critical fact will still impact how successful a collusive group can be after its formation.

3.The third is the difference between the single-quality products and multiple-quality products.
There are only few products in the world can be classified as single-quality products, such as pure gold, silver, aluminum, or other chemical elements.
Even a diamond, usually has four major qualities to form a price. They are size, color, tarnish, and cutting. A consumer see only one price, however, it’s formed by the combination of four measured elements.
The more complexity of a product, the more rent value could be created by differentiating the product. That’s why most business always emphasize how different their products are from other competitors’. That’s also why we have so many brands. It is the most common phenomenon in the real world.
This would not only make people to apply unique way to maximize their interest, but also form different cost structures to every supplier.

That is one reason why we can find very few successful cartels in the real world.

4.Once a collusive group was formed, the member who has a highest marginal cost will has the strongest incentive to violate their agreement.
Because with fixed-price or fixed-quality rule, the biggest beneficiary would be the one who enjoys the lowest marginal and average cost. On the contrary, the one with higher marginal or average cost would eventually figure out that he can maximize his interest by breaching the rule.

5. How to enforce the agreement will be a huge challenge to the one who tries to maintain the collusive group.
There are two major costs to enforce an agreement successfully. One is to detect who violates the rule; and the other one is effective punishment.

OPEC, the most famous cartel in the world, is constantly unable to enforce their decisions completely for decades. (If they could, there will not be as much fluctuation in oil prices as observed.)

M&A might be an effective way to achieve this goal, however, it still cannot prevent the group from potential or new competitors which might be formed by the company seller or your employees. Even there are some contractual ways to deal with these problems, they don’t work as well as lawyers’ imagination.

According to commercial history, the most effective method is to introduce legal power or authorization to prevent possible breaches of members and new entrants, like a license system.

Conclusively, the fundamental problem of most collusive behaviors is not what a cartel intends to do, but the authorization makes them able to achieve their intentions.

Therefore, in the cases we read such as “FTC v. Indiana Federation of Dentists,” Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association,” I think Sherman Act and judges both tried to find out the right answer in a wrong place.

On the other hand, there are some superficially collusive behaviors without legal power or authorization, mostly are caused by information cost of measurement or property maintenance cost, for example, “Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.” and “Fashion Originators’ Guild of America v. FTC case.” The courts apparently had different degree of awareness of social cost in these two cases.

Somehow, in “Klor’s, Inc. v. Broadway-Hale Stores, Inc. (1959),” the Federal Supreme Court showed distinguished lack of cost concept. I will talk about it in the next article.