Google Protest Hits
Expect to see the hashtag #GoogleWalkout trending Thursday as major fallout continues after the Andy Rubin allegations. More than 1,500 employees are planning to walk out from more than 60 percent of Google’s offices at 11:10 AM in all timezones.
Hundreds of Google engineers and other workers are expected to walk off the job Thursday morning to protest the internet company’s lenient treatment of executives accused of sexual misconduct.
It is the latest expression of a backlash against men’s exploitation of female subordinates in a business, entertainment, and politics. In Silicon Valley, women also are becoming fed up with the male-dominated composition of the technology industry’s workforce — a glaring imbalance that critics say fosters unsavory behavior akin to a college fraternity house.
The Google protest, billed “Walkout For Real Change,” is unfolding a week after a New York Times story detailed allegations of sexual misconduct about the creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin. The report said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 even though Google concluded the sexual misconduct allegations against him were credible.
Rubin derided the Times story article as inaccurate and denied the allegations in a tweet.
The same story also disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct of other executives, including Richard DeVaul, a director at the same Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons. DeVaul had remained at the “X″ lab after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced about him a few years ago, but he resigned Tuesday without severance, Google confirmed Wednesday.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized for the company’s “past actions” in an email sent to employees Tuesday. “I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” Pichai wrote. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society. and, yes, here at Google, too.”
The email didn’t mention the reported incidents involving Rubin, DeVaul or anyone else, but Pichai didn’t dispute anything in the Times story.
In an email last week, Pichai and Eileen Naughton, Google’s executive in charge of personnel issues, sought to reassure workers that the company had cracked down on sexual misconduct since Rubin’s departure four years ago.
Among other things, Pichai and Naughton disclosed that Google had fired 48 employees, including 13 senior managers, for “sexual harassment” in recent years without giving any of them severance packages.
But Thursday’s workout could signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet’s own edict urging all employees to ”do the right thing .”
A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted her support of the Google walkout using the “metoo” hashtag that has become a battle cry for women fighting sexual misconduct. “Why do they think it’s OK to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?” asked Rep. Jackie Speier, who represents an affluent district where many of Google’s employees live.
Apple Gives iPads A New Screen
Apple’s new iPads will more closely resemble its latest iPhones as they ditch a home button and fingerprint sensor to make more room for the screen.
As with the latest iPhone models — the XR and XS —the new iPad Pro will use facial-recognition technology to unlock the device and to authorize app and Apple Pay purchases.
Apple also unveiled new Mac computers, including an overdue refresh of the MacBook Air laptop, now with a high-resolution screen.
Better screens come with price increases for both iPads and Macs.
Tuesday’s announcements took place at an opera house in New York, where the company emphasized its products’ ability to create music, video, and sketches. Neither the Mac nor the iPad generates as much revenue for Apple as iPhones.
Tablet sales have been declining overall, though Apple saw a 3 percent increase in iPad sales last year to nearly 44 million, commanding a 27 percent market share, according to research firm IDC. Apple has been promoting its high-end iPad Pro as ideal for artists, photographers, and other creators.
D.A. Davidson Co. analyst Tom Forte said Apple did “a nice job of rolling out next-generation devices with features customers want to sustain momentum” in iPad sales growth.
The smaller of the two new Pros will have a wider display than before when held horizontally. Its screen is 11 inches rather than 10.5 inches, measured diagonally. It starts at about $800, or $150 more than the 10.5-inch version.
For the larger, 12.9-inch model, Apple is fitting the same-size display into a smaller device — about the size of a standard sheet of paper. That starts at about $1,000, a price hike of $200.
The new iPads will have an LCD screen similar to the iPhone XR rather than the more vibrant one found in the top-of-the-line iPhone XS models. The displays on the new iPads don’t run to the edges as much as they do on iPhones.
An updated pencil, still at $99, will attach magnetically to the iPad for storage and charging.
Apple is bringing a high-resolution display to its low-end MacBook Air, something until now limited to pricier models such as the MacBook Pro products. But the starting price goes up $200 to about $1,200.
The Air also joins higher-end Pros in sporting a fingerprint sensor, something the iPad just lost.
Apple also announced an updated desktop computer, the Mac Mini, starting at about $800.
The company said both Macs will use aluminum left over from producing iPads and other products.
The new MacBook Air and iPad Pros will now use a standard, oval-shaped connector called USB-C. That means accessories using the iPad’s old Lightning port will need adapters, sold separately. The change will allow people to charge their iPhones through the iPad.
The Air also loses the slot for camera memory cards. An adapter costs $39.
Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the refreshed products are likely to please Apple fans and users.
“The company hadn’t updated the Mac Mini for years, and the MacBook Air for a while, so these are very welcome changes,” he said. But he said the new Mac features aren’t significant enough to draw many people away from Windows computers.
“Overall some nice improvements, but I don’t think these are game changers,” he said.
All the new products come out Nov. 7.
Apple also is releasing a free software update for iPhones and iPads on Tuesday with previously announced features such as group video chats on FaceTime.