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Tim Cook is big benefactor of Apple picking
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Shame on you, Tim Cook.

Ditto for the heads of Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Apple and their competitors are profiting immensely off the annual worldwide sales of 712.6 million smartphones.

They have technology built into the phone that would make early computer scientists both envious and astonished.

Yet they haven’t bothered to equip their phones with technology that would render them useless after they are stolen.

Critics in law enforcement believe they know why. Apple et al benefit immensely from the sale of replacement phones. Implementing technology that would make it impossible to thieves to benefit from on the black market would cut into their sales.

In San Francisco, District Attorney George Gascon notes that stealing of smartphones now account for more than 50 percent of all theft in that city.

It’s not much better in New York City where smartphone theft is blamed for a 14 percent increase this past year in the overall crime rate.

Gascon met with Apple honchos about the problem but they didn’t seem interested at all in stepping up to the plate. And why should they? They are a struggling company with $187 billion in cash reserves and are obviously hard pressed to make a profit. Devoting any technology that could make a smartphone theft an exercise in futility would send them in a downward financial spiral to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Yes, Apple does allow you to track your stolen phone via the iCloud. And, yes, some networks such as AT&T block stolen smartphones from accessing service.

But guess what? Contrary to Apple’s claims on its website, their anti-theft technology is about as useful as a Radio Shack Tandy 80 laptop computer in 2012.

Obviously, the vast majority of smartphones that are stolen are effectively hacked and cleaned allowing their profitable resale on the black market.

Apple picking - as smartphone theft is called in the Big Apple - doesn’t deprive the Cupertino firm with profits larger than the gross national product of a small country or revenue. The stolen phones are being sold to folks who aren’t going to shell $400 out for one new or sign a two-year contract.

They are not Apple’s primary targets. Besides, even if Apple did target them, relying on smartphone thievery is a much better way to strengthen their bottom line.

The reason is simple. Apple’s biggest margins aren’t in their smartphones. It is in the selling of apps. The countless apps don’t require a huge investment in hardware or paying Third World country workers a dime more a day to keep them from rebelling.

Getting smartphones into the hands of people who otherwise could not afford them is a cost effective way of selling more apps.

They might not be able to afford a $400 phone, but if they can buy the same model for $100 via the black market they’d be in a position to be harvested for revenue via low-cost apps that don’t require you to opt not to pay the rent for a month just to buy one.

At the same time buyers of replacement phones who are the victim of theft help keep the demand going strong for Apple hardware.

It’s a win-win for Apple and a lose-lose for smartphone theft victims and the taxpayer who helps underwrite police services.

If Tim Cook and his high tech brethren contend they can’t design smartphones with the technology to make them 100 percent useless after they are stolen, then they belong to the “There’s-a-sucker-born-every-minute” School of Capitalism.

Apple and all the other firms awash in cash from smartphone sales like to sing their own praise when it comes to corporate responsibility.

It is time for them to prove it.

Make a smartphone that is smart enough to foil low tech criminals.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209-249-3519.