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The Artificial Life of the App Store

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-about-global-thermonuclear-war? dept.

AI 106

mikejuk writes "How does the Apple App Store actually work? What is the best strategy to employ if you want to get some users and make some money? There are some pointers on how it all works from an unusual source — artificial life. A pair of researchers Soo Ling Lim and Peter Bentley from University College London, set up an artificial life simulation of the app store's ecosystem. They created app developers with strategies such as — innovate, copy other apps, create useless variations on a basic app or try and optimize the app you have. What they found, among other things, was that the CopyCat strategy was on average the best. When they allow the strategies to compete and developer agents to swap then the use of the CopyCat fell to only 10%. The reason — more than 10% CopyCats resulted in nothing new to copy!"

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Perhaps they can... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765397)

Perhaps they can simulate how to make slashdot summaries make sense next?

Re:Perhaps they can... (0)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765499)

That sort of translation technology doesn't exist, as of yet.

Re:Perhaps they can... (4, Informative)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765549)

This one makes a decent amount of sense to me, though I did do previous work in artificial life simulators...

Effectively, they built a simulation of the app store, and filled it with developers following several different strategies, and presumably a feedback function that models expected consumer behavior. The simulation was left to run, and interesting results were gathered. TFA is actually a rather well-written explanation that's worth reading.

Re:Perhaps they can... (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765645)

Perhaps they can simulate how to make slashdot summaries make sense next?

Seriously, if you can't understand this one, go play on facebook or whatever the kids are doing these days. Your life is wasted here, as is a fraction of ours for reading your inane drivel.

Re:Perhaps they can... (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766149)

We do get the privilege of using more than 160 chars here kiddos. Time to work on the parseable sentences.

Useful Fitness-Function? (4, Insightful)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765407)

Of course a copycat can be minimum efford maximum profit in a simplified model, but this strongly depends on the calculation of the fitness-function. I think it can be hard to match the real world fitness-function, because some of the factors that are relevant to an actual user are hard to calculate.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765423)

There's more than one utility function. For example, if wrote an app I would not expect to profit, it would be for fun. Thus I'd give it away for free or a dollar. Someone else might be hoping to make a living at it. too bad.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765749)

There's more than one utility function. For example, if wrote an app I would not expect to profit, it would be for fun. Thus I'd give it away for free or a dollar. Someone else might be hoping to make a living at it. too bad.

This simulation was built to identify profit models, not to maximize developer happiness. But the two are related, and profit will be an element everyone can measure.

Consider if the app you created turned out to be really fun and truly innovative, and it went viral and sold five hundred thousand copies at $0.99.

If nothing else, you'd learn that half a million users can be awfully demanding. You might find yourself mired in support requests, and have to decide whether or not you can support it yourself or if you want to sell it to a game company so they can manage it. If nothing else, you might be surprised when you discover you have to pay taxes on a whole lot more income than you thought. The point is that at some financial threshold, you will probably have to take it seriously. My threshold might be higher or lower than yours, but in this simulation, it doesn't really matter. It would change your personal view of profiting from your work.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772173)

If nothing else, you'd learn that half a million users can be awfully demanding. You might find yourself mired in support requests, and have to decide whether or not you can support it yourself or if you want to sell it to a game company so they can manage it. If nothing else, you might be surprised when you discover you have to pay taxes on a whole lot more income than you thought. The point is that at some financial threshold, you will probably have to take it seriously. My threshold might be higher or lower than yours, but in this simulation, it doesn't really matter. It would change your personal view of profiting from your work.

Do remember that the Apple consoles (really, that's what they are, albeit touch-controlled, portable and small) don't have many variation out there. The iPod Touch has 4 different models, iPhone has 5, and iPad has 3. If you get rid of unsupported models (e.g., demanding latest OS, which doesn't actually limit your market too much - iOS users tend to upgrade pretty quickly), that number decreases quite substantially.

Compare this to Android where you get driver issues and old versions (it's been 6 months now - where are all the ICS running phones right now? Not upgrades, I mean comes-with-ICS?).

That's a support nightmare - half a million users with probably nearly 100 different Androids between them all (device/ROM/etc) versus maybe 6 or 7 or so iOS devices that are "current".

And unlike Android, iOS tends to be very monoculture - a reboot cleans things up, and iOS limited multitasking means there's no funny business messing you up (unless you jailbreak, but you can ignore those).

$99 per year (-1, Troll)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765963)

For example, if wrote an app I would not expect to profit, it would be for fun.

If you were to offer your app for no charge, how would you recoup the $649 cost of switching from your current PC to a Mac and the $99 per year iOS developer program fee?

Re:$99 per year (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766055)

You make a great point.

Because nobody in the history of humanity has ever spent $748 in a single year ($64 a month) on a hobby before. EVER.

(You realize that your argument is equally retarded for the standard Open Source dev model, too, right?)

Re:$99 per year (2)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766835)

The "not for profit" part of the previous post suggest he would not recoup his costs, nor would he expect to.

Not for profit defined (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767405)

Perhaps there's a misunderstanding, but where I come from, "not for profit" means that a business is privately held and reinvests all earnings back into the enterprise rather than distributing them to shareholders as dividends.

Re:Not for profit defined (3, Informative)

LDAPMAN (930041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39769803)

That's not what it generally means in the US. A "not for profit" here is literally an organization that does some function, usually charitable or community service, that is not intended to make a profit. In fact, I believe they are legally prohibited from making a profit if they wish to maintain their special tax status.

Re:Not for profit defined (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39771487)

A "not for profit" here is literally an organization that does some function, usually charitable or community service, that is not intended to make a profit.

Yet they still have expenses, such as labor, materials, and utilities, and they can and do charge for products or services to cover these expenses. To an NPO, I'll grant that salaries are a far greater expense than the Macs and developer certificate for the iOS app development team, unlike in the case of a hobbyist.

In fact, I believe they are legally prohibited from making a profit

And the mechanism of this prohibition is as I described. Or as Wikipedia's article about NPOs puts it: "While not-for-profit organizations are permitted to generate surplus revenues, they must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion, or plans."

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (4, Informative)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766531)

There's more than one utility function. For example, if wrote an app I would not expect to profit, it would be for fun. Thus I'd give it away for free or a dollar. Someone else might be hoping to make a living at it. too bad.

Too bad? If you're not meaning for the customer/end-user, I'd wager you never wrote any such app; or any OSS app, for that matter. And that those who tagged you as insightful haven't either.

In the real world, app development is just the beginning. Unless you decide to accept no feedback whatsoever, which is a losing proposition, you're in for a lot more feedback, emails and/or forum posts than you ever wish you'll ever read in your entire lifetime if you're even remotely successful. It's absolutely insane. Your success will destroy you unless you've an adequate means to scale -- whether monetization or extra funding.

So here you are, quacking that you'd happily share an app. For free. You'll keep your day job as you do. Someone out there actually wants to make a living off of a similar app. But he or she will get less or no business because you released that -- soon to be unsupported -- app at in an inadequately low price point.

Look... It's one thing to be competing with a Chinese team who can field $500/month coders to support their app, or with crap hobbyists who only have a slight clue of what they're doing. Those are mostly manageable in practice. It's an entirely different thing to compete with hobbyists who distribute good products without any interest in having a sustainable business.

Think of it this way: for every $100/month "cool, I got some pocket money I barely couldn't care about" app out there, an actual person who does care might be losing his job. So please do yourself a favor, do that guy a favor, and -- most importantly, in the long term -- do the customer a favor, and don't release it unless you work out your business model first. Else you're just building a mine field for those who do care.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766855)

Look... It's one thing to be competing with a Chinese team who can field $500/month coders to support their app, or with crap hobbyists who only have a slight clue of what they're doing. Those are mostly manageable in practice. It's an entirely different thing to compete with hobbyists who distribute good products without any interest in having a sustainable business. [...] [they're] just building a mine field for those who do care.

You've misread your talking points, Mr. Ballmer. Free software is supposed to be a 'cancer', not a 'mine field'.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

Octorian (14086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768153)

Pretty sure this rant isn't about *real* free software, of the open-source variety. Rather, its about free-as-in-beer (or priced close enough to it) closed-source software, with an end-game that has it likely headed straight for abandonware.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (2)

compgenius3 (726265) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767625)

Interesting argument, having written an Android app that was the first of its kind, I disagree with your argument that hobbyist development takes away jobs. If anything, it can create jobs, exactly because of the "copycat" phenomenon. I wrote an app that was the first of its kind available in the Android Market. There was at least one similar for iOS before I wrote mine. About a month after my first release, I discovered that another company had hired a developer (possibly more than one) to basically copy my app. In the end, because I was unable to dedicate my full attention to the project, and wanted to do other things, their app became far more popular than mine. The point is, someone who relies on app development for a living can easily compete with, and outperform, a hobbyist who only sees it as a fun side project that is nice to make some extra cash from.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (4, Insightful)

Zerth (26112) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765513)

I wonder if they included the idea that frequently it is the copycat that takes off, while the originator languishes in obscurity.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (3, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765659)

That is why I refuse to use any Zynga owned game. Even if they purchased the original rather than copy it, they'll use the profits to copy others.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766037)

Do you also refuse to use Linux because it copied UNIX? Or Windows because it copied the Mac? Or Mac because it copied Xerox?

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (3, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766107)

Are you just trolling or do you not know about Zynga's practices [wikipedia.org] ? Google them, they copy most of their game ideas, while filing suit [techcrunch.com] against anyone who copies one of their game ideas. They're completely amoral, or worse.

So few rules (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766191)

I just wanted to know how strongly you clung to the "don't patronize reimplementors" mentality. The Tetris keiretsu has similar practices: copying someone else's concept to make Feevo while suing anyone else who sells a falling tetromino game. The problem here is that casual games tend to have so few core rules that the line between making an original game in the same subgenre and misappropriation of original expression is harder to discern. What do you think of Quadrapassel?

Re:So few rules (0)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766427)

Never heard of it before. Had to google it. Ok, a Tetris knock-off 20+ years later? Tetris itself isn't even available for any modern platform.

As to your earlier questions about Linux and Mac OS X, they're not relevant. Unix [wikipedia.org] was widely available as source code and encouraged alternative implementations [wikipedia.org] . Mac OS X is derived from Mach, a BSD [wikipedia.org] variant. And Linux [wikipedia.org] started as a clean room implementation of MINIX [wikipedia.org] , itself an independent implementation of the original AT&T Unix spec.

Re:So few rules (2)

shmlco (594907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766595)

"Mac OS X is derived from Mach, a BSD [wikipedia.org] variant."

And that's what comes from getting al of your "knowledge" from Wikipedia. First, reread for comprehension. He didn't say Mac OS X, he said Mac OS, as in the original 1984 Mac OS that was NOT based in any way, shape, or form on Unix.

Mac OS 1.0 was based on original work and UI work done on the Lisa OS, and both drew heavily from work licensed from Xerox's work on the Alto (which Xerox later tried to market as the Star).

The original Windows code was based on the interface work done for Mac and Lisa, and released as an add-on to DOS a year after the Mac was released, and two years after Lisa.

Re:So few rules (2, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766687)

Yes, Mac OS/LISA were inspired by what they saw at Xerox PARC. However, if you've read up on those, the people who actually worked at PARC said that LISA/Mac went far beyond what they had done or envisioned. [wikipedia.org]

"the Apple work extended PARC's considerably, adding manipulatable icons, and drag&drop manipulation of objects in the file system (see Macintosh Finder) for example. A list of the improvements made by Apple, beyond the PARC interface, can be read at Folklore.org. [folklore.org] "

My knowledge doesn't come from Wikipedia, I've been in this industry for 30+ years. I just use Wikipedia to support my statements.

Re:So few rules (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772239)

So? I've been in it since 1972 (40 years). Appeal to authority won't work here.

Changing the subject won't help either. The OP's comment was about using one thing because it was copied or based on another. Windows/Mac, Mac/Alto.

And if you're going to provide links to articles, you might avoid cherry-picking facts to prove your point, "There is still some controversy over the amount of influence that Xerox's PARC work, as opposed to previous academic research, had on the GUIs of the Apple Lisa and Macintosh, but it is clear that the influence was extensive [NOTE], because first versions of Lisa GUIs even lacked icons."

I'm also not sure how "Apple work extended PARC's considerably" translates into "LISA/Mac went far beyond what they had done or envisioned." As Jeff stated in the Folklore article, "In my opinion, the software architectures developed at Xerox for Smalltalk and the Xerox Star were significantly more advanced than either the Mac or Windows. The Star was a tremendous accomplishment, with features that current systems haven't even started to implement..."

In many ways, however, it's too bad the Mac won out over the Lisa. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the old girl...

Re:So few rules (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772721)

You wrote: And that's what comes from getting al of your "knowledge" from Wikipedia.

I replied: My knowledge doesn't come from Wikipedia, I've been in this industry for 30+ years. I just use Wikipedia to support my statements.

I didn't use an appeal to authority, you need to check your attitude and your definitions. A direct reply to your statement is not an "appeal to authority", I provided a fact that contradicts your statement.

I didn't cherry pick facts to prove my point. The facts I cited are sufficient to demonstrate that the Mac was not just a copy of the ideas from PARC, as implied by previous comments. Go back and re-read the entire thread. I never denied that the Mac was influenced by Xerox Alto, in fact, I began my response with "Yes, Mac OS/LISA were inspired by what they saw at Xerox PARC." Nothing hidden, and no cherry picking.

Now, go annoy someone else.

Re:So few rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766721)

[...] Tetris itself isn't even available for any modern platform.

TETRIS for the PS3 [playstation.com] begs to differ. As do several other recent official Tetris versions or variants [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So few rules (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767259)

Ok, a Tetris knock-off 20+ years later?

The exclusive right that The Tetris Company claims has a 95 year term, not 20.

Tetris itself isn't even available for any modern platform.

TetrisFriends.com disagrees with you, as do the official Tetris app by EA for iOS and Tetris Axis for 3DS.

Mac OS X

What about Mac OS I, on the 128K Mac?

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765927)

Yeah but often the reason that happens is because of slight improvements in the new copy. And often those improvements were requested and ignored or dismissed from the original developer.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766227)

I wonder if they included the idea that frequently it is the copycat that takes off, while the originator languishes in obscurity.

First Mover Disadvantage is usually considered in simulations like this.

Re:Useful Fitness-Function? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766445)

That idea isn't quite concrete enough to implement directly, but the tendency is always to tweak model factors until a known or suspected outcome is reached, in this case "fast follower." This is unavoidable at some level, since otherwise it wouldn't be a "model" - just a bunch of random dynamics. But the value a model must be judged by novel and correct predictions it makes, and I'm not sure there's really a "prediction" here.

Interesting (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765421)

In my simulation the best strategy was to take 30% of everyone's revenues.

Re:Interesting (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765541)

Your study is flawed. For many App Store developers, Apple gets much more than a mere 30% of the developer's revenue.

To develop and market a $0.99 or $1.99 app, the developer needs to drop many thousands of dollars on various pieces of Apple hardware, and then there's the annual fee that needs to be paid, too. And that's all in addition to the 30% you mention.

For every developer who does turn an actual profit, there are likely many thousands who suffer very significant losses, even if they try to deny it. Yes, it is considered a net loss when you have to spend $3000 or more for an Apple computer, an iPhone, an iPad, and the annual fee, in addition to many hours of work, just to bring in $50 to $100 in revenue.

Re:Interesting (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765661)

You should log in next time so we can help you with your sense of humor.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765703)

Whoever modded it "5, Funny" is the one with the warped sense of humor. It was much more appropriate earlier, when it was modded "5, Insightful".

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765675)

That's no different than any other development model, or most other businesses. Starting a business is a risk, welcome to reality.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765873)

His point was it wasn't worth the risk. Not that all businesses don't have risk. The majority of people lose money. I sell free software. I make money. We develop little to nothing though. However we do fund it. Many of the developers whom write this free software are being rewarded. I rely on that software for which without it my business model doesn't work. Despite many competitors I have very little real competition. We are cornering the market in a sense without preventing competition. I probably make more money than most here. My company will probably hit the million dollar mark this year. I wouldn't go anywhere near the Apple App store. Selling software is a bad business model in general. There is lots of competition and better alternatives as a software developer to profit. People need to understand psychology in relation to business when developing a business model. Then they will have the potential to make money without necessarily locking users into, preventing competition, or even the software being proprietary. I have had many small developers say they couldn't make money because everybody was pirating the software. Well, your problem wasn't that everybody was pirating the software. It was you didn't understand how to make money from it.

Re:Interesting (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768449)

It's different to Android.

Re:Interesting (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768967)

Not at all. To develop for Android, you still have to own/buy a computer, spend your time developing the software, and pay someone a commission to sell it. And you have no more guarantee that the program will sell. It's the same basic model and risk either way.

Re:Interesting (1, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765867)

Mac mini $599 ($519 refurb), Ipad 2 $399 ($350 refurb), $99/year dev license x 2 (mac and iOS). By my count its $1000 up front and $200/year. That is an astonishingly low price for a pretty feature rich dev system. Add $120 for 16 GB RAM upgrade (DIY).

Re:Interesting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766121)

Oh, geeze. I was wondering when one of you guys would show up, and spew out your short-sighted, unrealistic nonsense. In fact, I think that the $3000 figure that the GP mentioned is likely much lower than the real amount.

First of all, doing any serious development on a Mac Mini, even with the 16 GB RAM upgrade, won't be pleasant. To be even remotely productive, at the very least you'll need to be getting a MacBook Pro. Realistically, you'll need one of the higher-end ones, so you'll be looking at spending at least $1500, if not significantly more. Keep in mind that that's the bare minimum. Most of the app developers I've worked with have insisted on using a Mac Pro. So that alone could easily consume the $3000 that the GP mentioned.

Second of all, you're going to need more than just an iPad 2. If you care even the slightest about your users' experience while using your app, you're going to want to test on at least the iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S. And by "test", I mean on an actual device. That's the only responsible way to do it. So you're looking at significant expenditure there, to acquire at least one of each of those devices. This will be another $1000, if not a lot more.

Third of all, buying "refurb" or used devices is likely a very stupid idea, especially if you aren't buying from the most reliable sources. Sure, you'll save $20 now, but when the device shits out you'll be really screwed. You'll basically end up shelling out for another device, used or new, and it'll be costly. Sensible developers will buy all of their devices new.

Four of all, there are the yearly fees. They're actually pretty small, relative to the large hardware investments you'll have to make. They're still present, however.

So realistically, you'll be spending a lot more than $1200 a year. Your figure is laughably low, and clearly a value you shit out of your inexperienced ass. Had you any real experience, you wouldn't have made the comment you just did.

Like the GP says, and like you totally ignored, the biggest problem will be when you find out that your $4000-$6000 investment (not including whatever amount you value the time spent developing the app) to create 99 cent apps brings in only a few dollars of revenue each week. You'll have basically handed Apple a large sum of money buying devices and paying annual fees, all for no good reason. Apple wins, you lose.

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766267)

Oh, geeze. I was wondering when one of you guys would show up, and spew out your short-sighted, unrealistic nonsense. In fact, I think that the $3000 figure that the GP mentioned is likely much lower than the real amount.

First of all, doing any serious development on a Mac Mini, even with the 16 GB RAM upgrade, won't be pleasant. To be even remotely productive, at the very least you'll need to be getting a MacBook Pro. Realistically, you'll need one of the higher-end ones, so you'll be looking at spending at least $1500, if not significantly more. Keep in mind that that's the bare minimum. Most of the app developers I've worked with have insisted on using a Mac Pro. So that alone could easily consume the $3000 that the GP mentioned.

Second of all, you're going to need more than just an iPad 2. If you care even the slightest about your users' experience while using your app, you're going to want to test on at least the iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S. And by "test", I mean on an actual device. That's the only responsible way to do it. So you're looking at significant expenditure there, to acquire at least one of each of those devices. This will be another $1000, if not a lot more.

Third of all, buying "refurb" or used devices is likely a very stupid idea, especially if you aren't buying from the most reliable sources. Sure, you'll save $20 now, but when the device shits out you'll be really screwed. You'll basically end up shelling out for another device, used or new, and it'll be costly. Sensible developers will buy all of their devices new.

Four of all, there are the yearly fees. They're actually pretty small, relative to the large hardware investments you'll have to make. They're still present, however.

So realistically, you'll be spending a lot more than $1200 a year. Your figure is laughably low, and clearly a value you shit out of your inexperienced ass. Had you any real experience, you wouldn't have made the comment you just did.

Like the GP says, and like you totally ignored, the biggest problem will be when you find out that your $4000-$6000 investment (not including whatever amount you value the time spent developing the app) to create 99 cent apps brings in only a few dollars of revenue each week. You'll have basically handed Apple a large sum of money buying devices and paying annual fees, all for no good reason. Apple wins, you lose.

You're confusing needs and wants. You can certainly get started with just a single Mac, phone, and iPad. Yes, you'll probably end up buying more gear from there, but that would be just fine to get started with.

You can also easily blow six grand on hardware and totally wash out because your $0.99 fart app doesn't sell as well as you thought. That's not the "Apple Tax" hurting your business margins; that's you being irrationally optimistic about your ROI.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766509)

I must point out that you are missing one crucial factor - Just because your app doesn't sell(or does, for that matter), the hardware is still usable. You can always install Windows on your Mac and have a fully functional PC and develop for Windows(same with Linux, for that matter). You can also use that same machine as a gaming/internet box. So the real "apple tax" is more like $99/year + (cost of Mac - cost of equavlent Dell system) + cost of iDevice(and possibly +$100 for a copy of windows). Not quite as high as it might seem.

Disclaimer: I do not own any Apple products, and consider iDevices useless junk. But that doesn't mean I can't give credit where it is due.

Re:Interesting (1, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766357)

There is no major performance difference between a Sandy Bridge macbook pro and a mac mini esp. at 13". The 15" can get a quad core, but so can mac mini server. For a 'high end' non-mac pro desktop you are looking at $1000 for mac mini server with a i7 in it. Add in another $400 for a decent SSD (DIY, apple reacts too slow to market prices) and you are good to go. So $1000(Comp) + $120 (RAM) + SSD ($400) = $1520 one time fee for a screaming fast dev environment. What is the problem here?

By the way the refurb prices i quoted are direct from Apple, sold by Apple, on the Apple website with full warranty and confidence, not some 3rd party bullshit. The rest of your argument runs off into ROI fantasy land.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766659)

What is the problem here

That i could get a faster system for half the price if it was pc based and i was developing for andoid.

Re:Interesting (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767357)

If OP has to buy three iPhones, a couple of iPads, etc, etc, etc. then if you are developing for Android, you'll, of course, buy 18 kajillion phones and tablets.

No way that costs more than $6k.

Re:Interesting (2)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766419)

To be even remotely productive, at the very least you'll need to be getting a MacBook Pro.

Because of course the MacBook has a much faster processor, oh wait it's only a smidge faster, with more cores, oh wait not if you buy the server version, with a faster disk, oh wait no it doesn't, and greater max RAM, oh wait no it doesn't...

Most of the app developers I've worked with have insisted on using a Mac Pro.

Until recently I was the only one I know that still did so. I sold my old 8-core Xeon 5300 Mac Pro and am pretty happy with my MacBook Pro now which has a slightly higher clock than a Mini but no other real advantage other than portability.

Third of all, buying "refurb" or used devices is likely a very stupid idea, especially if you aren't buying from the most reliable sources.

Refurbs come from Apple. Likely the OP chose his words carefully and precisely when he said "refurb" rather than "used".

So, you have a point about equipment for testing. Other than that though, the whole post was basically bullshit exaggeration for effect.

Re:Interesting (1)

drkstr1 (2072368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766425)

Also don't forget that if you develop a enterprise applications, you need 2 iOS developer licenses. One to distribute internally, and one to put it up on the Volume Purchasing Programming. Oh, and if you want to test your release, you also need to sign up to the VPP yourself, purchase the app from yourself, and pay apple $3 for every copy you "sell" to yourself. I feel like the whole thing was set up to extract money from us every chance they get...

Re:Interesting (2)

drkstr1 (2072368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766503)

Oh, and for the record, we develop in Eclipse on Windows 7. The Mac mini sits in the corner until we're ready to push a release. The only thing it does is run a little utility to upload the binary to the app store, a function that can easily be done as part of the web based dashboard used to enter in all the other information about the app. Apple CHOSE not to do this so they could extract more money from developers. Thanks Apple! [end rant]

Re:Interesting (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767003)

Ha. If you require a Mac Pro to develop software for a phone you're doing something seriously wrong. Apple's dev tools work just fine on my old circa 2008 MacBook or old mini.

Yeah, you could buy a bunch of devices to test on, but if you're not a big company you can just get some friends to test for you.

Anyway, none of that is different than development for any other system.

Re:Interesting (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768667)

I do my development on a 7 year old Macbook (not pro). It has 3.2 GB of usable RAM (4GB installed). I own a first-generation iPod Touch and iPad 1. If this were my business, I'd buy better (newer) hardware, but that would really just be gravy.

Re:Interesting (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765871)

To develop and market a $0.99 or $1.99 app, the developer needs to drop many thousands of dollars on various pieces of Apple hardware, and then there's the annual fee that needs to be paid, too.

You need a computer anyway, so that cost is zero as far as factoring in how much it affects the amount you do/do not take in. And a used mac, at under $500 would do fine for iOS development.

The developer fee is just $100/year...

So all around you have no idea what you are talking about.

Re:Interesting (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766065)

You need a computer anyway

You say this as if one doesn't already own a computer. The computer that's already on your desk and paid for won't work.

so that cost is zero

No, it's $200 for a second operating system on top of the cost of a Mac if you want to run the software that you already have.

The developer fee is just $100/year

"Just"?

Re:Interesting (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766153)

You say this as if one doesn't already own a computer. The computer that's already on your desk and paid for won't work.

For most developers it will. Been to any technical conferences or colleges lately?

No, it's $200 for a second operating system on top of the cost of a Mac if you want to run the software that you already have.

Now you are making up $200 out of thin air.

"Just"?

Yep. That's a pretty small price for the resources you get, including all WWDC videos. It's low enough it blocks no-one that can afford a computer, at all.

Has Rose-Hulman gone Mac since I graduated? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766417)

Been to any technical conferences or colleges lately?

Not lately, but when I attended Rose-Hulman, I don't think I saw more than six Macs in dorms. Every student had the school-issued laptop, and it ran Windows.

Now you are making up $200 out of thin air.

MSRP for Windows 7 retail. (The OEM version isn't for Macs [microsoft.com] .)

Why do you go full-retard? (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39769583)

Not lately, but when I attended Rose-HulmanMSRP for Windows 7 retail. (The OEM version isn't for Macs.)

You had to go full retard...

Why would you buy that?

That would assume you have Windows applications already you'd like to run. Which means YOU ALREADY OWN A WINDOWS BOX YOU CAN KEEP USING!

Retard.

The secondary level of mental damage you exhibit, the one that has you going FULL retard, is knowing you CAN run OEM Windows 7 copies under virtualization but insisting people know or care what the license says. Pointing at a license means nothing, especially when as noted you are retarded and cannot understand it anyway.

I had to use the word "retard", but honestly you deserve it. The really sad thing is you will continue to post the same retarded notions in thread after thread after thread even after being corrected. That in the end, the inability to learn from your terrible mistakes, is what earns you the "retarded" label. Or at best, idiot savant since you can type.

I'll grant you the last response, I have done enough to prove to the casual reader of your mental deficiency so there's no further need to read or respond to whatever pours forth from you.

If not selling the PC to afford the Mac (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39769739)

Which means YOU ALREADY OWN A WINDOWS BOX YOU CAN KEEP USING!

Then please explain what you meant by the sentence "You need a computer anyway" in your previous comment [slashdot.org] . If we take for granted that one already owns a Windows box and is not selling it to afford the Mac, then the Mac is bought to run one application. Such an expense is perfectly justifiable for a day job, I'll grant, but tougher to explain to one's SO for a hobby-turned-business built with sweat equity in one's spare time. I will further grant that there is one situation where already owning a Mac is likely, namely someone who had fully switched to the Mac years ago. Our dispute appears to be how common this situation is comparing to already owning a Windows PC and no Mac.

Re:Interesting (1)

blacklint (985235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766433)

Let's say I want to buy a copy of Windows, because it doesn't come with my Mac. I'm not even going to splurge for Ultimate, and settle for Windows 7 Home Premium. Newegg [newegg.com] has it for "$189.99 was: $199.99". Yes, you can get OEM versions for half that, but saying $200 for a Windows license is certainly not out of thin air.

No need (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39769601)

Let's say I want to buy a copy of Windows, because it doesn't come with my Mac.

At this point there are very few people indeed that require a Windows license. There is almost no software you cannot have now on the Mac, and as noted at this point most students get macs as first computers anyway so migration is really moot.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766279)

No, it's $200 for a second operating system on top of the cost of a Mac if you want to run the software that you already have.

That's ridiculous. Linux is free.

For applications rated garbage in Wine's AppDB (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766429)

If I were to use Linux, I'd have to use Wine, whose compatibility isn't really any greater than that of the Mac version of Wine as far as I know.

Re:Interesting (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766451)

No, it's $200 for a second operating system on top of the cost of a Mac if you want to run the software that you already have.

No it's not. It's at most $50 for VMWare, and then you use VMWare Converter to create a VM image from your current Windows OS install. Or, if you're an actual serious Windows developer, you're already running virtual machines anyway to control your environment, and you just copy them to your Mac--even better if they're on external drives ;-)

Not transferable (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767233)

It's at most $50 for VMWare, and then you use VMWare Converter to create a VM image from your current Windows OS install.

Provided that your existing Windows OS install is retail, not OEM. If it's OEM, the license is not transferable to your Mac's motherboard.

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766071)

I know, this is why I refuse to work on Open Source projects. I have to spend a couple thousand on a computer, and then spend MANY HOURS OF WORK with no expectation of ever receiving ANY REVENUE for all of that.

Perhaps you'd like to consider that not everybody does it with the expectation of fame and fortune?

Re:Interesting (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766537)

Mod parent insightful. Just check out the Maemo 5(Nokia N900) community - many, many apps, at least 99% free. Most done as a hobby or because the dev needed that feature him/herself.

Parasitic infestation... (-1, Troll)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765461)

... at 10% of the population is quite a high level. The Occupy movement seemed to be triggered by only 1%.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765551)

1% didn't trigger anything, it was just a marketing blurb. More relevant is that Occupy was never more than 0.0001% of the population so it died out.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765615)

1% thinking about whether gold or platinum toiletseats would looks best on they new yatch
98.9999% busy watching idols and/or making ends meet
0.0001% young and naive enough to think they could change anything....

Re:Parasitic infestation... (2, Insightful)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765617)

It died out because not even hippies like to camp out in the winter. The current reboot of it is calling itself "The American Spring" or "the 99% spring" and they're back to protesting now that the weather is warm again.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765795)

It died out because it was just a way for lazy people to moan for more money from the hardworking. Lazy people don't like to camp when it takes effort, you know, like in the winter.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (2)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766099)

Gentlemen, we see here a textbook example of homo sapiens capitalus in it's natural environment: shortly to be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766255)

I'll believe it's a real protest movement when it targets Democrats and Republicans equally, because Democrats deserve at least as much blame for the current economic situation as anyone else.

But it has become pretty obvious that whatever you call it, the movement is financed by the left, complete with ACORN employees putting in their time. It's the same as MoveOn, supposedly a protest movement until the financiers behind it were exposed.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767437)

Actually, most of the 99%ers I know are equally pissed at the Democrats and a large number of them are Ron Paul supporters (or at least they are based on his official platform, not his actual voting history or beliefs.) Their biggest target isn't the political parties at all, but Wall Street speculators who caused the housing crash with their fantasy math and are currently in the process of speculating gas prices towards four dollars a gallon.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39765715)

I hope that healthcare you can afford results in malpractice and kills you, bourgie scum.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39765805)

I hope that healthcare you can afford results in malpractice and kills you, bourgie scum.

I live in a country that has universal health care, you unfortunate and sad excuse for a human being.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766151)

Occupy had no idea what they were talking about, though. The rhetoric they aimed at "The 1%" was more realistically aimed at the "0.05% who have billions of dollars and live off their investment income." Most of "The 1%" is not living very differently from the protesters. MOST of "The 1%" is working a full time professional job, just like the protesters.

"The 1%" includes most *households* in the US with an income somewhere between $200-250k, which is easily achieved these days by a 2-professional household with a few years of industry experience in their respective fields. If you're a professional with 5+ years of experience, and your SO is as well, there's a good chance you're part of "The 1%." Even if you're not quite in the 200k range, if you have a "professional" job, you're almost certainly in the top 5%. Those people are certainly comfortable, but please, go find a professional couple and get them to tell you how much money they're wasting fueling their campfires with stacks of $100 bills.

The "1% vs 99%" rhetoric was primarily a way for unemployed, unemployable people with master's degrees in ancient roman handweaving techniques to bitch about how they weren't "getting their fair share," defined as "anybody who has more than I do owes me some of their money." If they really cared about solving the problem of corporate buyouts of government bodies, they wouldn't propose that centralizing more power and authority in the hands of the federal government (the very reason those gov't agencies have become takeover targets) was the solution.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766273)

"The 1%" includes most *households* in the US with an income somewhere between $200-250k, which is easily achieved these days by a 2-professional household with a few years of industry experience in their respective fields.

Try again. To be in the 1%, you must have an adjusted gross income of $343,927 [kiplinger.com] which would probably equate to an unadjusted family income of over $400,000. Not easily achievable.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39766365)

Not easily achievable.

Yea, in fact only about 1% of taxpayers are in the top 1%. Funny how that works out.

From the link you posted:

One percent of taxpayers reported almost 17% of all taxable income. But that same tiny group also kicked in 37% of all the taxes paid.

1% of the population is only paying 37% of the total income tax revenue collected by the government. Clearly they're parasites

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766473)

Clearly they're parasites

Why do you limit yourself to humans? Aren't corporations [slashdot.org] treated [slashdot.org] like [slashdot.org] persons [slashdot.org] ? (oh, my apologies, I guess they indeed are treated better [slashdot.org] ).

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767195)

They are not parasites. They are just lacking good accountants. Most rich people pay a far lower % of income tax than the man on the street, courtesy of tax minimisation planning and clever accountants.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772873)

One percent of taxpayers reported almost 17% of all taxable income. But that same tiny group also kicked in 37% of all the taxes paid.

1% of the population is only paying 37% of the total income tax revenue collected by the government. Clearly they're parasites

The problem with your argument is that "taxable income" is defined as income subject to income tax. It does not include income from capital gains or investments. If you included that income into the total, you would find that the "income" break point to enter the top 1% is considerably higher than ~$350k, and that they "earn" considerably more than 17% of total income.

Also, a more appropriate measure for this resource inequality discussion is probably wealth, and the numbers [nytimes.com] for wealth inequality are much more skewed.

The Times had estimated the threshold for being in the top 1 percent in household income at about $380,000, 7.5 times median household income, using census data from 2008 through 2010. But for net worth, the 1 percent threshold for net worth in the Fed data was nearly $8.4 million, or 69 times the median household’s net holdings of $121,000.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766977)

I'll grant that point - my source attributed the 200-250k figure to 2003 census data, the numbers appear to have changed.

Point still remains: even 343k per year is not exactly "fuck you" money, where you light your illegal cuban cigars with $100 bills while hookers serve you cocaine from solid gold spoons. The majority of that 1% is still largely educated professionals - engineers, doctors, lawyers, and the like, and small business owners. Not fat cat ceo's drinking the blood of underage sweatshop workers imported fresh daily from China while they dine on Bald Eagle buffalo wings and Endangered Species shish kebabs.

And as somebody else noted, from your own source - that "parasitic" 1% is paying 37% of all federal tax receipts. Exactly how much more should that top 1% be paying, out of curiosity? Or let me ask it this way: assuming no political consequences for any changes you make, everybody accepts it and says "thanks for fixing the tax system" - what does your ideal "blue sky" tax system look like? Honest question, no hidden agenda or trap waiting to be sprung - I'm genuinely interested in hearing how you would fix the tax system, because I think it's very easy to say "those people who are not me need to pay more," but actually quite difficult to come up with an equitable system that doesn't require massive spending cuts or vastly higher tax rates on anybody middle-class-and-above.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767135)

Point still remains: even 343k per year is not exactly "fuck you" money, where you light your illegal cuban cigars with $100 bills while hookers serve you cocaine from solid gold spoons. The majority of that 1% is still largely educated professionals - engineers, doctors, lawyers, and the like, and small business owners. Not fat cat ceo's drinking the blood of underage sweatshop workers imported fresh daily from China while they dine on Bald Eagle buffalo wings and Endangered Species shish kebabs.

I seem to recall reading that, in fact, the majority of the 1% were neither CEOs nor doctors, but instead in the financial sector. Clearly, some of the financial sector benefits society as a whole, whole other parts (HFT) are just parasites on the markets.

As for your comments the 1% paying 37% of the taxes, I don't support a flat tax system. I do believe that high earners should pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes. Finally, let's not forget that income taxes are not the only form of taxation. It is well known that the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes than the wealthy do.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do find it abhorrent that people like Warren Buffet pay a lower proportion of their income in taxes than anyone else in their offices. Don't you?

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768103)

HFT are just parasites on the markets.

They're extracting value that would otherwise be lost to inefficiency and "friction" in the market. I'm not certain I'd declare them parasitic and unfit to exist - they serve a purpose, and there most definitely needs to be some oversight, but HFTs & algorithmic trading are not inherently evil (nor inherently good).

Finally, let's not forget that income taxes are not the only form of taxation. It is well known that the poor pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes than the wealthy do.

Indeed, and that's the main reason I wouldn't ever support a sales/consumption tax scheme - you either create a million loopholes for low-income people to avoid being overly taxed, or you penalize low-income households disproportionately. The former invites all kinds of games and idiocy to figure out ways for the rich to "appear low-income" on their tax returns, and the latter is monstrously unfair.

I don't claim to have all the answers, but I do find it abhorrent that people like Warren Buffet pay a lower proportion of their income in taxes than anyone else in their offices. Don't you?

Well, there's the rub. Most of Warren Buffett's income is from investments, which are taxed at capital gains rates instead of income tax. Now, we COULD jack up the rates on investment income, but then you start squeezing the retirement savings of pretty much all of middle-class america who has a 401k or 403b - those are (will be) taxed as investment income when you start drawing down your retirement. Knowing that you'd be taxed at a higher-than-when-you-worked tax rate in retirement is... well, sort of a bummer. And would really destroy a lot of retirement plans. I'm not sure I find it "abhorrent," that he pays a lower percentage - the tax system is set up to encourage the rich to reinvest in businesses because that has proven time and again to be the key to economic growth. Doing something to discourage that investment is going to have a lot of unintended (and mostly negative) side effects.

You could also tie investment tax rate to AGI or some similar measure, but again, that's just going to prompt rich people to game the system to appear poorer on paper than they actually are.

What I find most obnoxious, honestly, is Warren Buffett thumbing his nose at the government, saying "you didn't take enough from me last year." If Mr. Buffett feels that he's underpaying on his tax return, he's perfectly capable of writing a very large check above and beyond his minimum due, but instead, he seems to prefer pointing out that he's paying very little, advocating tax increases, and then saying, "but I'm not paying another red cent until I'm required to by law." I'd have much more respect for his argument if he accompanied his op-eds with a rather large check to the IRS.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772955)

Well, there's the rub. Most of Warren Buffett's income is from investments, which are taxed at capital gains rates instead of income tax. Now, we COULD jack up the rates on investment income, but then you start squeezing the retirement savings of pretty much all of middle-class america who has a 401k or 403b - those are (will be) taxed as investment income when you start drawing down your retirement.

No, 401(k) income is taxed as regular income when you withdraw it (assuming you don't withdraw early in which case you pay additional penalties). But given that Cap Gain rates are lower than income tax rates (and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future), most people would welcome the scenario you suggest.

If you are really smart, and make less than ~$100k, you would put in the maximum you can into a Roth IRA so that you pay the income tax up front and get your withdrawals tax free - you get to avoid all taxes on any gains your Roth investments make over then next 10-40 years.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39767635)

And as somebody else noted, from your own source - that "parasitic" 1% is paying 37% of all federal tax receipts. Exactly how much more should that top 1% be paying, out of curiosity?

Their taxes should be based on the portion of society's fruits they enjoy, not on the portion of the population they comprise.

If they have 99% of the wealth, they should be paying 99% of the taxes. How hard is that to grasp?

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39768057)

Top 1% earned 17% of the taxable income, and payed 37% of federal tax receipts. (From the Kiplinger's article linked above).

So are we to assume that you'd support reducing their taxes to 17% of federal tax receipts, and issuing them an apology for making them pay far more taxes than they should have been for so long? And what will you say to the lower ends of the tax scale who are paying FAR less in taxes - do you support increasing their taxes, too? Or are you advocating cutting taxes on the top end, and then drastically cutting government spending as a result? Or running even larger deficits?

I'm not sure you've thought through your position, friend.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39768301)

Actually, I said "society's fruits", specifically to avoid the weaselly term "taxable income". Poor billionaires, they pay an higher tax rate on the meager portion of their income they haven't been able to buy legislation declaring "untaxable".

You may assume that I am in favor of including capital gains, dividends, and all the other little hideyholes the pyramid-climbers use to avoid paying their fair share in "taxable income". Then, once everyone pays a tax proportional to their wealth, a dialog can be opened regarding the reduction of everyone's taxes.

There is an exception to be made for citizens who live below the poverty line- it is unreasonable to expect them to pay taxes. As the saying has it, you can't squeeze blood from a stone.

Billionaires who cry "life's not fair!" when they don't get the same tax-exemptions as people who live below the poverty line are pretty disgusting.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39770235)

I said "society's fruits", specifically to avoid the weaselly term

So you use one weaselly term to avoid another weaselly term. How weaselly.

Let's assume then, that all income regardless of source is treated as taxable. Consider:
1) Capital gains taxes are only paid on income from investments, not total assets invested;
2) "regular folks" also pay capital gains taxes - more and more so since the ascendancy of Defined Contribution (401k, 403b) plans versus Defined Benefit (pension/annuity) plans; You going to start nailing somebody's 401k with a high tax rate, too? And if so, are you prepared to support a generation of paupers because they simply will not have the money to survive in retirement because the 10-25% more of their 401k income than they planned for is being devoured by taxes?
3) Declaring that people must pay tax based on "their wealth" suggests that you're going to start forcing rich people to sell a portion of their wealth off each year so they pay a certain amount of capital gains taxes - this means that, every year, the companies in which those investments are held will lose billions of dollars in investment capital as rich people sell off their stocks to pay their mandatory taxes-as-percentage-of wealth;
4) Loopholes will still abound, and armies of lawyers and accountants will STILL find a way to minimize the tax rates of the rich; Because paying a lawyer $150k / year to save you 20 million a year is still a good value;
5) If you only wish to tax income, then you can bet the very rich will find ways to minimize their taxable income by selling off their lagging stocks every year, as well, to make their taxable investment income much lower on paper than it actually is;

It's not as clear-cut as you seem to want it to be.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39772463)

There is an issue too with what should be universally accessible. If one argues healthcare (as many do), as long as that is not included, it requires a progressive tax, as spending is essentially regressive as a % of income.

Similarly the same argument could be made for roads, and was essentially one, with toll roads being fee are far between compared to times of old (I drive on 2 former turnpikes in my 9 mile commute).

One could go extreme and argue everyone should have a car (chicken in every pot, car in every garage), if you assume that this should be true, you are either going to need to provide it via government, or have a progressive tax, so that more people can afford them.

Is personally see nothing wrong, or unethical about saying the cash strapped (even for very high definitions of cash strapped) pay a lower percentage of income, they can't afford higher, and that lower tax buys them more improvement in quality of life.

Something like a flat 20% (no deductions) on all income over median sounds reasonable to me, would probably grow revenue, or be neutral.

Note: I don't think everyone deserves a car, but that argument has been made, my point is simply that many things people are expected to have access to in a modern society (and those expectations can vary person to person) are things we are expected to earn for ourselves. Hitting the base leaves a lot less disposable income at the low end, the point of a progressive tax is to tax disposable income higher than the rest.

Re:Parasitic infestation... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39773013)

Something like a flat 20% (no deductions) on all income over median sounds reasonable to me, would probably grow revenue, or be neutral.

That's something a little more approximately reasonable, but as you know, the devil's in the details. Where do you set the breakpoint to say "Anything over this is taxable?" Ask a hundred people, and you'll get a hundred different answers - and those answers will probably take the form of something like, "Tax anything higher than Respondent's Current Income + 10%."

While I'm sensitive to the notion that low-income households can't afford to pay a lot in taxes, *everybody* should be making some contribution into the system. I'd like to see a system where low income households can choose: a nominal low income tax (e.g., 1%), performing community service (e.g., X hrs of community service over the course of a year = no taxes this year"), or participating in some sort of educational program (e.g., "if you're actively learning new skills to get yourself a better job and grow your income, we will cut you slack on your tax bill this year.")

Make these program unavailable to higher income households so you don't have stories like, "Warren Buffett spent 40 hours volunteering at a soup kitchen this year, and paid no taxes on his billions of dollars!", and make the income tax increase sharply above the median point, but I think going from "0% taxes under the median" to "20% above the median" is likely to cause some controversy: median US household income is (was) about $46k in 2006, and for a married-filing-jointly household, that's currently taxed in the 15% bracket. If you want to enact a flat tax, I think you'd have to go higher than median as the cutoff point. I'd much rather see the taxes increase in a stepped fashion, rather than a single flat tax, anyway, but flat tax would almost certainly have to apply to median + X% for it to be politically viable, and not send a whole lot of middle-class households into the lower class.

"Optimizer" improving apps does well (1)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39766527)

In the two sample runs they show, the Innovator does well in one and the "Milker" with multiple redundant apps does well in the other. The "Optimizer" who improves their best app comes in second in both, and I'd wonder if that holds over a larger set of simulations.

I suspect that what might be more interesting is the standard deviation of ending positions over many runs.

Re:"Optimizer" improving apps does well (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767021)

A graph without error bars is meaningless.

Re:"Optimizer" improving apps does well (1)

Fencepost (107992) | more than 2 years ago | (#39767763)

In this case they're showing graphs of values from two separate runs. This is fine, there's no error information to be shown, it's not aggregated numbers as in a poll, etc. I'm just suggesting that if their results are that variable (even assuming the two graphs shown are extremes) then aggregated data (with standard deviations shown) might be more useful.

Re:"Optimizer" improving apps does well (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39769427)

As I said, a graph without error bars is meaningless. From two runs they get different results so that tells us that there is variation but doesn't give us enough information to properly quantify it (to make error bars). So their graph is meaningless. Do the copy cats really do better, or was it just on one of the runs and they almost never survive? We don't know. Their results, as presented, are meaningless.

They obviously did run multiple simulation runs, and their paper may well quantify the variation, but the results they've given in the blog post are only sufficient to suggest that the data they've shown is inadequate to draw any conclusions.

Script kiddies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39768487)

The problem with a an interpreted language like JavaScript is copy-catting of the source code. And not in a 'thanks to the author' way. Script kiddies know enough to change the colours and author tag of a clock applet. Then they publish it as their own work. So people looking for an clock with specific layout have to download 200 hundred versions of the same applet to discover the 201st applet is different.

Such plagiarism is another version of print-your-own-diploma. If script kiddies need credibility so badly, they can find a homeless cat/parrot/child!

contradiction in life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39768531)

As autonomous animals, we are selfish. But to build a society we need to co-operate. Game theory, largely deals with this contradiction. But there is a very simple generalization. Humans will cheat as much as, or frequently more than, they think is possible.

For instance: From general work (bludging/gold-bricking), from ethical behaviour (embezzlement, date-rape). But how much misbehaviour is too much? Usually people recognize when oneself is guaranteed to perform some act and react in a protective manner. So the trick is to keep the people around oneself guessing: Will oneself be honest or dishonest today? So one must be dishonest as possible but honest more times than dishonest. So the magic number is about one-third dishonesty, two-thirds honesty.

The next issue is the level of dishonesty. Example: Murder is unforgivable in most circumstances so we need to be less destructive than murder when acting dishonestly.

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