Three questions on Apple and homosexuality

By Emanuele Del Rosso

08/11/2014

Schermata 2014-11-05 alle 20.50.29

Apple will not collapse under the weight of its CEO’s coming out. In fact, the organization based in Cupertino is in perfect shape and it is taking a position regarding the global perception of LGBT rights.

Tim Cook publicly declared his homosexuality on Thursday the 30th of October. He wrote “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me,” in a short letter written for ‘Bloomberg Businessweek’.

This stirred up a hornet’s nest of comments and polemics from all over the world.

The biggest question has been: what could happen to the Apple’s sales in those countries in which homosexuality is not accepted or, worse, is considered a crime? Will Apple’s actions get a blowback in, for example, Russia or China?

Part of the answer is in the Nasdaq’s stock quote of Apple. During the five days that followed the coming out of Cook, the price of Apple’s stocks kept raising. It passed from $ 107 per stock to $ 109. Moreover, in general Apple is one of the richest organizations in the world. It earns almost 40 billion dollars a year, a margin that is only second to Samsung, and the situation is unlikely to change.

“With such numbers, the coming out of the CEO is totally irrelevant” Carlo Moretto, Strategist and Country Analyst for a monetary and financial institution, explained to ‘The Hook’. Apple’s market is in a remarkably good shape. It has, for example, a rate of sales growth of 7% – as it can be seen at page 29 of the annual report published by Apple for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

A completely different question is, instead: why Tim Cook chose this precise moment for his coming out?

Here, the answer could be found in the world’s attitude – at least, of a part of the world – toward the same-sex-marriage legalization. Almost half of the 50 countries of Europe accept some type of same-sex-union. In the US the situation is even better, with 32 countries up to 50 States having a liberal position on the matter. South America is no less so. Lately, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil opened to homosexual rights.

Apple, on the behalf of its CEO, took a deliberate position on the issue, in a climate that is generally favorable toward the rights of homosexuals.

Of course, it is difficult to say if Cook’s decision was merely led by commercial reasons. On this matter, Moretto explained that, if it is hard to shut down the stock value of such valuable actions, it is equally hard to push it up with a coming out declaration. According to him, there is no need to think that Apple is using the struggle for homosexual’s rights for commercial purposes.

In any case, this coming out meant also taking the distance from a part of the world in which homosexuality is a crime.

During the last days several voices raised against Tim Cook. For example, the Russian group of companies ZEFS decided to dismantle a two-meter high statue erected in memory of Steve Jobs in front of a school, in St Peterburg. “The monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children,” they said. Some politicians even suggested to ban Cook from entering the Russian borders, marking him as a diseases carrier.

This leads to a third, no-answer question.

Apple’s CEO coming out, and the subsequent position taking of the enterprise that he leads, may be related to a more and more clear separation between different parts of the world – something that could remind someone of the Cold War. The question here is: where will these tensions lead us?

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