Companies put Apple iPods to work

“Apple iPods are becoming an important training and communication tool for some companies,” Anjali Athavaley reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“When Gaddis Rathel needed to learn Spanish for his job, his boss gave him an unusual tool to help: a black video Apple iPod, preloaded with language lessons,” Athavaley reports. “Last month, Mr. Rathel’s employer — ACG Texas LP, a Plano, Texas, franchisee of the pancake-house chain IHOP Corp. — started testing Apple Computer Inc.’s digital media player on a few employees to save money on Spanish-language classes. Now, rather than sit in a class on company time or read a textbook, Mr. Rathel uses the iPod for audio training in his spare time.”

Athavaley reports, “People used to hide their iPods from their bosses, if they used them in the office at all. Now the bosses are passing them out to their employees. Companies from health-care suppliers to fast-food chains are handing out free iPods so that employees can download audio and video files of CEO announcements, training courses and sales seminars.”

“Last summer, National Semiconductor Corp., a chip manufacturer in Santa Clara, Calif., spent $2.5 million on video iPods for its 8,500 employees, including those overseas, for training purposes and company announcements. At Capital One Financial Corp., a financial services company based in McLean, Va., more than 3,000 employees have received iPods since the company began using them in supplementary training classes,” Athavaley reports.

Full article here.

Related article:
National Semiconductor gives all 8,500 employees 30GB video-capable Apple iPods – June 12, 2006


  1. Spark, Tommy Boy, et al are correct. Although Chris makes a valid point too about “motivational seminars,” etc. In the latter case, however, you cannot be compelled to such an event without pay (although some sleazy employers might try), so the argument is really quite moot.

    In the case of unskilled fast food workers learning a second language, if they don’t, then their job just might go to some illegal alien who is bilingual. This is “America,” after all, land of the free market and all that. And speaking of America, or more accurately the United States, we are a land of people who mostly only know one spoken language; rest of the world is generally at least bilingual (if not multi-lingual).

  2. In the 90’s Apple regularly scheduled “training” during lunch periods, blew through breaks, etc… All under the guise that you were a “salaried employee” and this isn’t a 40 hour work week. If it had been an hourly job they would’ve been shelling out about 10-20 hours of overtime to each and every employee and been in hot water for not giving proper breaks to their employees. A break is not time off one task to do another.

    I doubt that this has changed, or that Apple is the only company in Corporate America that did or still does this.

  3. My motto at work was “Always be worth more than you are making.” I never asked for a raise in my life, and ended up when I retired 14 years ago at $248,000 per year. Left school at 15, came to the USA and loved it. Motto now-“Do it, your going to be dead a long time.” Learn all you can and don’t think the boss is screwing you all the time.

    Only in America.

  4. Spark:

    Thanks for all your tips for career development. I spend at least 200 to 250 hours annually keeping up with the current literature and continuing education to keep myself apprised of the latest evidence-based methods of diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring parameters in my profession. This is my responsibility as a provider and my pleasure as a lifelong student. From my efforts, I am better able to objectively and scientifically provide the best possible care. I decide the relevance and practicality of the available educational material and published literature as well as how to integrate this information into my practice. Spark, when you become fluent in Japanese, please, let us know.

    Tommy Boy:

    Obviously, your wife decided that the long-term benefits to her career goals were greater than the short-term demands that her employer would compel her to obey. So what? Perhaps some individuals would consider these contractual agreements too restrictive or demanding. Would these persons be less professional or dedicated than your wife? In fact, maybe your wife could have found or negotiated a more favorable contract. I don’t think your point is relevant.

    Spark and Tommy Boy:

    I may be reading too much into your posts, but it seems that both of you think that the employer or client somehow knows better than you do how to develop a person’s own career. If you delegate your career development to someone else, you become his or her tool. I prefer to maintain my own independence when it comes to deciding how my career ought to develop. By definition, a professional should be able to think independently and not have someone else think for them. This doesn’t mean that I am not open to advice; it only means that I have the final say. Cheers.

  5. …..Another way to look at this is “this is America, where you are paid for what you know”…..

    or who you know. doubts? try getting into Yale with a C average like our current President.

  6. IMHO, how does it feel knowing that whatever you post to complain about people it won’t make a damned bit of difference? Perhaps you over estimate your ability to be the self-described moderator at MDN. By the way, what are your qualifications to preside over all who post here? May be that you need to get an iPod with some training tutorials how to exercise a command presence. Alternatively, you might consider an iPod with lessons how to deal with perpetual dissapointment.

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