Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

The Back Page: A non-comprehensive list of things Apple has spent 50 million euros on without blinking

Ooooh, Apple, you’ve done it this time. You’ve gone and gotten a European country mad—and not just any European country, but the Netherlands, a country which in the context of an epic fantasy novel would surely be a shadowy realm inhabited by demons who enjoy inflicting eternal torment, feasting upon your soul, biking, and growing tulips, but in this world they’re just into three out of the four.

The point of contention is the insistence by Dutch regulators that Apple must allow dating apps in the country the ability to use alternative payment systems, rather than being forced to use only the App Store. And because the regulators don’t consider Apple’s current “solution”—an onerous process that involves jumping through a bevy of hoops, including submitting a separate binary only for the Netherlands—to be sufficient, the country’s government is now fining Cupertino the baronly sum of €5 million per week, to a maximum of €50 million.

Which in turn has led the European Union’s head of digital policy, Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, to comment, “As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority.”

And, simply put, yes. Yes it does.

To put it in perspective, that €5 million per week is about $5.6 million. Do I want to pay $5.6 million a week for 10 weeks? No, I do not. But that is because I make only a mere $5.7 million per week as a freelance journalist and podcaster, and really, what am I going to live on then?

But Apple? Yes, Apple, in the words of a succinct headline from 9to5Mac, “doesn’t care.” Because $5.6 million per week is not even pocket change for Apple; it’s not even money found in its couch cushions; it’s not even money that it accidentally leaves in its jeans when it puts them in the dryer, causing them to clink and rattle like the bones of the dead. It’s money that, I have it on good authority, Eddy Cue once ran through a shredder just to see if he could.

If that’s not enough for you, I present a non-comprehensive list of the things that Apple has spent $56 million on without even really thinking about it:

  • $56 million covers replacement earbuds for crackling AirPods Pro.
  • $56 million is what Apple spends to polish every single iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and Apple Watch in every single Apple Store in the world. (Not the Apple TVs, though, those things are dusty as hell.)

  • $56 million is Craig Federighi’s salon bill.

  • $56 million is what Apple pays Jon Hamm to not be in any of its Apple TV+ shows.

  • $56 million is what it cost to set all those AirPower charging units on fire. All of them. Not just the ones that were catching fire on their own.

  • $56 million is the cost of stocking Apple Park’s cafeteria with gourmet meals provided three times a day to employees, only there are just seven people working there right now, and let me tell you, they are eating like royalty.

  • $56 million is what Apple pays for tires on its self-driving car that will never come to market.

  • Apple once mislaid $56 million. It later turned out it had forgotten to cancel its gym membership for John Sculley. In 1993.

Look, Apple’s net income—its profit, not its total sales—just in its most recent quarter was $34.6 billion. If the Dutch government continued to charge $5.6 million per week until that was depleted, it would take until July 26. Five months!

Oh wait, in the year 2140.

Ho ho, won’t Apple look silly then?

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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