Two large Apple shareholders have issued an open letter to the company by raising some questions, saying that the company needs to give attention to what’s seen as a “growing public health crisis” of smartphone addition in youth, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Activist investors Jana Partnrs and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs) pension fund own $2 billion worth of shares with Apple. They issued a letter to Apple asking the company to help parents limit phone user through developing new software tools, and investigate the impact of using phones too much on metal health.
The letter cites studies that show American teenagers receive their first smartphones at the young age of 10. On average, they spend about 4.5 hours a day on their smartphones, excluding texting and talking times. The studies further state that 78 percent of teens check their phones at least hourly, with half reporting that they feel “addicted” to their phones. Jana Partners and Calstrs say that if Apple doesn’t bring attention to this issue and help resolve it, the company’s share price and standing could suffer as a result.
While Apple’s market capitalization is nearly $900 billion, the $2 billion stake is relatively small. But the bigger picture her is ethical and responsible investment and the long term payout of that is something big banks like Goldman Sachs and UBS and other investors are betting on. The Journal did note that Apple has shown willingness to use software capabilities and help address the negative consequences of using its phones. Investors have brought up concerns about easier ways to impose usage limits on youth phones.
“Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,” the letter states. “The potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility.”