Hypenotized by Apple

Watching the cloud of hype around last week's release of the new iPhone, I was struck by the way Apple's psychological influence over the tech industry continues to grow. I'm having trouble thinking of any recent technology product, let alone a smartphone, that got such heavy coverage for both its announcement and its initial shipment.

Apple's PR miasma is also starting to twist the thinking of people in the tech industry who ought to know better. Apple's gradually becoming the yardstick against which other tech companies are measured -- and since Apple is such a unique company, it's almost impossible for anyone else to measure up.

Case in point: A recent commentary by a CNET reporter, writing about RIM (link):

"There is no RIM hype machine and when a new BlackBerry is released, hardly anyone in the major media outlets care. And if they don't care, neither will the average consumer who doesn't know too much about the tech industry and won't read columns like this; they rely on the NBCs of the world to get by. So if RIM wants to more effectively compete against Apple, it needs to do everything it can to follow the Steve Jobs formula: secrecy, compelling products, and a great PR team. If it does, look for RIM to not lose as much ground as you may think. But if it doesn't, Apple will run amok."

Problem number one with this thinking is that Apple and RIM don't sell to the same markets. RIM's core is middle-aged business professionals; Apple's is hip twentysomethings. I'm not saying there is no overlap, but I've spoken to plenty of RIM users who would be embarrassed to carry a music-playing, video-watching hunk of eye candy like the iPhone into a business meeting. It's like announcing to a client, "I spend my work time on YouTube."

The second problem is that Apple's skill at PR has somehow turned into an excuse for reporters not to do their jobs. The implied message in the CNET article is, "if you don't put on a spectacle, the press will ignore your products." Excuse me, but isn't the press's job to dig out the real value and separate it from the hype? Don't we pay you (or sit through your ads) to look past the PR and fancy speeches and advise us on what really matters? If we just wanted someone to echo the latest hype, we could get all our news from blogs.

But the third problem is the one that worries me the most. Apple is almost uniquely good at marketing. Its communication power is a combination of longtime company history, Steve Jobs' personality, and a culture that values perfection in marcom. Any tech company that makes its goal to match Apple's flash is going to look bad by comparison.

If anyone from RIM is reading this, please listen to me closely. I beg of you, don't be chumps. You're Canadian, for God's sake. You don't do sexy. You do humble and inoffensive.

Steve's from California. He's a pop culture icon from the '70s; the Madonna of technology. If you try to imitate him, you're going to look like mom and dad pogo-dancing when Rock Lobster comes on at a wedding reception.

Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

Which brings us to Microsoft's latest marketing plan.

Word on the street is that Microsoft is planning a huge advertising campaign this fall to pimp its image. Microsoft executives say they have finally tired of taking all that abuse from the Mac vs. PC ads, and they're going to fire back with their own cool advertising this fall.

Remember what I said at the start of this post about Apple twisting the minds of tech company managers? They have done an incredible number on Microsoft, the sort of thing I used to dream about when I worked at Apple.


Welcome, Microsoft. Seriously.

When I was at Apple, one the competitive team's central goals was to goad Microsoft and Intel into targeting us in public. We used all sorts of tactics to irritate them. We printed bumper stickers that read "Honk if your Pentium has bugs." We hounded them in online discussions. We did press and analyst tours demonstrating all sorts of annoying flaws we'd found in Windows.

The whole idea was to get them so pissed off that they would lash out at us in public. Because we knew that when a market leader attacks a challenger, it just makes the challenger more credible.

So what is Microsoft doing? It's attacking the challenger. Microsoft VP Brad Brooks specifically called out Apple in a recent speech (link):

"There are a lot of myths out there in the marketplace today, a lot of myths around Windows Vista...we know the story is very different than what our competitors would like our customers to think.... Windows Vista is the safest OS in terms of security vulnerabilities in its first year of operation, safer than any other commercial or Open Source OS in its launch. Now, I don't hear Apple making claims about security around a product that is that great.... The other big thing that's different this time around is that we've got a pretty noisy competitor out there. You know it, I know it. It's had an impact, been a source of frustration for you, but today, that line, we're going to start to challenge. We're going to get our story back out into the marketplace.... We've got a highly vocal minority out there in Apple. They kind of look at this and say, hey, you know what, you're kind of boring with the mundane message; it's not cool. They tell you it's the "i-way" or the highway. Well, you know what--we think that's kind of a sad message."

Macintosh share is still just a small fraction of Windows' share, but Microsoft is treating Apple like not just a challenger, but as the opinion leader. Microsoft is responding to Apple's marketing, and what's worse, it's bragging about it in public. What an incredible turnaround from Steve Jobs' first days back at Apple, less than ten years ago, when Bill Gates appeared on the big screen and Jobs publicly kowtowed to him.

It's easy to say what Microsoft shouldn't do, but a lot harder to say what they should do. They do have an image problem, and they do need to do something about it. Here's my take: Apple has always been the cool one, and always will be. Microsoft has traditionally been the safe one. Not as flashy as Apple, but dependable and prudent; the choice that'll never get you fired. That's why 80% of the public has chosen Windows over the years. Rather than trying to act cool, which is destined to end in embarrassment, I think Microsoft should apologize for the problems with Vista, give a timeline for fixing them (I think many of them actually are fixed by this point), and then move heaven and earth to make sure people see them deliver on that promise.

The ironic thing is that Brooks actually did some of that in his speech:

"We had an ambitious plan. We made some significant investments around security in this product. And you know what, those investments, they broke some things. They broke a lot of things. We know that. And we know it caused you a lot of pain in front of your customers, in front of our customers. And it got a lot of customers thinking, and even yourselves and our partners thinking, "Hey, is Windows Vista a generation that I want to make an investment in?" "

That's not a bad start, but in today's Apple-soaked industry atmosphere, the snide comments on Apple dominated the coverage. The best example was the Wall Street Journal's business and technology blog, which headlined its article, "Microsoft Ready to Hit Back at Mac Guy" (link).

So now every Microsoft ad in the new campaign is going to be judged on whether or not it's as clever and cool as an Apple ad. I'd like to ask for a show of hands -- who thinks Microsoft can out-cool Apple?

Anyone?

And as for RIM, well, I'm sure you could do a better job of PR than you do today. But don't try to be sexy. A message more like, "real men use a thumb keyboard" is probably the ticket for you.

========

Thanks to mjelly.com for featuring Mobile Opportunity in the latest Carnival of the Mobilists.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think, on balance, you've highlighted the right response to the the Apple PR Juggernaut. However, I also think there is a little more to Apple's success than just PR.

Microsoft's image as the safe option has been damaged not just by Apple's PR, but by Microsoft's own actions and the perceptions that they allowed to linger regardles of the source. Microsoft also plays by different rules when it comes to it's products. Apple has made a big deal about 'working out of the box' and by and large it true. The same can't be said for Microsoft products, and Apple has highlighted that fact well.

At a time when Software and hardware have become more powerfull and complex across the board, as indeed our lives have, the smooth and easy operation of that software has become more important. Apple has focused on making it's own products stable, reliable, and consistant, even if it means sacrificing maximum customization. The IPhone is a prime example of this. It does everything it's advertised to do, and does it very well; but until 2.0 hasn't really be customizable. At the same time, virtually every upgrade offered by Apple has had at least some compelling reason to use it, while almost none not to.

Microsoft meanwhile, has released a new OS that not only changes basic items in favor of different (not neccessarily better or needed) features, but actually breaks quite a few applictions (including some of it's own). While it's certaily customizable, it really has to be given that so many things about it are not well polished. In addition, it offers few compelling reasons to upgrade and more than a few not to. By discontinuing real commercial sales of XP, and not supporting older software well, Microsoft has contributed to it's negative PR standing by giving people who now face unwanted change a reason to listen and investigate alternatives, giving Apple even more inroads.

I have a client who is a Tax Attorney and almost all of his software will NOT work on Vista, nor will it be patched to do so. Thankfully we were able to get his new computer with XP, but he asked me point blank if he should be considering a MAC with bootcamp, despite the pain of learning a new system. Considering he gets annoyed when his desktop icons move, to have him be more willing to learn MAC OS over transitioning (however slowly) to Vista says some fairly omminous things about what Microsoft's PR and actually reality are versus Apple.

In the end Apple's PR works because they are hyping a very poslished product and contrasting it to Microsoft's very rough one. That's hard to beat. I think you are right when you suggest the best way is for Microsoft to actually pull a 180 and acknowledge the problems and then set about to resolve them in a very public manner. It would certaily behoove them to learn from the mess Vista has become and apply those lessons to their upcoming Windows 7 OS to ensure it's a polished, stable, and feature complete system. I just don't think Microsoft is actually culturaly able to do so. The have spent so long being the only real alternative, I don't know that they have the corporate discipline to change the fundamental way they aproach software design and marketing philosophy needed to not oly create an effective PR campain, but to back it up with the product reality.

PR is all about perception, but eventually perception meets reality, and in Apple's case, the reality is pretty close the PR, and that's why they win.

-Miguel

Michael Markman said...

I'm not so sure that the difference between iPhone's market-segment and Blackberry's has been based as much on image and hipness as on functionality.

Until the recent software upgrade iPhone simply did not meet many of the essential requirements of corporate IT. Now that iPhone can integrate with Exchange for calendar and email, now that it offers an SDK for custom corporate applications, and VPN, we'll see the two platforms on a more even footing with regard to baseline corporate requirements.

Tune in again in three months and see who is using what.

Aaron said...

Great post, Michael.

I don't know whether I'm surprised or not when I hear the press repeat verbatim everything that Apple tells them. It's like every journalist suddenly shuts down the mental checkpoint inside their brain. And once there's a critical mass of opinion, it's hard to go against that tide even if the popular opinion is wrong.

RIM doesn't have to be Apple to succeed. Look at the Q1 smartphone figures - RIM's growth is outpacing the rest of the industry, including Apple.

Roland Hesz said...

Honestly, Mac vs. PC ads are not cool.
They are arrogant and smug.
Lying is not cool. Mocking other people is not cool.

Now, Apple products are cool. If you don't need the Apple Service, because then you are in hell. Support is worse than Dell's.
But the products are cool. They look shiny, they look nice.
The Mac vs. PC ads turn away some customers - well, they are annoying ads - but then the praise brings them back.

But the recent failures and mess ups made some dent in the shiny "coolface" of Apple.
Still, I would consider to try a Mac if it was not that awfully expensive.

I hope that someday in the future MS and Mac and Linux will be competing like for real.

As for the iPhone vs Blackberry. Blackberry is cool. It works. It's not an overpriced not so smartphone. iPhone will get there someday I guess, which is good, it will press the others to work on their product.

dukeoconnor said...

I don't understand what you mean by "hype," which you seem to equate with press coverage and buzz. It has been alleged in the comments that Apple is feeding stories to the press. I hear the opposite, that the press can't get a word out of Apple, which seems right because almost all of the Apple press I read is either about rumors, reviews or Apple's competitive position in the market.

It also seems to me that Apple's marketing consistently failed, right through the switcher campaign. The company's turnaround began with the iPod, which gave the brand a luster because young consumers liked it. With that, the "halo effect" began. But the biggest impact was the switch to Intel, which made switching to Mac -- or a should say away from Windows -- psychologically easier. So with the iPod and Intel Macs -- products that consumers (both cool and not so cool) liked, suddenly Apple's marketing went from lame to brilliant. I just believe that like a good movie, marketing has to ring true to be effective, and that Apple's marketing success is built on products that have very high user satisfaction.

If one doesn't like the Apple brand, then the most comfortable explanation for their success is a combination of lemming consumers seduced by irresistible and deceptive marketing. But the truth is, Microsoft's mission has always been "A PC in every household running Microsoft software," (i.e., monopoly), and Apple's has been insanely great computers that just work. Both have been successful in achieving their respective missions, and that's what the public is now responding to.

Anonymous said...

america is suddenly becoming like europe as a result of the iphone. what i mean is this. in america smartphones for years have been about practicality. on the other hand in europe it has all been about being cool and owning the best and the latest status symbol phone. there are even tons of smartphones over there on voice only prepaid plans owned by people who have no clue how to use them beyond making calls and sending SMS's. the same thing is starting to happen in here. every day i get asked by teenagers who want to own iphones and it is exactly that 'they want to own them; not necessarily use them for much more than basic calling and SMSing'

JohnRadio1 said...

I think its just save to say that the computer market has matured to a point where there are two totally different markets under one tech umbrella. Believe it or not, we have a consumer market, and a business/new tech market. Sure both markets fall under the same umbrella of tech, but they have completely different motives, goals, and endeavors.

Our market for the first time is having to fight the age old fight of "Form over Function / Function over Form".. then throw price in the mix and see what happens.

There isn't "one winner" in this new marketplace, but if they two cultures continue to bash and stop learning from one another.. the consumer will ultimately loose.

alberto dottavi - infoservi.it said...

Uh. I see it a little bit differently. Simply put, Apple is still making "holes in the universe", just making things works. On the opposite, RIM is simply doing business. Maybe they're doing great revenues now, but they look too similar to the old Palm. Do you remember Palm? I mean, that mobile platform (even without a phone) that had tons of developers that the company trashed for doing corporate business? No, we don't remember that anymore - why should we?

I'm a Nokia (and pc) user, and I know them very, very well. And they are simply doing the same mistake: they go on with an evolutionary model. Until complexity become impossible to manage, and so the legacy

"Natura non facit saltus" - but technology does. Apple is able to jump before the others. That's it

Sebhelyesfarku said...

The tech media and the blogosphere are full with brainwashed Maczealots, that's why the hype is there.

fung0 said...

The comments regarding Apple are brilliant; the views on Microsoft less so. Microsoft is a company that's always been misunderstood.

Microsoft's success has been based on just one key tactic: shamelessly giving customers exactly what they want. While Apple was always pitching a golden vision, Microsoft was selling loosely-related products that individuals and enterprises could use immediately and profitably.

Vista marked the end of that approach, and hence the end of Microsoft. It's the first MS product that's designed to some abstract corporate strategy, rather than to a market need. What's more, all the things that are worst about Vista are there by design, and hence are never going to be fixed. (Pervasive DRM and the idiotic new UI being the most obvious.)

The linked Microsoft speech by Brad Brooks is very revealing. As noted, he starts by reacting to "our competition" - a bizarrely paranoid tack, for a company that owns 90% of the market. But what's worse, he then spends most of his presentation defending the greatness of Vista, which customers have simply been too stupid to notice.

Someday, Vista will be known as "Ballmer's folly," and Microsoft's preoccupation with Apple's hype will be seen as just a symptom of a much deeper internal problem.

Anonymous said...

This self doubting concerns me. The Microsoft world is not in trouble. The more articles like this that send doubts about Windows the more ground will be lost to companies like Apple. Apple will never appeal to serious business managers. This article amounts to a lot of navel gazing and I attribute it to the fact that the author was once drinking the kool-aid himself at Apple.

Marc said...

I just keep picturing John Hodgman dressed like the Mac guy, listening to his Zune with earbuds, and dancing around saying "See! I'm cool too!"

*sigh*

Anonymous said...

WOW! My Windows Desktop Icons move, too. I get annoyed, too.

I thought I was the only one having this problem, because I have been having it since the year 2001. I figured it it was a widespread problem, then it would get fixed.

The thing I dislike most about Micro$oft is their bundling bug fixes into upgrades. I don't want to buy another upgrade when the version I have is buggy. Some times, the bugs aren't really fixed, and the upgrade introduces new bugs.

You complain about 5% being hypenotized by Apple, instead of the 80% hypnotized by Microsoft. Are you one of the 5%, or one of the 80%?

Kevin M. said...

Great post. I notice all of your comments are as long as your post.
I am just going to be brief and say thanks for the read.
KM

KC said...

PR is worthless without a matching product.

As for Blackberry, their current campaign seems to be marketing to soccer moms.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is doing fine! Nothing a little surge couldn't fix as long as we Stay The Course!

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. I agree that Microsoft shouldn't "hit back" at Apple but they should use PR and ads to "set the record straight" about the PC and Vista. They should not target Apple directly, e.g. they should not mention Apple, nor make reference to Apple ads. They should concentrate on the virtues of the PC and their new OS.

James said...

I think the premise is flawed. Apple is a market leader because they make great products that people are feel comfortable using, are lasting, and for which Apple provides excellent support.

Marketing will get you nowhere unless you have a solid product backing it up. In Apple's case, they have several.

Word-of-mouth is also very high for Apple's products. People like Apple's stuff based direct upon experience with them.

Anonymous said...

Hype my butt.

Remember New Coke? Coke was 'The Real Thing". It was the biggest and the best. Great commercials. Highly hyped new product.

Everybody knew about it. Everybody tried it. Once. Coke drinkers did not like it. It tasted like Pepsi, for god's sake.

Big hype plus lousy product equals failure. Apple makes a better product than Microsoft. Except for RIM, Apple's iPhone is head and shoulders above everyone else's cell phone.

It's not the hardware that makes the cell phone or the digital music player or even the personal computer. It's the human interface. It's the software, especially the operating system.

People love their Blackberries. People love their Macs, iPods and iPhones. Why? Because they do the job at hand easily and efficiently.

Without a good product, massive hype just leads to massive failure. Just ask any Coke executive.

Ed Beale said...

I'm interested to learn whether the TV commercial production crew will create all those hip Microsoft rebranding ads on a PC or on a MAC?

james (mjelly) said...

thanks for the link!

Anonymous said...

dukeoconnor wrote: "don't understand what you mean by "hype," which you seem to equate with press coverage and buzz."

Hype is a black-propaganda writers way of implanting the idea that the product is not worthy of it's press.

Michael Mace said...

Wow! Great comments, folks. Thanks!

Anonymous wrote:

>>Microsoft's image as the safe option has been damaged not just by Apple's PR, but by Microsoft's own actions and the perceptions that they allowed to linger regardles of the source.

Yup, completely right. Which is why Microsoft should take responsibility for the problem and not blame others. If Vista didn't have problems, Apple would not have been able to take advantage of it.

I personally think the original Mac vs. PC ads were more about pleasing the Mac installed base than about converting PC users. But then Microsoft stumbled, and the campaign kind of took off...


Michael Markman wrote:

>>I'm not so sure that the difference between iPhone's market-segment and Blackberry's has been based as much on image and hipness as on functionality. ...Tune in again in three months and see who is using what.

A couple of years ago, when I was still at PalmSource, I knew the RIM core users very well, and they were very distinct. But since then I haven't had access to as much primary market research, so you could be right, Michael. We'll see. But the real answer will take more like six to nine months; in the first three month there will be a big rush of iPhone sales regardless of what happens long term.


dukeoconnor wrote:

>>I don't understand what you mean by "hype," which you seem to equate with press coverage and buzz.

There's a blurry line between them; it's a judgment call.


JohnRadio1 wrote:

>>I think its just save to say that the computer market has matured to a point where there are two totally different markets under one tech umbrella. Believe it or not, we have a consumer market, and a business/new tech market. Sure both markets fall under the same umbrella of tech, but they have completely different motives, goals, and endeavors.

More than two markets, actually. I've written about it a couple of times (link).


fung0 wrote:

>>Vista marked the end of that approach, and hence the end of Microsoft. It's the first MS product that's designed to some abstract corporate strategy, rather than to a market need.

Really interesting take. Thanks!


KC wrote:

>>As for Blackberry, their current campaign seems to be marketing to soccer moms.

Yeah, that sort of stuff scares me. I hope they haven't caught iPhoneitis.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never seen a bunch of clueless people running around, wondering why Apple is so successful. Labeling Apple's success to just PR and marketing is exactly what other phone maker's mistake is. Wasn't it just only a year ago that Apple entered the cell phone market and all you hear are how they'll never make it and that it's going to be a huge flop. I see that more as arrogance to everyone that underestimated Apple and not the other way around. Keep the blinders on, soon you'll wonder why you've been left so far behind.

Anonymous said...

I think the success of IPhone for now and coming years are contributed by these factors:
- Good User interface.
- Good Phone design
- Apple was/is not controlled by Carriers demands/pressure.
As a mobile developer myself, I really believe that in the previous years, network operators has put a break on the mobile innovation, especially on the mobile applications. With iPhone, the mobile applications business/innovations will be alive again... Thanks to Iphone & Apple.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Apple's PR team in the US is good, but here in the UK Apple has a serious PR issue: every single article about Apple, the iPod or the iPhone published in British press is ultra-negative! They keep criticising Apple about every feature its products lacks, and even lie about facts just to make Apple look bad. I haven't read a single positive article about Apple or its products in a UK newspaper or magazine. Apple needs to get its act together here in the UK, and start inviting British journalists to lunches, golf games, etc...

Anonymous said...

OK, I read the speech. I see Vista, SP1, IE7, Vista, BitLocker, Windows 7, Vista Compatibility Center, Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, Vista Small Business Assurance, Windows Live Services, Vista, Vista and more Vista. What I don't see is Windows Mobile.

If Microsoft doesn't put some marketing effort into Windows Mobile like they're planning for Vista, they will lose the rest of their WM customers, along with their mobile partners.

laura said...

When RIM starts coming out with breakthrough user experiences rather than repacking the same old stuff, then maybe they would get the attention.

It's not Apple, it's what Apple is doing that is interesting, exciting.

No other device even competes with the iPhone in terms of screen resolution, multi-touch interface, and this is cutting edge but not rocket science. It's a year later -- where are the others?

And now Apple has succeeded in cultivating an iPhone apps ecosphere, drawing on the model Palm pwnd just a few years ago.

Hype? I'd argue that anyone who says it's all hype is just not paying attention.

Justine said...

Coming from an automotive background, this situation has a lot of parallels with the late 70's/80's when the Japanese carmakers practically took over the US market from the big 3: GM, Ford, and then-Chrysler. They did it by doing extensive research on the customers' wants and needs--better quality, better customer service, etc., which then lead to a perception of better cars (and better cars, too).

Apple has done a similar thing: Quietly watch from the sidelines and learn from the mistakes of others, then release great new product before the "big guys" (who aren't as agile) 'accept' reality and have to try to catch up.

It's really a classic example of a market cycle and exciting to watch.

Michael Mace said...

laura wrote:

>>Hype? I'd argue that anyone who says it's all hype is just not paying attention.

I agree. What's making Apple so powerful right now is that it's executing well (at least in the US) in several areas that synergize with each other -- products, marketing, retail experience, etc.

But the Apple model is not easily duplicated by other companies that don't have the same charismatic CEO, history, and position in popular culture. I think most tech companies would be better served by focusing on improving what they do best, rather than blindly responding to whatever is the latest thing from Apple.

Learn from Apple? Yes, absolutely. Especially in the area of system design. Copy Apple? You'd have to clone the whole package, and that's close to impossible.

redfish said...

I think one thing people miss is that Apple's success lately has largely been because they've capitalized on learning from Microsoft's mistakes; taking things that Microsoft already had on the market but was too busy maintaining and updating; and instead starting from scratch and doing it without partners or without massive frameworks.

As much as people like to hound Microsoft for copying Apple with the Zune, one example is that Microsoft had media players on the market before Apple did. They were called Portable Media Centers, which Microsoft made with partners. Apple realized that the partner strategy wouldn't work with consumer devices, long names like "Portable Media Center" turned users off, and that in order to break the consumer market they had to release something simple and straightforward. It was something Apple could do, and they did it.

Meanwhile, while Microsoft is busy offering upgrades and service packs to its legacy Windows Mobile platform, which Microsoft has been very slow to update, Apple releases something shiny and new to the market.

Despite Microsoft's reputation as the 'copier', there's very little that Apple has success with that Microsoft didn't come up with first. Apple was only able to do it better because it was able to do it from scratch, learning from Microsoft's mistakes.

The second part of this, though, is how much Apple has been aided by an Apple-friendly press. It's one thing if people just didn't want all of these Microsoft products, but nobody had even heard about them. Average consumers don't know Microsoft had these things on the market before Apple, so they assume Microsoft is copying. Average consumers didn't know portable media players existed before the iPod, so they assume Apple invented it.

And that's been aided by how the press reports things. The press has a bias in favor of Apple. They even lauded the fruit-colored iMacs and clamshell notebooks when nobody was buying them. Sure, Apple has made some good products and it has some good marketing. But the reason why the press likes Apple isn't more complex than why they like Obama. A lot of biases and attitudes that have hung around for years because Macs were used by graphics designers; many of them probably thing Macs are still better at graphic design.

Krinn said...

Excuse me, but isn't the press's job to dig out the real value and separate it from the hype?

You must be thinking of the press on some other planet. The press here on Earth, collectively, has an atrocious track record on that. There are some individual good reporters, sure, but they are not the institution. The corporate entities that compose the mainstream press have before the law one and only one duty: to make as much money as possible for their shareholders. They take this job very seriously. Improving people's understanding of the world usually makes it harder for them to do their job.

So if you ask why the press isn't digging out the real value and separating it from the hype, the answer is because there is no Santa Claus.

redfish said...

krinn,

I know it provides a simple explanation if you tack the word corporate onto it and blame everything on the need to make money; but the problem isn't just with the management but with the journalists themselves. Many people would be surprised how little journalists know about the subjects they're reporting on. They're not more informed or more objective than average bloggers, except they have to cover a broader range of subjects that they don't know about and pretend to be objective. You have a lot of crap at state-run agencies like BBC or NPR also, even though the tone and presentation and detail might be different.

Krinn said...

I know it provides a simple explanation if you tack the word corporate onto it and blame everything on the need to make money; but the problem isn't just with the management but with the journalists themselves. Many people would be surprised how little journalists know about the subjects they're reporting on. They're not more informed or more objective than average bloggers, except they have to cover a broader range of subjects that they don't know about and pretend to be objective. You have a lot of crap at state-run agencies like BBC or NPR also, even though the tone and presentation and detail might be different.

I'm definitely aware that the situation is not entirely simple; I don't think that that subtracts from the explanatory power of what I said. As for individual journalists being under-informed and blundering, this is old news to anyone involved in any kind of subculture that's been subject to hostile media coverage. For the tip of the iceberg, see mainstream media coverage of video games, comic books, and their associated cultures. "Parachute journalism" is an ongoing problem. So overall I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

"You're Canadian, for God's sake. You don't do sexy. You do humble and inoffensive."

A truly stupid comment in an otherwise intelligent and thoughtful piece.

Michael Mace said...

>>"You're Canadian, for God's sake. You don't do sexy. You do humble and inoffensive."
A truly stupid comment in an otherwise intelligent and thoughtful piece.


It was a joke, friend.

But I think it's true of RIM.


Krinn wrote:

>>There are some individual good reporters, sure, but they are not the institution. The corporate entities that compose the mainstream press have before the law one and only one duty: to make as much money as possible for their shareholders.

I think you should draw a distinction between the business managers of most media properties, who are indeed focused on profit, and the reporters themselves. I started my work life as a journalists, and I know a lot of them. There are good ones and lazy ones, but most of them take their profession very seriously, and profit is not their first motivation. That's why I was so surprised to see the laziness implied in the CNET commentary.

Besides, if you do see profit as their only motivation, then I think it's even more important that we as consumers push back when they do not deliver a quality product.

John said...

redfish - is this the same apple-friendly press that not that long ago was filled with articles about the inevitable demise of Apple?

I think you're overlooking a real strength of Apple's - designing great experiences for customers. There were plenty of MP3 players before the iPod, and there have always been plenty of competitors with more features per dollar. The same is true with phones, with computers, with pretty much everything Apple makes.

But where Apple really excels is making sure that the experience of buying and using their products is really top-notch. Now, before someone feel compelled to share their "my Mac had a meltdown" or "my iPod broke" story, note that I didn't say perfect.

Apple does a really good job at making sure that customers opening the box at home don't have lots of problems getting their new purchase working, at pointing them to online resources for help, and making sure that every detail (down the packaging) screams, "You've just bought something really wonderful, you smart person. Enjoy."

It gets dismissed as just being "coolness" but it's more than that - it's fanatical attention to detail.

Which is why I was surprised by the activation snafus last week with the phones - I am guessing there was a lot of screaming around the Apple campus when things went wrong.

Anonymous said...

How could MS out-cool Apple? They could talk about video games.

kerry said...

Its not about iphone but the legacy and charm of the company Apple which does the trick for its prosucts now. That doesnt mean the products are not good!

Anonymous said...

Its not hypnosis when the products are solid and marketed correctly

Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

Microsoft Cell PC is the answer.


Best regards,

Michael Molin

GeneTechnics Company

Ullash said...

ahh iphone isn't a good product of apple..it lacks lot of things

visit http://www.crazymobileusers.blogspot.com

I have posted about iphone's...