03 August 2006

The British Press and Apple (again)

Here goes The Independent now.

What really has Apple done to deserve this? It seems that it is almost a solely British phenomenon, and it seems like each newspaper is trying to outdo its competitors with more and more outlandish takes building on the previous assertions which then seem to have become fact.

1. There is no evidence that Apple's products are unreliable or faulty any more than any other brand. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence through external independent surveys that Apple's satisfaction rate is among the highest there is. (The yougov brand survey use in the article is interesting as it is in the UK, where the stories have originated and concerns people's feeling on the brand, not a comparison of product reliability).

2. The allegations against cheap Chinese labour while implicating Apple, are still unconfirmed and fly in the face of rules laid down by Apple itself to its manufacturing subcontractors. It is most likely such allegations (if true) will also apply to other mainstream manufacturers (eg Dell) who use the SAME partner.

3. Apple's secrecy seems to be a major problem for journalists, yet it has taken steps that any other corporation would do to ensure its product plans are confidential. It is commercial suicide not to protect such plans. People leaking such information are breaking contracts. Is it this assault on journalistic freedom that has caused the (British) press to rise up with this unfounded rumourmongering?

4. Or maybe it's because Apple says "no comment" to so many stories that has journalists up in arms (according to the story). Is this not a reasonable position for any company to take? Everybody wants Steve's/Apple's point of view. So, they don't respond to every inane question and suddenly it's Apple's "secrecy".

5. In regards to staining MacBooks (or faulty iPods) Apple has never shirked from its responsibilities. I myself had a small cosmetic problem with Titanium paint on a 6 month old laptop. It was taken away and repaired without question and delivered back in under 48 hours. Sure it's discussion boards open it up to mass hysteria. But those discussion boards are a positive and open effort from a company. Where are Dell's similar discussion boards by the way? (They no longer exist of course). Further reporting by the press without understanding basic statistics will presumably lead to Apple making the same decision to the detriment of us all (and with even further press opprobrium no doubt).

6. There are other allegations which are just so ridiculous. Take for instance the upset little girl because she got a form letter back form the law department. Trivial at most, and perfectly understandable (if slightly crass) behaviour. At least they responded! Such letters of course exist because of our crazy litigious society. Apple's approach to charity is also questioned next to Bill Gates. Hold on, this is the proprietor of the convicted monopolist we're talking about. Sure, he's doing some good, but Apple is bad because they aren't the Bill and Melinda foundation? Where's Michael Dell in all this, or Sony, or the Hewletts/Packards/Groves etc? Gates still has multiple times more cash left than Jobs has ever earned from Apple (and even Pixar). And, Apple's decision to hold iTunes pricing at 79p is BAD? What would the journalist think the implications of setting a new price for one track have been? Instead, Apple funded the difference itself. User's could have purchased the track twice costing themselves the same amount, and letting Apple match their contribution. What exactly is BAD about that?

7. There are many other errors - including the usual "music downloaded from iTunes can only be played on an iPod" rubbish.

I find this onslaught truly unbelievable and crass. But I am ashamed that this crassness appears to be coming almost exclusively from the UK press. I hope Apple is looking at this and chooses where to place its advertising money more wisely.

1 comment:

Stephen Mackenzie said...

...who in their right mind sets a web article in two tiny narrow columns?

I expect better of the Indy, my former favourite newspaper, but function follows form, and since they went tabloid I've found that paper much less appealing.

This particular article seems stunningly inaccurate. For instance, it's been a while since any new Mac showed you a smiley face on start-up! (More's the pity.)

It's a shame, Apple stuff certainly isn't perfect and there's valid criticisms that could be made--tardy iSync support for new phones, for instance, or their basic refusal to document things properly--but this article seems to be a classic example of the "oh, they're popular now, lets attack them" school of journalism.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is the bottom line, and the ultimate question asked of an article is not "is this true?" but "will this be popular?".