The Art of Smacking Apple Around as Entertainment Pays Handsomely

| Columns & Opinions

The Particle Debris article of the week comes from the awesome Jonny Evans. Here’s the link from Apple Must: “History repeats: Apple’s iPhone 7 will exceed expectations (again).

The article ponders the motivation for the very negative articles this year about the iPhone 7:

You have to ask what many in the media are smoking. I’ve been reading reports that attempt to pre-position iPhone 7 as a failure for months. This has been a sustained pattern that’s gone on for so long I question the ethics and motivation of the people who write those reports.

Jonny points to some analysis that suggests the iPhone 7 will do just fine. So let’s dig into this conundrum.

apple-kapow

Analysis is Boring. Let’s Have Fun

Numbers and facts are boring. Entertainment is fun. That’s true whether the subject is politics or technology. If you can entertain people who are bored with facts, light them up in fact, your publication will do well.

This why the iPhone 7’s missing headphone jack has been such a sensation. Apple simply wants to make technical progress. But entertainers like Stephen Colbert (whom I love) can be very engaging. The technique is to set up a false premise, such as: “We can’t live without this port!” And then make fun of Apple for abusing us. It’s comedy gold.

And it’s a time honored technique. But, just as in politics or engineering, it shouldn’t be taken as technical gospel.

Corvette Mania

A very wise person once told me that if you write for a Corvette car magazine, you better love Corvettes. If you badmouth Corvettes too much and too often, you’ll annoy the readers. They’ll unsubscribe. On the other hand, it’s okay to be constructive. The seats could be better this year. The fiberglass is expensive to repair. We learn to live with the flaws of the products we love. We understand.

In a similar vein, there are people who hate Apple. You can wind them up and easily click bait them with articles that purport to expose terrible things about Apple. There’s even a magic formula for the headlines. Like this. The Worst Feature of the iPhone 7 That You’ll Hate.Did you click? Did you want to?

I’m not saying that Apple doesn’t make mistakes. The company should be called out when it does. But there’s a real market for writers who pump themselves up as astute critics of Apple. They use time honored rhetoric and even comedy principles to titillate and amuse. The business opportunity is there, and some crafty editors know it.

Non-virtual Reality

The iPhone 7 is going to be a good seller because it has some interesting and useful new features. Millions of Apple customers are poised to upgrade, including those who skipped the 6s or have older, pre-Apple Pay or pre-Apple Watch models. Other millions will want to have the latest for the sake of fashion or prestige. Others will be eager to flow with the technology, as I have pointed out.

Check out Jonny’s analysis for the sober side of the facts regarding the iPhone 6s sales and prospects for the iPhone 7. Or, as Stephen Colbert said on September 7th, you can just grab a hammer and force the jack of your old headphones into the Lighting port of the iPhone 7.

It’ll be entertaining.

Next page: The Tech News Debris for the Week of September 5th. Apple’s iPhone naming dilemma.

9 Comments Add a comment

  1. +

    One almost cannot write about those making a living “smacking Apple around” in the tech (and popular) press without also mentioning The Macalope, who makes a living smacking around those who smack around Apple. As The Macalope has been around since the glory days of “the Apple web” (RIP AtAT, CARS, etc.) I had to give a quick nod to “the ‘Lope.”

    As for the iPhone naming scheme: It has worked well, I believe, up until now: An iPhone model number sans “s” meant a now form factor from the previous generation, plus new features, while a model number with an “s” meant same form factor as before, plus new features. Given that people have still lined up for iPhones even on “s” years, I somewhat disagree when Ken Segall calls the “s” set “off-years.” No they weren’t “off-years” for many features, BUT: As Apple is known for, lauded for, and famous for its industrial design, the lack of a new industrial design in its most popular product IS a major missing “feature” and DOES therefore qualify as an “off-year” in a certain way. Not for all features, but certainly for the one most noticeable: the industrial design.

  2. The real clock bait headlines from writers with nothing to say is to this day, inserting “Steve Jobs.”

    IMO most of the writing about Apple is worthless drivel. The “rumor” sites are a joke. Can you imagine your daily job is to write about rumors of Apple? Pathetic

    I don’t click on most articles about Apple because the writers have nothing to say or inform.

  3. Once an industrial design is fine tuned over many years, it may be very hard to come up with “new”. Look at HDTV’s. They have all become basically a thin screen with a thin bezel. There’s not much you can do, other than make a curved screen, which is different, but I’m not sure how useful it is.

    Samsung has a screen that wraps around the edge, which doesn’t seem that useful to me. But it is different, and some people like it.

    Apple doesn’t do change for the sake of change. They do change because they think it’s better or more useful. And when they are proven wrong, they change (e.g. bigger screen iPhones).

  4. The last phone I bought without a head phone jack was the HTC Dream (aka T-mobile G1). It too had an USB adapter for head phones. And not being able to charge it while using headphones was an issue, until I bought a wireless stereo headset (Motorola S9) and use that to listen to music while I worked.

  5. It’s easy to understand hacks who foment all this negative hysteria to get some attention but what I can’t fathom is why tech journalists from supposedly reputable publications like WSJ and NYT are joining in on the panty-twisting over the discarded archaic headphone jack. Albeit, they twist their panties in subtler, less frenzied language. But they twist them nonetheless.

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