The Back Page - Apple Death Knell #42: Milking the iPod Will Ruin Apple

by - September 2nd, 2004

John C. Dvorak is the master of whatever his job is at CBS Marketwatch. I assume his title is something along the lines of "Master of Chaos," or "Director of Pushing (People's) Buttons," or maybe even "Guy Who Riles Up Readers."

Every few months, or perhaps once or twice a year, Mr. Dvorak writes up a bit of nonsense about the Mac, Apple, Mac users, or sometimes even the iPod. He doesn't believe a word of it, or so I think, but he does such a nice job of kicking the ant pile that partizan geeks everywhere go running to and fro screaming at the top of their lungs while wishing they could pull his hair out.

It brings eyeballs to whatever site Mr. Dvorak is writing for, and it gets people talking (about John C. Dvorak). John Kheit, TMO's Devil's Advocate, thinks Mr. Dvorak's goal is to get people thinking, but as a fan of chaos, I think the Devil's Advocate is giving Mr. Dvorak too much credit.

No, John C. Dvorak is just ornery, and cantankerous. He wants to stir the ant pile and watch all the Maclings run around. The traffic and the talk is just the icing on the cake.

I could be wrong, but since I so seldom am, I doubt that's the case here. :-)

Seriously, though, today I bring you something from Mr. Dvorak's first column on the iMac G5. Shockingly, he hates it, and he goes to great lengths to disparage it. For instance:

Finally, after some other things are rolled out, including a search feature for the Mac, some graphics initiatives and other trivia, we find the new G5 iMac. Following the thread that Apple seems to have lost track of time, the machine comes in one old-fashioned color: 1988 platinum white. The design is hardly inspirational. In fact, if you put two headlamps on it and a metal sun visor over its "windshield," it would be reminiscent of a 1954 DeSoto.

The architecture is risky. First of all, they jammed the entire computer into the screen, making the idea of changing "monitors" or screens impractical.

That's just sad, and is clearly not Mr. Dvorak's best work. "Making the idea of changing 'monitors' impractical?" It's not impractical, it's impossible, and it has been since the very first iMac was released. That's just a silly thing to trot out at this stage of the game.

And the DeSoto comment? That's not half as good as calling the original iBook "girly," which Mr. Dvorak did. Heck, Paul Thurrott is doing better work in the Mac-bashing arena these days.

Mr. Dvorak continues with other criticisms in the full article, including comments about the fact that you can plug cables into the iMac, criticism of the iPod, criticism of Phil Schiller's attire at the Apple Expo keynote, and more.

Oh, and one more thing: Mr. Dvorak brings us Death Knell #42:

Perhaps if the company took the plunge and followed the path of Sony with branded cameras, headphones, amplifiers and home theaters in a box it would be more interesting. But milking this one pricey and faddish device is going to ruin the company if it is going to be the center of attention, which it now seems to be. [Emphasis added]

There you have it. Focusing on the iPod is going to ruin Apple, according to John C. Dvorak. Time will tell, of course, but in the meanwhile, I've added this little tidbit to our Apple Death Knell Counter. This marks Mr. Dvorak's second entry into the ADKC.

For my money, Apple is trying something interesting in this notion of glomming the iMac onto the iPod. It's certainly a new approach to selling Macs, and since I think Apple needs to do a better job of selling Macs in the first place, a new approach is welcome. For more of my thoughts on the new iMac, you can find my full commentary from the day they were announced.