The New Apple War: Targeting Pro-Apple Writers

There are writers who understand Apple. They've been covering Apple for years, decades. Some of them are very smart and accomplished at research and analysis. Other writers just write about Apple to earn some money and see their name in lights. Is there a war emerging between the two?

One can't help but notice that there has been a lot of negative writing about Apple lately. Most of it comes from writers who aren't well known around the Mac web. That's usually a sign that they haven't spent a lot of time covering Apple. Even so, their belief is that their opinion about Apple is just as valid as someone who has covered Apple professionally for a decade or more.

And so, naturally, the idea has come up about the validity of knowledge, the ability to do research, one's connections and sources, and, in general, a writer's ability to think analytically and present cogent arguments.

I am reminded of a physics professor who tells the student that he got many wrong answers on an exam. The student takes it as a personal attack and bad-mouths the professor whenever possible. In the student's opinion, the professor is an idiot. This may be what we're coming to on the Mac Web.

There are concrete facts available in coverage of Apple. Apple is making a lot of money, selling desirable products. Customers seem oblivious to the analysis, good and bad, being tossed around on the Internet. When one author points out those facts, if he questions another article regarding obvious errors of analysis or omission of facts, it's an attempt to both stabilize the discussion and inform the reader.

Of course, the reader is free to draw his or her own conclusion about the discussion -- whether it's just stupidity. My colleage, Bryan Chaffin, has written about that.

What has happend so far is that 1) readers know which authors know their stuff, but there's a concerted effort to negate that by using lurid headlines about Apple, and 2) many of the some-time writers who are blasting Apple haven't been able to make a dent in Apple's success or product plans, and they're absolutely furious.

Today, that war escalated.

Today, Jay Yarow at Business Insider wrote an article with the headline "Apple Blogger Praises Apple For Making Insignificant Improvements To Apple Maps." (I decline to provide the link.) The essence of this article, aside from some technical discussion, is that a well-known author, a very experienced Apple observer, Jim Dalrymple, was called out by name for saying something positive about Apple.

This seems to me like the student blasting the physics professor. Mr. Yarow wrote that Mr. Dalrymple "disparaged" (or graded if you will) the Wall Street Journal. (Mr. Dalrymple, with some admittedly salty language, cited multiple sources that contradicted the opinions and analysis of the WSJ. )

I would hate to think that we've entered a new, troubling era. If you don't toe the line, if you don't follow the conventional wisdom, the idea that Apple is doomed, and if you question our analysis about all that, then we'll call you out by name and belittle your article in the headline.

This has gone quite far enough.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are distinguished, capable writers whom you can trust when you read their thoughts about Apple. Mr. Dalrymple is one and has long been considered one of the most authoritative writers about Apple. Just because he points to errors of omission and errors in logic and analysis by others doesn't make him a biased, brainless Apple fanboy. Not every opinion is valid, and we as writers must write plainly so readers can judge us on the merits.

After all, Apple executives, from my own experience, aren't paying much attention to this mudslinging and are, instead, focused on pleasing the customers. The customers, in turn, are happy with the products they buy and are making Apple very wealthy and successful. Apple, like the laws of physics, has its own objective reality in the world, and our job is to identify it and make sense of it.

Those who have the privilege of some airtime should help their readers understand and cope with technology. Making sense of all this technology is tough enough and requires expert knowledge and education. With powerful companies at each other's throats, spending great sums to influence us, conclusions about complex technologies can vary. For example, the absolute claim that Apple Maps remains far behind Google Maps requires major testing and analysis, not just a bold assertion. Different people will have different results, even as Apple, moving heaven and earth, is trying to make it right.

There may be a regrettable, emerging temptation to call out other authors because they're trying to use common sense, reason and observational facts and aren't falling for the "Apple is doomed" notion. I would hope, instead, that we writers always remain cool and relaxed, remain analytic and technical and show great respect for others. The readers have a right to that.