Jun 13

The joy of Apple-bashing

Taking shots at Apple isn’t exactly a new sport. It’s been popular since the dawn of Macintosh.

Back in those days, PCs owned the business market. And here was Apple crashing the party with that silly graphical interface and mouse. Many in the establishment resisted, and they resented the way Apple attacked.

Never mind that Apple had been so loved for popularizing the desktop computer in the first place, or that PCs would so quickly embrace the graphical philosophy. The battle lines were drawn. For many, Apple would forever be the outsider who didn’t deserve attention or success.

Even Apple’s multiple revolutions wouldn’t change that attitude. iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWhatever. For those who disdain Apple, its success has always been easy to explain:

It’s not about innovation or design. Apple takes its ideas from other companies. It succeeds through marketing hype. It’s all flash, little substance and hardly worth the price.

The detractors had to adapt when Apple became the most valuable technology company on earth. Fortunately, success makes a company even easier to loathe.

Now Apple is just too big. It’s greedy and arrogant. It’s anti-freedom. And it’s still not worth the price. Clearly it’s doomed to failure.

For Apple stockholders, these types of claims have never been more than a harmless sideshow. However, one thing changed everything: the death of Steve Jobs.

This is where some might disagree with me.

I don’t believe that without Steve, Apple has suddenly became rudderless, less creative or prone to screw-ups that would never have happened before. Steve made plenty of mistakes. (But he was really good at making mid-course corrections when necessary.)

However, without Steve as the driving force of Apple, people do react to the company differently. When they see an error, or weakness, or a competitor making inroads, they’re more receptive to the critics’ argument: without Steve, this isn’t the same Apple.

I can’t say this is 100% wrong. Steve was unique. Irreplaceable. Things have to be different without him. However, “different” isn’t quite the same as “doomed.”

It’s in this atmosphere of Stevelessness that the Apple detractors enjoy new credibility. Their complaints seem to make more sense. There’s a certain herd mentality at work, where people start repeating the stories even if the facts don’t exactly support them.

In a category where passions run high, this herd mentality can turn into a “horde mentality.” Doing their best to throw fuel on the fire, some are twisting logic in novel ways.

As an example, take this article that appeared on the front page of CNN.com last week. It was lifted from Mashable. In just the third paragraph, writer Stan Schroeder discusses the rumor that Apple might launch a cheaper iPhone:

The moves are described as being “under discussion,” meaning they may never actually happen. If they do, however, it would mean Apple has more or less abandoned its position as the standard-setter in the smartphone market and become just another trend-follower.

Ah, so that’s what it will mean.

Now I’m a very big fan of free speech. I believe every writer has the right to display as much stupidity as he/she deems appropriate.

What bugs me is that a major global news organization would feature such blatantly flawed logic on their front page. Of all the insightful analyses of Apple out there, positive and negative, it’s kind of shocking that CNN would dredge this one up.

Over at Motley Fool, an article titled Apple’s Innovation Isn’t Real, but Does it Matter? talked about WWDC.

The headline, of course, is based on the “fact” that Apple isn’t innovating anymore. Taking it from there, writer Tyler Wolford says this about the new Mac Pro:

Quite frankly, Apple is not innovative; Apple is dependent on other companies to create products for its use.

Damn you, Apple. How dare you call the Mac Pro innovative when it’s built around a processor made by Intel.

And then of course there is the U.S. Congress, which joined the horde by choosing Apple as the poster child for corporate tax avoidance, when they could have summoned scores of global companies who embrace similar tactics.

Sadly for Apple, “between revolutions” is a tough place to be. When people doubt, there is no good answer. Somehow, “Designed by Apple in California” doesn’t have quite the same punch as a shiny, new, world-changing i-device.

If you’re an Apple detractor, these are heady times. Steve’s gone, the stock price has tanked and new products are only a vague promise.

If you’re an Apple fan, you suddenly find yourself in unfamiliar territory. When cornered by doubters, you may have to resort to a line you’ve never had to use before:

“Oh yeah? Just wait.”

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  • AlarikSkarstrom

    Thank you.

  • Mark Jones

    Thanks for this article, but I have one nit. If you’re a recent Apple fan, it would be unfamiliar territory. If you’ve been an Apple fan since the days of Macintosh, it’s not unfamiliar, as even when Steve Jobs was alive, he spoke out on few occasions. And during the days of Mac and iPod, we often did say “just wait.”

  • ksegall

    One nit on your nit …

    In the old days, there was always great anticipation for what was coming next. So, in that sense, yes, we were in waiting mode. But Apple was not being beaten up in the press because its innovations were “overdue.”

  • In the chamber

    Sometimes I think that the anti-Apple writers and the rest of us who follow Apple are really in an echo chamber, while the rest of the world goes on its business, buying Apple stuff, filling the bank account to Scrooge McDuck levels. And yes, I own a paltry few shares, that some 20 years from now will help me in my retirement years…to buy more Apple stuff…

  • moofer
  • Matt

    I love how everyone expects a revolutionary product every year from Apple. How quickly people forget that the iPod came out in 2002, the iPhone in 2007, and then iPad in 2010. I think we’re pretty much right on schedule for another “game changer” from Apple. I wouldn’t bet against Apple as the cream always rises to the top.

  • Mark Jones

    I guess I remember those times somewhat differently. For example, Apple was beaten up because it couldn’t get preemptive multi-tasking into Mac OS for years, as well as for the fiascoes that were Taligent, Pink, Copland, etc.

    Even without any big-name hardware competitors, iPod was beaten up for the inability to drag-and-drop, FM radio, DRM, etc. Remember Creative and those who believed Apple succeeded simply on marketing, RealNetworks and its use of Harmony to break iTunes DRM. Plus PlaysforSure always was lurking and on the verge of delivering something that Apple didn’t care about.

    I’ll admit it wasn’t as crazy as it is now, as back then, the Internet was different, and people weren’t focused on manipulating AAPL stock.

  • ksegall

    Correct. Apple isn’t “behind” schedule at all. This is the year one might expect the next game-changer. That said, the whole idea of revolutionizing on a schedule is absurd. It’s become the expectation, but it is not a reasonable one.

  • The Gnome

    Apple haters have ugly personalities. The best way to enjoy your product, devices, mobile experience, or whatever it might be is to avoid these people at all costs. They don’t enjoy anything but being negative. Why give them the time of day. Its sad that so many blogs feel they need to bash Apple just to make their quota of daily troll.

  • oldmacdude

    Hardly unfamiliar territory. In the 90’s we used to say “Apple: celebrating 20 years of ‘going out of business next year'” because of all the “beleaguered Apple” stories.

  • macmanchgo

    Don’t forget, when Steve Jobs was alive many of the Apple bashers said that Apple could become a “great” company if it would only get rid of Steve Jobs. So you cannot win against these detactors. But then again, can you win against anyone who fails to listen to reason. Too bad that they can still influence the stock market. But one thing for sure, after Apple stock goes way down, it is always a good time to buy because it always comes back up.

  • Sebastian Paul

    Unfortunately even the “shiny, new, world-changing i-device” has no punch nowadays.

    People will just say how the new product is just an oversized iPod Touch (has been said about the iPad and they say it even today, the iPad being only for consumption, real men use Windows to create etc blabla), how Apple will have no chance to enter a mature market (Microsoft and Nokia about the iPhone) and how nobody would want to wear an iWatch.

    People ignore Apple’s achievements at first and when they finally have to accept them, it’s three years after their introduction and the haters have now something else to complain about.

  • GeneralmotorsGravytrain

    Apple detractors = cockroaches

    Step on them quickly before they scurry into the cracks. If the wealthiest and one of the most profitable tech companies is doomed, well, then I feel sorry for the rest of the tech industry. I bought more shares today and I’m riding them up. Hear that, Timid Cook. I’m staking my pay on your company, so please do something worthwhile.

  • djt

    The latest gang bang mainstream media massacre of Apple’s recent ad campaign is indicative of how Apple bashing has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. Thank God for baseball season.

    Every peanut gallerist out there thinks they’re advertising experts simply because they see so many of them on TV. Most ads are crap. And for good reason. 

    Just because I thought landing on the moon was cool doesn’t make me an astronaut.

  • Shameer Mulji

    Apple detractors = cocksuckers is more like it.

  • dan pahlajani

    I am really glad you wrote this article and that you described it really well. Awesome! Now I hope a ton of people read it.

  • Jessica Darko

    Frankly, the line I prefer is: “You’re an idiot”.

    Seriously, time to stop suffering these fools. There’s no teaching them. Reason is beyond their ken. Facts are irrelevant in the face of their dogma.

    They are a cult of apple hating zealots. Their ignorance is an infinite well.

  • Jessica Darko

    ….and when Apple does release a “revolutionary” product, they will whine about how it sucks.

    iPod — “no radio, lame”
    iPhone — “no keyboard, lame”
    iPad — “feminine hygene product? just a big ipod anyway. lame”

  • Jessica Darko

    Yeah, when it comes out, it “sucks” and when it’s dominant they claim that “android will be much better just around the corner” and when that has failed they claim “apple hasn’t innovated in ages”.

    Can’t win for losing with those losers.

  • Chaka10

    Spot on. Massively disruptive innovation isn’t something that can be routinely manufactured. It depends on the confluence of many technologies and necessary ingredients that involve the efforts of many participants — not just many companies but even many industries. The success of the iPhone depended on, and brought together in a single wonderful device, advances in (a) telecom technology (not until the cusp of widespread 3G has mobile broadband been sufficient to support much of what is now routinely expected of a “true” smartphone), (b) memory/storage (solid state, etc), (c) battery technology, (d) screen technology, (e) miniaturization, (f) RISC computing (ARM), (g) manufacturing, …. How much, if any, of that was up to Apple alone, to manage or accelerate? The same can be said of the original Apple II, the original Mac, the iPod, the iPad and [a future revolutionary product to be named later — each with a different mix of key, ripened technologies, but the same point nonetheless. Even if Steve Jobs had dreamed up the iPhone (Apple did have the Newton) earlier, it couldn’t have been successful any earlier than it WAS successful…. The magic of Apple is to seize the moment with the right device/product, WHEN the moment is there to be seized.

  • mlechman

    I had to use that line a lot back in ’97.

  • mlechman

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • mwstudio

    I love Apple. I love Apple products from my Apple llGS to my new 27 inch “iPad-on-steroids like iMac. “Can’t innovate? My ass!” You tell ’em Phil. Someone “tell ’em” Because if you don’t “tell’em” they won’t know. There’s too much noise from the other guys and the Apple bashers. Tell ’em why an A7 chip. Tell ’em
    why the M7, the Touch ID. Where are the TV ads. Where are the madmen, the”Think Different” guys , the silhouetted iPod dancers. Where is the soul, the fun, the gotta have it? It’s there but ya gotta tell ’em.