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Hey Apple haters, the media coverage is warranted

16 Mar

You may have heard that there’s a new iPad out today (you can read my review here or see a video review here). Why have you heard about it? Probably because the media is saturated with coverage of everything Apple does.

This really ticks some people off. Truth be told, it used to annoy me too. When I was a staffer, whether it was at a newspaper or website, the only technology stories the front news section – the “mainstream” part – ever seemed to be interested in were those dealing with Apple’s new gadgets. That always struck me as grossly unfair and possibly even biased, since other technology companies launch cool new products every day yet never get anywhere near the same coverage. Isn’t devoting such attention to one company essentially giving it free advertising?

But then there’s the other side. The fact is, stories on Apple products inevitably get tons of readers, which means a few things. Clearly, there is a large audience for such stuff and it’s the media’s job to cover things people are interested in. There are, of course, limits to this truism, otherwise there’d be even more celebrity gossip “stories” out there than there already are, but for the most part news outlets like to give people what they want. Never mind the fact that stories with more readers equal more advertising dollars.

There’s more to it, though. The inordinate amount of coverage Apple gets is also warranted by the fact that the company has a track record over the past decade of shaking things up. Whether it’s content distribution (iPods and iTunes), communications and telephony (iPhone) or portable computing (iPad), Apple has serially revolutionized some markets and created others. Few other technology companies can make the same claim.

This success has translated not just into a ravenous reading public, but also a soaring stock market value. Apple is the world’s most valuable company, as well as one that sets trends, so why shouldn’t journalists be covering its every move?

Somewhere along the way, however, Apple has become more than just a company. It’s a religion, inspiring the sort of emotion usually reserved for debates over whether or not God exists. In some respects, it’s always been that way, with Mac fans for decades championing their company as the underdog against the evil Microsoft empire. But it has become worse as Apple has transformed from the underdog to the top dog.

On one side are the fanboys, who vociferously defend Apple and its products from naysayers and at the same time put down other companies and their goods. On the other side are the people who hate Apple and everything it stands for, such as the idea of closed products created behind a veil of secrecy that are usually sold at a premium.

Apple is a difficult company to cover because of this polarity. If you write something negative about it or its products, the fan boys jump on you. That’s actually not that hard to deal with. Since it’s impossible to please the rabidly obsessed, the only logical course of action is to simply ignore these people.

It’s a little harder to deal with the haters who attack whenever you write something positive, or even whenever you write anything at all about Apple, because their arguments aren’t entirely incorrect or unsympathetic. Apple, they argue, has benefited greatly from a media that slavishly reports on every little thing it does, or even doesn’t do (like the cottage industry devoted to writing nothing more than rumours about the company’s upcoming products).

In effect, it’s a chicken-or-the-egg thing: Has the company achieved its status on its own merits, or has its rise been fueled by the media?

I like to think a supportive media had some role to play, but it’s hard to believe that journalists alone somehow managed to convince millions upon millions of people to buy iPods, iPhones and iPads. Maybe the answer to Apple’s success and subsequent media coverage is, oh I don’t know, that the company has just managed to make good stuff that people want to buy? Could it be that simple?

Nah, that’s just crazy talk. It doesn’t matter, though, because I’ll get flamed either way.

On the plus side, haters can take solace in the fact that no technology company ever reigns for long. IBM once had its day in the sun, as did Microsoft. Apple is the belle of the ball right now, but it’s a safe bet that won’t be the case for long. Pretty soon, there’ll be another company that everyone is fawning over and that will inspire hatred.

It’s The Lion King’s circle of life, technology-style.

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4 Comments

Posted by on March 16, 2012 in apple, ipad

 

4 responses to “Hey Apple haters, the media coverage is warranted

  1. Marc Venot

    March 16, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Apple is succeeding because it’s able to critizise itself for example the flaming of Steve Jobs on the people in charge of Mobile me.

     
  2. I. Khider

    March 16, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Apple puts out good products, they tend to be well built with a solid OS—partially based on BSD I may add. People like the chassis, so much so that companies like HP imitate them. What troubles me is when journalists seem to suspend critical thinking and echo the press releases. If this was some upstart company coming up with such a device, I am sure journalists would be more critical. S/he would look more closely at the product and take what the corporate presenter says with a grain of salt. When a corporate presenter talks “post-PC” world, what do they mean by that? You can do “heavy lifting” tasks with these machines? You can do 3-D graphic design, type your articles off the screen from the scene? Goodbye laptop? You can do massive layout and design programs on them? I don’t think we are at post PC yet. Or do they mean post PC as in “Windows machines”? Sure, Windows sucks, but price wise for unsophisticated consumers, they are the most affordable option. So again, what do they mean? Going off the ‘cloud’? So hackers can get at your data?

    It is when a company gets to be the most profitable in America, maybe the world, that they ought to be held up to higher scrutiny. Look at the atrocious pittance the workers are paid where they have to commit suicide or work under substandard conditions. You mean Apple is too powerless to help these workers? Or the fact they use Intel chips, that try to monopolize the industry and do business with regimes that violate human rights. Apple are also DRM, and do not respect the users’ freedom. Then we have the whole issue of patents, originally conceived to help inventors but now dissuading inventions, and retarding technological development. Apple also has issues like any other company.

    When the masses and media are rushing to praise something while ignoring glaring faults, that is when the journalist ought to get suspicious. Apple has enough money and clout to solve these problems.

    If you still love the product regardless and you wrote as honestly as you could, then I cannot say anything to that and had better move on to other articles. What I am suspicious of, suppose for a minute you were critical of Apple, and I have seen this before with other writers, would media outlets then hire you to cover future releases? My strong suspicion is “no”. Then that would be a real tragedy.

    I sincerely hope you can be as honest with the juggernauts as you are with the upstarts and you would not be punished for being so.

     
  3. Jean-François Mezei

    March 16, 2012 at 4:01 am

    The irony is that Apple is not supporting its loyal fan base, it is going after mass market consumer products.

    Apple is in essence replacing Sony as the leader in mass market electronics. And they are succeeding where Sony failed: convergence. The real convergence.

    Selling the devices, the content and now the iCloud/iTunes networks to distribute content to all its devices. Next will be Apple play into Hollywood. If they can’t get Hollywood to agree to let Apple distribute their content, Apple will simply produce its own. It’s got plenty of pocket change to produce hit shows and movies.

    Why is it important to cover Apple ? Because it is the one company that has the “umph” to change Hollywood in a rather radical way and reshape how we get our entertainment. The selling of all those profitable iPads and iPhones is a means to grow the petty cash with wich Apple can conquer entertainment content.

     
  4. Parallax Abstraction

    March 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I still think the press coverage of Apple products is very and unfairly one-sided. I’m sorry but when major news organisations are devoting entire stories to covering the lineups for the iPad 3, that’s not journalism, that’s free PR and it’s lazy. Lots of people lined up for Mass Effect 3 too, I never saw a story about that.

    You do make a lot of interesting points though and there’s no doubt that Apple products are popular enough that they are newsworthy, though it would be nice if at least the occasional Android or Windows 8 story could make it in there. How are people supposed to learn about the other things out there if Apple is the only thing covered anywhere? Really, any rebuttal I could offer has been done better by I. Khider. I do think the media takes Apple coverage too far but those who think it should be eliminated or that everything else should be covered equally are not realistic.

     
 
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