In a recent blog entry, I rightly took CNET to task for a commentary piece that I found biased and disrespectful, with no basis in fact. Since that piece, I’ve received countless emails and there have been hundreds of postings in support of my stance. In addition, a number of publications and blogs have also linked to the entry. And while I’m pleased with the reception of the piece, in some cases I feel my message was clouded, so I wanted to take a moment to clarify a few things so that I’m not misunderstood.
Some folks have wrongly hijacked my message as one of a CNET bashing, Mac vs. PC standpoint. While I love my Macs and many Apple products, that couldn’t be further from my intention. I have no personal malice towards CNET and I do in fact read them daily. I would have taken the same stance against anyone who published a similar piece. While I prefer to work on the Mac platform (I still work with Windows regularly), I stopped caring about the Mac/Windows debate years ago. The whole topic is as contentious as religion or politics, and you simply cannot win any argument based on personal preference, which is the crux of the entire argument. The Mac faithful (who some wrongly call fanatics), are no better or worse than some of the Linux, Windows, or even Amiga supporters I’ve met over the years.
Apple makes good products, but they don’t just sell products, they sell a lifestyle. When you criticize Apple unfairly, you’re criticizing another person’s way of life, which is why some Mac users get very angry. And yes, Microsoft gets a lot of criticism as well, some deservedly so, some not. While I’m often critical about Microsoft, I’ve also been critical of Apple. But to take Apple to task for promoting something that was not only a remarkable project (the Virginia Tech supercomputer cluster), but a project where 90% of the sweat and brilliance came from Virginia Tech, is just poor taste. Their critique, while directed towards Apple, really was an insult to Virginia Tech, which I found disrespectful.
However, while my intention was not to start an anger fest towards another publication (I’d prefer to have a constructive discussion), I absolutely understand the emotions expressed by some in the ORN Talk Back, since I have had similar feelings.
So, Is CNET Biased?
One of the repeating themes in many of the responses I read had to do with the agreement of CNET being biased against Apple computer. Although some of the comparisons and opinions expressed about CNET were not entirely deserved, some of it was. I mean comparing CNET to Fox News, folks that’s just mean! However, my remark that CNET was biased obviously tapped a vein which sparked some deep seeded vitriol from Apple fans. When I took CNET to task for their commentary, and made the statement that they had a biased anti-Mac stance, some people rightly asked that I back that statement up. So I will.
First of all, in the piece I took issue with, there was no byline. In such cases, it typically means that it is the view of the editorial staff of a publication, which I don’t really believe to be the case here. It could be an oversight I could easily forgive, but then again, in a recent commentary by Charles Cooper entitled “Forget Macworld. Think Macsnore,” the contempt in the piece is so obvious, that when you see it comes from the Executive Editor of CNET news, what conclusion can you draw other than they have a particular slant against Apple? This isn’t the guy who mops the floors folks, this is the Executive Editor.
I want to be fair to Mr. Cooper and I don’t want to twist his message, so let’s take a look at some key elements from his commentary in his own words and please read the entire piece yourself:
“Of course, the bore-athon was of little consequence to the worshipful audience of Macheads who gathered in San Francisco this week. They were there to ooh and ahh and issue sneering contempt for the uninitiated baboons inhabiting the wider world of “Win-doze”–and that’s what they did. With Jobs whipping the crowd into a revivalist froth, it was all very good fun for one and all.
Just one problem: This turned out to be the most forgettable Apple love-in it’s been my agony to endure.”
So Mr. Cooper, how is it I can take you or your publication seriously when you berate me and millions of Mac users in the world with your particular disdain? I mean really, whose the elitist here? What was the last computing innovation you created? I can hardly bear to read on with any objectivity to your message since your slant is so poisoned with disgust for Macheads (a moniker I have never used). While I personally wouldn’t sully my desk with a Windows machine (if I didn’t require one for my work), I have no contempt or disrespect for Windows users. Most Windows users I know I hold in high regard and respect, even though their personal computing tastes would not be my own choice. And heck, all of my clients use thousands of Windows machines and I certainly respect them.
But you’re not done with us Macheads yet…no sir…
“The headliner of the show was a runt version of its popular iPod.”
Runt? Of all the words you could use in the vernacular (smaller, scaled down), you chose runt?
And while us Macheads are already frothing at the mouth, here’s the part of his commentary where my jaw literally drops:
“That and a Castro-like peroration that dragged on forever.”
Try to get past the unbelievably showy use of “peroration,” and focus on the words just before that. Castro-like? Let me get this straight…you’re actually comparing Steve Jobs, a man I highly respect, to the ruthless dictator, terrorist, and killer in Cuba, Fidel Castro? That’s like comparing Steve Ballmer’s monkey dance and other unusual performances to Adolph Hitler. I mean yeah, it scared me and it was a little strange, but I would never EVER compare his gait to that of a murderous tyrant. I mean I’m shocked. Is it possible that I am misinterpreting this as the wrong Castro? Maybe Billy Bob Castro, or Cindy Lou Castro, or the Castro district of San Francisco? Please tell me I got this wrong (I really want to be wrong), otherwise, for that statement alone, you should personally apologize to Steve Jobs.
But we’re not done yet, no sir…
“In the absence of any truly big product announcements or hardware updates, the audience was instead treated to vintage spin. Jobs is so good at this that they should reserve a special spot for him in the Marketing Hall of Fame.”
“No G5 PowerBooks. No improvements in processor speeds. No updates to the iBook. Nada. Just an overpriced iPod Mini with 4 gigabytes of storage that compares poorly with the 15GB digital jukebox Dell is offering for $224.”
First of all, the iBook was just updated in late October of 2003, just two months prior to Macworld, so an update was very unlikely. Secondly, if I remember correctly (and I do), Steve Jobs announced that updated G5 processors (around 3Ghz) could be expected by Summer of 2004, and he made that announcement when he revealed the G5 last year. So we knew not to expect any announcement on this front either.
Apple does not reserve Macworld for every major product release. If you were to draw the inference from Mr. Cooper, you would be led to believe that Apple only makes major product announcements during Macworld.
Let’s see if Mr. Cooper is correct in his assessment by looking at some Apple product announcements throughout all of 2003:
Apple Introduces 20-inch iMac
Apple Introduces New Dual Processor 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5
Apple Unveils New Generation G4 iBooks Starting at Just $1,099
Apple Launches iTunes for Windows
Apple and Pepsi to Give Away 100 Million Free Songs
Apple Announces Mac OS X “Panther”
Apple Announces Mac OS X Server “Panther”
Apple Introduces New 15-inch PowerBook
Apple Introduces Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
Apple Introduces New 20GB and 40GB iPods
Apple Announces Faster iMacs
Apple Releases DVD Studio Pro 2
Apple Introduces Soundtrack as Standalone Product
Apple Unleashes the Power Mac G5
Apple Introduces iChat AV and iSight
Apple Releases Safari 1.0
Apple Introduces Xcode, the Fastest Way to Create Mac OS X Applications
Apple Announces QuickTime 6.3 with Support for 3GPP
Apple Unveils New eMac Family
Apple Launches the iTunes Music Store
Apple Introduces New iPods
Apple Announces Final Cut Pro 4
Apple Announces DVD Studio Pro 2
Apple Announces Shake 3
Apple Introduces Xserve RAID Storage System With Breakthrough Performance and Pricing
Apple Unveils World’s First 17-inch Notebook
Apple Introduces Its Smallest Notebook Ever
Apple Unveils Safari
Apple Unveils Keynote
Apple Introduces iLife
Apple Delivers AirPort Extreme 802.11g Wireless Networking
Apple Unveils Final Cut Express
Apple Introduces X11 for Mac OS X
Apple Releases iCal 1.0.1 and iSync 1.0
Goodness, what a dull year that was. I assume we have nothing more to look forward to until the 2005 Macworld. Whatever shall I write about?
And finally…since I just can’t take it anymore, we end with this gem:
“That leaves Apple’s future still riding on the Mac. If there’s going to be a Macworld in 2024 worth attending, Jobs needs to come up with something a lot better.
Are you serious? I mean really? Do you see the extinction of personal computing in the next 5 years? 10? 20? This is like saying if Dell doesn’t come up with something better than the PC in a few years, the company is doomed.
Of course the future of Apple relies on the Mac. Let me clue you in on something you may not be aware of, Mr. Cooper…Apple makes computers. That’s why they are called Apple Computer. The computer they make happens to be the Macintosh. And of course Apple will continue to innovate and release new products that are tied to their computing platform for many years to come. So, I certainly hope to see more Macs in my future. The moment I see an iFridge, I’m selling my stock.
So What Is My Message?
If there is anything I want people to take from these two blog entries, it is that this type of journalism is not only irresponsible, it is worthless. Sure, I respect the right for a commentator to voice his opinions, but please write something that has some actual insight into the topic it covers. Otherwise it has zero credibility, and it is biased and not balanced.
While I don’t want to be the poster boy for the Mac/Windows debate, I do understand the feelings of Mac users, because I am one. And when you imply that we are mindless, sneering imbeciles, quickly bemused by the spin of our master, Steve Jobs, you not only insult Macheads, you insult your publication. I do not enjoy writing pieces like this one, and I absolutely do not enjoy raking another writer over the coals, but be sure that in the future, if you write garbage, I’m gonna take it to the curb.
*On a Personal Note: I want to thank Dan Farber, VP of Editorial, at CNET for writing a very nice unsolicited email to me expressing that they received a number of comments referencing the initial piece I wrote and telling me he was forwarding it to those who wrote it. We had a very nice conversation and he educated me to the fact that he has written some well balanced pieces regarding Apple, and indeed I found this to be true. Thanks Dan!
And BTW, if you’re looking for another piece that was a well written alternative to the one Charles Cooper penned, look no further.
Let’s please be constructive…