The Fool says RIM is vulnerable

50 Comments

Jim BalsilleIn response to the recent strong words coming from RIM co-CEO Jim Balsille the past couple of days, financial analyst Tim Beyers over at The Motley Fool has offered his take on the situation. While he admits that Balsille is right when he says that one new smartphone coming out does not a death knell make, Beyers also points out that surviving the iPhone doesn’t mean remaining a market leader.

So why does Balsillie feel compelled to respond to the iPhone months before there’s even a product available to show? Perhaps it’s because, given the one-hit wonder that is its proprietary email system, today’s RIM looks as vulnerable to me as Apple did 22 years ago. (Curiously enough, once and future CEO Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in 1985.)

Thoughts, people?

  • crazylegs

    RIM = Guaranteed encrypted messaging queued at the network level. Anyone else = fake “push” email that is nothing more than a prompted sync of an off-network server. As long as this competitive advantage is maintained, RIM will dominate the enterprise. The Fool is foolish sometimes.

  • crazylegs

    RIM = Guaranteed encrypted messaging queued at the network level. Anyone else = fake “push” email that is nothing more than a prompted sync of an off-network server. As long as this competitive advantage is maintained, RIM will dominate the enterprise. The Fool is foolish sometimes.

  • http://beyondthebleedingedge.blogspot.com/ Andrew

    Leveraging the Apple PR supermachine is smart and free advertising for RIM. When Apple has a systems integrated business PDA, it is time to look at it – but from what I see the iPhone doesn’t compete in enterprise.

    All RIM should be worried about is losing engineers to Cupertino.

  • http://beyondthebleedingedge.blogspot.com Andrew

    Leveraging the Apple PR supermachine is smart and free advertising for RIM. When Apple has a systems integrated business PDA, it is time to look at it – but from what I see the iPhone doesn’t compete in enterprise.

    All RIM should be worried about is losing engineers to Cupertino.

  • Thought

    Agreed with what was said above. I am amazed at how the press just cannot understand the difference between the enterprise and consumer markets. Of all smartphone competitors, RIM is probably least threatened by the iPhone because they have their core enterprise market to fall back on.

    In the consumer market, there will be plenty of growth to go around, and RIM will still be able to grow its business.

  • Thought

    Agreed with what was said above. I am amazed at how the press just cannot understand the difference between the enterprise and consumer markets. Of all smartphone competitors, RIM is probably least threatened by the iPhone because they have their core enterprise market to fall back on.

    In the consumer market, there will be plenty of growth to go around, and RIM will still be able to grow its business.

  • Thought

    Agreed with what was said above. I am amazed at how the press just cannot understand the difference between the enterprise and consumer markets. Of all smartphone competitors, RIM is probably least threatened by the iPhone because they have their core enterprise market to fall back on.

    In the consumer market, there will be plenty of growth to go around, and RIM will still be able to grow its business.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You know, the question asked in the quote of the original article has to be the most disingenuous thing I have ever seen in my life! Every tech, business, or mobile phone publication on the planet refuses to run a single story without mentioning the iPhone, and the author actually has the gall to ask “So why does Balsillie feel compelled to respond to the iPhone months before there’s even a product available to show?” Then, he answers his own rhetorical question with a cheap shot about how one-dimensional RIM is (which isn’t even true) and some bizarre intimation that Balsille is worried the iPhone is going to cost him his job? Every column-inch of this article oozes some pathetic intimation that Apple has already put RIM, Palm, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony out of business, and they are just too stubborn and defensive to admit it.

    Why didn’t he ask Balsille how long ago he had stopped beating his wife while he was at it? This is exactly the kind of self-reinforcing Apple boosterism that really is at the core of why Apple so annoys me. His quote is so generic, it could apply to a new Windows Mobile device, the Hiptop, or any new smartphone, but since this is the iPhone, it is a clear sign that RIM is terrified that they are at death’s door!

    Oh, I am so sick of all this fanaticism over a device that won’t even be in anyone’s hand for several more months. So far, I have seen no indication that this thing will have any better messaging capabilities than any of the other devices RIM competes with on a daily basis. In fact, from their demos it looks like less of a competitor than the Hiptop when it comes to the BlackBerry market. But never mind, it is an Apple product, so I’m sure that it is going to revolutionize the entire world, right up until the second it comes out, at which point we will start hearing about how it SHOULD have revolutionized the entire world, but all the mundane ‘sheeple’ are just too stupid to ‘get it.’

    I am officially dubbing the iPhone the Segway2!

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You know, the question asked in the quote of the original article has to be the most disingenuous thing I have ever seen in my life! Every tech, business, or mobile phone publication on the planet refuses to run a single story without mentioning the iPhone, and the author actually has the gall to ask “So why does Balsillie feel compelled to respond to the iPhone months before there’s even a product available to show?” Then, he answers his own rhetorical question with a cheap shot about how one-dimensional RIM is (which isn’t even true) and some bizarre intimation that Balsille is worried the iPhone is going to cost him his job? Every column-inch of this article oozes some pathetic intimation that Apple has already put RIM, Palm, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, LG and Sony out of business, and they are just too stubborn and defensive to admit it.

    Why didn’t he ask Balsille how long ago he had stopped beating his wife while he was at it? This is exactly the kind of self-reinforcing Apple boosterism that really is at the core of why Apple so annoys me. His quote is so generic, it could apply to a new Windows Mobile device, the Hiptop, or any new smartphone, but since this is the iPhone, it is a clear sign that RIM is terrified that they are at death’s door!

    Oh, I am so sick of all this fanaticism over a device that won’t even be in anyone’s hand for several more months. So far, I have seen no indication that this thing will have any better messaging capabilities than any of the other devices RIM competes with on a daily basis. In fact, from their demos it looks like less of a competitor than the Hiptop when it comes to the BlackBerry market. But never mind, it is an Apple product, so I’m sure that it is going to revolutionize the entire world, right up until the second it comes out, at which point we will start hearing about how it SHOULD have revolutionized the entire world, but all the mundane ‘sheeple’ are just too stupid to ‘get it.’

    I am officially dubbing the iPhone the Segway2!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I agree with your analysis to a point. Your dissection of the article is spot-on.

    However, I don’t blame Apple for the fact that the press gives its products such good coverage. What is Apple supposed to do? Tell the journalists to calm down and exhibit less enthusiasm about their products?

    Apple generates enthusiasm among the press most likely for a variety of reasons, including that they know how to court the press very effectively, and do know how to put out exciting products in an exciting fashion. I admire them for all of the above. Again, if the press overreacts in their favor, they are not to blame.

    I also believe that the iPhone will be a considerable hit in the marketplace, but that will not threaten RIM’s core enterprise market, nor prevent them from expansion in the consumer space. I agree that in terms of messaging, the iPhone is not superior to a BB. However, where the iPhone will shine, and will attract buyers, is in their multimedia and web browsing capabilities. In that they will be unmatched.

    The iPhone will not be another Segway, but will indeed sell in large numbers.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I agree with your analysis to a point. Your dissection of the article is spot-on.

    However, I don’t blame Apple for the fact that the press gives its products such good coverage. What is Apple supposed to do? Tell the journalists to calm down and exhibit less enthusiasm about their products?

    Apple generates enthusiasm among the press most likely for a variety of reasons, including that they know how to court the press very effectively, and do know how to put out exciting products in an exciting fashion. I admire them for all of the above. Again, if the press overreacts in their favor, they are not to blame.

    I also believe that the iPhone will be a considerable hit in the marketplace, but that will not threaten RIM’s core enterprise market, nor prevent them from expansion in the consumer space. I agree that in terms of messaging, the iPhone is not superior to a BB. However, where the iPhone will shine, and will attract buyers, is in their multimedia and web browsing capabilities. In that they will be unmatched.

    The iPhone will not be another Segway, but will indeed sell in large numbers.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh no Thought, I most certainly can get annoyed at Apple for the way the press covers them, because it is all straight off of Apple press releases. If Apple stands up and proclaims that they have revolutionized the entire communications industry with the most exciting product ever released, who should I be annoyed at, the reporter who believes them, or them for making such hyperbolic claims? You know as well as I do that people just like you would throw a fit and scream “Apple-hater” at any reporter who even attempted to throw some water on the crazy iPhone love-fest right now.

    It is an attitude Apple encourages. Just look at their current “you use an Apple, or you are a hopeless loser” ad campaigns. Look at any of their questionably spun press releases and advertisements. Apple’s entire corporate image is based on the idea that there are discerning, talented, intelligent, tasteful, hip users, and then there are the people who don’t buy Apple products.

    Getting annoyed with Apple for the ridiculous claims of their devotees is no different than getting upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders. If you spend 30 years and billions of dollars trying to convince the public of your message, then ultimately you deserve to bear the repercussions of what those who accept your message do. No company can spend billions on advertising, and then hide behind the “well nobody made them do that” excuse. If we were talking about any company but Apple, I’m sure you would agree with that. Due to their wealth, companies have some modicum of social responsibility for their message.

    Oh, and yes, telling the press to calm down and exhibit less enthusiasm is EXACTLY what they are supposed to do! Apple has been bitten in the ass many times in their history by over-promising, and under delivering. Any other company would have learned by now that lowering unrealistic expectations is a vital part of any good marketing campaign. Unfortunately, Apple (and more to the point Steve Jobs) has gotten away with a lot of really questionable crap riding on the high of the iPod, and they think they are invincible. I have a suspicion that the iPhone is going to turn out to be their Achilles heel. That is what I meant when I said it was going to be the Segway2. I don’t mean it won’t sell, I mean that there is no way any device ever made in the history of mankind could live up to the hype they have generated for this device. In fact, at this point, if they don’t drive at least one company completely out of the smartphone business, it will seem like a flop, no matter how many units it sells. They have built this thing up so much that the only way it could seem like anything but a letdown, is if it came with a cold fusion power pack, and moved more units than any Nokia handheld to date!

    When this thing hits the shelves, if it isn’t absolutely perfect, and doesn’t outsell every other Palm, RIM and Windows Mobile from day one, then they are going to have a real PR problem on their hands. There are a lot of reporters that have gone way out on a limb for Apple, making some pretty big claims in their enthusiasm for this device. If it doesn’t deliver in a big way, there are going to be a lot of pissed of people, no small number of whom are shareholders. You can bet those reporter aren’t all going to be writing “oops I was wrong” articles. No, the “Apple can do no wrong” article can really quickly turn into the “Apple should stick to audio players, because they dropped the ball on this one” article when you have just made yourself a laughingstock backing a device that meets a lukewarm reception.

    I mean seriously, what if this turns out to be their next Newton or Pippen? It isn’t impossible. Apple does have flops. In fact, they have had quite a few of them. Do you really think that reporters will suck it up and say “you can’t blame Apple, we just got excited,” or do you think they are going to do a quick “you lied to us” about face on Apple?

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh no Thought, I most certainly can get annoyed at Apple for the way the press covers them, because it is all straight off of Apple press releases. If Apple stands up and proclaims that they have revolutionized the entire communications industry with the most exciting product ever released, who should I be annoyed at, the reporter who believes them, or them for making such hyperbolic claims? You know as well as I do that people just like you would throw a fit and scream “Apple-hater” at any reporter who even attempted to throw some water on the crazy iPhone love-fest right now.

    It is an attitude Apple encourages. Just look at their current “you use an Apple, or you are a hopeless loser” ad campaigns. Look at any of their questionably spun press releases and advertisements. Apple’s entire corporate image is based on the idea that there are discerning, talented, intelligent, tasteful, hip users, and then there are the people who don’t buy Apple products.

    Getting annoyed with Apple for the ridiculous claims of their devotees is no different than getting upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders. If you spend 30 years and billions of dollars trying to convince the public of your message, then ultimately you deserve to bear the repercussions of what those who accept your message do. No company can spend billions on advertising, and then hide behind the “well nobody made them do that” excuse. If we were talking about any company but Apple, I’m sure you would agree with that. Due to their wealth, companies have some modicum of social responsibility for their message.

    Oh, and yes, telling the press to calm down and exhibit less enthusiasm is EXACTLY what they are supposed to do! Apple has been bitten in the ass many times in their history by over-promising, and under delivering. Any other company would have learned by now that lowering unrealistic expectations is a vital part of any good marketing campaign. Unfortunately, Apple (and more to the point Steve Jobs) has gotten away with a lot of really questionable crap riding on the high of the iPod, and they think they are invincible. I have a suspicion that the iPhone is going to turn out to be their Achilles heel. That is what I meant when I said it was going to be the Segway2. I don’t mean it won’t sell, I mean that there is no way any device ever made in the history of mankind could live up to the hype they have generated for this device. In fact, at this point, if they don’t drive at least one company completely out of the smartphone business, it will seem like a flop, no matter how many units it sells. They have built this thing up so much that the only way it could seem like anything but a letdown, is if it came with a cold fusion power pack, and moved more units than any Nokia handheld to date!

    When this thing hits the shelves, if it isn’t absolutely perfect, and doesn’t outsell every other Palm, RIM and Windows Mobile from day one, then they are going to have a real PR problem on their hands. There are a lot of reporters that have gone way out on a limb for Apple, making some pretty big claims in their enthusiasm for this device. If it doesn’t deliver in a big way, there are going to be a lot of pissed of people, no small number of whom are shareholders. You can bet those reporter aren’t all going to be writing “oops I was wrong” articles. No, the “Apple can do no wrong” article can really quickly turn into the “Apple should stick to audio players, because they dropped the ball on this one” article when you have just made yourself a laughingstock backing a device that meets a lukewarm reception.

    I mean seriously, what if this turns out to be their next Newton or Pippen? It isn’t impossible. Apple does have flops. In fact, they have had quite a few of them. Do you really think that reporters will suck it up and say “you can’t blame Apple, we just got excited,” or do you think they are going to do a quick “you lied to us” about face on Apple?

  • Thought

    Lloyd: first off, I wouldn’t involve terms like “social responsibility” when it comes to companies like Apple hyping their consumer electronics products. To compare that with the issues of negative body image associated with modeling, etc. is a huge stretch. We are just talking gadgets and gizmos here, there really isn’t quite the same degree of seriousness. In fact, I think you take the whole issue of Apple and the hype far too seriously.

    Second, read the press releases of numerous other consumer electronics companies, and you will see that they indeed do exhibit a fair degree of hype and bravado themselves. Plus, it is interesting that while Apple calls the phone “revolutionary” (which, by the way, is a term many other consumer electronics companies have used frequently), they have set their sales targets rather modestly, going after 1% of the market in 18 months. So they certainly are not claiming they are going to drive another vendor out of business or anything quite so dramatic.

    If Apple takes their marketing to another level, it’s only because they are able to because of their track record with the consumer. Sure, they have had flops…all companies do…but the only reason why Apple gets away with it is because they consistently have released products with a high “wow” factor.

    Consider the iPhone: if it were just some plain jane run-of-the-mill device, all the hype in the world would not change people’s minds. People would look at it and say, gee, I wonder what all the buzz is about. But let’s face it…people accept the hype because they look at the device and say, how cool. Apple has earned that degree of credibility with the press and, more importantly, the public.

    As to reporters, I do agree that when they get things wrong, you very rarely hear them admit as much…they just kind of move onto the next story.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: first off, I wouldn’t involve terms like “social responsibility” when it comes to companies like Apple hyping their consumer electronics products. To compare that with the issues of negative body image associated with modeling, etc. is a huge stretch. We are just talking gadgets and gizmos here, there really isn’t quite the same degree of seriousness. In fact, I think you take the whole issue of Apple and the hype far too seriously.

    Second, read the press releases of numerous other consumer electronics companies, and you will see that they indeed do exhibit a fair degree of hype and bravado themselves. Plus, it is interesting that while Apple calls the phone “revolutionary” (which, by the way, is a term many other consumer electronics companies have used frequently), they have set their sales targets rather modestly, going after 1% of the market in 18 months. So they certainly are not claiming they are going to drive another vendor out of business or anything quite so dramatic.

    If Apple takes their marketing to another level, it’s only because they are able to because of their track record with the consumer. Sure, they have had flops…all companies do…but the only reason why Apple gets away with it is because they consistently have released products with a high “wow” factor.

    Consider the iPhone: if it were just some plain jane run-of-the-mill device, all the hype in the world would not change people’s minds. People would look at it and say, gee, I wonder what all the buzz is about. But let’s face it…people accept the hype because they look at the device and say, how cool. Apple has earned that degree of credibility with the press and, more importantly, the public.

    As to reporters, I do agree that when they get things wrong, you very rarely hear them admit as much…they just kind of move onto the next story.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ok, you are really confusing me here Thought. So talking about how people who make clothes for a living effect the psyche of high-school girls is a really serious subject, but talking about how people who make computers and electronic equipment effect the psyche of grown adults is a frivolous subject? I’m not following you there.

    Also, you say I take the Apple issue too seriously, and I really wonder if you would say the same thing were I talking about how Microsoft’s marketing practices have effected the computer industry? Frankly, I suspect you think that subject is deadly serious, even warranting government intervention.

    Look, I take marketing in general pretty seriously. Corporate communications ate up about 15 years of my life, back when it was my career once upon a time. Like it or not, corporate marketing holds a lot more sway over the hearts and minds of modern Americans than any religion, or school of philosophy. I think that is pretty serious indeed.

    You can try to equivocate as much as you want, but I can tell you with a pretty high degree of certainty that there isn’t a single major company in the entire tech sector who plays as fast and loose with the truth as Apple. Sure, there were some .com startups who had a pretty tenuous grasp on reality, but they didn’t last long. On the other hand, I have personally attended more than one Apple press event where they just blatantly fabricated information that wasn’t even remotely true, in order to get a little extra press coverage, and maintain their image as an innovator. Apple has always worked very hard, much harder than any other company in the industry, to cultivate a decidedly adversarial us vs. them viewpoint, where you are left no option but to either accept their version of history, or directly call them liars. Over the course of time that has a cumulative effect that is quite powerful (just ask any politician). It is a propaganda technique call the Big Lie, and it is actually quite unusual to see tech companies other than Apple use it, because it is quite a risky (and more than a little unethical) approach. Most tech companies prefer to prevaricate but never actually say anything that legal hasn’t signed off on. The Big Lie is something that you usually see more in the realm of politics than in the corporate world, but lately it has become a more and more popular corporate tool, especially among multi-national corporations. However, if Apple can be called a true pioneer in anything, it is in the skillful use of the Big Lie to forward a corporate agenda. Steve Jobs learned very early on (back in the Apple II days) that reporters are lazy, and if you just blatantly tell them something without flinching, they will never bother to see if you were telling the truth or not. If, for example, you tell a reporter you have the best selling home computer in the world, and the guy from Commodore instead plays it safe and says that he has one of the best selling home computers in the world, then suddenly you have the best selling home computer in the world as far as the press is concerned, even though the sales figures don’t back you up. If you just keep that up indefinitely, then pretty soon you have created an alternate reality that the press can’t argue with, because they have been with you every step of the way reporting it as fact. If you really think this is impossible, try watching Fox News for an hour, then flip over and watch MSNBC for an hour then flip over and watch BBC News for an hour. You will be amazed at how the cumulative effect of one Big Lie after another can result in multiple opposing realities all stemming from the same event. I suppose cutting to the chase, what I’m really saying is that Apple is basically the Bill O’Reilly of the computer industry.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ok, you are really confusing me here Thought. So talking about how people who make clothes for a living effect the psyche of high-school girls is a really serious subject, but talking about how people who make computers and electronic equipment effect the psyche of grown adults is a frivolous subject? I’m not following you there.

    Also, you say I take the Apple issue too seriously, and I really wonder if you would say the same thing were I talking about how Microsoft’s marketing practices have effected the computer industry? Frankly, I suspect you think that subject is deadly serious, even warranting government intervention.

    Look, I take marketing in general pretty seriously. Corporate communications ate up about 15 years of my life, back when it was my career once upon a time. Like it or not, corporate marketing holds a lot more sway over the hearts and minds of modern Americans than any religion, or school of philosophy. I think that is pretty serious indeed.

    You can try to equivocate as much as you want, but I can tell you with a pretty high degree of certainty that there isn’t a single major company in the entire tech sector who plays as fast and loose with the truth as Apple. Sure, there were some .com startups who had a pretty tenuous grasp on reality, but they didn’t last long. On the other hand, I have personally attended more than one Apple press event where they just blatantly fabricated information that wasn’t even remotely true, in order to get a little extra press coverage, and maintain their image as an innovator. Apple has always worked very hard, much harder than any other company in the industry, to cultivate a decidedly adversarial us vs. them viewpoint, where you are left no option but to either accept their version of history, or directly call them liars. Over the course of time that has a cumulative effect that is quite powerful (just ask any politician). It is a propaganda technique call the Big Lie, and it is actually quite unusual to see tech companies other than Apple use it, because it is quite a risky (and more than a little unethical) approach. Most tech companies prefer to prevaricate but never actually say anything that legal hasn’t signed off on. The Big Lie is something that you usually see more in the realm of politics than in the corporate world, but lately it has become a more and more popular corporate tool, especially among multi-national corporations. However, if Apple can be called a true pioneer in anything, it is in the skillful use of the Big Lie to forward a corporate agenda. Steve Jobs learned very early on (back in the Apple II days) that reporters are lazy, and if you just blatantly tell them something without flinching, they will never bother to see if you were telling the truth or not. If, for example, you tell a reporter you have the best selling home computer in the world, and the guy from Commodore instead plays it safe and says that he has one of the best selling home computers in the world, then suddenly you have the best selling home computer in the world as far as the press is concerned, even though the sales figures don’t back you up. If you just keep that up indefinitely, then pretty soon you have created an alternate reality that the press can’t argue with, because they have been with you every step of the way reporting it as fact. If you really think this is impossible, try watching Fox News for an hour, then flip over and watch MSNBC for an hour then flip over and watch BBC News for an hour. You will be amazed at how the cumulative effect of one Big Lie after another can result in multiple opposing realities all stemming from the same event. I suppose cutting to the chase, what I’m really saying is that Apple is basically the Bill O’Reilly of the computer industry.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: you make it too easy for me this time. Let’s consider how absurd your analogy is between the impact of the fashion/modeling industry on young girls and the impact of Apple marketing on, as you put it, the “psyche of grown adults.” Keep in mind that you were the one to bring up this analogy, where you wrote:
    “Getting annoyed with Apple for the ridiculous claims of their devotees is no different than getting upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders.”

    There is so much difference between the two that it shouldn’t need pointing out. Let’s see: on the one hand, we have a fashion/modeling industry sending out a message that can lead to low self esteem issues in young girls and women, which can lead to very serious problems such as eating disorders. On the other hand, we have a consumer electronics company trying to convince people it’s products are cool. Last time I checked, no one ever died or experienced severe psychological/emotional distress due to buying an iPod or switching from a PC to a Mac. The very fact that you bring up this analogy proves my point that you take all of this Apple stuff way too seriously.

    As for Microsoft, I have no qualms with their marketing, and I certainly don’t advocate govt intervention. I do not think the topic is “deadly serious”…after all, we’re just talking software code and cool gadgets here. I do think in many ways MS has the inferior product, but if they are able to make it work for them, more power to them. I do believe in some regards that MS does go too far in trying to use their power to shut out competition, but that’s another story.

    As for the Big Lie, I think you give too much credit to Apple and the media. You are correct in that those news channels you cite all give a very different slant to the same events, but that only proves that there is a fair amount of diversity in the press. This contradicts your claim that Apple somehow gets the media to all march in lockstep to its favor. So, sure marketing efforts have an impact, and Apple has been a master at marketing. And I do believe that the media has enormous influence. But I really believe that the public is not so easily fooled, the press is not so easily fooled by Apple, and that if Apple enjoys the image of a cutting edge, cool company, that’s only because ultimately their products and continued performance has earned that for them. The media coverage reflects this reality moreso than produces it. Your arrow of causation is flipped around.

    But ultimately, I say, chill out, dude, and don’t sweat so much over Apple, because, after all, we’re just talking about what are largely luxury consumer goods, not medicine, not food, not retirement investments, not personal looks, not anything whereby any exaggerated or inaccurate claims will ruin the world.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: you make it too easy for me this time. Let’s consider how absurd your analogy is between the impact of the fashion/modeling industry on young girls and the impact of Apple marketing on, as you put it, the “psyche of grown adults.” Keep in mind that you were the one to bring up this analogy, where you wrote:
    “Getting annoyed with Apple for the ridiculous claims of their devotees is no different than getting upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders.”

    There is so much difference between the two that it shouldn’t need pointing out. Let’s see: on the one hand, we have a fashion/modeling industry sending out a message that can lead to low self esteem issues in young girls and women, which can lead to very serious problems such as eating disorders. On the other hand, we have a consumer electronics company trying to convince people it’s products are cool. Last time I checked, no one ever died or experienced severe psychological/emotional distress due to buying an iPod or switching from a PC to a Mac. The very fact that you bring up this analogy proves my point that you take all of this Apple stuff way too seriously.

    As for Microsoft, I have no qualms with their marketing, and I certainly don’t advocate govt intervention. I do not think the topic is “deadly serious”…after all, we’re just talking software code and cool gadgets here. I do think in many ways MS has the inferior product, but if they are able to make it work for them, more power to them. I do believe in some regards that MS does go too far in trying to use their power to shut out competition, but that’s another story.

    As for the Big Lie, I think you give too much credit to Apple and the media. You are correct in that those news channels you cite all give a very different slant to the same events, but that only proves that there is a fair amount of diversity in the press. This contradicts your claim that Apple somehow gets the media to all march in lockstep to its favor. So, sure marketing efforts have an impact, and Apple has been a master at marketing. And I do believe that the media has enormous influence. But I really believe that the public is not so easily fooled, the press is not so easily fooled by Apple, and that if Apple enjoys the image of a cutting edge, cool company, that’s only because ultimately their products and continued performance has earned that for them. The media coverage reflects this reality moreso than produces it. Your arrow of causation is flipped around.

    But ultimately, I say, chill out, dude, and don’t sweat so much over Apple, because, after all, we’re just talking about what are largely luxury consumer goods, not medicine, not food, not retirement investments, not personal looks, not anything whereby any exaggerated or inaccurate claims will ruin the world.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    See, I disagree completely with you. The number one problem facing every household in America is not eating disorders, or body images due to how pretty models are, but the staggering debt that comes from the compulsive consumption of those very same luxury goods you trivialize as nothing important. Current generations of Americans have had it hammered into them pretty much since birth that how good a person you are, and how how you are perceived by those around you has a direct correlation to the products you can afford to buy, and the brands you chose to spend your money on. I guarantee you, more people have found themselves in serious trouble as a result of feeling like they had to buy that new car, or get that big-screen TV, or buy that new house, or get that fancy computer than ever have because they thought they could go down a dress size. Just look at the waistlines of this country as opposed to their debt load, and that becomes pretty clear. It is no secret that the average American is now obese, but that average American is also quickly approaching a household debt level of $100,000! That is dues in no small part to the conspicuous consumption driven largely by lifestyle brands that tell you that you can define who you are as a person by buying the right product.

    Less than 2% of all women in America ever suffer from an eating disorder, but just about every single American has to deal with debt in their lifetime. I think that is a pretty serious issue, and it comes mostly down to irresponsible corporate marketing. Whether it is the diamond ad telling your wife you don’t love her because you didn’t spend a third of your annual income on an anniversary ring, or the car ad that says you will be a better father if you buy an SUV, or the computer ad that says you are stupid and unattractive if you buy the wrong computer, they all have very serious effects on the spending decisions people make. The average college student is graduating already $20,000 in debt, before they have even started their career, and yet they are the most heavily-targeted demographic in the country.

    Your position isn’t particularly consistent. You say that you think the American public and media is too smart to be fooled by a a few billion dollars of marketing over 30 years, yet you think it is a very serious issue that some women have been fooled into hating their own body because people hang dresses on skinny women? I would be curious to know whether or not you think it is impossible for tobacco companies and alcohol companies to fool the American public as well? How about pharmaceutical companies? What about energy companies like Enron, Exxon, and Halliburton, do you think the American public is too smart to be fooled by them? How about the fast food industry?

    I think you are either ignoring, or purposely trying to trivialize the size of the tech sector, and what a profound effect it has had on our society. It is all well and good to pretend that this is all just about a bunch of meaningless doodads that don’t really matter, so who cares what anyone says about them, but the fact of the matter is we are talking about an industry that is one of the strongest pillars of the American economy. I don’t think it is at all an overstatement to say that issues of truthfulness and transparency in this industry are one of the most important issues of this new century. We aren’t just talking about who gets a good review here, we are talking about billions of dollars in investment capital, working conditions, environmental impact of manufacturing processes, and as of late at a good many of these companies, fraud and criminal activity.

    It isn’t just about Apple, it is just that Apple is pretty much the only company in the industry who is given a pass on ever having to back anything up. If Microsoft releases a new patch for their OS without proper documentation, there are tons of news outlets that decry some sort of foul, and several governmental bodies in several nations who scrutinize ever aspect of it to make sure something sinister isn’t afoot, while Microsoft has to provide evidence of their compliance with special regulations written just for them. If Apple is accused of using Asian slave labor, someone from their HR department says “no, that isn’t true” and everybody goes on about their business like nothing happened. Just look at the story that started this. We aren’t just talking about how well this device will sell, but an intimation on a supposed investment site that RIM stock should not be valued as high as it is, because the company is running scared and about to be crushed by Apple. Now no matter how you slice it, this is either going to be right, or wrong. How many people do you think are going to lose substantial amounts of money on Apple stock if all this iPhone talk really does turn out to by nothing but hype? I mean I can’t really imagine you would argue that all these financial reporters proclaiming the death of half the phone industry at the hands of Apple have really done any sort of due diligence. So what about all the people right now buying up Apple stock because every ‘expert’ is proclaiming the death of RIM, Palm, and any other host of handset providers? Do you really think they are going to see this as just a fun diversion over a little harmless hyperbole if Apple’s stock tanks?

  • L. M. Lloyd

    See, I disagree completely with you. The number one problem facing every household in America is not eating disorders, or body images due to how pretty models are, but the staggering debt that comes from the compulsive consumption of those very same luxury goods you trivialize as nothing important. Current generations of Americans have had it hammered into them pretty much since birth that how good a person you are, and how how you are perceived by those around you has a direct correlation to the products you can afford to buy, and the brands you chose to spend your money on. I guarantee you, more people have found themselves in serious trouble as a result of feeling like they had to buy that new car, or get that big-screen TV, or buy that new house, or get that fancy computer than ever have because they thought they could go down a dress size. Just look at the waistlines of this country as opposed to their debt load, and that becomes pretty clear. It is no secret that the average American is now obese, but that average American is also quickly approaching a household debt level of $100,000! That is dues in no small part to the conspicuous consumption driven largely by lifestyle brands that tell you that you can define who you are as a person by buying the right product.

    Less than 2% of all women in America ever suffer from an eating disorder, but just about every single American has to deal with debt in their lifetime. I think that is a pretty serious issue, and it comes mostly down to irresponsible corporate marketing. Whether it is the diamond ad telling your wife you don’t love her because you didn’t spend a third of your annual income on an anniversary ring, or the car ad that says you will be a better father if you buy an SUV, or the computer ad that says you are stupid and unattractive if you buy the wrong computer, they all have very serious effects on the spending decisions people make. The average college student is graduating already $20,000 in debt, before they have even started their career, and yet they are the most heavily-targeted demographic in the country.

    Your position isn’t particularly consistent. You say that you think the American public and media is too smart to be fooled by a a few billion dollars of marketing over 30 years, yet you think it is a very serious issue that some women have been fooled into hating their own body because people hang dresses on skinny women? I would be curious to know whether or not you think it is impossible for tobacco companies and alcohol companies to fool the American public as well? How about pharmaceutical companies? What about energy companies like Enron, Exxon, and Halliburton, do you think the American public is too smart to be fooled by them? How about the fast food industry?

    I think you are either ignoring, or purposely trying to trivialize the size of the tech sector, and what a profound effect it has had on our society. It is all well and good to pretend that this is all just about a bunch of meaningless doodads that don’t really matter, so who cares what anyone says about them, but the fact of the matter is we are talking about an industry that is one of the strongest pillars of the American economy. I don’t think it is at all an overstatement to say that issues of truthfulness and transparency in this industry are one of the most important issues of this new century. We aren’t just talking about who gets a good review here, we are talking about billions of dollars in investment capital, working conditions, environmental impact of manufacturing processes, and as of late at a good many of these companies, fraud and criminal activity.

    It isn’t just about Apple, it is just that Apple is pretty much the only company in the industry who is given a pass on ever having to back anything up. If Microsoft releases a new patch for their OS without proper documentation, there are tons of news outlets that decry some sort of foul, and several governmental bodies in several nations who scrutinize ever aspect of it to make sure something sinister isn’t afoot, while Microsoft has to provide evidence of their compliance with special regulations written just for them. If Apple is accused of using Asian slave labor, someone from their HR department says “no, that isn’t true” and everybody goes on about their business like nothing happened. Just look at the story that started this. We aren’t just talking about how well this device will sell, but an intimation on a supposed investment site that RIM stock should not be valued as high as it is, because the company is running scared and about to be crushed by Apple. Now no matter how you slice it, this is either going to be right, or wrong. How many people do you think are going to lose substantial amounts of money on Apple stock if all this iPhone talk really does turn out to by nothing but hype? I mean I can’t really imagine you would argue that all these financial reporters proclaiming the death of half the phone industry at the hands of Apple have really done any sort of due diligence. So what about all the people right now buying up Apple stock because every ‘expert’ is proclaiming the death of RIM, Palm, and any other host of handset providers? Do you really think they are going to see this as just a fun diversion over a little harmless hyperbole if Apple’s stock tanks?

  • L. M. Lloyd

    See, I disagree completely with you. The number one problem facing every household in America is not eating disorders, or body images due to how pretty models are, but the staggering debt that comes from the compulsive consumption of those very same luxury goods you trivialize as nothing important. Current generations of Americans have had it hammered into them pretty much since birth that how good a person you are, and how how you are perceived by those around you has a direct correlation to the products you can afford to buy, and the brands you chose to spend your money on. I guarantee you, more people have found themselves in serious trouble as a result of feeling like they had to buy that new car, or get that big-screen TV, or buy that new house, or get that fancy computer than ever have because they thought they could go down a dress size. Just look at the waistlines of this country as opposed to their debt load, and that becomes pretty clear. It is no secret that the average American is now obese, but that average American is also quickly approaching a household debt level of $100,000! That is dues in no small part to the conspicuous consumption driven largely by lifestyle brands that tell you that you can define who you are as a person by buying the right product.

    Less than 2% of all women in America ever suffer from an eating disorder, but just about every single American has to deal with debt in their lifetime. I think that is a pretty serious issue, and it comes mostly down to irresponsible corporate marketing. Whether it is the diamond ad telling your wife you don’t love her because you didn’t spend a third of your annual income on an anniversary ring, or the car ad that says you will be a better father if you buy an SUV, or the computer ad that says you are stupid and unattractive if you buy the wrong computer, they all have very serious effects on the spending decisions people make. The average college student is graduating already $20,000 in debt, before they have even started their career, and yet they are the most heavily-targeted demographic in the country.

    Your position isn’t particularly consistent. You say that you think the American public and media is too smart to be fooled by a a few billion dollars of marketing over 30 years, yet you think it is a very serious issue that some women have been fooled into hating their own body because people hang dresses on skinny women? I would be curious to know whether or not you think it is impossible for tobacco companies and alcohol companies to fool the American public as well? How about pharmaceutical companies? What about energy companies like Enron, Exxon, and Halliburton, do you think the American public is too smart to be fooled by them? How about the fast food industry?

    I think you are either ignoring, or purposely trying to trivialize the size of the tech sector, and what a profound effect it has had on our society. It is all well and good to pretend that this is all just about a bunch of meaningless doodads that don’t really matter, so who cares what anyone says about them, but the fact of the matter is we are talking about an industry that is one of the strongest pillars of the American economy. I don’t think it is at all an overstatement to say that issues of truthfulness and transparency in this industry are one of the most important issues of this new century. We aren’t just talking about who gets a good review here, we are talking about billions of dollars in investment capital, working conditions, environmental impact of manufacturing processes, and as of late at a good many of these companies, fraud and criminal activity.

    It isn’t just about Apple, it is just that Apple is pretty much the only company in the industry who is given a pass on ever having to back anything up. If Microsoft releases a new patch for their OS without proper documentation, there are tons of news outlets that decry some sort of foul, and several governmental bodies in several nations who scrutinize ever aspect of it to make sure something sinister isn’t afoot, while Microsoft has to provide evidence of their compliance with special regulations written just for them. If Apple is accused of using Asian slave labor, someone from their HR department says “no, that isn’t true” and everybody goes on about their business like nothing happened. Just look at the story that started this. We aren’t just talking about how well this device will sell, but an intimation on a supposed investment site that RIM stock should not be valued as high as it is, because the company is running scared and about to be crushed by Apple. Now no matter how you slice it, this is either going to be right, or wrong. How many people do you think are going to lose substantial amounts of money on Apple stock if all this iPhone talk really does turn out to by nothing but hype? I mean I can’t really imagine you would argue that all these financial reporters proclaiming the death of half the phone industry at the hands of Apple have really done any sort of due diligence. So what about all the people right now buying up Apple stock because every ‘expert’ is proclaiming the death of RIM, Palm, and any other host of handset providers? Do you really think they are going to see this as just a fun diversion over a little harmless hyperbole if Apple’s stock tanks?

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I seriously hope that most of what you write above is a parody of sorts.

    First, you start with a sweeping indictment of nothing less than what amounts to be the whole capitalistic economy coupled with the human nature to consumer and want more. That’s a pretty big order. Unless you can find a way to restructure free market economies, or change human nature, those factors you cite are not going to change, regardless of what Apple does.
    (I won’t even get into a philosophical dissection of every issue you raise.)

    Then you again get into the eating disorder thing all over again, almost seeking to diminish it against the problem of debt. I admit that debt can be a crushing problem to many people, but it really doesn’t compare in seriousness to an eating disorder, even though less people are affected by it. But hey, it was you who brought up the eating disorder issue in the first place.

    And sure the tech sector is an important part of our economy. Sure, every company in our economy owes it to us to be honest and transparent. But dude, we’re talking marketing here, and every company hypes their product to the max, whether it be a gadget or a cola or a beer or a restaurant or a shoe or etc.

    As to your issues regarding the flow of capital…well, that’s the beauty of our economy: people have to make their own decisions. And surely there will always be winners and losers in that equation. If you want to examine the other side of the coin, you can argue that a company like Apple has made a ton of money for all sorts of shareholders, including many smaller investors, that their success enables them to employ a whole lot of people, that their success has a sizable positive economic multiplier effect for many, etc.

    So sure if the iPhone bombs that will cost some people some money, but our economy is predicated on people taking risks. That’s true in all sectors for all companies, not just Apple. You could raise the same fears with any company introducing any new product and promoting it.

    Plus, you cannot really protect everyone from all risk, either. At some point people have to accept life for what it is and use their best judgement. This is not utopia and never will be.

    However, again, if the iPhone succeeds, then it will make a lot of people a lot of money, and not just those invested in Apple. For example, it will make AT&T shareholders and employers better off, and have other beneficial side effects. So there’s always that other positive side to consider.

    Also, I think you exaggerate what the pundits are predicting. They are not predicting the “death of the phone industry at the hands of Apple.” In fact, if you read most of the opinions, they predict growth for almost all of the vendors, only that the iPhone will have its niche. Again, you have to keep in mind that Apple itself has set its goal as only 1% of the market in 18 months.

    However, again, it seems that your criticisms have more to do with some very deep-rooted facets of human life and far more complex philosophical debates for which there really are no hard set solutions. It just seems to me that you focus you dissatisfaction more on Apple, when in reality Apple is just very tangential to your issues. Rather than rant against Apple, if you want to change things, you should start a philosophical or theological movement, for that is really what you are dealing with.

    As for me, I’m glad we have a company like Apple, which makes fun and neat products that add some zest to life.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I seriously hope that most of what you write above is a parody of sorts.

    First, you start with a sweeping indictment of nothing less than what amounts to be the whole capitalistic economy coupled with the human nature to consumer and want more. That’s a pretty big order. Unless you can find a way to restructure free market economies, or change human nature, those factors you cite are not going to change, regardless of what Apple does.
    (I won’t even get into a philosophical dissection of every issue you raise.)

    Then you again get into the eating disorder thing all over again, almost seeking to diminish it against the problem of debt. I admit that debt can be a crushing problem to many people, but it really doesn’t compare in seriousness to an eating disorder, even though less people are affected by it. But hey, it was you who brought up the eating disorder issue in the first place.

    And sure the tech sector is an important part of our economy. Sure, every company in our economy owes it to us to be honest and transparent. But dude, we’re talking marketing here, and every company hypes their product to the max, whether it be a gadget or a cola or a beer or a restaurant or a shoe or etc.

    As to your issues regarding the flow of capital…well, that’s the beauty of our economy: people have to make their own decisions. And surely there will always be winners and losers in that equation. If you want to examine the other side of the coin, you can argue that a company like Apple has made a ton of money for all sorts of shareholders, including many smaller investors, that their success enables them to employ a whole lot of people, that their success has a sizable positive economic multiplier effect for many, etc.

    So sure if the iPhone bombs that will cost some people some money, but our economy is predicated on people taking risks. That’s true in all sectors for all companies, not just Apple. You could raise the same fears with any company introducing any new product and promoting it.

    Plus, you cannot really protect everyone from all risk, either. At some point people have to accept life for what it is and use their best judgement. This is not utopia and never will be.

    However, again, if the iPhone succeeds, then it will make a lot of people a lot of money, and not just those invested in Apple. For example, it will make AT&T shareholders and employers better off, and have other beneficial side effects. So there’s always that other positive side to consider.

    Also, I think you exaggerate what the pundits are predicting. They are not predicting the “death of the phone industry at the hands of Apple.” In fact, if you read most of the opinions, they predict growth for almost all of the vendors, only that the iPhone will have its niche. Again, you have to keep in mind that Apple itself has set its goal as only 1% of the market in 18 months.

    However, again, it seems that your criticisms have more to do with some very deep-rooted facets of human life and far more complex philosophical debates for which there really are no hard set solutions. It just seems to me that you focus you dissatisfaction more on Apple, when in reality Apple is just very tangential to your issues. Rather than rant against Apple, if you want to change things, you should start a philosophical or theological movement, for that is really what you are dealing with.

    As for me, I’m glad we have a company like Apple, which makes fun and neat products that add some zest to life.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You are correct that Apple is largely tangential to my point. The same could be said of many different companies. Apple is just the current topic of discussion. However, Apple is, at the same time, particularly emblematic of the problem.

    I am in no way shape or form against capitalism, nor am I raising any weighty philosophical or theological issues. However, I do not think that corporate accountability and capitalism are by necessity at at odds. As I see it, the real issue is that tech companies today find themselves in much the same position industrial companies found themselves in at the beginning of the last century. What I don’t think you understand, is that accountability is something that applies to all aspects of a company. Just look at Apple, or if you prefer Take-Two Interactive, or any of the other companies currently under criminal investigation for improper stock options grants. In every case, you will find exactly the same pattern. It started with rather outrageous claims to the media about products, then progressed to outrageous claims about the company as a whole, and eventually lead to outrageous behavior by the executives who had decided they could get away with anything, because they had figured out how to game the system with no repercussions. I think if you look, you will find that in the vast majority of cases the companies guilty of improper options grants to executives could all be described as ‘media darlings.’

    You might think it is a purely academic and philosophical argument, but I believe in a very practical sense that the feeling of invincibility these executives get from manipulating the media, leads to very real and damaging improprieties in the board room. For example, I personally find the idea that Apple is making as much as a 70% profit on each iPod by paying their manufacturing contractors $25 an 80-hour week at least as, if not more, disturbing than the aforementioned issues with eating disorders. You may disagree, but I personally think that someone starving because they can’t afford food while producing a product that makes billions of dollars is every bit as tragic as someone starving because they have a mental illness. You may not see the connection between this issue and my criticism on the ‘darling’ status Apple has in the press, but I firmly believe that on the whole, people are only as responsible as they are made to be. When any company, whether or not it is Apple, sees that time and time again they can make any claim they want, and it will be accepted as truth regardless of whether they can back it up with any sort of evidence, it sends a clear message that they no longer have anyone checking to see how responsible they are being. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to see that if you can get away with claiming to invent something you had no part in inventing, then maybe you can get away with faking a board meeting to grant yourself some backdated options, or maybe get away with paying people unlivable wages to increase profits. The purpose of the press is supposed to be as an independent source to verify or debunk the claims of those seeking to gain coverage. As soon as the press is championing (or for that matter vilifying) a company, no matter what the reason, then that is a big problem.

    Of course you say that is the fault of the press, not the fault of the company. However, I have worked with enough PR people to know that no company ends up being a ‘darling’ of the press through their products. You win the press by playing the game and winning the press, not by putting out a product everyone loves. You can put out great products from here to eternity, and you will still get panned by the press if you don’t play the game well. By the same token, even a company that offers products or services that everyone universally hates can get positive press coverage if they play the game well, and spend their marketing dollars wisely. As far back as you care to go in the history of mass media, there have always been examples of people or companies buying popular support through the skillful manipulation of the media. The media is nowhere near as hard to fool as you make them out to be, and people, for the most part, tend to believe what the media tells them.

    So what is the point of all of this really? Well, it is actually nowhere near as philosophical and abstract as you make it out to be. It is quite simply to realize that press coverage of a company is based on a complicated interchange of a lot of factors that all pretty much boil down to money and ego, and have very little bearing on the reality of the situation. In reality, any time any of these companies gets away with even the smallest lie, half-truth, or prevarication, that tells them that it is OK to keep pushing the envelope of truth. I don’t care if we are talking about exaggerating the specs of a device, or claiming innovation where there is none, or overstating sales. Every time any of these companies gets away with perpetrating a falsehood on the consumer, it just jives them the go-ahead to try it again. Eventually down that road, you end up with companies that think they are completely free to act with no concern for any sort of repercussions, and that is always bad for both the economy, and the consumer. In the specific case of Apple, I think it would be pretty hard to deny this as they face a couple of lawsuits from their shareholders, anti-trust investigations in Korea, America, Japan, and the EU, and a criminal investigation of the CEO in the US.

    It is true that all of this could blow over, and not matter, but it also could be a disaster for the company and the shareholders. Just as one example (I’m not saying this is going to happen, but it is possible) if Steve Jobs were to be punished like the CEO of Take-Two just was for improper options backdating, he would have to step down as a public officer of Apple which most financial analysts say would knock $20 billion right of the top of Apples Market Cap. That is a pretty serious blow to any company, and not just a “well everything has risks” sort of situation. And all of it, I believe, comes down to the fact that the individual consumer like you and me, never sent a message to the company that they had any responsibility for what they said or did. In fact, like you, the attitude is that as long as they make “fun and neat products” then they can feel free to say or do whatever they want, with no fear of repercussion.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You are correct that Apple is largely tangential to my point. The same could be said of many different companies. Apple is just the current topic of discussion. However, Apple is, at the same time, particularly emblematic of the problem.

    I am in no way shape or form against capitalism, nor am I raising any weighty philosophical or theological issues. However, I do not think that corporate accountability and capitalism are by necessity at at odds. As I see it, the real issue is that tech companies today find themselves in much the same position industrial companies found themselves in at the beginning of the last century. What I don’t think you understand, is that accountability is something that applies to all aspects of a company. Just look at Apple, or if you prefer Take-Two Interactive, or any of the other companies currently under criminal investigation for improper stock options grants. In every case, you will find exactly the same pattern. It started with rather outrageous claims to the media about products, then progressed to outrageous claims about the company as a whole, and eventually lead to outrageous behavior by the executives who had decided they could get away with anything, because they had figured out how to game the system with no repercussions. I think if you look, you will find that in the vast majority of cases the companies guilty of improper options grants to executives could all be described as ‘media darlings.’

    You might think it is a purely academic and philosophical argument, but I believe in a very practical sense that the feeling of invincibility these executives get from manipulating the media, leads to very real and damaging improprieties in the board room. For example, I personally find the idea that Apple is making as much as a 70% profit on each iPod by paying their manufacturing contractors $25 an 80-hour week at least as, if not more, disturbing than the aforementioned issues with eating disorders. You may disagree, but I personally think that someone starving because they can’t afford food while producing a product that makes billions of dollars is every bit as tragic as someone starving because they have a mental illness. You may not see the connection between this issue and my criticism on the ‘darling’ status Apple has in the press, but I firmly believe that on the whole, people are only as responsible as they are made to be. When any company, whether or not it is Apple, sees that time and time again they can make any claim they want, and it will be accepted as truth regardless of whether they can back it up with any sort of evidence, it sends a clear message that they no longer have anyone checking to see how responsible they are being. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to see that if you can get away with claiming to invent something you had no part in inventing, then maybe you can get away with faking a board meeting to grant yourself some backdated options, or maybe get away with paying people unlivable wages to increase profits. The purpose of the press is supposed to be as an independent source to verify or debunk the claims of those seeking to gain coverage. As soon as the press is championing (or for that matter vilifying) a company, no matter what the reason, then that is a big problem.

    Of course you say that is the fault of the press, not the fault of the company. However, I have worked with enough PR people to know that no company ends up being a ‘darling’ of the press through their products. You win the press by playing the game and winning the press, not by putting out a product everyone loves. You can put out great products from here to eternity, and you will still get panned by the press if you don’t play the game well. By the same token, even a company that offers products or services that everyone universally hates can get positive press coverage if they play the game well, and spend their marketing dollars wisely. As far back as you care to go in the history of mass media, there have always been examples of people or companies buying popular support through the skillful manipulation of the media. The media is nowhere near as hard to fool as you make them out to be, and people, for the most part, tend to believe what the media tells them.

    So what is the point of all of this really? Well, it is actually nowhere near as philosophical and abstract as you make it out to be. It is quite simply to realize that press coverage of a company is based on a complicated interchange of a lot of factors that all pretty much boil down to money and ego, and have very little bearing on the reality of the situation. In reality, any time any of these companies gets away with even the smallest lie, half-truth, or prevarication, that tells them that it is OK to keep pushing the envelope of truth. I don’t care if we are talking about exaggerating the specs of a device, or claiming innovation where there is none, or overstating sales. Every time any of these companies gets away with perpetrating a falsehood on the consumer, it just jives them the go-ahead to try it again. Eventually down that road, you end up with companies that think they are completely free to act with no concern for any sort of repercussions, and that is always bad for both the economy, and the consumer. In the specific case of Apple, I think it would be pretty hard to deny this as they face a couple of lawsuits from their shareholders, anti-trust investigations in Korea, America, Japan, and the EU, and a criminal investigation of the CEO in the US.

    It is true that all of this could blow over, and not matter, but it also could be a disaster for the company and the shareholders. Just as one example (I’m not saying this is going to happen, but it is possible) if Steve Jobs were to be punished like the CEO of Take-Two just was for improper options backdating, he would have to step down as a public officer of Apple which most financial analysts say would knock $20 billion right of the top of Apples Market Cap. That is a pretty serious blow to any company, and not just a “well everything has risks” sort of situation. And all of it, I believe, comes down to the fact that the individual consumer like you and me, never sent a message to the company that they had any responsibility for what they said or did. In fact, like you, the attitude is that as long as they make “fun and neat products” then they can feel free to say or do whatever they want, with no fear of repercussion.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: again, I believe you take things way too far with all of your criticisms.

    First, with the options stuff: that problem was emblematic of the late 90′s market boom, and all tech companies in particular. Almost all tech companies are having to restate results due to this options mess. That doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t limit it to Apple. And right now, most analysts don’t believe it’s going to impact Apple in any long term substantive way.

    As to the pay of foreign labor: again, not at all limited to Apple, and again, a little more complex than you make it out to be.

    But all of those issues have to do with money and economics, and yes, even greed, but nothing to do with the fact that a companies products receive favorable press attention and great marketing. These issues would exist otherwise.

    But that’s another argument for another day. First, I don’t buy into your theme that Apple
    is somehow immune to press criticism; there are plenty of critical analyses of Apple that have been done on a variety of issues. I really think you have an exaggerated sense of the position Apple enjoys. If Apple had this magical field of invulnerability around it, it would indeed be a far larger and more influential company than it is.

    The bottom line is this: Apple receives favorable press attention for its products (not necessarily its practices, etc) because, when you get down to it, many of them are designed very well. Period. And sure, Apple may do a better job than some courting the press, but the media could never get away hyping a product that was a loser. I am sure other companies know how to play the game as well as Apple, but just don’t put out the same level of product.

    As to the individual consumer “sending a message”…well that is the right of every individual consumer every single day every single moment. Nothing Apple or the media has done mitigates that. In fact, if Apple feels empowered, it’s only because consumers in general love their products. Consider the iPhone: after its announcement people I know at work, etc., who normally wouldn’t pay attention to new releases of cell phones or gadgets, were talking about it. I can’t think of when a new cell phone generated as much buzz among the general public. It only did so, not because of some grand and evil conspiracy involving Jobs and the press, but because it’s the type of product that when people see it, they say “wow.” Of course, credit goes to Jobs for having great presentation skills as well. Nothing sinister, nothing immoral, just a product well designed, at least in the demonstration phase. We’ll see if the product can deliver on its promises, but for now they’ve given the people what the people clearly respond to. That’s a rare talent.

    So I just don’t see Apple as being this huge threat to Western Civilization.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: again, I believe you take things way too far with all of your criticisms.

    First, with the options stuff: that problem was emblematic of the late 90′s market boom, and all tech companies in particular. Almost all tech companies are having to restate results due to this options mess. That doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t limit it to Apple. And right now, most analysts don’t believe it’s going to impact Apple in any long term substantive way.

    As to the pay of foreign labor: again, not at all limited to Apple, and again, a little more complex than you make it out to be.

    But all of those issues have to do with money and economics, and yes, even greed, but nothing to do with the fact that a companies products receive favorable press attention and great marketing. These issues would exist otherwise.

    But that’s another argument for another day. First, I don’t buy into your theme that Apple
    is somehow immune to press criticism; there are plenty of critical analyses of Apple that have been done on a variety of issues. I really think you have an exaggerated sense of the position Apple enjoys. If Apple had this magical field of invulnerability around it, it would indeed be a far larger and more influential company than it is.

    The bottom line is this: Apple receives favorable press attention for its products (not necessarily its practices, etc) because, when you get down to it, many of them are designed very well. Period. And sure, Apple may do a better job than some courting the press, but the media could never get away hyping a product that was a loser. I am sure other companies know how to play the game as well as Apple, but just don’t put out the same level of product.

    As to the individual consumer “sending a message”…well that is the right of every individual consumer every single day every single moment. Nothing Apple or the media has done mitigates that. In fact, if Apple feels empowered, it’s only because consumers in general love their products. Consider the iPhone: after its announcement people I know at work, etc., who normally wouldn’t pay attention to new releases of cell phones or gadgets, were talking about it. I can’t think of when a new cell phone generated as much buzz among the general public. It only did so, not because of some grand and evil conspiracy involving Jobs and the press, but because it’s the type of product that when people see it, they say “wow.” Of course, credit goes to Jobs for having great presentation skills as well. Nothing sinister, nothing immoral, just a product well designed, at least in the demonstration phase. We’ll see if the product can deliver on its promises, but for now they’ve given the people what the people clearly respond to. That’s a rare talent.

    So I just don’t see Apple as being this huge threat to Western Civilization.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thought, I never said they were a “huge threat to western civilization,” and I never said these issues were limited to Apple. In fact the heinous phrase I initially used that caused you to rush to Apple’s defense was that they “annoyed me.” Yes, it touches on bigger issues in society and culture (as any topic worthy of discussion should), but all I ever said was they annoyed me. You say I need to lighten up, and that is always true, since I tend to be a rather serious person, but you might think about lightening up a little yourself if you feel the need to personally defend your beloved Apple for every proclamation of annoyance you come across.

    I also never said Apple had any sort of “magic field” or that their was any “grand and evil conspiracy” involving the press. In fact, it is the furthest thing from magic or a conspiracy. Magic is about the unexplainable, and conspiracies are about subsuming your personal interest for some larger purpose. Apple’s trick is just to play on individual ego by telling people in the publishing and media industry “you are special, so you need special products just for your special needs.” This is the very essence of a lifestyle brand. Everyone likes to be special, and so they are more than happy to overlook the fact that Apple is making the same product everyone else is, but just calling it special. No one is going to go out of their way to say “there is nothing special about my job, and I could do it on the same exact computer the secretary uses to write memos.” It feels good to be special, and it garners you a warm place in people’s hearts if you suck up to them regardless of the quality of your product. This isn’t sinister or evil, and I’m not saying it is, but it does garner you a special place in the media’s attention. Hell, most of the people I know in publishing, design, TV and film will tell you in no uncertain terms that they “owe their career” to Apple and Adobe, because they never would have gotten their first job if it wasn’t for a Mac and Adobe software. Are you seriously going to tell me that someone isn’t going to give preferential treatment to a company they think the owe their career to?

    Oh, and as a side note, please don’t tell me you believe that “the media could never get away hyping a product that was a loser.” Have you seen or heard the films and songs coming out of Hollywood for the past decade? Seriously, the media can easily get away with hyping a loser any time they want, or Paris Hilton wouldn’t have a career! For that matter, if you just look at Apple’s computer division, it is hard to come up with a more accurate definition of a ‘loser’ than their continued poor market performance for the past decade, yet that doesn’t seem to stop 90% of the reviews from proclaiming it the better product. I have said this before, and I will say it again, at some point you have to chose between the wisdom of the average consumer, or Apple’s computers. If you argue that Apple’s entertainment products are clearly superior to their competitors as evidenced by market share, then it only logically follows that their computer products are clearly inferior to their competitors as evidenced by market share. It cuts both ways. If you argue that Microsoft has an unfair advantage in the computer industry due to market leadership and vendor lock in, which makes their inferior product appear to be much better than it actually is, then you logically also have to allow the possibility that Apple has an unfair advantage in the portable audio industry due to market leadership and vendor lock in, that makes their inferior product appear to be much better than it actually is. Once again, it cuts both ways. To champion the wisdom of the consumer when it suits your argument, but ignore it when you don’t agree with it is hypocritical. Me, I think most people are sheep who follow peer pressure, so that whatever is the most popular tends to stay the most popular. That is why I don’t really care what most people think, and for my own opinion on the subject based on my own experience.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Thought, I never said they were a “huge threat to western civilization,” and I never said these issues were limited to Apple. In fact the heinous phrase I initially used that caused you to rush to Apple’s defense was that they “annoyed me.” Yes, it touches on bigger issues in society and culture (as any topic worthy of discussion should), but all I ever said was they annoyed me. You say I need to lighten up, and that is always true, since I tend to be a rather serious person, but you might think about lightening up a little yourself if you feel the need to personally defend your beloved Apple for every proclamation of annoyance you come across.

    I also never said Apple had any sort of “magic field” or that their was any “grand and evil conspiracy” involving the press. In fact, it is the furthest thing from magic or a conspiracy. Magic is about the unexplainable, and conspiracies are about subsuming your personal interest for some larger purpose. Apple’s trick is just to play on individual ego by telling people in the publishing and media industry “you are special, so you need special products just for your special needs.” This is the very essence of a lifestyle brand. Everyone likes to be special, and so they are more than happy to overlook the fact that Apple is making the same product everyone else is, but just calling it special. No one is going to go out of their way to say “there is nothing special about my job, and I could do it on the same exact computer the secretary uses to write memos.” It feels good to be special, and it garners you a warm place in people’s hearts if you suck up to them regardless of the quality of your product. This isn’t sinister or evil, and I’m not saying it is, but it does garner you a special place in the media’s attention. Hell, most of the people I know in publishing, design, TV and film will tell you in no uncertain terms that they “owe their career” to Apple and Adobe, because they never would have gotten their first job if it wasn’t for a Mac and Adobe software. Are you seriously going to tell me that someone isn’t going to give preferential treatment to a company they think the owe their career to?

    Oh, and as a side note, please don’t tell me you believe that “the media could never get away hyping a product that was a loser.” Have you seen or heard the films and songs coming out of Hollywood for the past decade? Seriously, the media can easily get away with hyping a loser any time they want, or Paris Hilton wouldn’t have a career! For that matter, if you just look at Apple’s computer division, it is hard to come up with a more accurate definition of a ‘loser’ than their continued poor market performance for the past decade, yet that doesn’t seem to stop 90% of the reviews from proclaiming it the better product. I have said this before, and I will say it again, at some point you have to chose between the wisdom of the average consumer, or Apple’s computers. If you argue that Apple’s entertainment products are clearly superior to their competitors as evidenced by market share, then it only logically follows that their computer products are clearly inferior to their competitors as evidenced by market share. It cuts both ways. If you argue that Microsoft has an unfair advantage in the computer industry due to market leadership and vendor lock in, which makes their inferior product appear to be much better than it actually is, then you logically also have to allow the possibility that Apple has an unfair advantage in the portable audio industry due to market leadership and vendor lock in, that makes their inferior product appear to be much better than it actually is. Once again, it cuts both ways. To champion the wisdom of the consumer when it suits your argument, but ignore it when you don’t agree with it is hypocritical. Me, I think most people are sheep who follow peer pressure, so that whatever is the most popular tends to stay the most popular. That is why I don’t really care what most people think, and for my own opinion on the subject based on my own experience.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: you indeed did raise the stakes in your criticism of Apple far beyond mere “annoyance” when you compared your “annoyance” with Apple to being “upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders.” I’m sorry, but any way you look at it that’s pretty harsh and serious criticism.

    Then you repeatedly launched into rants against consumerism, consumption, the propaganda of the “big lie”, media bias, debt overload, and such. That, again, is rather overreaching and indicates a degree of seriousness beyond a mere “annoyance,” at least in the sense that most people use the word “annoyance.”

    As to the media, again, I think you way overestimate how Apple is somehow able to manipulate these people. And sure, if folks in the media praise Apple and Adobe, maybe it’s because they deliver really great products that serve their purposes. In that case, their admiration for the brand is entirely understandable.

    As to your point about movies and songs, I will only state that it appears to me that the media hasn’t been so successful at turning a losing product into a winner. Bad movies and bad songs, even when hyped, tend to still fail.
    And sure, there are plenty of movies and songs and the like that make it big, when I don’t particularly like that product, but that doesn’t mean the public has been fooled by the media, only that perhaps, shockingly enough, other people’s tastes are different from mine. I mean, who am I to judge when an artistic product I don’t like becomes a big hit? There are all types of tastes out there.

    As to Paris Hilton, she is a big celebrity, not because of the media, but because, let’s face it, many people like to follow such a sensational figure and their exploits. Many people have a taste for a kind of lowbrow type of gossip. In this instance, the media coverage only mirrors what many in the public want, and does not determine it. Again, the media in essence simply puts out a product; if people consume it, it’s because it corresponds to what people want and like. The media just cannot exercise such wholesale control over people and their tastes. If they could, they would make far more money than they do.

    You often sound like a politician who blames the media for their poor press coverage and public image, when in reality it is their poor performance that is the real problem.

    As to the whole market share issue: I can indeed have it both ways. Why not? Because you say so? Life is a little more complex than having every situation be equal to another; one has to consider the context.
    If I am making an analysis of a market, what holds true in one instance may not hold true in another instance. The dynamics of a commodity market, for instance, are not the same as the dynamics of a market for luxury goods. Price elasticity, for another instance, is not the same in a monopolistic market as in a competitive one.

    So, yes, I can assert that in the music player industry, the best product, the iPod, does in fact dominate. But in the PC market, the market leader is not the best product. That’s not a difficult concept to fathom. I can analyze any number of markets, and come to very different conclusions regarding each one. A totally linear way of thinking does not always work.

    The bottom line, though, is that you really don’t like Apple, and I do. I find them to be a company that puts out fun products, you find in them a host of objections relating to the problems you find in society at large. As always when it comes to Apple, we’ll just have to agree to disagree!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: you indeed did raise the stakes in your criticism of Apple far beyond mere “annoyance” when you compared your “annoyance” with Apple to being “upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders.” I’m sorry, but any way you look at it that’s pretty harsh and serious criticism.

    Then you repeatedly launched into rants against consumerism, consumption, the propaganda of the “big lie”, media bias, debt overload, and such. That, again, is rather overreaching and indicates a degree of seriousness beyond a mere “annoyance,” at least in the sense that most people use the word “annoyance.”

    As to the media, again, I think you way overestimate how Apple is somehow able to manipulate these people. And sure, if folks in the media praise Apple and Adobe, maybe it’s because they deliver really great products that serve their purposes. In that case, their admiration for the brand is entirely understandable.

    As to your point about movies and songs, I will only state that it appears to me that the media hasn’t been so successful at turning a losing product into a winner. Bad movies and bad songs, even when hyped, tend to still fail.
    And sure, there are plenty of movies and songs and the like that make it big, when I don’t particularly like that product, but that doesn’t mean the public has been fooled by the media, only that perhaps, shockingly enough, other people’s tastes are different from mine. I mean, who am I to judge when an artistic product I don’t like becomes a big hit? There are all types of tastes out there.

    As to Paris Hilton, she is a big celebrity, not because of the media, but because, let’s face it, many people like to follow such a sensational figure and their exploits. Many people have a taste for a kind of lowbrow type of gossip. In this instance, the media coverage only mirrors what many in the public want, and does not determine it. Again, the media in essence simply puts out a product; if people consume it, it’s because it corresponds to what people want and like. The media just cannot exercise such wholesale control over people and their tastes. If they could, they would make far more money than they do.

    You often sound like a politician who blames the media for their poor press coverage and public image, when in reality it is their poor performance that is the real problem.

    As to the whole market share issue: I can indeed have it both ways. Why not? Because you say so? Life is a little more complex than having every situation be equal to another; one has to consider the context.
    If I am making an analysis of a market, what holds true in one instance may not hold true in another instance. The dynamics of a commodity market, for instance, are not the same as the dynamics of a market for luxury goods. Price elasticity, for another instance, is not the same in a monopolistic market as in a competitive one.

    So, yes, I can assert that in the music player industry, the best product, the iPod, does in fact dominate. But in the PC market, the market leader is not the best product. That’s not a difficult concept to fathom. I can analyze any number of markets, and come to very different conclusions regarding each one. A totally linear way of thinking does not always work.

    The bottom line, though, is that you really don’t like Apple, and I do. I find them to be a company that puts out fun products, you find in them a host of objections relating to the problems you find in society at large. As always when it comes to Apple, we’ll just have to agree to disagree!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: you indeed did raise the stakes in your criticism of Apple far beyond mere “annoyance” when you compared your “annoyance” with Apple to being “upset with fashion designers for reinforcing negative body issues in women that lead to eating disorders.” I’m sorry, but any way you look at it that’s pretty harsh and serious criticism.

    Then you repeatedly launched into rants against consumerism, consumption, the propaganda of the “big lie”, media bias, debt overload, and such. That, again, is rather overreaching and indicates a degree of seriousness beyond a mere “annoyance,” at least in the sense that most people use the word “annoyance.”

    As to the media, again, I think you way overestimate how Apple is somehow able to manipulate these people. And sure, if folks in the media praise Apple and Adobe, maybe it’s because they deliver really great products that serve their purposes. In that case, their admiration for the brand is entirely understandable.

    As to your point about movies and songs, I will only state that it appears to me that the media hasn’t been so successful at turning a losing product into a winner. Bad movies and bad songs, even when hyped, tend to still fail.
    And sure, there are plenty of movies and songs and the like that make it big, when I don’t particularly like that product, but that doesn’t mean the public has been fooled by the media, only that perhaps, shockingly enough, other people’s tastes are different from mine. I mean, who am I to judge when an artistic product I don’t like becomes a big hit? There are all types of tastes out there.

    As to Paris Hilton, she is a big celebrity, not because of the media, but because, let’s face it, many people like to follow such a sensational figure and their exploits. Many people have a taste for a kind of lowbrow type of gossip. In this instance, the media coverage only mirrors what many in the public want, and does not determine it. Again, the media in essence simply puts out a product; if people consume it, it’s because it corresponds to what people want and like. The media just cannot exercise such wholesale control over people and their tastes. If they could, they would make far more money than they do.

    You often sound like a politician who blames the media for their poor press coverage and public image, when in reality it is their poor performance that is the real problem.

    As to the whole market share issue: I can indeed have it both ways. Why not? Because you say so? Life is a little more complex than having every situation be equal to another; one has to consider the context.
    If I am making an analysis of a market, what holds true in one instance may not hold true in another instance. The dynamics of a commodity market, for instance, are not the same as the dynamics of a market for luxury goods. Price elasticity, for another instance, is not the same in a monopolistic market as in a competitive one.

    So, yes, I can assert that in the music player industry, the best product, the iPod, does in fact dominate. But in the PC market, the market leader is not the best product. That’s not a difficult concept to fathom. I can analyze any number of markets, and come to very different conclusions regarding each one. A totally linear way of thinking does not always work.

    The bottom line, though, is that you really don’t like Apple, and I do. I find them to be a company that puts out fun products, you find in them a host of objections relating to the problems you find in society at large. As always when it comes to Apple, we’ll just have to agree to disagree!

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ok, you are just plain oddly hung up on the fashion issue! You do realize that people get mugged and killed for their iPods, people get shot for their Playstation 3s, people die after marathon sessions of World of Warcraft, and in fact die of all manner of odd things. In the grand scheme of things, the fashion industry body image issue is a pretty trivial, and silly, issue, even if it does result in some regrettable consequences. I would bet that more people dies every years as a result of faulty wiring powering some ‘luxury’ doodad than die from an eating disorder brought on by fashion industry related trauma. However, you seem to act as though teenage body issues are right up there with dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, AIDS, world hunger and all the greatest problems of the modern age.

    Sorry, but I class it right up there with people who blame rock lyrics for kids who go crazy, people who blame pornography and sexually explicit advertising for a decay of morals, and any number of other issues that relate to the effect media has on our society. They are all the same issue, even though I seem to have picked one that you, for whatever reason, think is as serious as Cambodian killing fields. The issue is that in a rush to make money, large companies irresponsibly play on our basest insecurities to manipulate us into believing something that is advantageous to their bottom line.

    Now yes, you have made it very clear that you don’t think advertising has any effect, you don’t think the media has any effect, and you think every person on earth is a perfectly rational island unto themselves who is never convinced of anything by anyone else (unless you tell them they are fat, at which point you would have been kinder to just kill them apparently). But you know what, you are just plain wrong in that particular belief. Companies don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on advertising and marketing because they want to just throw money away! In fact, there has been a great deal of scientific study on the effectiveness of advertising and marketing for more than 50 years now, and guess what? No matter what you choose to believe about the wisdom of the American public, you are just plain, and inarguably wrong. Advertising and marketing not only work, they work shockingly well. For that matter, there are entire, very profitable, companies that do absolutely nothing but psychological testing on subjects to tell your ad firm exactly how to make your advertisements more effective on an emotional and psychological level, to circumvent any sort of rational evaluation of the content.

    You can go on believing all you want that the proud American consumer is far too smart to be fooled into buying anything they don’t want, but you are living in a fantasy world, while the people who are busy fooling everyone are living in really nice condos on the Upper East Side of New York, or really nice beach houses in Malibu. I mean, you have a lot to say about how beautifully efficient our corporate system is. Do you really think that big companies would pay rather large chunks of money to people like me if we couldn’t do what we say we can? I certainly have been paid in the past specifically to figure out how to get people to want a crap product that no one had any use for, and I have a lot of friends who make a lot more than I ever have doing the same thing. Is that just a blind spot in these amazingly efficient markets? I mean, advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, as is marketing and PR, yet you claim it is all for naught, because people are just too smart to fall for it. So, does that make all the companies too stupid to realize their expensive advertising isn’t working?

    As far as that goes, I would be interested to know, while you ironically proclaim that people are not the least bit swayed by marketing and advertising, exactly how many Photoshop competitors you actually have used? You say that it is perfectly understandable that people praise Adobe (taking the focus off of Apple for a moment) because their products are just that good, so I would really like to know how informed that decision is? I would really like to hear in what ways you think Photoshop is superior to Deep Paint, or Amazon Paint, or even Painter? Or if Photoshop isn’t your thing, how about Illustrator? Where, exactly, do you think Illustrator excels so much beyond Freehand, or Quark, or Corel Draw, or Xara, or even the old AT&T Rio? No, maybe compositing? Why do you think After Effects is better than Combustion, or Digital Fusion, or Nuke? I ask this, because while you maintain that people always make such informed and wise decisions, I suspect that you say that Adobe programs are so good, because that is what you heard, and are probably the only solutions you have any experience with, just like most of the people who sing the praises of Adobe products. Your comments are actually a little funny to me, because they are completely circular. You are basically saying that it is proof that people only like the best products, as evidenced by the fact that the products people like are the ones they say are the best.

    Oh, and if you want to try and throw around a bunch of economic buzzwords to rationalize your way around logic, then you should at least have the intellectual honesty to use the words properly. If you understand all that talk about “the dynamics of a commodity,” “price elasticity,” and a “monopolistic market,” then you also understand perfectly well that a monopoly is “a commodity controlled by one party with no competition” which does not describe either Apple or Microsoft in any market, because they both have competitors. If you understand what you said, then you know full well that you are taking advantage of the fact that Microsoft was found guilty of specific anti-competitive practices, in order to pretend that there is some special circumstance by which Microsoft is the one company on Earth that exists outside your thesis that market success is proof of product superiority. Yes, Microsoft is a market leader in the desktop and office application market, which lets them exert a certain amount of power no other company can, but the same is true of Apple in the audio player and digital music distribution markets. Yes, Microsoft was investigated for anticompetitive practices, and found guilty of violations of anti-trust law, but then as we speak, there is a federal court case against Apple for anti-competitive practices, and well as an investigation into allegations for anti-competitive practices in Japan, and the EU, and South Korea, and I believe Singapore as well. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. And no, that isn’t because I say so, that is how logic works. If you state a thesis, then all your conclusions have to be supported by that thesis, or it is invalid. That isn’t my rule, it is just how it works.

    Oh, and by the way, if you think the fact that I tie something trivial, like Apple’s press coverage, into weighty issues like those above denote something more than annoyance, then you really don’t know me very well. I can, and often do, give fairly serious dissertations about the state of society from hearing the lyrics of some song I ran across once at the gym. It is just how I am. I went on a tirade for a couple days once because of 15 minutes of some cartoon I saw once about some teenage superhero girls who lived in a shopping mall! I don’t even remember the name of the show anymore, but it said a lot about what motivates the youth of today. It doesn’t mean I thought the show itself was even worth remembering, but it still touched on a lot of really important issues of the day, quite unintentionally I’m sure. That is exactly what I find so fascinating about all art, including mass and corporate media; it tells you far more about the person and culture that created it, than it ever does about the actual subject of the art. I’m also sure this will be followed by some lame “you have too much time” or “get a hobby” comment, as conversations like this almost always do, but thinking is my hobby, and my career. It is really quite a bit more fun than sitting around trying to figure out which cool new stylish doodad I want to spend my money on.

    What I find so specifically vexing about Apple, is that their corporate media is so blatantly and obviously manipulative, that anyone can see it, except their target audience. Just look around the web for any amount of time, and you can’t help but notice that even though we all see the same ads, try out the same products, and read the same reviews, anyone who hasn’t bought into the Apple lifestyle brand consistently describes the company as arrogant, pretentious, and completely based on style over any sort of substance, yet anyone who has bought into the brand talks about them with an almost religious fervor, and thinks that anyone who can’t see their innate superiority must be borderline retarded. It is almost a case study in wedge politics in a corporate setting. It is like if Karl Rove ran an ad firm! I mean, look at you. You seem like a smart enough fellow, and you don’t seem completely insane, yet no matter how many times you say that we will have to agree to disagree, you still have to jump to Apple’s defense every single time I say anything negative about them.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ok, you are just plain oddly hung up on the fashion issue! You do realize that people get mugged and killed for their iPods, people get shot for their Playstation 3s, people die after marathon sessions of World of Warcraft, and in fact die of all manner of odd things. In the grand scheme of things, the fashion industry body image issue is a pretty trivial, and silly, issue, even if it does result in some regrettable consequences. I would bet that more people dies every years as a result of faulty wiring powering some ‘luxury’ doodad than die from an eating disorder brought on by fashion industry related trauma. However, you seem to act as though teenage body issues are right up there with dropping the bomb on Hiroshima, AIDS, world hunger and all the greatest problems of the modern age.

    Sorry, but I class it right up there with people who blame rock lyrics for kids who go crazy, people who blame pornography and sexually explicit advertising for a decay of morals, and any number of other issues that relate to the effect media has on our society. They are all the same issue, even though I seem to have picked one that you, for whatever reason, think is as serious as Cambodian killing fields. The issue is that in a rush to make money, large companies irresponsibly play on our basest insecurities to manipulate us into believing something that is advantageous to their bottom line.

    Now yes, you have made it very clear that you don’t think advertising has any effect, you don’t think the media has any effect, and you think every person on earth is a perfectly rational island unto themselves who is never convinced of anything by anyone else (unless you tell them they are fat, at which point you would have been kinder to just kill them apparently). But you know what, you are just plain wrong in that particular belief. Companies don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on advertising and marketing because they want to just throw money away! In fact, there has been a great deal of scientific study on the effectiveness of advertising and marketing for more than 50 years now, and guess what? No matter what you choose to believe about the wisdom of the American public, you are just plain, and inarguably wrong. Advertising and marketing not only work, they work shockingly well. For that matter, there are entire, very profitable, companies that do absolutely nothing but psychological testing on subjects to tell your ad firm exactly how to make your advertisements more effective on an emotional and psychological level, to circumvent any sort of rational evaluation of the content.

    You can go on believing all you want that the proud American consumer is far too smart to be fooled into buying anything they don’t want, but you are living in a fantasy world, while the people who are busy fooling everyone are living in really nice condos on the Upper East Side of New York, or really nice beach houses in Malibu. I mean, you have a lot to say about how beautifully efficient our corporate system is. Do you really think that big companies would pay rather large chunks of money to people like me if we couldn’t do what we say we can? I certainly have been paid in the past specifically to figure out how to get people to want a crap product that no one had any use for, and I have a lot of friends who make a lot more than I ever have doing the same thing. Is that just a blind spot in these amazingly efficient markets? I mean, advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry, as is marketing and PR, yet you claim it is all for naught, because people are just too smart to fall for it. So, does that make all the companies too stupid to realize their expensive advertising isn’t working?

    As far as that goes, I would be interested to know, while you ironically proclaim that people are not the least bit swayed by marketing and advertising, exactly how many Photoshop competitors you actually have used? You say that it is perfectly understandable that people praise Adobe (taking the focus off of Apple for a moment) because their products are just that good, so I would really like to know how informed that decision is? I would really like to hear in what ways you think Photoshop is superior to Deep Paint, or Amazon Paint, or even Painter? Or if Photoshop isn’t your thing, how about Illustrator? Where, exactly, do you think Illustrator excels so much beyond Freehand, or Quark, or Corel Draw, or Xara, or even the old AT&T Rio? No, maybe compositing? Why do you think After Effects is better than Combustion, or Digital Fusion, or Nuke? I ask this, because while you maintain that people always make such informed and wise decisions, I suspect that you say that Adobe programs are so good, because that is what you heard, and are probably the only solutions you have any experience with, just like most of the people who sing the praises of Adobe products. Your comments are actually a little funny to me, because they are completely circular. You are basically saying that it is proof that people only like the best products, as evidenced by the fact that the products people like are the ones they say are the best.

    Oh, and if you want to try and throw around a bunch of economic buzzwords to rationalize your way around logic, then you should at least have the intellectual honesty to use the words properly. If you understand all that talk about “the dynamics of a commodity,” “price elasticity,” and a “monopolistic market,” then you also understand perfectly well that a monopoly is “a commodity controlled by one party with no competition” which does not describe either Apple or Microsoft in any market, because they both have competitors. If you understand what you said, then you know full well that you are taking advantage of the fact that Microsoft was found guilty of specific anti-competitive practices, in order to pretend that there is some special circumstance by which Microsoft is the one company on Earth that exists outside your thesis that market success is proof of product superiority. Yes, Microsoft is a market leader in the desktop and office application market, which lets them exert a certain amount of power no other company can, but the same is true of Apple in the audio player and digital music distribution markets. Yes, Microsoft was investigated for anticompetitive practices, and found guilty of violations of anti-trust law, but then as we speak, there is a federal court case against Apple for anti-competitive practices, and well as an investigation into allegations for anti-competitive practices in Japan, and the EU, and South Korea, and I believe Singapore as well. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. And no, that isn’t because I say so, that is how logic works. If you state a thesis, then all your conclusions have to be supported by that thesis, or it is invalid. That isn’t my rule, it is just how it works.

    Oh, and by the way, if you think the fact that I tie something trivial, like Apple’s press coverage, into weighty issues like those above denote something more than annoyance, then you really don’t know me very well. I can, and often do, give fairly serious dissertations about the state of society from hearing the lyrics of some song I ran across once at the gym. It is just how I am. I went on a tirade for a couple days once because of 15 minutes of some cartoon I saw once about some teenage superhero girls who lived in a shopping mall! I don’t even remember the name of the show anymore, but it said a lot about what motivates the youth of today. It doesn’t mean I thought the show itself was even worth remembering, but it still touched on a lot of really important issues of the day, quite unintentionally I’m sure. That is exactly what I find so fascinating about all art, including mass and corporate media; it tells you far more about the person and culture that created it, than it ever does about the actual subject of the art. I’m also sure this will be followed by some lame “you have too much time” or “get a hobby” comment, as conversations like this almost always do, but thinking is my hobby, and my career. It is really quite a bit more fun than sitting around trying to figure out which cool new stylish doodad I want to spend my money on.

    What I find so specifically vexing about Apple, is that their corporate media is so blatantly and obviously manipulative, that anyone can see it, except their target audience. Just look around the web for any amount of time, and you can’t help but notice that even though we all see the same ads, try out the same products, and read the same reviews, anyone who hasn’t bought into the Apple lifestyle brand consistently describes the company as arrogant, pretentious, and completely based on style over any sort of substance, yet anyone who has bought into the brand talks about them with an almost religious fervor, and thinks that anyone who can’t see their innate superiority must be borderline retarded. It is almost a case study in wedge politics in a corporate setting. It is like if Karl Rove ran an ad firm! I mean, look at you. You seem like a smart enough fellow, and you don’t seem completely insane, yet no matter how many times you say that we will have to agree to disagree, you still have to jump to Apple’s defense every single time I say anything negative about them.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: There are so many points you raise, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just have to hit the highlights.

    Yes, I assume when you bring up the issue of fashion advertising and the impact on female self esteem, eating disorders, etc…that you are speaking of something rather serious. In fact, when you draw an analogy with any company’s advertising, then I do assume that you are elevating your criticism to a new level of severity. I think most people would take away that impression, but as you say, I don’t know you well enough and so that is just your style. The same goes with all of your other points regarding what most would consider to be pretty serious issues, like greed, overconsumption, debt, poor working conditions in 3rd World nations, etc.

    As for advertising, marketing, and the media, again, you exaggerate my position. My position is not that these have no effect, but that they don’t have as much impact as you seem to believe. This is esp true with regards to your assertions regarding positive press coverage of Apple and your assumptions for how they shape public opinion. Obviously, the positive press has influence, but you make it seem as if Apple puts out lousy products and that only the positive press coupled with agressive media is responsible for their success. I disagree; I believe that Apple puts out innovative and fun products, and that the positive press more reflects this than creates this impression. Again, obviously, the positive press reinforces the impression, but is not the main driver, as you seem to believe. I believe the main driver is simply Apple putting out good products.

    As for my use of “economic buzzwords,” those terms and examples were used, not to apply to Microsoft or Apple or their markets, but simply as very generalistic examples. The point was that markets are sufficiently complex and varied that the analysis of one does not equal the analysis of another. One cannot take an assumption that is valid in one market and necessarily extrapolate that to another, as you did. That was all. I never stated that those terms were meant to apply to Microsoft, Apple, or their respective markets. However, rereading what I originally wrote, perhaps I did not make that clear enough to you. In fact, funny enough, now that I think about it, some of those terms may have some application to this particular example. Microsoft, for instance, does enjoy a near monopoly position in the desktop space, and computers are a market that is somewhat commoditized. But that’s a whole other discussion, but thanks for pointing that out.

    As for your assertion that Apple’s “corporate media is so blatantly and obviously manipulative”…I say, compared to what? Have you not seen any other company’s marketing campaigns? I mean, dude, I’ve seen Coke commercials that identify a soft drink with everything from world peace to random acts of kindness to general humanitarian love. I’ve seen Nike ads that seek to identify their products with the performance of some of the greatest athletes in the world, as if wearing a Nike shoe could do that for someone. I think we all could point out all sorts of corporate marketing that seek to create strong impressions in the public and in doing so, make some rather exaggerated claims. That’s what marketing does; I still don’t understand why you blame Apple so much for doing what so many other corporations do, namely, try to sell their products.

    As for responding to your negative statements regarding Apple, I just like to tweak you and have some fun! That’s what makes forums like this worthwhile! :)

  • Thought

    Lloyd: There are so many points you raise, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just have to hit the highlights.

    Yes, I assume when you bring up the issue of fashion advertising and the impact on female self esteem, eating disorders, etc…that you are speaking of something rather serious. In fact, when you draw an analogy with any company’s advertising, then I do assume that you are elevating your criticism to a new level of severity. I think most people would take away that impression, but as you say, I don’t know you well enough and so that is just your style. The same goes with all of your other points regarding what most would consider to be pretty serious issues, like greed, overconsumption, debt, poor working conditions in 3rd World nations, etc.

    As for advertising, marketing, and the media, again, you exaggerate my position. My position is not that these have no effect, but that they don’t have as much impact as you seem to believe. This is esp true with regards to your assertions regarding positive press coverage of Apple and your assumptions for how they shape public opinion. Obviously, the positive press has influence, but you make it seem as if Apple puts out lousy products and that only the positive press coupled with agressive media is responsible for their success. I disagree; I believe that Apple puts out innovative and fun products, and that the positive press more reflects this than creates this impression. Again, obviously, the positive press reinforces the impression, but is not the main driver, as you seem to believe. I believe the main driver is simply Apple putting out good products.

    As for my use of “economic buzzwords,” those terms and examples were used, not to apply to Microsoft or Apple or their markets, but simply as very generalistic examples. The point was that markets are sufficiently complex and varied that the analysis of one does not equal the analysis of another. One cannot take an assumption that is valid in one market and necessarily extrapolate that to another, as you did. That was all. I never stated that those terms were meant to apply to Microsoft, Apple, or their respective markets. However, rereading what I originally wrote, perhaps I did not make that clear enough to you. In fact, funny enough, now that I think about it, some of those terms may have some application to this particular example. Microsoft, for instance, does enjoy a near monopoly position in the desktop space, and computers are a market that is somewhat commoditized. But that’s a whole other discussion, but thanks for pointing that out.

    As for your assertion that Apple’s “corporate media is so blatantly and obviously manipulative”…I say, compared to what? Have you not seen any other company’s marketing campaigns? I mean, dude, I’ve seen Coke commercials that identify a soft drink with everything from world peace to random acts of kindness to general humanitarian love. I’ve seen Nike ads that seek to identify their products with the performance of some of the greatest athletes in the world, as if wearing a Nike shoe could do that for someone. I think we all could point out all sorts of corporate marketing that seek to create strong impressions in the public and in doing so, make some rather exaggerated claims. That’s what marketing does; I still don’t understand why you blame Apple so much for doing what so many other corporations do, namely, try to sell their products.

    As for responding to your negative statements regarding Apple, I just like to tweak you and have some fun! That’s what makes forums like this worthwhile! :)

  • Thought

    Lloyd: There are so many points you raise, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll just have to hit the highlights.

    Yes, I assume when you bring up the issue of fashion advertising and the impact on female self esteem, eating disorders, etc…that you are speaking of something rather serious. In fact, when you draw an analogy with any company’s advertising, then I do assume that you are elevating your criticism to a new level of severity. I think most people would take away that impression, but as you say, I don’t know you well enough and so that is just your style. The same goes with all of your other points regarding what most would consider to be pretty serious issues, like greed, overconsumption, debt, poor working conditions in 3rd World nations, etc.

    As for advertising, marketing, and the media, again, you exaggerate my position. My position is not that these have no effect, but that they don’t have as much impact as you seem to believe. This is esp true with regards to your assertions regarding positive press coverage of Apple and your assumptions for how they shape public opinion. Obviously, the positive press has influence, but you make it seem as if Apple puts out lousy products and that only the positive press coupled with agressive media is responsible for their success. I disagree; I believe that Apple puts out innovative and fun products, and that the positive press more reflects this than creates this impression. Again, obviously, the positive press reinforces the impression, but is not the main driver, as you seem to believe. I believe the main driver is simply Apple putting out good products.

    As for my use of “economic buzzwords,” those terms and examples were used, not to apply to Microsoft or Apple or their markets, but simply as very generalistic examples. The point was that markets are sufficiently complex and varied that the analysis of one does not equal the analysis of another. One cannot take an assumption that is valid in one market and necessarily extrapolate that to another, as you did. That was all. I never stated that those terms were meant to apply to Microsoft, Apple, or their respective markets. However, rereading what I originally wrote, perhaps I did not make that clear enough to you. In fact, funny enough, now that I think about it, some of those terms may have some application to this particular example. Microsoft, for instance, does enjoy a near monopoly position in the desktop space, and computers are a market that is somewhat commoditized. But that’s a whole other discussion, but thanks for pointing that out.

    As for your assertion that Apple’s “corporate media is so blatantly and obviously manipulative”…I say, compared to what? Have you not seen any other company’s marketing campaigns? I mean, dude, I’ve seen Coke commercials that identify a soft drink with everything from world peace to random acts of kindness to general humanitarian love. I’ve seen Nike ads that seek to identify their products with the performance of some of the greatest athletes in the world, as if wearing a Nike shoe could do that for someone. I think we all could point out all sorts of corporate marketing that seek to create strong impressions in the public and in doing so, make some rather exaggerated claims. That’s what marketing does; I still don’t understand why you blame Apple so much for doing what so many other corporations do, namely, try to sell their products.

    As for responding to your negative statements regarding Apple, I just like to tweak you and have some fun! That’s what makes forums like this worthwhile! :)

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ah, see, you begin to see where I am going, though you don’t realize it. You mention Coke, and Nike, which are both lifestyle brands, and then say that they do the same thing Apple does, which you are correct about. That is the whole point! Coke is not substantively better than any other soda; Nike is not any different from any other shoe. In fact, in both theses cases, you have companies with phenomenal marketing budgets, that maintain their market position entirely through brand maintenance, rather than any sort of superiority of their product. Anyone who has ever worked on either of those accounts could tell you in a second that the point of Nike or Coke ads isn’t even to sell a product, it is to reinforce the brand. Both companies make products that cost them pennies to manufacture, and then turn them around and make billions, solely because of the strength of the brand. That is EXACTLY the same as what I am saying of Apple.

    The reason I fault Apple for it, is because it is not the norm in their industry, and as such stands out as being particularly obvious, and makes for some annoying conversations like this one. You don’t actually see people sitting around trying to claim that every shoe company in the world is just ‘stealing’ from Nike, or that Coke is ‘so much easier to use’ than Pepsi! The vast majority of companies in the tech sector market their products on features, value, and reliability. The reason being that those are what the majority of customers want to know about when buying a tech product. Apple, on the other hand, markets itself as a lifestyle brand. Now, as their market share shows, that isn’t what most people are looking for in a tech product. However, those people who are looking for a lifestyle brand, are immediately drawn to Apple, since they are pretty much the only tech lifestyle brand out there. Although to be fair, Microsoft has lately started trying to grow the Xbox franchise into a lifestyle brand, which I think is going to get them their ass handed to them by Nintendo.

    In reality, Apple spends less on R&D than just about any of the other big tech companies, they file fewer patents than any of the other big tech companies, and their development cycles are slower than any of the other big tech companies. Now I’m sure you will make some ‘quality over quantity’ argument, but seeing as how the majority of the IP for the product that makes up more than half of Apple’s revenue (the iPod) is actually owned PortalPlayer (now owned by nVidia) one could argue that Apple has neither. What you are doing, is actually exactly like some kid who thinks his basketball game gets better when he puts on his Air Jordans. You have bought into the lifestyle brand, so you subjectively decide that it must be better, and then look for reasons. Just like that kid who ‘thinks’ he plays better with the right brand of shoes, you ‘think’ that Apple computers are easier to use and more reliable, yet there is no measurable improvement of worker productivity between organizations that use Macs and organizations that use PCs to do the same tasks. You ‘think’ that they are better built and more reliable, yet their TOC is not lower than PCs. You ‘think’ a lot of things about the superiority of Apple products, yet none of them stand up to any objective scrutiny, because they are the subjective, emotional, responses of a customer responding to brand marketing. The only place where Apple’s marketing works, is in image-conscious professions, and in disposable entertainment items that aren’t mission critical.

    I mean, aside from the “apple are great innovators” tagline, all they have done so far this century is dump their proprietary OS to go with BSD, dump their proprietary hardware to go with standard PC hardware, and put a pretty box, web store, and some marketing around someone else’s audio player design. Oh yeah, and now they are putting out a phone that looks pretty much like half the phones at 3GSM, but is only EDGE. Yet, people like you can’t figure out how anyone could fail to be impressed with the amazing innovation coming out of Cupertino? Believe me, I am a hardcore nerd. If Apple made a better product I would be using it. I spend quite a lot of time figuring out who makes the best tools, and I have owned PCs, Amigas, Macs, Suns, and SGIs. I’ve run every Microsoft OS since DOS, every Apple OS since the Apple II came out, NeXT Step, Solaris, IRIX, Unix, Linux, OS2, and AmigaOS. I don’t let a brand stand between me and the best tools I can find. However OS X, the iPod, and Apple in general since Jobs came back, are nothing but a hype machine.

    As to all the political stuff, it is serious, but it also isn’t; it depends on how you choose to define “serious.”. How media and advertising effect our society is a pervasive issue that touches every one of us, and as such is a serious topic worthy of serious discussion. However, it isn’t going to cure cancer, or put an end to hunger. I don’t agree with you at all that none of it matters because it is all just a bunch of little doodads, because we spend more time with our TV in this country than we do with our families. Whether you chose to believe it or not, people, young and old, pick up a lot more moral and ethical lessons from what they see on TV than they really should. It has give rise to some very skewed priorities that really can have some serious concequences in the long term. No, that doesn’t mean that how they market the iPod, or any other product, is going to bring about peace in the Middle East, but it is still a bit more serious than “who cares, it is just a gadget.” The techniques used to sell those doodads are the same techniques used to sell you political candidates, policies, and even wars, so it isn’t just a fluff issue that doesn’t effect anything that matters. You can be quite sure that when an ad firm finds a technique that gets you to buy a gizmo you didn’t really need, then they will be more than happy to use that same technique to sell you a proposition you don’t need the next time a politician calls them up with a job. Every time you buy into a dishonest ad, you tell the people in charge of selling you everything from those doodads to you health care provider, that it is just fine with you if they lie, because you understand that they have a job to do. Believe me, there is no special book of ethics that they pull out when their client is dealing with a “serious” topic. It is all just selling soap to them.

    On your specific touchy spot about eating disorders, on the other hand, I just don’t see how that is any more serious than a discussion about any other media issue. Take a step back for a second, and really look at the issue and think about the fact that we are talking about some of the richest people on Earth, in one of the fattest countries on Earth, choosing to starve themselves so they can better fit into designer dresses that cost more than most people in the world make in a year. If you really think that is a “serious” issue, then you have some odd priorities, because I think it reads like a sketch comedy routine! As I said, it is just another discussion about how people selling a product are more than happy to mess with your head to make a dollar if you let them.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Ah, see, you begin to see where I am going, though you don’t realize it. You mention Coke, and Nike, which are both lifestyle brands, and then say that they do the same thing Apple does, which you are correct about. That is the whole point! Coke is not substantively better than any other soda; Nike is not any different from any other shoe. In fact, in both theses cases, you have companies with phenomenal marketing budgets, that maintain their market position entirely through brand maintenance, rather than any sort of superiority of their product. Anyone who has ever worked on either of those accounts could tell you in a second that the point of Nike or Coke ads isn’t even to sell a product, it is to reinforce the brand. Both companies make products that cost them pennies to manufacture, and then turn them around and make billions, solely because of the strength of the brand. That is EXACTLY the same as what I am saying of Apple.

    The reason I fault Apple for it, is because it is not the norm in their industry, and as such stands out as being particularly obvious, and makes for some annoying conversations like this one. You don’t actually see people sitting around trying to claim that every shoe company in the world is just ‘stealing’ from Nike, or that Coke is ‘so much easier to use’ than Pepsi! The vast majority of companies in the tech sector market their products on features, value, and reliability. The reason being that those are what the majority of customers want to know about when buying a tech product. Apple, on the other hand, markets itself as a lifestyle brand. Now, as their market share shows, that isn’t what most people are looking for in a tech product. However, those people who are looking for a lifestyle brand, are immediately drawn to Apple, since they are pretty much the only tech lifestyle brand out there. Although to be fair, Microsoft has lately started trying to grow the Xbox franchise into a lifestyle brand, which I think is going to get them their ass handed to them by Nintendo.

    In reality, Apple spends less on R&D than just about any of the other big tech companies, they file fewer patents than any of the other big tech companies, and their development cycles are slower than any of the other big tech companies. Now I’m sure you will make some ‘quality over quantity’ argument, but seeing as how the majority of the IP for the product that makes up more than half of Apple’s revenue (the iPod) is actually owned PortalPlayer (now owned by nVidia) one could argue that Apple has neither. What you are doing, is actually exactly like some kid who thinks his basketball game gets better when he puts on his Air Jordans. You have bought into the lifestyle brand, so you subjectively decide that it must be better, and then look for reasons. Just like that kid who ‘thinks’ he plays better with the right brand of shoes, you ‘think’ that Apple computers are easier to use and more reliable, yet there is no measurable improvement of worker productivity between organizations that use Macs and organizations that use PCs to do the same tasks. You ‘think’ that they are better built and more reliable, yet their TOC is not lower than PCs. You ‘think’ a lot of things about the superiority of Apple products, yet none of them stand up to any objective scrutiny, because they are the subjective, emotional, responses of a customer responding to brand marketing. The only place where Apple’s marketing works, is in image-conscious professions, and in disposable entertainment items that aren’t mission critical.

    I mean, aside from the “apple are great innovators” tagline, all they have done so far this century is dump their proprietary OS to go with BSD, dump their proprietary hardware to go with standard PC hardware, and put a pretty box, web store, and some marketing around someone else’s audio player design. Oh yeah, and now they are putting out a phone that looks pretty much like half the phones at 3GSM, but is only EDGE. Yet, people like you can’t figure out how anyone could fail to be impressed with the amazing innovation coming out of Cupertino? Believe me, I am a hardcore nerd. If Apple made a better product I would be using it. I spend quite a lot of time figuring out who makes the best tools, and I have owned PCs, Amigas, Macs, Suns, and SGIs. I’ve run every Microsoft OS since DOS, every Apple OS since the Apple II came out, NeXT Step, Solaris, IRIX, Unix, Linux, OS2, and AmigaOS. I don’t let a brand stand between me and the best tools I can find. However OS X, the iPod, and Apple in general since Jobs came back, are nothing but a hype machine.

    As to all the political stuff, it is serious, but it also isn’t; it depends on how you choose to define “serious.”. How media and advertising effect our society is a pervasive issue that touches every one of us, and as such is a serious topic worthy of serious discussion. However, it isn’t going to cure cancer, or put an end to hunger. I don’t agree with you at all that none of it matters because it is all just a bunch of little doodads, because we spend more time with our TV in this country than we do with our families. Whether you chose to believe it or not, people, young and old, pick up a lot more moral and ethical lessons from what they see on TV than they really should. It has give rise to some very skewed priorities that really can have some serious concequences in the long term. No, that doesn’t mean that how they market the iPod, or any other product, is going to bring about peace in the Middle East, but it is still a bit more serious than “who cares, it is just a gadget.” The techniques used to sell those doodads are the same techniques used to sell you political candidates, policies, and even wars, so it isn’t just a fluff issue that doesn’t effect anything that matters. You can be quite sure that when an ad firm finds a technique that gets you to buy a gizmo you didn’t really need, then they will be more than happy to use that same technique to sell you a proposition you don’t need the next time a politician calls them up with a job. Every time you buy into a dishonest ad, you tell the people in charge of selling you everything from those doodads to you health care provider, that it is just fine with you if they lie, because you understand that they have a job to do. Believe me, there is no special book of ethics that they pull out when their client is dealing with a “serious” topic. It is all just selling soap to them.

    On your specific touchy spot about eating disorders, on the other hand, I just don’t see how that is any more serious than a discussion about any other media issue. Take a step back for a second, and really look at the issue and think about the fact that we are talking about some of the richest people on Earth, in one of the fattest countries on Earth, choosing to starve themselves so they can better fit into designer dresses that cost more than most people in the world make in a year. If you really think that is a “serious” issue, then you have some odd priorities, because I think it reads like a sketch comedy routine! As I said, it is just another discussion about how people selling a product are more than happy to mess with your head to make a dollar if you let them.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I profoundly disagree with your assertion that brand marketing is not the norm in the consumer technology industry, or that “the vast majority of companies in the tech sector market their products on features, value, and reliability.” I don’t know what ads you’ve been looking at. Look at the ads for MS Windows and Office in any number of magazines…they appeal to image and emotion. Look at the ads for Intel…total brand marketing…in fact, the genius of Intel is that they took a product, microprocessor chips, and did what no one thought possible: they created a brand out of it. Look at the Motorola and the RAZR or the Q: total appeal to emotion, image, etc. Look at any number of products that Sony sells: total brand marketing. Look at RIM and their print and web ads for the Pearl: total brand and image marketing. I could go on and on.

    To assert that the rest of the tech sector are these innocent babes in the advertising world, issuing only rational appeals to consumers, is totally naive and false.

    The truth is that nearly all companies attempt brand marketing and an appeal to image, emotion, etc…but some do it better than others. Also, in some cases, product differentiation in the markets is totally based on brand identity, but in others there are substantive differences in quality of product. For instance, BMW may try to engage in brand marketing, but their cars are indeed superior to most.

    The bottom line: Apple does nothing more than what all large corporations attempt to do with their marketing, they just do it better, and in my opinion, they have the products that back that up. Again, with many of these items, we are talking about subjective judgements, with such terms as usability, design, etc. However, I do have many people in agreement with me, including many tech journalists, industrial designers, etc. If you can’t look at the iPhone and appreciate the difference, or look at the iPod and appreciate the simplicity of design, then so be it.

    I will say that there are studies that show the TCO of Apple machines to be less than Windows PCs, esp when you take into account support an security issues. I will also say that almost everyone agrees that Apple machines are more secure than Windows, and are afflicted by far less viruses. But we can go on and on forever about this, because we will never agree.

    Going back to an issue that you initially raised: eating disorders. If you don’t think that is a serious issue, then I don’t know what is. Ask any person who has battled an eating disorder or their family, and I think they will tell you that it is a most serious problem. Indeed, it is a serious illness, and not something out of a “sketch comedy routine.” Again, I think any family who has dealt with the issue would take offense with your comment.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: I profoundly disagree with your assertion that brand marketing is not the norm in the consumer technology industry, or that “the vast majority of companies in the tech sector market their products on features, value, and reliability.” I don’t know what ads you’ve been looking at. Look at the ads for MS Windows and Office in any number of magazines…they appeal to image and emotion. Look at the ads for Intel…total brand marketing…in fact, the genius of Intel is that they took a product, microprocessor chips, and did what no one thought possible: they created a brand out of it. Look at the Motorola and the RAZR or the Q: total appeal to emotion, image, etc. Look at any number of products that Sony sells: total brand marketing. Look at RIM and their print and web ads for the Pearl: total brand and image marketing. I could go on and on.

    To assert that the rest of the tech sector are these innocent babes in the advertising world, issuing only rational appeals to consumers, is totally naive and false.

    The truth is that nearly all companies attempt brand marketing and an appeal to image, emotion, etc…but some do it better than others. Also, in some cases, product differentiation in the markets is totally based on brand identity, but in others there are substantive differences in quality of product. For instance, BMW may try to engage in brand marketing, but their cars are indeed superior to most.

    The bottom line: Apple does nothing more than what all large corporations attempt to do with their marketing, they just do it better, and in my opinion, they have the products that back that up. Again, with many of these items, we are talking about subjective judgements, with such terms as usability, design, etc. However, I do have many people in agreement with me, including many tech journalists, industrial designers, etc. If you can’t look at the iPhone and appreciate the difference, or look at the iPod and appreciate the simplicity of design, then so be it.

    I will say that there are studies that show the TCO of Apple machines to be less than Windows PCs, esp when you take into account support an security issues. I will also say that almost everyone agrees that Apple machines are more secure than Windows, and are afflicted by far less viruses. But we can go on and on forever about this, because we will never agree.

    Going back to an issue that you initially raised: eating disorders. If you don’t think that is a serious issue, then I don’t know what is. Ask any person who has battled an eating disorder or their family, and I think they will tell you that it is a most serious problem. Indeed, it is a serious illness, and not something out of a “sketch comedy routine.” Again, I think any family who has dealt with the issue would take offense with your comment.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh good lord, if you are going to argue a point, then argue it, not just make up an argument that has nothing to do with what I said, and then pretend to prove that wrong. I honestly can’t tell if you just don’t know the first thing about advertising, or if you are just being purposely obtuse because you will go to any length to defend Apple, which is apparently so closely tied to your own ego.

    I never said that brand marketing wasn’t the norm, I said that no other major company in the tech industry sells a lifestyle brand. That is totally different. For example, the RAZR you mention, is a PRODUCT, not a company or a lifestyle. OF COURSE Motorola advertises their products, that is how you sell them! However, if you look at any RAZR ad, it focuses on the form factor (a feature) the network (a spec) and the multimedia features. Also, Intel isn’t even in the consumer electronics industry, they are in the semiconductor manufacture industry! You could at least keep which industry we are talking about straight. Intel doesn’t even sell a mass market product direct to the consumer. Of course their ads are marketing the company, and not a product, just like EDS, or Boeing, or AMD, or Dow Chemical, or Pfizer, or any fortune 500 company that advertises to publicize the company name. Those are corporate image ads that are aimed at investors, not the general consumer! And you would be really well served not to even bring Microsoft into it, because they have the most squeaky-clean ads of any advertiser in the industry. They sell aspirational stories of the use of their product. They don’t tell you a story about who you will be if you buy their product, the tell you a story about what you can do if you buy their product. If you can’t see how those two are very different, then you should go read a few books on psychology. At present, you clearly don’t have enough of a grasp on this topic to make any sort of educated comment on it.

    If you don’t know anything about advertising, or the ad industry, then just quit trying to pretend you do. You seem to be saying that you have no idea what a lifestyle brand is, or how ads work, or how effective they are, or how one campaign differs from another, but you are quite positive that Apple must not do anything unsavory, because they have Apple in their name, which means they are always above reproach in everything. It is really creepy and kind of crazy. You are sounding more and more like some provincial hick in a tiny little town just off the highway, who just keeps saying “well I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout that, but I don’t like the sound of it. No sir, these is good people, and anyone who says otherwise ain’t got their head on right.”

    As far as TCO goes, I would love to see a study done by anyone but Apple that shows that, because it has been my experience that you take about a 10%-20% TCO increase running a department or shop as completely Apple.

    Oh, and on the eating disorders thing, get over it! Yeah, I’m sure that anyone who has an eating disorder thinks it is the most serious issue on Earth, but then people think all sorts of things, that doesn’t make them right. I once knew a girl who thought the most important thing in the world was to sanitize your hands every time you touched a doorknob, didn’t make her right, it made her compulsive. I’m sure it is hard to watch someone you know do something stupid to themselves that you know could kill them, but then I’m sure the same can be said of the hundreds of millions of drug, tobacco, and alcohol users out there, so stand in line.

    Oh, and as a side note, what the hell is it with you Macheads and BMW? You guys always, always, always bring BMW out of left field into any discussion about Apple. Talk about overpriced, hyped up products that are sold solely as a way to identify yourself, BMW would be at the top of the list! They make good motorcycles, but their cars are no better than any other well-known German manufacturer. Do you want to bring Bose into the discussion too? That is the other one you guys seem bizarrely enamored of. Do you all get a newsletter that tells you what to like?

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh good lord, if you are going to argue a point, then argue it, not just make up an argument that has nothing to do with what I said, and then pretend to prove that wrong. I honestly can’t tell if you just don’t know the first thing about advertising, or if you are just being purposely obtuse because you will go to any length to defend Apple, which is apparently so closely tied to your own ego.

    I never said that brand marketing wasn’t the norm, I said that no other major company in the tech industry sells a lifestyle brand. That is totally different. For example, the RAZR you mention, is a PRODUCT, not a company or a lifestyle. OF COURSE Motorola advertises their products, that is how you sell them! However, if you look at any RAZR ad, it focuses on the form factor (a feature) the network (a spec) and the multimedia features. Also, Intel isn’t even in the consumer electronics industry, they are in the semiconductor manufacture industry! You could at least keep which industry we are talking about straight. Intel doesn’t even sell a mass market product direct to the consumer. Of course their ads are marketing the company, and not a product, just like EDS, or Boeing, or AMD, or Dow Chemical, or Pfizer, or any fortune 500 company that advertises to publicize the company name. Those are corporate image ads that are aimed at investors, not the general consumer! And you would be really well served not to even bring Microsoft into it, because they have the most squeaky-clean ads of any advertiser in the industry. They sell aspirational stories of the use of their product. They don’t tell you a story about who you will be if you buy their product, the tell you a story about what you can do if you buy their product. If you can’t see how those two are very different, then you should go read a few books on psychology. At present, you clearly don’t have enough of a grasp on this topic to make any sort of educated comment on it.

    If you don’t know anything about advertising, or the ad industry, then just quit trying to pretend you do. You seem to be saying that you have no idea what a lifestyle brand is, or how ads work, or how effective they are, or how one campaign differs from another, but you are quite positive that Apple must not do anything unsavory, because they have Apple in their name, which means they are always above reproach in everything. It is really creepy and kind of crazy. You are sounding more and more like some provincial hick in a tiny little town just off the highway, who just keeps saying “well I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout that, but I don’t like the sound of it. No sir, these is good people, and anyone who says otherwise ain’t got their head on right.”

    As far as TCO goes, I would love to see a study done by anyone but Apple that shows that, because it has been my experience that you take about a 10%-20% TCO increase running a department or shop as completely Apple.

    Oh, and on the eating disorders thing, get over it! Yeah, I’m sure that anyone who has an eating disorder thinks it is the most serious issue on Earth, but then people think all sorts of things, that doesn’t make them right. I once knew a girl who thought the most important thing in the world was to sanitize your hands every time you touched a doorknob, didn’t make her right, it made her compulsive. I’m sure it is hard to watch someone you know do something stupid to themselves that you know could kill them, but then I’m sure the same can be said of the hundreds of millions of drug, tobacco, and alcohol users out there, so stand in line.

    Oh, and as a side note, what the hell is it with you Macheads and BMW? You guys always, always, always bring BMW out of left field into any discussion about Apple. Talk about overpriced, hyped up products that are sold solely as a way to identify yourself, BMW would be at the top of the list! They make good motorcycles, but their cars are no better than any other well-known German manufacturer. Do you want to bring Bose into the discussion too? That is the other one you guys seem bizarrely enamored of. Do you all get a newsletter that tells you what to like?

  • Thought

    Lloyd: according to you, “no other major company in the tech industry sells a lifestyle brand.”

    I profoundly disagree. Sony does that all the time. Moto most certainly does do that with, esp. with their RAZR line. To think of this as some rational appeal on features alone is errant. They advertise a lifestyle with their sleek, sexy little product. I remember when the RAZR first came out, I saw Red Sox pitcher Kurt Shilling showing off the RAZR at almost every interview, fresh off of his World Series victory. I guess Moto got a legendary championship baseball player to hawk their product just to sell it on features.

    By your same definition of the way Moto advertises their features, Apple also does this with their Mac vs PC guy ads…they tout their features of reliability and ease of use, just in a very stylish and humorous way. You may not agree with their points, but they sell as much on features as Moto does with the RAZR. In reality, they sell on both features and emotional connection; the two are intertwined.

    As to your observations on Intel, again you are wrong. Of course Intel is a parts supplier (of semiconductor chips), but you are wrong that they only run “corporate image ads that are aimed at investors, not the general consumer.”
    There are any number of case studies noting the rather ingenious move Intel made in marketing direct to the consumer with their Intel Inside branding campaign. It was a bold and brilliant move for a parts supplier to attempt to establish such a brand equity with consumers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of Intel ads, including TV spots, aimed directly at the consumer. Remember those TV ads Intel ran featuring the Blue Man Group? Or were those just aimed at investors? My thesis holds true: Intel is right in the thick of marketing to the consumer electronics market.

    As for Microsoft, please. They seek to establish an emotional connection with the consumer, just like any company, that goes beyond just some appeal to rationality. What about their “Your Potential, Our Passion” campaign, centered around fuzzy feel good images of children at play and school. If that isn’t an appeal to “who you will be if you buy their product” then I don’t know what is.

    And your analysis about the difference between appealing to “who you can be” versus “what you can do” is rather errant as well. There’s often a fine line between what people do and who they are, since what people do tends to define who they are. So an appeal to one is often an appeal to the other, and I personally know a few behavioral psychologists and a psychiatrist who will back that up (not to mention the writings of the existential philosophers).

    But to me advertising to emotions and not some laundry list of features is not something bad. I think all companies try to establish that emotional connection with their market, and appeal on such terms. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with that; we don’t live in a totally rational world, and emotions count as well.

    The bottom line: Apple, in their marketing, doesn’t do anything radically different from any other consumer company. Sure, they may do it better than most, but it’s really the same marketing techniques and goals. I am sure that the advertising firms that Apple uses are available for hire by other companies and will be happy to use the same type of approaches.

    In fact, I find that you seem to make Apple the channel through which you focus your larger complaints and problems with society and human life at large. It’s almost as if they are a surrogate for all of your frustrations.

    As to the eating disorder issue, why do you keep digging yourself into a deeper hole? You were the one that brought it up in a rather exaggerated analogy, and now you seek to diminish that error by diminishing the seriousness of such an illness. It’s you who keeps bringing it up.

    Finally, about the BMW references…your comments only reinforce my thesis that you have this deep rooted anger that goes beyond Apple. Next time I’ll use the Mercedes brand name instead to make you happy.

    Finally, I find your anger and condescending tone to diminish the strength of your arguments.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: according to you, “no other major company in the tech industry sells a lifestyle brand.”

    I profoundly disagree. Sony does that all the time. Moto most certainly does do that with, esp. with their RAZR line. To think of this as some rational appeal on features alone is errant. They advertise a lifestyle with their sleek, sexy little product. I remember when the RAZR first came out, I saw Red Sox pitcher Kurt Shilling showing off the RAZR at almost every interview, fresh off of his World Series victory. I guess Moto got a legendary championship baseball player to hawk their product just to sell it on features.

    By your same definition of the way Moto advertises their features, Apple also does this with their Mac vs PC guy ads…they tout their features of reliability and ease of use, just in a very stylish and humorous way. You may not agree with their points, but they sell as much on features as Moto does with the RAZR. In reality, they sell on both features and emotional connection; the two are intertwined.

    As to your observations on Intel, again you are wrong. Of course Intel is a parts supplier (of semiconductor chips), but you are wrong that they only run “corporate image ads that are aimed at investors, not the general consumer.”
    There are any number of case studies noting the rather ingenious move Intel made in marketing direct to the consumer with their Intel Inside branding campaign. It was a bold and brilliant move for a parts supplier to attempt to establish such a brand equity with consumers. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of Intel ads, including TV spots, aimed directly at the consumer. Remember those TV ads Intel ran featuring the Blue Man Group? Or were those just aimed at investors? My thesis holds true: Intel is right in the thick of marketing to the consumer electronics market.

    As for Microsoft, please. They seek to establish an emotional connection with the consumer, just like any company, that goes beyond just some appeal to rationality. What about their “Your Potential, Our Passion” campaign, centered around fuzzy feel good images of children at play and school. If that isn’t an appeal to “who you will be if you buy their product” then I don’t know what is.

    And your analysis about the difference between appealing to “who you can be” versus “what you can do” is rather errant as well. There’s often a fine line between what people do and who they are, since what people do tends to define who they are. So an appeal to one is often an appeal to the other, and I personally know a few behavioral psychologists and a psychiatrist who will back that up (not to mention the writings of the existential philosophers).

    But to me advertising to emotions and not some laundry list of features is not something bad. I think all companies try to establish that emotional connection with their market, and appeal on such terms. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with that; we don’t live in a totally rational world, and emotions count as well.

    The bottom line: Apple, in their marketing, doesn’t do anything radically different from any other consumer company. Sure, they may do it better than most, but it’s really the same marketing techniques and goals. I am sure that the advertising firms that Apple uses are available for hire by other companies and will be happy to use the same type of approaches.

    In fact, I find that you seem to make Apple the channel through which you focus your larger complaints and problems with society and human life at large. It’s almost as if they are a surrogate for all of your frustrations.

    As to the eating disorder issue, why do you keep digging yourself into a deeper hole? You were the one that brought it up in a rather exaggerated analogy, and now you seek to diminish that error by diminishing the seriousness of such an illness. It’s you who keeps bringing it up.

    Finally, about the BMW references…your comments only reinforce my thesis that you have this deep rooted anger that goes beyond Apple. Next time I’ll use the Mercedes brand name instead to make you happy.

    Finally, I find your anger and condescending tone to diminish the strength of your arguments.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You know, there is no point to discussing anything with you, if you are going to paint such a simplistic picture that all advertising is reduced to the point that they are trying to sell a product, therefore there is essentially no difference between them. You say you don’t like my condescending tone, then perhaps you should stop making childish arguments that eschew all nuance in favor of making a simplistic point when it suits you.

    I could go on and on, but as just one example, I will point out that those Intel Inside ads you reference, aren’t even the tiniest fraction of the Intel Inside campaign (which by the way was so ineffective that they actually lost considerable market share during the course of the now-dead campaign). The overwhelming majority of the Intel Inside campaign (both in budget, and the effort Intel put into it) was a system of OEM financial incentives and discounts to convince system integrators to go with Intel chips in their products. In fact, those ads you mention really cost next to nothing compared to all the subsidized software and consultant fees that Intel picks up the tab for, just for Dell.

    You boil everything down to a ridiculous level of simplicity by which IBM, AMD, Intel, Apple, Sony, and Microsoft are all in the same business, and run ads that might as well be interchangeable, and then you get upset when I am condescending? Well, that is the price you pay for either talking out of your depth, or artificially oversimplifying the issue in a lame attempt to try to defend your corporate avatar Apple (I still have no idea which of these two you are doing).

    You can make all the ill-conceived attempts to wriggle around it that you want, but your need to try and cast Intel, a company that doesn’t even sell a product to the general consumer (the smallest purchaser they will deal with is Ingram Micro), and who’s retail sales make up less than 3% of their total sales, and Apple, a company who operates their own retail stores, is a customer of Intel, and makes 100% of their revenue off of sales to the consumer, as being in the same industry just shows how far you will walk away from any sort of reasonable position if that is what you have to do to feel you have won the argument.

    There is no point arguing with someone like that, because reason does not apply.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    You know, there is no point to discussing anything with you, if you are going to paint such a simplistic picture that all advertising is reduced to the point that they are trying to sell a product, therefore there is essentially no difference between them. You say you don’t like my condescending tone, then perhaps you should stop making childish arguments that eschew all nuance in favor of making a simplistic point when it suits you.

    I could go on and on, but as just one example, I will point out that those Intel Inside ads you reference, aren’t even the tiniest fraction of the Intel Inside campaign (which by the way was so ineffective that they actually lost considerable market share during the course of the now-dead campaign). The overwhelming majority of the Intel Inside campaign (both in budget, and the effort Intel put into it) was a system of OEM financial incentives and discounts to convince system integrators to go with Intel chips in their products. In fact, those ads you mention really cost next to nothing compared to all the subsidized software and consultant fees that Intel picks up the tab for, just for Dell.

    You boil everything down to a ridiculous level of simplicity by which IBM, AMD, Intel, Apple, Sony, and Microsoft are all in the same business, and run ads that might as well be interchangeable, and then you get upset when I am condescending? Well, that is the price you pay for either talking out of your depth, or artificially oversimplifying the issue in a lame attempt to try to defend your corporate avatar Apple (I still have no idea which of these two you are doing).

    You can make all the ill-conceived attempts to wriggle around it that you want, but your need to try and cast Intel, a company that doesn’t even sell a product to the general consumer (the smallest purchaser they will deal with is Ingram Micro), and who’s retail sales make up less than 3% of their total sales, and Apple, a company who operates their own retail stores, is a customer of Intel, and makes 100% of their revenue off of sales to the consumer, as being in the same industry just shows how far you will walk away from any sort of reasonable position if that is what you have to do to feel you have won the argument.

    There is no point arguing with someone like that, because reason does not apply.

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com/ Steve St. Pierre

    Guys, just sent this to the publisher – the book’ll be out in a month. Is anyone going to write the ending soon?

  • http://www.blackberrycool.com Steve St. Pierre

    Guys, just sent this to the publisher – the book’ll be out in a month. Is anyone going to write the ending soon?