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Fresh From Cupertino, Daniel Eran Dilger Does Dallas

Daniel Eran Dilger
This weekend, I’ll be visiting the Apple Corps of Dallas to give a roughly drafted presentation on Apple, me, technology, and whatever else tumbles from my mouth, followed by a question and (hopefully) answer session. If you’re in the Dallas area, it would be great to meet you at the event, being held at the Richardson Civic Center on March 8, 2008. There’s more information on the group’s website at www.acd.us.

I can’t promise to not be jet-lagged and at least partially traumatized by a two hour layover in the Las Vegas airport on the way over, but I should look at least as coherent as I do in the photo the Apple Corps sent out with their mailer, which captured me in an overwhelmed sense of roughly glamorous, exhausted bliss while riding around sweaty and unkempt on a motorcross bike in the rice fields between the caves I was exploring in Laos.

Daniel Eran Dilger

Previous speakers have assured me the group is a lot of fun, and it should be interesting to see what comes out of my mouth because I haven’t given a similar presentation since I was invited to Lawrence Livermore Labs to talk shop deep within the bowls of one of the Bay Area’s highest security installations last year.

The Road to Apple.
I am run a bit ragged with all the Apple news coming out, and have also been distracted by my new (to me) motorbike, a Suzuki SV1000S that is a little faster than I need it to be. Yesterday I rode it down to Cupertino to attend Apple’s shareholder meeting in order to cast a vote for the shareholder proposed (and board opposed) corporate accountability group and take the opportunity to ask Steve Jobs as many questions as he would humor. I managed to get in four, breaking my record of three from last year.

On the way out, I also got a second hand answer for one of my yet unasked questions from a reader and Apple employee who had already asked executives the same thing I’d planned to ask. I had another two questions in reserve, but they weren’t anything incredible, and I was satisfied with being able to monopolize the mic as long as I did.

As I figure, if SVTC, Greenpeace, and the AFL-CIO could manhandle the mic at previous years’ meetings to push their political agendas as nominal shareholders, why shouldn’t I do the same to represent the questions Apple users and RDM readers would want to ask? Incidentally, thanks to readers for suggesting ideas in the Forum.

Answers from Steve Jobs at Apple’s Shareholder Meeting 2007
Top Secret: Greenpeace Report Misleading and Incompetent 2006
The SVTC’s “Toxic Trash” Attack on Apple 2005

DED vs. the Corporate Media.

My questions apparently raised the ire of some members of the press, who were all shuttled off into the overflow room to watch the event on closed captioned TVs. After saying hi to a few attendees who recognized me on the way out, I was accosted by Zoon awardee Troy Wolverton of the San Jose Mercury News, who brow beat me over his long standing irritation of my criticism of his often sloppy and downright inaccurate and misleading iPhone launch coverage last year.

Rather than clearing up any of the errors as he promised to do, Wolverton again took issue with my jocular suggestion that he could not be for real, and was perhaps an imaginary character. This guy dodges issues with the political flexibility of a presidential candidate.

For the record, I have never seriously doubted that Wolverton is a real person and have instead outlined his career arc from The Street to the Merc as a very real (but often disingenuous) writer who frequently covers Apple with a witch hunt bias that doesn’t seem to be applied to other companies. That tone seems to have been dialed down slightly as of late, which is nice to see, but I also haven’t been paying much attention to the Merc since it began its massive layoffs.

Comments made by Wolverton and others suggested that some members of the corporate media confined to the overflow room were also irritated that I attended the meeting as a nominal shareholder rather than as a press member, and that I used the opportunity to ask Jobs questions they could not. It is therefore ironic that none in the corporate media cited any of the questions I raised or elaborated on any of the answers Jobs or other members of the executive staff gave in response. They certainly had the same access to hear those answers as I did.

Instead, nearly all mainstream media coverage of the event revolved around a question asked by a shareholder regarding stock buyback or dividends, which wasn’t really that newsworthy as the same question and answer were given last year. Apple isn’t a dividend stock and the company–in contrast to Microsoft–isn’t out of ideas and needing to buyback its stock to get rid of its accumulated cash. Apple has lots of opportunities for growth and has stated publicly what its plans for that cash hoard are.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 11 200711052003

Troy Wolverton Digs Up Rob Enderle In Desperate Apple Attack
Troy Wolverton Documents Faux Apple Shareholder Outrage
10 FAS: 9 – Troy Wolverton, Neil Cavuto, and the Apple Stock Scandal
More on Troy Wolverton, the Street, and Apple Scandal

I Am Not a Stock Analyst.
Which brings me to another issue raised by some members of the corporate media: I am not a stock analyst and do not recommend the buying and selling of securities. I have never intentionally advocated the purchase of or targeted the future valuation of any stock, including Apple. I have cited comparisons of stock valuations as evidence of market trends and profitability, but do not materially benefit from the content I chose to cover or the manner I present that information in the articles I write.

I write about subjects I find interesting, and do not receive any money from Apple or other manufacturers or software developers to review or comment on their products. I also do not directly advertise for any products or services on my site; I do have ads placed on my site by a third party, but I do not exercise any editorial control over the content or makeup of those advertisements, nor do I edit my content to fulfill the interests of any advertisers. I also have affiliate relationships with iTunes and Amazon, but I haven’t really made any effort to push either one, and readers have to go out of their way to find the links to use them.

In order to credit me for an Amazon purchase, readers can click an Amazon link or enter the Amazon ID number into my affiliate URL (in place of the 0321278542):


To credit me for an iTunes purchase, readers can click on an iTunes link like this one before making a purchase:

Movie Rentals Now Available on iTunes

A Crash Course in High Finance.
For the record, I do own some shares of companies including Apple, but the majority of my personal wealth derives from the business of collecting settlements from drivers who plow into me. For anyone who wants to contribute towards this business plan, I only ask that you carry suitable liability insurance, as it is very disappointing to be run over and left broken on the street with smashed equipment only to find that the antagonist didn’t have valid coverage.

I haven’t written many motorcycle stories for a while, so I might document my most recent crash (from a couple years ago) and finally write up my adventures from 2006 involving bikes catching on fire while touring national parks in Thailand, skidding to the ground on an oily laned turn and nearly under a chicken bus in Chang Mai, and braving the hot rain in the wilds of Laos. My first big crash was back in 2004, which I documented using my Palm Treo in a series of unflattering and sometimes downright gnarly pics.

Cp Moto Banner2

Sharing Airspace

Incidentally, if I don’t post anything for a long time, you might want to send me an email to make sure I’m still around. On the flip side, I do have a Donor Dot on my license and am pretty healthy apart from the metal plates and scars, so I should be around for a long time in one shape or another.

What do you think? I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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1 mward { 03.05.08 at 7:34 pm }

So do we get to find out what the questions (and answers!) were?

2 gus2000 { 03.05.08 at 8:44 pm }

Hey, I DID send you an email, with no reply. But you’ve not written many articles lately so I assumed you were preoccupied. Or should a take the hint? :)

I could come visit in Dallas but that’s a 4hr drive each way. I’d rather come visit in the Bay area frankly…can’t get good calamari in the Big D.

3 siegling { 03.05.08 at 8:48 pm }

Great post, Daniel. Would love a more full transcript of the Wolverton confrontation!

4 stainedglasspoet { 03.05.08 at 9:53 pm }

Oh there’s the links for your Amazon account. I went looking for it the earlier this week when I bought Logic Studio, but I couldn’t find you link :-(

5 addicted44 { 03.05.08 at 10:13 pm }

Great Title to this post!

Btw, It might not be a bad idea to mention that you do own Apple shares. Should not be necessary, but might ward of potential silly criticism, if you can add it in a non-obtrusive manner.

I dont think normally the stock buyback would be a bad idea, because that money is sitting idle, and if Apple had to invest it, who better to invest in than Apple! However, I think Apple is probably doing the right thing, considering their history (those low 90’s), the rapidly changing nature of this industry (Apple might need to make a high profile purchase just to keep up, if there is a groundbreaking development) and the presence of convicted monopolists (MS) as well as nimble (GOOG), smart and cash rich (GOOG, MS) competitors.

6 Gatesbasher { 03.05.08 at 10:28 pm }

It’s no use explaining where you’re coming from; those who are paid and/or bribed to extol Microsoft and bash Apple can’t get their brains around the fact that anyone else’s motivation could be different. Just let them live in their sad little worlds.

7 raja { 03.05.08 at 10:34 pm }

So what were the questions that you asked?

8 raja { 03.05.08 at 10:35 pm }

So what were the questions that you did ask?

9 Tod { 03.06.08 at 2:21 am }

Daniel, thanks for straying from the normal topics and providing us some insights on your personal life. I love that picture at the top! I always knew you were a hard hitter and now we can see that you take physical abuse pretty easily. None of that lard-assed trype-writer physique displayed by the Wolf and The Principle Anal-ist.

I do look forward to reading all your articles, even those that venture into politics and motocrossing.

Keep up the great work!

10 John Muir { 03.06.08 at 8:00 am }

The mainstream tech press get so irrational at times – religiously ignoring all your questions and Apple’s answers – that it’s almost as if they have a … dare I say cult? :D

11 dallasmay { 03.06.08 at 8:54 am }

Ah nuts, I live in Dallas (lower Whiterock area) and I’m going to be out of town this weekend. I would have loved to meet you. Tell Ray Mac hi! He’s an older gentleman that I go to church with, and has been an Apple fan since the beginning, And I mean beginning. He still has his Apple ][ with a serial number in the 200’s I think.

Enjoy Dallas, try to catch a Mav’s game if you can get tickets.

12 twolverton@mercurynews.com { 03.07.08 at 9:11 pm }

Nice, Daniel. You can’t go one day without breaking your word.

Our agreement, as I understood it, was that we would try to deal with each other in good faith. That if you had questions about what I’ve written (and, by implication, what I’ve said), that you would contact me, and I’d be happy to talk to you about it — before you post.

My point was not to try to censor you, but for us to help each other — that your posts would be as accurate as possible, as would my stories.

But — to paraphrase Ronald Reagan — there you go again. You just couldn’t resist a chance to take another shot at me, could ya? And heaven forbid — if you were going to bring up the subject of our meeting — that you actually mention what we talked about.

Namely, that I didn’t feel like I could deal with you in good faith. That my experience had been that in raising an objection (or two) about what you had written, instead of having you address (and correct) that issue in an honest fashion, that you chose instead to use it as an excuse to take another shot at me in a blog entry.

And here you’re doing it again. I guess a leopard doesn’t change its spots, does it?

You asked for specifics on what was inaccurate about your coverage. Well, here goes a short list (I don’t have time to correct all of your errors of fact or implication):

1. Your “Fake Apple Scandals” No. 8 focused on a story that ran on our site that had a photo that wasn’t linked to the story. The story was about a scandal involving Wall Street analysts. The photo had to do with the iPhone. The two clearly didn’t go together.

In FAS No. 8, you labeled the move potentially libelous, explained to your readers how the Mercury News was contemptuous of Apple and concocted an elaborate conspiracy theory involving Bill Gates to explain why this was so. But, you suggested to faithful readers, the person who actually did the dirty deed of linking the iPhone and analysts scandal stories was likely me.

“Circumstantial evidence suggests (Wolverton’s) DNA could be all over it,” you wrote.

In fact, as I alerted you on Aug. 2, 2007 via an email I sent you then, I had nothing to do with the linking of the two articles. Nor was there any nefarious plot involving Bill Gates that led to the linking.

Instead, there was a problem with our automated publishing system that led to the linking. We corrected the problem as soon we were notified about it.

You did publish portions of our email in a post on Aug. 5. But you have yet to correct the original story or acknowledge your error.

Your original (still uncorrected) story is here:

Your follow (which you used to take new shots at me) is here:

I’d be happy to forward to any of your readers the full email I sent you in August alerting you to your error.

2. You implied in FAS No. 8 and No. 9 that at the same time I was working at the Mercury News, I was also writing for CNET and for TheStreet.com.

Here’s a quote from FAS No. 9:

Wolverton is “part of the Street’s (sic) spam operation, but also scrounges up desperately sensationalist content for CNET. At the same time, he also comes off as a Fox-like idiot anchor for the San Jose Mercury News … ”


Here’s another from “More on Troy Wolverton, the Street, and Apple Scandal”

“… because Wolverton is also connected the Street, which operates as a sensationalist outlet for seeding false information designed to intentionally manipulate Apple’s stock price for profit. That’s a serious problem, because … Wolverton will continue to publish stories about Apple, and without clarification on his association with the Street, his reputation as a journalist–and that of the of the Mercury News for printing his work–is in serious question.”


In fact, whatever one might think of my work at any of those outlets (or of the outlets themselves), I did not write for any more than one at a time.

I worked as a reporter for CNET News.com from March 1999 to December 2002. I worked at TheStreet.com (note the correct spelling of the outlet) from December 2002 to September 2006. I have worked at the Mercury News since October 2006.

Aside from an article I wrote before I left TheStreet (note the correct second-reference spelling) that was published in October 2006, I’ve had no relationship with the company or its editorial coverage since then. I don’t work for TheStreet, I don’t write stories for the site (or its affiliates) and I’m not involved in its editorial decision making.

A simple search of TheStreet.com’s archives would have shown that TheStreet hasn’t published any articles under my byline since October 2006. And if you had gone to TheStreet’s masthead page (formerly its “Who’s Who” page), which lists all of its editorial employees (reporters and editors) you would have noticed that my name is conspicuously absent.


Of course, you also could have contacted me, my editors here at the Mercury News or the editors at TheStreet.com, who would have told you the same thing. But far be it from you from doing what real reporters do on a daily basis, namely attempting to confirm information before they publish it.

3. Again in FAS No. 8, you charge that I “worried about” and “decried” Apple’s retail strategy, that I likened Apple to Wal-Mart while at the same time comparing “Apple’s retail prospects to Gateway’s retail failures” in the context of an article about the effect Apple’s stores were having on its resellers.

My article came “long after even the most pessimistic of analysts had begun lauding Apple’s retail store success,” you noted, implying that I too was a latter-day pessimist about Apple’s retail strategy.

In fact, had you read my articles or searched TheStreet’s site, you would have noticed that I was fairly bullish about Apple’s retail strategy.

Some two weeks before writing the article you mentioned (but failed to link to) about Apple’s resellers, I wrote a story about how well Apple’s retail stores were doing, and how they were one of the little talked about reasons for the company’s resurgence.

“The stores … have opened new channels for Apple’s products (and) acted as a billboard for the company, extending its brand. Further, they’ve given customers a chance to test the company’s products, an important factor, particularly in the computer arena, because Apple’s wares are so distinct from those of its competitors,” I wrote.

“The stores may be a significant reason Apple has gained share in the computer market,” I added.

Instead of comparing Apple’s retail effort to Gateway, I contrasted it:

“People have had their doubts about Apple’s stores from the onset, something that inevitably drew comparisons to Gateway’s failed store effort. Gateway closed its retail division last year as part of an effort to cut costs.

“In contrast, Apple went in the other direction, as the company showed again last month when it reported second-quarter earnings. In the most recent quarter, Apple’s retail division … far outpac(ed) the company’s overall sales growth. And that wasn’t just a one-quarter fluke. ”

To be sure, the article didn’t just highlight the success of the stores. Instead, it also looked at some of the potential risks for Apple with its retail strategy. (That’s something that real reporters actually try to do, by the way; that is, offer a balanced view instead of a consistently optimistic — or pessimistic — one.)

Having covered the retail industry before covering Apple, I knew a little something about the risks that retailers in general face and talked to some industry experts about them. Among the risks I highlighted: the potential that Apple would soon run out of desirable locations of its stores, the inevitable aging of its store base, the potential that it could run out of hit products and the intense competition in electronics.

But as I noted, few expected Apple’s retail effort to be derailed by those risks:

“As long as the company can continue to unveil new, hot products, Apple stores will help push its growth, analysts say,” I wrote.

Your readers can find the full story here:

Apple’s chain reaction

I did follow that story up with the one you highlighted. But instead of that story being pessimistic about Apple’s retail efforts, it took a much more nuanced approach (something you might want to try sometime, Daniel).

Apple’s stores were successful, but at least some of their success seemed to be coming at the expense of some of the company’s long-time resellers, that story reported. In it, I specifically mentioned a reseller in Honolulu who claimed that she had lost half her business since Apple opened a store nearby.

As the article noted, the idea that resellers were being hurt by Apple’s stores could be a problem for Apple. At the time, it still at the time got a sizable portion of its overall sales from its reseller network. But the article also acknowledged that Apple was aware of the potential problem.

And the article went on to note that other resellers had seen no effect from Apple store openings and there was the possibility that some resellers might benefit from them, because “they help promote Apple’s products to customers who are considering the Mac platform and allow consumers to test them.”

The point about Wal-Mart was a quote from an analyst, who was not saying that Apple’s stores are as nameless and faceless (i.e., homogenous) as Wal-Mart’s. Instead, essentially he was saying that chain stores such as Wal-Mart’s and Apple’s were displacing independent businesses. This is a long-term, nationwide trend.

In other words, the problems faced by mom-and-pop Apple resellers are not all that different from mom-and-pop operators of other kinds of retail stores. It’s not so much that they’re going up against Apple, it’s that Americans are increasingly turning away from mom-and-pops vendors to shop at chain stores, where they have a pretty good idea going in what the experience is going to be like.

Your readers can find that article here:

Apple Store Success Rankles Some Resellers

(It would be nice, btw, Daniel, if you consistently followed the general protocol among bloggers and link to the articles you refer to — or even criticize. That way your readers can make up their own minds about whether your take is accurate — or not.)

And with that, that’s about all I have time for today — and I really haven’t gotten past (nor mentioned all the errors in) the very first article you wrote about me.

Too many errors, too little time.

13 gus2000 { 03.07.08 at 10:54 pm }

Troy said: “But far be it from you from doing what real reporters do on a daily basis, namely attempting to confirm information before they publish it.

Yes, Woodward and Bernstein confirm information before they publish it. Most of the tech press is far less conscientious. Heck, even Fox News ran the ridiculous story that Senator Obama was a brainwashed muslim. High standards are a nice thing, too bad they are seldom equally applied.

Troy said: “That’s something that real reporters actually try to do, by the way; that is, offer a balanced view instead of a consistently optimistic — or pessimistic — one.

Daniel is not a “real reporter”. He has no masthead, no editorial staff, and no photographer. He’s the 21st century version of the Town Crier, more like Thomas Paine than Thomas L. Friedman. He should have high standards, but not nearly as high as a professional journalist working for a retail news outlet.

Lastly, Troy, you make a mistake common to many journalists: being “balanced” or “impartial” means that there are two equal sides to every story. This is simply not true. Daniel is not biased in favor of Apple, the facts are biased in favor of Apple. But you can’t write that story, because it doesn’t seem “politically correct”.

Until the mainstream press starts to understand this, I will continue to read and support Daniel’s rants against the ill-informed, even if he does sometimes go too far.

14 limey { 03.08.08 at 1:36 am }

Troy, you are a journalist, employed to write fact and verify the words that you write. You answer to your employer and as such your writing reflects on the integrity of the journals for whom you work. Sadly your work sometimes uses rumor, assumption and innuendo and reports this as fact. Of course this may not be true, but since you don’t always verify your story or report your sources it is hard not to see your articles in anything other than a poor light. As I said this type of journalism reflects on your employers, whoever they may be.

Your rant above seems uncannily familiar, similar to today’s story of the resignation of Samantha Power (Obama aide) who, when she realised she had made a mistake (the “monster” comment) immediately told the reporter that that comment was “off the record.” But too late!

I fear thou doth protest too much Troy. It’s too late, the cat is out of the bag. You have a bad rep, and whatever you say now is only digging your hole deeper.

Daniel is a blogger. His words are his opinion and he answers to no-one but himself. Most of us here, as faithful readers, understand and respect this. We certainly don’t expect perfection from him, but we do expect better from you.

15 fishdoc { 03.08.08 at 1:59 am }

Wow. Does it strike anyone else as odd (or borderline nutty) that Tom goes to such pains to post a lengthy “correction” of facts that don’t really seem very consequential? It was implied that he wrote for more than one outlet at the same time, but he didn’t, and so that merits multiple paragraphs of proof?

Holy cow, Tom – no wonder Daniel mocks you…I had never heard of you before, nor had I read his comments about your reporting (I came here through a link on another page, and don’t believe I had ever read this site before), but having read your loopy rant…well, I would mock you too!


16 Video Presentation: A Software Platform History of Apple, NeXT, Microsoft, and into the Future. — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 03.11.08 at 1:39 am }

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