Media kit for reporting on Steve Jobs & Apple: Understanding & Spinning Rants
October 19th, 2010
Daniel Eran Dilger
This media kit is being made available to keep your staff writers on message when reporting on Apple Inc, as opposed to every other tech company. Please do not stray from these guidelines, or Apple’s competitors might be induced to actually fight to contest in a competitive market, rather than being lulled into complacency while making meaninglessly trite responses.
Part 1: Intelligent, rational discussion by Steve Jobs is a “rant,” while childish ranting and name calling by other CEOs is professional discourse.
It’s official: Jobs’ comments during the earnings report was a “rant.” Google it: Every tech blog from the Huffington Post to the SAI Business Insider to Engadget to TechCrunch to Ars’ TUAW referred to Jobs’ comments as a “rant,” perhaps because they don’t know what this word means.
To rant is to “speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way.”
In reality, Jobs’ comments were not that long (albeit perhaps a lot to follow the MTV generation), were not exactly wild, and while perhaps driven by passion, were actually articulated as a rational explanation that laid out unequivocally why Apple expects RIM to be unable to catch up, why Android is performing so poorly as a software platform, and why the company thinks 7“ tablets are not going to fly.
Since when have tech CEOs laid out similar, cogent explanations of where the industry was headed and why?
RIM’s rants are not
For example, what does the leadership at RIM have to say about the future? This spring RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis dismissed the importance of touchscreen phones, saying that while it’s important to give customers what they want, touch-only phones like the iPhone aren’t that popular. Lazaridis claimed that most of the people buying touchscreen phones are going back to phones with hardware QWERTY keyboards, like those that made RIM ‘famous.’
That’s an irrational rant, but don’t call it that.
Google’s rants are not
What about Google? Its VP Andy Rubin, tweeting in response to Jobs’ comments on ”openness“ in Android, typed out, ”the definition of open: ‘mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make.“
The problem is that all that geekness doesn’t actually provide an answer to anyone apart from those to whom such a line is completely opaque. The truth is that you can’t simply compile Android apps to work on any Android-based device, which is what Jobs’ point was.
There isn’t one Google phone, there are hundreds of different models and scores of different software versions and distributions, each of which must be tested against. So Rubin’s response was trite bullshit, but the tech media gobbled it up with a grin, apparently unaware what it actually meant, as if they were admiring the emperor’s new clothes.
Android developers rants are not
TweetDeck’s response to Jobs’ comment that developers on Android have to spend their time testing rather than delivering features, insisted, ”Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn’t. It wasn’t.“
Again, the reality is that Jobs didn’t ever put those words into the mouths of TweetDeck’s developers. He only pointed out the truth: that developing for Android is a lot of busywork that doesn’t result in commercial success, in part because developers have to focus on testing rather than innovating.
The response wasn’t, ”No Steve Jobs, we’re actually making lots of money on Android, and it’s as easy as Rubin’s tweet to deploy apps on this wonderfully open platform.“ That would be a lie, which is why TweetDeck didn’t say that.
Rants R US
Instead, we have ridiculous spin that doesn’t take on Jobs’ comments and critique or refute them, but rather just blows hot air in the style of RIM. Distractions, tearing up straw men, saying incomprehensible leet speak to distract from the reality that everything Jobs pointed out was brutally honestly true in a way that nobody can refute unless they lie or distract on a wild tangent rant.
Oh wait, but don’t call it a rant. Only Apple rants. Because the only company that needs to ”rant“ is the leader. Those falling behind, scrambling to have a finger in everything while making a flurry of incomprehensible acquisitions, are lauded just as Microsoft once was, before it was obvious to everyone else that the company had no real direction, just an insulating layer of media fawning blubber that enabled it to appear substantial and healthy long after it beached itself.
Good job media darlings. Your audience will never see it coming.