Ten Months, 26 Stories About Apple

As a personal exercise exploring the tone of my BetaNews stories about Apple, I reviewed all of them written over the past 10 months—just 26, which isn’t many. I did this because, despite the last two posts (here and here) about Apple apologists, reader response does matter. Some critics harp about balance, and I admit there’s no glowing love for the company expressed in most of my stories.

There shouldn’t be. What some people call negativity, I see as constructive criticism. Then there is straight news reporting, which needn’t praise or raze. I prepared the list for myself and post it here mostly for my reference. But it’s a good look at my most recent news stories and analyses about Apple. 

1. “I am not Kind to Apple” praises another reporter’s well-researched look into Apple PR tactics and reaffirms that the tone of my stories seek to balance the many others that are uncritically pro-Apple.

2. “Apple’s march of the Lemmings” snarks about bloggers and journalists speculating and rumormongering when they should be reporting.

3. “Why is iPhone so destructible?” is a question I asked after my daughter shattered screens on three devices in two months. I intended commenters to answer the question based on their own experiences.

4. “Microsoft is cooler than Apple” uses a clickable headline to draw in readers. The story’s point: Apple is hugely successful managing brand perceptions, while Microsoft is not. I do ding the fruit-logo company for not selling something like Surface Pro 3 but the story is really about Microsoft not getting brand respect and deserving more.

5. “While you watch, the Android Army marches forward” leads off: “While the American tech press turns to San Francisco and Apple’s developer conference, the real world looks to Taipei and Computex”. I wouldn’t have bothered this announcements recap if American press coverage wasn’t so narrowly focused on the one event when another mattered more to the global village.

6. “Why Apple no longer innovates” isn’t meant to be critical but picks up a theme previously explored—that Steve Jobs and Tim Cook were like Kirk and Spock from Star Trek: Compliments. Excerpt: “Under Cook’s leadership, rather than innovate, Apple iterates…That said, Cook the tactician brilliantly preserves status quo revenue streams through exceptional control of manufacturing and distribution logistics. I wouldn’t want to play chess with the man. But Jobs the poker player—master of bluff and misdirection—made Apple a great innovator”.

7. “AppleCare+ iPhone replacement costs more now, but you knew that—right?” begins: “I learned about the change yesterday, unhappily. File this story under ‘read the fine print department'”. I should have known the fee is $79 now, not $49. AppleCare+ is still a huge value; I buy it for all iOS devices.

8. “Apple isn’t Phabulous” advises: “There’s a gaping hole in Apple’s product line—and one CEO Tim Cook better quickly fix”. Analyst data shows that so-called phablets (e.g. large-screen smartphones) sap tablet sales. Interestingly, the company is rumored to be prepping a big-screen iPhone to be announced during a September 9 media event.

9. “Apple should be very afraid” means to, again, correct the record: “I cringe reading American blogs about iPhone ruling the world, when the writers clearly don’t know squat about the real world—as in outside Europe or the United States”. I see sense in Motorola’s high-quality, low-cost smartphone strategy with Moto E and G. It’s a big world, and most people can’t afford iPhone. Sales growth is in emerging markets.

10. “Apple’s ad campaign really is ‘powerful’” praises the company for marketing effort: “You’re more powerful than you think”.

11. “Apple makes MacBook Air less appealing” by not upping screen resolution. Warning: “I contend that today’s refresh, which changes little else but price, merely empowers school IT administrators seeking to make a case for Chromebook. When comparing benefits of A to B and highlighting lower but still higher pricing, Apple becomes the less-compelling choice”. Two months later, NPD reported Chromebook, which outsold Macs for five quarters, is the education market’s star sales performer during back-to-school season 2014.

12. “Tim Cook pulls off a Steve Jobs” praises Apple’s CEO for his deft managing perceptions during what could have been a tough earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts.

13. “Apple Q2 2014 by the numbers: $45.6B revenue, $11.62 EPS” is a straight earnings report with some analysis.

14. “Google Camera goads iPhone” discusses the Android maker’s new app, putting some context around Apple efforts. Months after I posted, the company responded with forthcoming Photos for OS X and the new iOS 8 photo app.

15. “You can have Apple iPhone 5s, I’ll take HTC One M8” compares design concepts and user benefits based on my experience switching devices. Despite the headline’s bluster, I write: “Choosing any phone is about you, not what another person—whether professional reviewer or someone whom you know—recommends. Smartphones are hugely personal and contextual devices that connect you to things that truly matter. Your mobile is a lifestyle decision. Each of these two mobiles could fit your digital lifestyle, depending on what attributes are more important”.

16. “iTunes Match made in heaven, ah, the cloud” follows up the next post in the list, explaining—thanks to some Apple assistance—how to upgrade older, rights-protected tracks to DRM-free.

17. “iTunes slaps DRM handcuffs on my music” recounts how rights-protected tracks suddenly appeared in my music library.

18. “Apple shouldn’t be the next Microsoft” rebuts a blogger’s claims that Apple is the new Microsoft.

19. “Apple succeeds where Sony couldn’t“—and that’s in what NPD calls the market for premium-PCs, or those selling for $1,000 or more. Prompting the story: Sony unloading its computer division to Lenovo.

20. “Apple serves a feast but Wall Street complains there’s no ketchup” defends the company’s earnings report, following a stock sell-off the news media contributed to. I wrote: “There’s an echo chamber bellowing this fine Tuesday, as bloggers and journalists stumble over one another to sound the loudest alarm”.

21. “My Mac Moment” commemorates the 30-year anniversary of Apple’s iconic computer; I recount my history buying Macs—and there were many.

22. “Apple marketing magic is back” praises Apple commercial “Misunderstood”. BTW, last month (August), the advert received the 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Commercial“. Job well done.

23. “5 things you might not think Apple should be thankful for” is a Thanksgiving post heaping great praise on Tim Cook’s leadership.

24. “Open letter to Tim Cook: Apple needs to be more like Google” definitely delivers advice: “Stock speculators and analysts talk like Apple is dying, despite another amazing fiscal year—$170.9 billion net sales, up from $108.2 billion two years earlier…You need to take lessons from Google, which public image transformed since Larry Page returned as CEO in April 2011”. Perhaps, it’s coincidence, but the 7-for-1 stock split and “Powerful” campaign top off a clearly coordinated brand-lifting effort.

25. “Apple iPad Air first-impressions review” praises “the best tablet I have ever used. Period”.

26. “I hate to sound like an Apple apologist, but…” asserts that “Android’s success isn’t iPad’s doom, and Cook wisely looks to preserve margins and brand equity over gaining market share”.