Developer Marco Arment says he regrets his blog post about Apple: welcome to the dilemma every B2B editor faces each day
Post on Apple software quality proves a catalyst for online discussions surrounding the state of bot Apple and the tech media world that covers the company
The post this weekend by developer Marco Arment has gotten a lot of people’s attention. The reason is simple, the well-known developer said what a lot of Apple customers have known for a while, but few tech sites had the guts to say: Apple software quality is declining.
Arment, almost immediately, regretted his own post. The publisher of his own blog, Arment said that his post has already received more page views than any other post he wrote last year. It got him a ton of attention, much of it from those fanboys upset that the post was ever written.
“You might think this is a dream come true for a blogger, but it’s horrible.”
Sadly, Arment, went on to write a mea culpa that looks too much like an obvious attempt to get back into the good graces of Apple. Such is the power of the world’s largest tech company, and its press and app teams.
“Instead of what was intended to be constructive criticism of the most influential company in my life, I handed the press more poorly written fuel to hamfistedly stab Apple with my name and reputation behind it. And my name will be on that forever.” Arment wrote.
“Had I known that it would go as far as it did, I never would have written it.”
And that is what the big tech firms want the press to say, that they live in fear of their wrath. Arment is not a journalist by trade, so maybe he can be excused for thinking this way, but many members of the tech press would have to admit to feeling the same way.
The fact is that Apple’s quality has declined. I’ve been an Apple computer user since early 1983** and the past couple of years have seen me having more trouble with Apple software than at any time I can remember.
(**I sometimes make the mistake of saying “a Mac user” but then have to remember that I bought an Apple 2e in 1983 and didn’t actually have my first Mac until 1991 thanks o hand-me-down placed on my desk at McGraw-Hill in San Francisco.)
Lukas Mathis, writing on Ignore the Code, agrees that Apple is software is declining, and also that Apple is oblivious to the problem.
“I get the same impression: Apple doesn’t see what’s happening.”
“It seems to me that the media covering Apple is partly to blame for this. There seem to be two main factions covering Apple: people who dislike Apple, and whose opinions can thus be disregarded. And people who like Apple, but would rather talk about how wrong the first faction is, and how badly Samsung and Google are doing, than discuss the problems Apple’s own products have,” Mathis writes.
The tech and financial press is certainly partially to blame for the quality of coverage of Apple. I think the problem is that too few in the media hold developer licenses themselves, understand what a developer has to do to build and launch an app, who understand digital editions and the mechanisms of the App Store and Newsstand. Yesterday, for instance, I received a solicitation to buy a book on app marketing… from a publisher that has no apps themselves.
Apple’s press team has only once reached out to TNM. In the fall of 2013, TNM was working directly with Apple’s software team to fix an issue with iBooks Author after a TNM reader had discovered that an update to iBA had left out the ability to embed custom fonts. My experience with the software team was positive and I believe led to a fix of the app. But since that time, all attempts to speak to Apple about the condition of the Newsstand has been ignored by the Press team and the continued state of the Newsstand has led to many publishers to reevaluate their decision to developer first for iOS.
B2B publishers, of course, know all about problems involved with covering an industry, and writing negative stories about companies inside it. Often an editor simply don’t do it (or a publisher forbids it).
In the past they could get away with this as trade magazines once were the only real source of information in an industry. The web changed all that and the trade media business has never been the same.
But trade publishers can not serve two masters, they either write for their readers or they serve those who advertise and exhibit at their events. Most know who pays the bills – which side of the bread is buttered, as the saying goes.
But credibility is still important to readers and the tech press, at least in the U.S., is not seen as very credible. I think readers, though, have a healthy view of the online and print content they read: it is fun to read about rumors and new gadgets, but it is all taken with a grain of salt.