Apple propaganda -- spinning failure as success
Apple only sold 3.95 million Mac computers during the whole of the last quarter year!
This is clearly a disappointing result for the Apple, but you wouldn't think so if you saw the way it was reported by certain tech bloggers and certain sections of the press. It's like Orwellian double-speak.
The real headline is here, and a noteworthy fact, is that Apple sold less than 4 million Macs. (To put this into perspective, last time I checked, during Q4 2010, 100 million PCs were sold in that same period -- and bear in mind that PC sales are currently going through a slump, as the Apple camp keeps pointing out, even though this was actually a modest 3.1% increase year-on-year.) But Apple's propaganda machine and loyal fan communities have spun this bad news story into a success story for iPad, by aggregating iOS sales (iPhone + iPad) and comparing the resulting statistics to PC sales. This is a blatantly phoney comparison, because of course people get new phones much more often than they get new PCs.
Supposedly independent commentators like Forbes blogger Brian Caulfield reported the story under the title: "Apple Now Selling More iPads Than Macs; iOS Eclipses Dell And HP's PC Businesses". I submitted a comment challenging the spin in Caulfield's article, but alas it was never approved. When blog writers moderate their own comments, this can obviously jeopardise balanced discussion.) Caulfield's blogging seems dominated by Apple stories -- even the most mundane Apple gossip doesn't escape this man. Apple's lengthy white iPhone saga succeeded in creating headlines about the brand when in reality there was no news and nothing definite to report. (I take a closer look at Caulfield in my comments, below.) More generally, Forbes seems obsessed with cool and trendy stories about Apple/Google, reporting any available trivia, while important news and major developments in the tech sector relating to other companies -- most conspicuously Microsoft -- is all too often overlooked.
On Business Insider, Jay Yarrow boosted the hysteria to even higher levels. Under the headline, "Mind-Melting Facts About Apple's June Quarter", he was almost frothing at the mouth: "Apple is like one of those amazing sports teams just racking up win after win, crushing the competition!" Perhaps Jay didn't read the part about less than 4 million Macs being sold -- for whatever reason, he didn't mention the bad news and was clearly only interested in writing another good-news story about Apple. If we sober-up and return to reality, of course, Apple is not "crushing the competition". Android is beating iOS sales by a huge margin. In fact, Android overtook iPhone last year not that long after Android was launched. iPad sales recently dipped and represent a tiny scratch on the surface of PC sales. Even if we combine iPad and Mac desktop computer sales, the figures are utterly eclipsed by PC sales.
The pro-Apple bias of major news outlets is well-documented. I sometimes tweet about the Apple slant at The Guardian, a major newspaper in the UK, with particular attention to the news agenda set by, and articles written by, Charles Arthur their Technology Editor -- both online and in print. The astonishing pro-Apple and anti-Microsoft bias at the New York Times and other major news outlets has been called out, before too. It's a shame, because it means people are not getting a complete and balanced information about the all important tech industry.
All of this makes me want to look more closely at the relationship between Apple and their loyal commentators out in the field. For example, I wonder how Apple chooses which commentators get exclusive leaks and other stories. Presumably it's in the interests of any tech commentator to sing to Apple's tune, and by the same token could be less beneficial to their career if they failed to serve as a conduit for Apple propaganda.
No matter how much certain commentators prophesise the doom of PC sales, and no matter how much that want to believe it, saying something repeatedly doesn't make it true. PCs are still being sold, despite occasional and seasonal dips. Intel, the biggest maker of microchips for PCs, is basking in the glory of continued growth and geared-up for a 10% increase in sales this year -- a fundamental marker for the health of the PC market. And that's despite inroads being made by rival chip makers in Intel's core markets. And Windows 7 has sold over 700 million licenses and counting, making it the fastest-selling operating system of any kind of all time -- by a vast margin. So much for the "post-PC" era -- a meaningless official Apple propaganda term again evocative of Orwellian double-speak.
If you're finding yourself impressed by how well Apple seems to be doing, it might be worth taking a step back and seeing through the hype and spin that always surround Apple.
If you're looking for a tech industry success story to cheer you up, I reccomend reading Microsoft's financial results published today, which show very impressive earnings, revenues, profits and growth -- exceeeding and far surpassing expectations. Enjoy! :)
21 July 2011