• Apple: The Media’s Darling

    January 29th, 2005

    Someone once said that all they knew was what they read in the newspapers. I suppose one could substitute the words broadcasting and online these days and come to the same conclusion. In any case, if you pay any attention at all to articles about personal computers, you’d have to think Apple is number one in the business. Nearly every new Mac gets rave reviews even from publications that specialize in Windows PCs. Where criticisms appear, they are relatively minor in the scheme of things, such as not enough memory as standard equipment.

    Throughout my workday, I regularly consult online information sources. To make the quest easier, I keep an RSS reader, NetNewsWire Lite, open and ready to deliver the latest headlines from dozens of sites. These days, I see more and more members of the mainstream press putting Apple on a pedestal, separate and better from the rest of the PC universe. It has grown to a fever pitch since Macworld Expo, just as Apple’s stock price goes higher and higher. If only I invested, but again that would be a conflict of interest for any journalist, right? Well, maybe I could put it in a blind trust, but I’m probably too late even if I had enough money to take a chance.

    In fact, one might think there is only one kind of PC, and it’s made by Apple. Of course, when it comes to digital music players, that would be the correct answer for the most part. Online music? Whatever happened to MSN Music? They said that Microsoft would be unbeatable, but you don’t hear about it anymore. Maybe the company is too busy trying to get a crippled Longhorn out the door and fight security threats. So it simply doesn’t have the resources to give much attention to an online music service.

    Yet it seems so strange that Apple sits there with a tiny share of the computer market. Isn’t anyone paying attention?

    I sometimes wonder how a visitor from another planet might react to the situation. The creature, humanoid or otherwise, would learn our language, and probably use the news media to discover something about our civilization. I suppose the warlike race of which we are all a part wouldn’t be terribly impressive to highly advanced beings from out there, but that’s another subject.

    In any case, the alien visitor, knowing nothing about the state of the PC market, would quickly come to the conclusion that Apple has a 90% share. How could it be otherwise with all that great publicity? Imagine how that being would react if it were in attendance at a Steve Jobs keynote address. I assume here, of course, that the being is human-like or can masquerade as one. Maybe that person sitting next to me? No, that was Grayson and I definitely know his history.

    Would the famous “reality distortion field” extend to an extraterrestrial visitor? It sure effects most everybody who attends one of those sessions. This year, more and more members of the media were in attendance; so many in fact that many had to observe the proceedings via a pair of high definition TV monitors in a separate room. But, from what my colleagues who were placed in that room tell me, the charisma was just as powerful.

    The news media is supposed to deliver information for the benefit of the rest of the public, but it almost seems as we are all alien visitors when it comes to putting an accurate spin on the situation. The reality, of course, is that Apple’s sales are dwarfed by makers of dull, drag, almost anonymous computing boxes from Dell, HP, Gateway and so on. Apple is doing a little better, but the reality and the perception just don’t jibe.

    I wonder what an IT person must think reading about all the great stuff from Apple, how Mac OS X isn’t affected by spyware, how the only Mac viruses discovered so far amount to proofs of concept. That means there’s a potential for infection, but it hasn’t happened. Even in the days when Apple really had a double digit market share, the number of virus infections were relatively small. Stability? Not perfect, but far better than Windows.

    The IT people must know that unless they are living in another universe. They must read the same news we do, and yet how many of them will tell their employers to ditch those troublesome PC boxes and by something that usually “just works”? To them, Apple Computer remains an irrelevant boutique brand that really doesn’t build computers designed for business. Well, maybe those crazy people in the art department. But aren’t creative folks eccentric anyway?

    Hollywood? The music industry? They live in bubbles, shielded from reality, so their computers of choice don’t impact normal people. But wouldn’t you consider USA Today and The Wall Street Journal normal? What about The New York Times and The Washington Post? All right, some might dismiss them as the so-called left-wing press (as if there’s anything wrong with that), but what about the popular conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh? Or The Washington Times for that matter, which is also regarded as having a conservative bent.

    Hello! Is anyone paying attention out there? The publicity about Microsoft and its operating system is either neutral or bad. Apple delivers gushes, even from folks who are supposedly objective. Does it mean that the reality distortion field has finally extended its influence beyond the confines of the Macworld Expo? If that’s true, you’d have to believe it’s only a matter of time before the message gets through and millions and millions of new Macs find their way into homes and offices just as huge numbers of PC boxes are shuffled on to the recycle bins. It has to happen soon, right? Or maybe we are the real alien visitors after all.

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