A Turkey for 2015’s List Season

November 26th, 2015

So it has begun. For the next few months, you’ll be seeing loads of best/worst listicles. The choices may be based on reader surveys, editorial preferences, personal preferences, or just by shooting darts at the wall and hoping a few will hit their targets. In other words, there are no standards, and anyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s.

But if you’re talking about the tech business, might as well put Apple on the top of a list of the year’s tech turkeys. Not that it necessarily deserves to be there, but it’s certain hit bait. So the only thing lacking in a report published by a certain national newspaper was to use Apple in the title. But maybe someone will get the clue and change the headline.

First and foremost, the Apple Watch must be a “turkey.” Unfortunately the reasons are incoherent, such as referring to “useful apps that can be easily accessed on the phone…”

The what? Does the writer mean that Apple Watch apps need to be accessed on the iPhone too? For otherwise, the phrase is scrambled eggs. Other complaints are about getting through the day on a single charge, which it does. The reviews mostly report that the advertised 18-hour average battery life is pretty much on the mark. But the main complaint is that it is a “work-in-progress” that will require improvement.


What about the first iPhone, which didn’t even work on the then fastest 3G network, and had no third-party apps, app development system or store? Was that also a “work-in-progress,” or is it simply the fact that any version 1.0 product will get better over time? Forgotten in this foolish turkey award is the fact that the Apple Watch reportedly outsells all other smartwatches combined according to a reasonable range of estimates.

The next presumed “turkey” is particularly naive. It’s about poor battery life, which is really nothing new, since battery technology hasn’t really advanced that much in recent years. The main complaint echoes the one about the Apple Watch, about phones not lasting a full day. But many do. My iPhone does. I suppose if you run YouTube videos at full tilt without letup, maybe not.

Unfortunately, the writer doesn’t really seem to grasp battery technology or what might be required to extend life. Certainly the iPhone 6 Plus usually lasts more than a day without need of a recharge for many customers. Handset makers can optimize power use and eke out better battery life, but it’ll take new generations of batteries to improve things significantly. It’s not something Apple and Samsung can just decide to do.

Yet another complaint is about subscription music and TV services, ranging from Apple Music to Netflix. The author is “sick” of them, complaining that you need a detective to figure them all out. But if you have so many that the bills are mounting fast, that’s your fault, not the fault of the content providers who are merely trying to make a living.

After all, just what is the alternative to charging a subscription price? Oh sure, it’s running ads. Well, you do get ads on Hulu Plus, even though you pay a monthly fee, but there are less ads. Indeed, the reason you have these services in the first place is that they give you unlimited content mostly without the ads for a single fee. It doesn’t matter how much you consume. It’s still the same price. With cable or satellite TV, you pay flat fees for your chosen bundle of channels, but you still have to endure the ads on most except for “premium” channels.

So how does the author expect these companies to pay the bills? Does he believe that they can just stream all that content free of charge without ads? What about the production companies, the music and movie producers, who create that content? What about the artists, the actors, musicians and production staffs? Someone has to pay the bills, or does he believe that governments should fund the arts so entertainment is free to everyone?

Well, I suppose you can make that argument. And in some countries, there is such government support, but it doesn’t happen in many and not everyone wants it. But asking you to pay for the content you consume is not a turkey, and giving you a fairly wide choice of services to which you can subscribe at fairly low rates is by no means a turkey either. It’s a tested and proven way of doing business.

Yes, I understand that things might get confusing if you select a number of services. Maybe there ought to be a clearinghouse of some sort, where you can use a single login, pay a single bill, to choose the services you want. Of course that’s done to some extent with the cable and satellite providers, but they aren’t filling the gaps served by Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix and all the rest.

After all, what about services for those who choose to cut the cable/satellite cord?

There are actually good and bad turkeys listed in that article. But much of it represents complaints from someone who seems to be unsatisfied by a lot of things that don’t bother most people. More than likely, the list is deliberately controversial to attract comments and traffic. But since I won’t identify the writer, the publication, or the URL, he won’t get any help from me.

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