Interesting feedback on my first Newsweek column, “One Bad Apple.” The column argues that Apple has become what Microsoft was 10 years ago — a Bigfoot to smaller companies, throwing its weight around and treating its ecosystem partners not very well. A hardcore Kool-Aid drinker inside Apple sniffs that, “Your column didn’t piss me off, just because I think you are wrong.” A Kool-Aid drinking fanboy writes that the article was so frigtarded that “at first when I read it I thought it must be written by someone who doesn’t know very much about Apple or technology.” Ryan Block of gdgt says I’m an idiot. (See, Ryan has a company with no vowels in its name. Ooooh.)

But then a Valley veteran who happens to be the developer of one of the most popular iPhone apps writes: “Awesome! As a newcomer to the Apple ecosystem, I couldn’t agree more!”

Food for thought.

Oh, and as the angry email rolls in, I’m reminded of something I wrote in July, called “The culture of enablers.” Though I think “cult” instead of “culture” might have been more appropriate.

40 Responses to “Feedback”

  1. Jeffrey

    Dan, I agree with most of what you’re saying, but in the piece you argue that iPod + iTunes = lockin, which isn’t entirely true. iTunes is not “the only store that can sell music” that works on the iPod. I can download any MP3 from any music service that sells them (Amazon and eMusic are the services I use) and play them on any iPod. I buy music from Amazon like every week; I buy something on iTunes maybe every six months.

  2. Marc

    I ageree with you Dan. I suppose I am a Apple fan-boy, but only because their stuff is way better than anything else out there (music players, phones, computers, etc.), but it is a lock-in, like Microsoft 10 years ago! If people can’t see that then they need to take their heads out of theirs arse’s, and have a look at the world around them, it’s full of these ‘lock-in’s’ where ever you go! It’s part of todays business, and Apple is just a business at the end of the day.

    I know it would be nice if everything was ‘open’, well maybe it will happen in another 10 years.

  3. Josh

    I see your points. I myself tend to prefer Apple products but I remind myself that a corporation is just that and it will only be that. They never care about you personally, just that you buy more of their stuff. I agree Apple is a little Microsoft right now and I personally don’t want to see them get any bigger but I’m sure they will. I love their products but I’m not blind to what they are doing. Don’t trust a company.

    By the way, speaking of ecosystem we’ve known for a longtime Sony trying to force a proprietary ecosystem, see their latest effort here:

    I’ll say this, Apple ecosystem will always be better than Sony’s. Sony is one unorganized group.

  4. Rob McDougall

    I’ve been an Apple customer for almost 10 years and watched their build quality decline over that time. It was ok whilst the software was still great but with the iPhone sucking all their R&D I felt Leopard was somewhat lacking…

    Hm. It’s not enough to make me stop being a customer (presumably what they’re counting on) but the longer it goes on the less satisfied I become.

  5. Will The Real Lastangelman Please Stand Up?

    In eleven years, I’m sure Google will be the next contestant in the large footprint stakes. They won’t control the internet, only how you organize the information. But it will be invisible to the users. It’ll be the competitors who will feel the pain.

  6. Josh

    @ Will The Real Lastangelman Please Stand Up?

    11 years?? In my opinion Google is already past Apple in being the 800 lb. gorilla. Just look at all their products (mostly betas…for years) and how they are just dominating everything. Do no evil? Yeah right.

  7. 名無しさん

    Newsweek. Ah, yes, that paragon of journalism, that in 2005 printed a story about how US soldiers were desecrating the Koran at Gitmo and then later retracted it, but not after seventeen people died in subsequent riots. Nice choice there.

  8. deathByChiChi

    I think companies acting evilly is a function of market share. Microsoft acts evilly because they have a monopoly. Google acts evilly in online ads because they pretty much have a monopoly. Apple has the capacity for evil and if they dominate markets like Microsoft has, will likely become evil. But they have yet to do that. At this point, Apple is about one fiftieth as evil as Microsoft. Plus their stuff works better.

  9. Paul

    Apple is nothing like Microsoft simply because its competitor (i.e. Microsoft) is much larger than itself. You failed to demonstrate how Apple is squeezing any smaller competitors. If anything, it’s competitors fail to receive the support they need from Microsoft to compete successfully against Apple. Yes, Apple creates an ecosystem for its products and controls how others can play on their turf. Thems the rules of tech! If you want to develop an application for facebook, you’ll have to play be Zuckerberg’s rules, for Apple it’s Jobs’ rules, for M$ its Gates’ rules. All the rulemakers will take a piece of the pie. Apple is no different from any of the others with the one exception; they are serious about writing software so they control the hardware and vice-a-versa. It makes for a seamless, bug-free, non-crashing user experience. So is Apple squeezing its partners? IF they are, they have the option to go develop for Microsoft of Linux.

  10. Jonathan

    Apple isn’t currently what I’d consider an evil company, but I think they must tread very carefully to avoid becoming like Microsoft. They need to keep writing good software, but they must also open up platforms like the iPod and the iPhone a little more. True, it does make them susceptible to viruses, but if they’re not sold through Apple’s own app store they can’t take responsibility. (They’d have to write a system by which applications have to be authenticated before they run to stop self-replicating worms, but as the iPhone runs OS X, it shouldn’t be too difficult to port the sudo front-end.)

  11. FBO

    “they are serious about writing software so they control the hardware and vice-a-versa. It makes for a seamless, bug-free, non-crashing user experience.”

    My battery on my powerbook died.


    At least that’s what I determined it to be. FSJ would have helped me out, virtually at least. I would have gotten a free fake battery.

    - Barry

  12. ChuckO

    Hi, long time reader, first time responder. I agree with a lot of the Gidget’s arguments. I didn’t get where you were going with the Vudu thing. Apple should have stayed out of movies? or limited their selection? Huh, what? I personally don’t want a slew of boxes hooked up to the internet, one for music, another for movies, etc. That would be an expensive mess. A bunch of accounts to manage. Yikes! He’s right about music too. You can use any mp3′s on an iPod. I got the feeling you were trying to position yourself with that article as not being a mindless Apple zealot.

  13. Fernando

    I personally didn’t like it. I did find a couple of flaws in your argument, which was too sensationalist for my taste. I can say I wasn’t expecting it, because I had grown used to the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) satirical writing from FSJ. This just seemed like any other clueless tech reporter from a tech site that needs hits.

    I personally think you were better as a freelance writer than as a Newsweeks drone. It is, however, money that moves us, so I understand why you switched. It’s still sad though.

  14. David K.

    So what you are saying is people who disagree with you are angry trolls and part of a cult. Fascinating take on reality and truth there Danny Boy. And seriously, can we drop the “kool-aid” references allready? Is that the best defense you can come up with against people who happen to disagree with you about this and think that *gasp* Apple isn’t as bad as you claim? It’s hard to have any kind of civil discourse over an issue (in which i think you are mostly wrong) when you refer to those who disagree with you as kool-aid drinking cultists, especially for those of us who remember what the ACTUAL reference there is.

  15. Matthew_Maurice

    I wasn’t surprised by the comments. The die-hard apolo…I mean fan-boys are going to cry foul, new developers will say right on! The fact is, like everything the truth is someowhere in the middle. If Microsoft came as close to Apple on the promise of it’s products their monopoly might have been more acceptable. And the fact is that despite Microsoft’s “monopoly” there were always other options, anyone for Netware, Domino, and Wordperfect? Don’t like the way iPods/iPhones work? Buy a Zune or Treo. Nobody is forcing anyone to buy Apple products, in fact the premium they charge (and we all _know_ they do) for their products is a barrier to adoption. The fact is people buy Macs, iPods, iPhones, and Apple software because they think it looks better, works better and/or is just plain COOL. If Apple has a monopoly on _that_ don’t blame Apple, blame everyone else!

  16. MikeW

    I don’t think the main point you were “trying” to make was off base. It’s just that all your supporting points were stupid or factually inaccurate.

    What response did you think you would get? I have been a long-time fan of yours. However with this piece I have now put you in the same bucket of good ol flame-bait Dvorak. Did you promise Newsweek lots of page views and comments?

    I admired you because you looked at everything with a critical and factual eye – but your examples in this piece just didn’t pan out. That’s why you are getting the flack that you are.

  17. vaporland

    All you cranky whiners who miss FSJ need to close your pie-holes. He’s gone, that’s it, join a 12-step two step if you need help getting over your withdrawal symptoms.

    The problem with following an anonymous pundit is that you fill the vessel with your expectations – and when all is revealed, it is kind of like knowing how a magic trick is done: initially exhilarating, but ultimately disappointing.

  18. dibbler

    Dan, maybe it’s that many people out there who read Fake Steve thought you were being sincere when taking the piss out of Apple strops…

  19. christian

    I read the article but I’m having a hard time finding where you were called an ‘idiot.’ Your arguments were taken one by one and countered. So in response you make fun of his company’s name? What is this 10th grade? Then you mention that some anonymous ‘veteran’ agrees with you who happens to have one of the most popular iPhone apps? Yes, your Appeal to Authority argument, otherwise called a ‘fallacy’, has changed my mind.

    If this is your writing style then thanks but no thanks.

  20. dev singh

    Dan, why don´t you answer the questions Ryan asks ? You have to back up your claims, and you still haven´t. Not a good start for you…

  21. James

    Your column had a point, but you rather destroyed your argument by the multiple inaccuracies in your examples. Then you insult anyone who points out this, well you are the grand man after all. Who are we little people to criticise you, the great journalist?

    Sad Dan but you are in danger of becoming just another self important tech pundit like the ones Fake Steve used to send up so mercilessly. Welcome to Club Scoble Dan, Mr Dvorak is waiting for you at the bar.

  22. bkharmony

    (Cross-posted at Block’s place)

    I was awfully disappointed in this piece. I wonder if it doesn’t have some heavy Editor’s hands on it. It really boils down to the usual (mostly fictitious) gripes about Apple with a few shaky cases thrown together in an attempt to build a “narrative.”

    It’s the same stuff they do in political journalism – always trying to connect things to make other things. But sometimes those things just don’t exist, and you can do a lot of harm doing what amounts to lying, or falsifying at best.

    Dan, you’re better than that!

  23. Buzz Lightyear

    Actually Block is pretty spot on. The Newsweek piece was thin, the kind of piece you as Fake Steve used to take pot shots at. That His Steveness is a monopolist is no surprise. Name one CEO who doesn’t want to own and control their markets secretly or otherwise. If they don’t then they should lose their jobs. Private companies play nicely with others in their markets because they have to, not because they want to. Right now Apple doesn’t have to play nice because they have first mover advantage. That will change if/when other big players pull their heads out of their ledgers and innovate.

    Apple is rich fodder for commentary pieces, they’re even a target rich environment given some of what they do but you’ve got to do your homework lest you become just a new media blogger in an old media job.

  24. Dave

    “Kool-Aid”? “frigtarded”?

    Is that your schtick or something? That’s pretty lame.

    Dan, you sound rather thin-skinned. Anyone who disagrees with what is, let’s face it – a very weak article, is some kind of cult-member worshipping Apple? You really pulled out the top-shelf analytic skills on this one. Shall I look forward to seeing you join the Enderle group?

  25. c

    Jeez, Dan. First you write a provocative article, then you claim that Ryan Block called you an idiot for arguing the points (the word’idiot does not appear in his article).

    You, sir, are an ass.


  26. Real Journalist?

    Yeah, these Apple fan boys are totally psycho. I heard this one guy spent years pretending to be Steve Jobs on the internet! Creeeeeeepy.

  27. brian

    Dan, take a chill pill man. I thought Ryan actually offered a constructive critique. You sound bitter that anyone would question your basic premise. You’re better than that. *hugs*

    Still a fan, still eagerly awaiting your next column.

  28. Bill

    Dan, many many people have legitimate criticism of your so-called “article” — which, seriously, wouldn’t have even been acceptable work in a English 101 class — and you think they have the problem?

    “Oh, and as the angry email rolls in, I’m reminded of something I wrote in July, called “The culture of enablers.” Though I think “cult” instead of “culture” might have been more appropriate.”

    Sure, Dan. Hey, it’s not you. It’s everyone else; right, Dan? You keep living in that bubble.

  29. FBO

    Dan, I wanted to comment over there, but they wanted me to login. I don’t like to login to anything, it ties me down, and allows The Man to find me. And until I am The Man, I don’t trust The Man.

    - Barry

  30. iKEANE

    Does your contract with Newsweek give you a bonus every time you slam SJ or Apple?

    I like Forbes better than Newsweek, and I liked FSJ better than RDL.

    But whatever.

  31. Vega

    I tried to think about something snarky to say about the way you deal with fact-oriented criticism, but I feel too stunned by the total douchyness that you have shown ever since you opened your ‘own’ Blog. I’ll just say this:

    Man, are you childish.

    Looks like your occasionally brilliant FSJ posts were just an intermittent high. The current stuff is much more in line with the badly researched drivel you used to write about the Microsoft / SCO / Linux case. Congratulations.

  32. Podesta

    The people who have pointed out the errors in your article, including Ryan, are right, Dan. At the very least, you should acknowledge your errors and offer corrections.

  33. Wendy

    “Shall I look forward to seeing you join the Enderle group?”

    You have to marry Rob Enderle first.

    Seriously, Dan, it’d be nice to see you address Block’s very real concerns with your article instead of acting like, well, Enderle.

  34. faddah

    eh. ryan has some points. if you believe record/movie/tv companies haven’t renegotiated those original iTunes store contracts several times over and are now not paying far less that 30 off the top, then i have some waterfront gulf property i’d like you to consider investing in. plus, as he says, vudu was not the big critical acclaim you think it was and the selection sux.

    but other things you get right. so its mixed.

  35. Mark

    “I think companies acting evilly is a function of market share. Microsoft acts evilly because they have a monopoly. Google acts evilly in online ads because they pretty much have a monopoly. Apple has the capacity for evil and if they dominate markets like Microsoft has, will likely become evil. But they have yet to do that. At this point, Apple is about one fiftieth as evil as Microsoft. Plus their stuff works better.” – deathByChiChi

    Owning 73% of the MP3 market comes real close to being a monopoly and how they have maintained the lead would be considered predatory by many people. I’m sorry but Apple is no more of a friend to the consumer than Microsoft or Google. Why is it that when Apple releases new “features” like the genius stuff for the IPods I have to buy new hardware to get that feature? The difference between the 3g and 4g Nano is that they turn the screen so you flip the Ipod to the side now and it has an accelerometer. Outside of that and more capacity it is the same. There is no reason to limit the software capabilities unless you are trying to be predatory and forcing people to up Apple’s hardware sales.



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