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The credulity of most Apple coverage

Over my cornflakes this morning, I read Ben Hoyle’s interview with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, in The Times Magazine.


This was one of those interviews which is sort of interesting but doesn’t really say much. Though I was quite taken with this description of Apple’s canteen where the cutlery is hidden from view in an illuminating example of form over function:

You can’t tell what the chefs are cooking because there are no menus on display (the options are on your phone if you’re an employee). You don’t seem to be able to pay cash for anything and there are no sauce sachets or eating utensils to be seen unless you know where to look (they’re with the other unsightly essentials like bottled drinks and napkins, sunk out of sight in smooth, curved central islands reminiscent of giant iPods).


What really struck me about this interview was the weird cognitive dissonance in the tenth paragraph. In this paragraph, Hoyle points out that:

Apple’s App Store is “curated” to the extent that you (and your children) won’t find hate speech or pornography on there.

That is, Apple – for better or worse – prioritises its values over the freedom of its customers to easily use the platform for activities which meet with disapproval from Apple. I wish this (puritanical?) attitude had been used to challenge in this bit of the same paragraph:

Apple has regarded privacy as “a basic human right” for a long time and “built the company around” that belief. The sprawling, intimate personal data profiles that companies like Facebook and Google compile “shouldn’t exist”, Cook thinks.

Cook claims that Apple is built around privacy. Yet, while Apple is happy preventing access to hate speech on the App Store, it actively promotes the Facebook app despite it asking for user permission to build data profiles which Cook says are antithetical to everything Apple stands for.

This seems a really odd moral position to me: if your company is reputedly built around one “basic human right”, why allow apps which violate that fundamental belief and ban apps which contravene less dearly held standards? The answer seems fairly obvious to me: the Facebook and Google apps are among the most popular, and are core to the iPhone experience. But can you really claim something is a cornerstone value if you ignore it to sell more phones?


I was also a bit riled up by this ludicrous comparison:

On cybersecurity … the company also protects its FaceTime and Messages apps with end-to-end encryption unlike, say, Google’s standard Gmail.

Why compare a closed messaging system, where end-to-end encryption is easy, with an open standard like email? That reads like a line supplied by Apple. It should have been challenged by asking if Apple’s iCloud email service protects messages with end-to-end encryption, which of course it does not.


There are a lot of things that Apple does extraordinarily well. It is evidently one of the corporate success stories of our time and has inspired phenomenol brand loyalty among a huge population of users. But it isn’t perfect.

Much of the media, and Hoyle’s article is no exception, seems far too credulous when it comes to Apple. Coverage of Apple would be much more satisfying if it showed a degree of balance or at least an attempt at challenging some of the more outlandish media lines rather than simply repeating them verbatim.


The picture of Tim Cook at the top of this post was uploaded to Flickr by Fabio Bini, and is used here under its Creative Commons licence.

This 2,438th post was filed under: Media, News and Comment, Posts delayed by 12 months, Technology, , , , .

Weekend read: Jonathan Ive designs tomorrow

On Sunday, I read a great interview with Apple’s master of design Jony Ive in The Sunday Times. As I read it, I thought that I’d have loved to share it as my weekend read, and was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to since The Sunday Times is behind a paywall. Hurray, then, for TIME, who have reprinted John Arlidge’s great interview on their funky new website. It’s well worth a read.

This 2,191st post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , , , .

2D: Apple (again)

Published a fortnight ago, my last 2D post offered two articles about technology giant Apple. With an originality rarely surpassed by this blog, today’s 2D post is about… Apple.

Having come across two more brilliant articles about the company in the last couple of weeks, I didn’t want to deny you the pleasure of reading them simply because I’ve done something similar recently.

My first selection today is this recent Guardian article by their technology editor Charles Arthur. He makes the point that while the Apple Maps app is often a source of ridicule, within the US at least it appears to be winning the long-game, with Google Maps losing millions of users to Apple’s version. It’s one of those interesting articles that explains why the cultural narrative around a certain story borders on counter-factual.

My second selection is this article from The New York Times published last month, and written by Fred Vogelstein. It’s been pretty widely shared, but I only got round to reading it last week. It’s a remarkable account of the development of the iPhone, and – perhaps most interestingly – the development of the iPhone’s launch announcement, and how buggy the iPhone was at the point it was announced. It’s a remarkable tale.

Next time round, I promise you something that’s not Apple…!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,083rd post was filed under: 2D, , , , , .

Weekend read: Is iOS7 ‘good’ or ‘great’?

ios7

Since Apple’s WWDC Keynote, there’s been no end of stuff written about iOS7. As always with Apple stories, the majority of what’s written has polarised into suggesting that iOS’s new look is either “insanely great” or “the beginning of the end for Apple”. And, as always with Apple stories, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

By some co-incidence, I was reading an interesting blog post from Paul Buchheit – one of the original Gmail developers – this week. It’s an old post, written in the aftermath of the announcement of the original iPad. He argues that many successful technology products share the attributes of doing a small number of things extremely well, while (at least initially) doing many other things poorly. The reaction of many commentators will be to criticise what the product lacks, whilst consumers will often be seduced by what the product offers.

It’s an interesting antidote to the reactionary guff that passes for news and reviews in the aftermath of a product announcement, and shifted my perspective to that of the developer in a way that many others try unsuccessfully to do. It’s well worth reading this weekend.

The picture at the top of this post was uploaded to Flickr by Kārlis Dambrāns, and has been modified and used under Creative Commons licence.

This 2,031st post was filed under: Technology, Weekend Reads, , , , .

Photo-a-day 315: And so to the Genius Bar…

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After two-and-a-half years of constant use, this happened to my MacBook Pro’s power lead. I’m not sure when it happened, but I noticed it yesterday evening.

And so this morning I paid my second ever visit to the Genius Bar in my local Apple Store, where it was replaced on-the-spot with no questions asked – not even how old it was, or whether it was under warranty, or whether I had AppleCare.

It’s such brilliant service, especially compared to spending £50 on a replacement cable for my last Toshiba laptop after a similar lifespan.

This 1,884th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 67: Apple remote

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On the day Apple has announced the new Apple TV, I’ve a question about the current model.

This is the remote. It seems to be a single piece of metal, with the only obvious opening being the small one for the battery at the back, which only gives access to the battery compartment. So, I’m struggling to work out how it’s made: how do the innards get in? Does anyone know?

This 1,553rd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, Technology, .

Tributes to Steve Jobs at the Apple Store in Newcastle upon Tyne

This 1,448th post was filed under: Photos, , , , , .

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