Provincial Letters

Far from the mad crowds of the city, Blaise Pascal passed comment on the strange behaviour of this urban contemporaries in his Provincial Letters. The connection between them and this blog is somewhat tenuous.

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Location: Grimsby, N E Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

My star sign in Superstition. And I didn't believe in reincarnation last time, either. The only thing I can't tolerate is intolerance. I am a fanatical ant-fanaticist. I am bigotted only where bigots are concerned. I am a fundamentalist atheist. I'm proud to be a product of evolution; I know it in my genes.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Posted @ 02:59Rotten Apples

I've never really taken much notice of the damn silly "Operating System Wars" that plague computer journalism (and various other areas of the media): it's always seemed very pointless and a waste of time, effort and trees. There are Apple zealots, Linux zealots and Windows zealots who all behave like religious terrorists on acid. But one curious fact has always struck me…

It's been a truth since the mid-80s that Apple were never going to become the desktop of choice in most major businesses since their developed software base has always been oriented toward the media sector; remember that Adobe began its life as a provider of solely Mac software. And, having seen and used — particularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s — the image-editing and publishing software available on the Mac, I can personally vouch for its superiority to the Windows offerings (things have changed somewhat, but it's still reasonably true).

What has always struck me, however, is that Apple have always been on the receiving end of generally very good press coverage, with little criticism and overwhelmingly favourable comment (violently contrasted with the general treatment of Microsoft). I'd always assumed this was a result of the predominance of Apple products in the industry and the consequent familiarity of journalists with these pieces of software rather than those used in other business sectors.

For example, I have seen only one article critical of the extraordinarily short warranty on the iPod and the various problems which people have had with the battery life and general reliability of the product. Even that report was, overall, supportive of Apple's apparent efforts to correct the problem and slightly dismissive of any criticism of what is portrayed in the media as an innovative and forward looking company which has its customers' desires, wishes and satisfaction at its heart. I've had my suspicions that perhaps they are just another large company who can sway the press somehow, but I've never had anything to pin it on; the reports are that Steve Jobs is a nice guy who just wants to make good products and, in the process, make a dollar or two (yes, they're often flimsy, announced too early and don't work quite as expected initially; but, what the hell, they're nice products).

Now I've discovered a little reported fact…

The fact is that members of the National Union of Journalists get 20% discount on Apple products, and have done for years. If our press was as unbiased as it claims to be and wished us to believe this, I would have thought… …but, of course, I'm expecting too much as usual.

Insider dealing is everywhere and the intricate, soul-destroying, mind-upsetting political games of Elsinore seem positively aromatic in comparison to the behaviour of the fourth estate…

By the way, I get no discount from any software or hardware supplier; I'm not sponsored by anyone. However… I'm always open to large (or, failing that, very large) offers of cash — so long as you don't mind me mentioning the fact in the resulting blog posts.


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Interesting article. Hey, I call it marketing. Microsoft does the same thing for schools, students ---- so kids are taught in Microsoft products and then have a life long relationship with the company. I am a MAC snob myself. I got my first MAC about 4 years ago before iPods were compatible for use with Windows. I don't think I'll ever buy another PC I've been so happy with it....MAC has the greatest commercials here in the states. :-)

Mon Mar 12, 12:26:00 am GMT 
Blogger Elizabeth said...

ps elizabeth is eaprez...I have such a hard time with comments these days!

Mon Mar 12, 12:28:00 am GMT 
Blogger woja said...

Not so much a direct criticism of Apple, per se, more an observation on the uncritical press they seem to get (here in the UK particularly) and the problem that such schemes can cause: Apple products may be really as good as they say, but it could just be the "bribery". Leaves us, the punter, wondering.

Mon Mar 12, 12:47:00 am GMT 
Blogger Elizabeth said...

much like how our press here enjoys their relationships with those in power and doesn't want to jeapordize their access...doesn't serve the public. your point is well taken.

Mon Mar 12, 01:31:00 am GMT 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I have to say in Apple's defence, not vis-a-vis their competitiion with Microsoft in computing, but re. their competition with the likes of sony in the world of personal audio-as you know, Woja, I used to sell iPods, and have one myself. And love it. What is interesting is how Apple have positively encouraged third-party suppliers to make and market licenced iPod accessories-cases, docking stations, speaker sets etc-whilst other manufacturers-especially Sony, one of their biggest competitors-keep it all in-house. Consequently, if you want a case for your iPod, there are twenty or thirty available to choose from, at competitive prices. Want one for your Sony player? Well, it'll be smart, well-made and-mucho dinero. And there'll only be one of them. Someone tried to tell me that ipods were designed specifically to last only 18 months- laughable, in my experience-but it did lead me to reflect on battery-replacement costs. Apple, last time I checked, were quoting £90-ish- a hefty chunk,no doubt. But a quick check on the Maplin website shows them offering replacement battery kits-including requisite tool- for only £20.00. AND they claim an up-to 78% superior charge capacity. Which makes one cheer for the benefits of free competition, but also begs the question-why don't Apple put the better batteries in to start with? Anyhoo, I love mine, if only for its brilliant design. By a British designer, too. Seeya Woja, Ian O

Mon Mar 12, 10:12:00 pm GMT 
Blogger woja said...

Ian — I don't think I said that Apple products were bad; I don't even say that they're not nice. My problem is with the largely uncritical press they get (no-one's as perfect as that!).

The "marketing strategy" of 20% discounts isn't, in itself, the problem. It's the echoing silence of Apple and journalists mentioning the fact.

Cynical old me always expects the worst.

Wed Mar 14, 05:39:00 pm GMT 
Blogger Seany said...

I quite like Magners...

Mon Mar 19, 09:15:00 pm GMT 

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