Saturday, January 06, 2007

Good News/Bad News

First the bad news. Somehow I ended up clicking a link to Paul Thurott's Internet Nexus. I'm not going to link it. You can go find it yourself if you want. It seems he's having a bit of a row with John Gruber over at Daring Fireball. Generally it goes like this:

• Somebody said iPod sales are falling based on one set of data.

• Somebody else, looking at a different set of data, said that growth was merely slowing.

I've been reading it all, but I haven't really sorted it all out because, frankly, it doesn't really matter. My Apple stock would be about a ten-bagger if I sold it all right now. I'm okay with whatever Apple's doing. Really. Who is right or wrong in the argument between Paul Thurott and John Gruber is immaterial to me. However, I am an Apple fanboy and stockholder. If there are things I need to know about the company, good or bad, I want to know. Mr. Thurott's posts don't tell me anything worth the price of admission ($0).

The thing that struck me is that Paul Thurott says that the following paragraph, from one of his posts, proves that Rob Enderle (who reported data that said iTunes sales were falling) knows what he's talking about:

For those of us who really follow Apple, it is common knowledge that the company you see from the CEO on down is a construct. The public “Steve Jobs” is a character created by Apple’s agency played by a guy named “Steve Jobs” — that’s why Apple doesn’t like the Jobs biographies — they break the image. Had they gone the Ronald McDonald route, they could probably keep the name and change the guy.

1. I don't see any fact in that paragraph that says anything about Rob Enderle.

2. There are no facts in that paragraph. Just opinions. Calling something "common knowledge" does not make it a fact.

3. Based on the fact that there are no facts, that statement doesn't prove anything.

Then he goes on to say:

This, clearly, is true. Apple Computer is really just Steve Jobs Corp, and if it wasn't, the Apple Computer you know and love wouldn't even exist. So I can only imagine that Gruber exists to simply tear other people down. Presumably, he thinks he can get more hits by mentioning Enderle's name (and, sadly, my name) and by being a stinker about the whole thing. Certainly, careers have been made out of being sad and petty.

This, clearly, is equivalent to "it is common knowledge." Such embellishments add nothing but an air of fatuous pomposity to a sentence. If it is clearly true, it will be factually verifiable. If it is common knowledge, there is no reason to say it at all. This is just stuff I remember from English Composition 101.

Apple Computer is really just Steve Jobs Corp.No. Apple Computer is Apple Computer. Steve Jobs co-founded it. He is very good at making the right decisions to make the company profitable. Yes, he has a very strong persona, and he has become a celebrity CEO. For someone who claims to "really follow Apple" to say that Apple is just Steve Jobs is what I would call not only "sad and petty," but also woefully shallow. Apple has a lot of employees that also have jobs that must be done well in order for the company to succeed. That statement isn't just "not a fact," it's asinine.

The public face of Steve Jobs is a construct. Duh. Name someone for whom that is not true. Even a homeless beggar has a different face for begging than for eating.

The public face of the company is a construct Find a company that puts their office politics, strategy meetings, and labor squabbles in the front window.

In other words, to say that the public faces of Apple Computer and Steve Jobs are "constructs" is disingenuous. That suggests that they are unique in that way. They are not.

Steve Jobs doesn't like his biographies or Apple doesn't, probably because Mr. Jobs doesn't want other perspectives of what he has done in life (maybe not all friendly) to define him. If he has lived a normal life, he has probably been seen doing things he isn't particularly proud of. Also, the people who write biographies may not have entirely pure motives. They may be willing to "sex up" things a bit for the sake of selling additional copies. I haven't the problem, but if I was prominent enough to warrant an unauthorized biography, I would certainly hope I could afford to suppress it.

Whether Apple is selling stuff at the iTunes Store like hotcakes really doesn't interest me. Defending bad writing with more bad writing is annoying, though. Calling oneself an Apple expert, then using disputed data to support spurious and disparaging comments about a company that is clearly successful in the marketplace is, um, sad and petty. Doing some real homework to really understand and explain the meanings of the differing data might have lent an air of plausibility to the work. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Summary: I have no real beef with Mr. Thurott. My blog is all bullshit, too. There's plenty of room on the web.

The good news is: Seattle beat Dallas 21-20. The Seahawks are advancing to one more week of playoffs.

Additional good news: I promise to be my normal delinquent self again from now on.

Don't order the Tuna Surprise in here. Trust me.