Apple Apologetics

The common criticism of the modern news industry is that objective journalism has been replaced by opinion-slanted proselytizing. There’s an interesting slice of the news world where proselytizing was never even at issue. I’m talking about the world of news sites, blogs, magazines, and rumor mills that cover Apple.

I’ve been reading news sites like MacNN (now defunct), MacWorld, and MacRumors daily for more than two decades. I also enjoy more personal “news” and commentary blogs like Daring Fireball and Six Colors. And then there’s the journalists like Mark Gurman and David Pogue that at some point in their careers covered tech in an Apple-centric way for real news organizations like Bloomberg and the New York Times. There’s a cottage industry of journalists and outlets that make their entire living on the happenings of Apple Inc. Surprisingly, many of the specialized sites even managed to scrape by when Apple was merely a ten billion dollar company, and not the two trillion dollar behemoth it is today.

There’s an important assumption about the readers of these outlets. It’s assumed you’re a fan of the company. Why would you read MacWorld or a lot of what David Pogue wrote back in the heyday of his Apple fervor if you didn’t own an Apple product? But being a fan of Apple generally means more than being a user. In the 1990s when, as a kid, I first became a rabid Apple fan, it was known as a cult (in fact one of the news sites is still known as Cult of Mac). Why were you using the non-standard products of this small struggling computer company with less than 5% marketshare? You had to believe in their products’ superiority or the potential of the company’s future despite the clear market signals to the contrary. You had to believe. It was a religion for techies.

That belief in Apple and its products has always been imbued in the outlets that cover the company. The fans demanded it. It was why we kept reading. We wanted our faith to be reinforced despite all of the contrary voices. Reading the news sites was like going to church. It made sense in the context of the ’90s. They were the underdog. It was fun and cool to root for the rebels. And the potential was there. If we could just keep them going with our collective enthusiasm, they could reach their true destiny.

But then they did. They became the largest company in the world. They came to dominate several slices of the tech industry. You’d think that would mean the coverage of them would change. Yet, the cottage industry that covered them never lost its fervor. It’s like the prophecy was fulfilled and now those who believed would go to heaven and be angels, rewarded for their faith.

And angels they are. Towards the company. The new presumption is no longer that some unrealized dream could be achieved when the right products arrive. The new presumption is that the company is a force for good. How did this transformation happen? It used to be about “could they deliver the long promised tech future.” It was about Mac vs Windows. For a while it was about iOS vs Android. Now it’s about social issues, battles with government, and court cases.

I think that we’re all looking for something to believe in. And many of us, including the “journalists” and commentators that cover Apple, are not finding it in the rest of our lives. Yet somehow our belief in this company during its dark times, against all odds, was right. And so we want to continue to believe our faith in it will be right again. Yet, today, we’re being asked to believe in something very different. A different company facing a different set of challenges in completely different spheres. I’m still a big fan, but I no longer take every leap of faith.

About Me

I teach Computer Science to college students, develop software, podcast, and write books about programming including the Classic Computer Science Problems series. I'm the publisher of the hyper local newsletter BTV Daily.

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Based on tdSimple originally by Lasantha Bandara and released under the CC By 3.0.