Thurott: "Apple sycophant" reviewers just furthering Apple’s brand.

Paul Thurrott has now thoroughly debased himself. His Microsoft meal ticket threatened, he spends a lot of time taking shots at Apple with little or no reason. You can click the THUD label on my blog to see some of this crap.

However, today Paul reached a new high in low. No longer content to ridicule bloggers or the Apple community, he’s taking shots at big names in technology journalism. It’s pathetic, and Paul ought to be ashamed, though it seems clear at this point he has no shame.

I’m not sure what prompted Paul to really lose it this time. Is it his sense the iPhone will be a big hit? Is it his sense that Apple will have another big hit? Is it his sense that Microsoft has nothing, and he is being listened to less? Is it because more and more bloggers are critical of his BS and calling him on it? What made it necessary for him to bad-mouth (with no facts, mind you) respected journalists in the tech industry? Whatever the reasons, he lost it today.

On his Internet Nexus site, Paul comments on the first iPhone reviews that have come in. In the opening paragraph we get this:

“…with all the expected Apple fans at high profile publications publishing their early Apple iPhone reviews. Here are three obvious examples listed in order by their stature in Steve Jobs’ rolodex:”

He then lists the reviews from Steven Levy at Newsweek, Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, and David Pogue at the New York Times.

“Why highlight these reviewers? First, all three reviewers quoted above went to great lengths to explain how long ago they received the devices, which does more to separate Us from Them then it does to establish any sort of reasonable experience on which to base a review”

No, Paul, you’re highlighting these reviews because they’re the first ones to come out, and are positive. So much so, in fact, that you feel the need to discredit their authors.

“Us from Them?” Are you kidding me? Who is Us? Who is Them? As near as I can tell from your article, “Us” are respected tech journalists who get jobs at publications like Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York times. “Them” would be bitter bloggers such as yourself. That must be it, because you can’t be trying to create some sort of envy here between your readership and the reviewers. Geez, Paul, when I buy a car magazine I don’t get pissed off at the guy who gets to drive around in the Lamborghini all day. It’s his job! In short, Paul, jealousy is never pretty.

“You get the feeling that these guys wrote most of their reviews before they even had the iPhone.”

No, I don’t get that feeling. You didn’t either, but it’s the best you could come up with. You’re accusing them blatantly of not really reviewing the phone. That is, of not doing their job.

“Second, while each did a commendable job of pointing out problems, especially Pogue and Mossberg, each also hit and then exceeded the Apple-required number of superlatives. That should make anyone nervous, given the expense and important of the iPhone.”

“Apple-required?” First, how many Microsoft-required articles do you write, Paul? I think I know your answer, so take your Apple-required accusations and shove them up your Vista. You’ve already flatly accused them of not reviewing the phone, but now also accuse them of taking direction from Apple (no doubt to further the brand, which we’ll get to in a minute). How much direction do you take from Microsoft, Paul? Yeah, I know your answer to that one, too.

As for the comment that it should make people nervous, why? I felt they all reviewed the iPhone and brought out the pros and cons. It’s clear the pros outweigh the cons for all of them. The only thing that makes me nervous is when a pseudo-respected blogger such as yourself can downshift into yellow journalism and sully the reputation of respected journalists. You’d shit your pants if even one of these guys wrote so much as a sentence in their space to take shots at your product reviews. Of course, you don’t have to worry about that because they’re professional about their business.

“I think the true story of the iPhone will be told in the coming weeks as real people, not those who seem interested in furthering Apple’s brand, get their hands on the iPhone. I’m looking forward to using an iPhone. I’m looking forward, too, to seeing what real people–not Apple sycophants–think about it too.”

Wow. Did you just hit post and not proofread it first? So now Levy, Mossberg and Pogue are interested in “furthering Apple’s brand?” On the take, as it were? Apple sycophants? Jesus, Paul. First, I know it’s hard for you to believe, but just because some tech journalists do not worship at the Microsoft altar does not make them Apple sycophants. Second, apparently you are the one who has already written most of your review on the iPhone, since you refuse to accept reviews from respected journalists who have actually, you know, used the device for a couple weeks each! Your true colors are showing, Paul. More so than usual.

“I guess what I’m trying to say is this: When it comes to something complex and life-changing like the iPhone, you can’t just review it like an MP3 player or a revision to Hotmail.”

Ah, yes, thank God you’re here to tell us (and Levy, Mossberg, and Pogue) how to review products, Paul. “Complex and life-changing?” Are you insane? It’s a smartphone, Paul! By all accounts a pretty damn good one, but a smartphone nonetheless. It seems to me that these three journalists approached it wisely, having reviewed smartphones before. And in two weeks I bet it didn’t change their lives once. You’re beginning to sound like a raving lunatic.

“You have to really use it, and do so alongside competitors, and do so over time, to put it in perspective. (As I did with my Windows Vista review, incidentally. You just don’t want to screw something like that up.)”

Heh. Better hope your iPhone review is better than yours for Vista. Most people trashed it, but not you. Perhaps you were simply furthering Microsoft’s brand? No, not you, silly me. Only the “big three” would do that. And only for Apple.

“We need a review that forgets the hype instead of wallowing in it.”

Pathetic. Truly pathetic. Who else you gonna take a shot at, Paul? Is everyone who writes a good review going to get a tirade like this? So I guess Edward Baig of USA Today is next on your hit list? I’m sure you’ll update your site with his piece later.

This was the most embarrassing article you’ve ever written, Paul. Seriously. It doesn’t just make your opinion of the iPhone a foregone conclusion — there’s no sense in anyone reading your “review” when you publish it — but more important than that you reviled three respected journalists. And all because they liked a product you apparently abhor.

Disgusting stuff, Paul. You owe all three of them an apology.

It’s criminal what the iPhone lacks (it can’t even dance!).

In yet another list of so-called missing features, Apple 2.0 has posted the iPhone’s “missing pieces”.

I like Apple 2.0, and have it linked right here on my blog, but this piece is a bit off. Not because of the few reasonable complaints about the iPhone it points out, but rather because of the number of unreasonable or even outright ridiculous complaints it discusses.

I’ve listed them in order, and in each case I place it into one of three categories:

  • Obvious - A complaint about a feature I think is reasonable to wonder why the iPhone does not include.
  • Questionable - A complaint that might be nice to have, but not something that would make a lot of people’s “missing feature” lists, or even improve the phone in the eyes of a significant number of potential users. I see these mostly as examples of knowing when to say “no.”
  • Silly - A complaint that comes from left field, or a wish list, or a rumor site, that had no basis in legitimacy and therefore no business being listed as “missing.”

Here is the list:

No instant messaging

Obvious. Many phones include this, and with Apple’s bragging about their own iChat this seems a no-brainer. Sure, Apple’s SMS is setup to simulate IM, but it’s not the same. I don’t understand this omission.

No way to IM pictures, videos, sounds (i.e. no MMS)

Obvious. Almost every phone on the planet with a camera lets you send picture and sound messages. Sure, with the iPhone you can email them, but that’s hardly the same.

Can’t cut and pasteCan’t edit or save Word, Excel, PDF documents

Questionable. These are not major file editing machines (and I refer to all smartphones, not just the iPhone). If it could cut and paste, no doubt there would be complaints about how hard it is. How many people use this? Some? Sure, but not enough to matter. At first, everyone was wailing that Word and Excel files couldn’t be viewed. Now that they can, the issue is they can’t be edited. Whatever. I wonder if Google Apps can be a potential answer to this?

Camera can’t record video

Questionable. Most people use their camera phone to take pictures of fair quality, not to take movies of crappy quality.

Can’t play Web pages with Flash

Questionable. The iPhone allows web browsing the likes of which no cell phone or smartphone has ever seen before. No longer banished to crappy WAP or mobile sites. So does it get praise? No, people bitch because there’s no Flash. They said this would prevent, for example, YouTube, but I guess not, huh? Apple didn’t add Flash, YouTube subtracted it!

No access to iTunes Music Store

Silly. This was never promised, discussed, or even hinted at by Apple or any site except pie in the sky rumor and dream sites. It’ll likely come some day, but to expect it now is unreasonable.

No games

Obvious. I suspect the issue here was that the iPod’s games require the “old” iPod interface, and need re-tooling for the iPhone touch screen. I think games will come pretty soon.

No way to download contacts from old phones

Silly. This is only a one-time setup task. Further, the iPhone syncs back and forth beautifully with your computer. If your existing phone can do that, then transferring to the iPhone will be a snap. If your existing phone can’t do that, then it’s just one of the reasons you’re getting rid of the piece of crap.

Can’t turn contact lists into e-mail distribution lists

Questionable. Is this common? Especially as primarily a consumer device I can’t see this being on 99 out of 100 people’s lists.

Can’t turn iPod songs into ring tones

Silly. I bet Apple would do this in a heartbeat if they could. It’s about licensing. The RIAA and labels are too stupid to make this a reasonable option. Apple’s still working with them in talks, but it’s up to them.

No way to search phone book or song lists

Obvious. I’ve been looking through doc and the user guide video to check on this, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest a search feature like current iPods have. The iPhone will make it easier to scroll, and easier to find a particular letter, but there are still times I think I’d like typing in a few letters and getting a list. Not sure why this isn’t on the iPhone.

No voice dialing

Obvious (but borderline Questionable). It has a mic and a speaker phone, why not allow voice dialing? I don’t use it; I think most people don’t use it, so I guess that’s why. In that regard this could have been listed as questionable. Still, it’s pretty common on phones so I’m not sure why they avoided it.

No quick way to move up or down pages

Questionable. You mean a Home and End key? I can see this, I guess, but the fact is with alphabet scrolling for the iPod and contacts, and finger-flick scrolling in web pages making short work of them, I’m not really sure what “quick” way could be implemented that would really be, well, quicker.

Not clear if there is support for Microsoft Exchange

Questionable. (And if you’re not sure, why is this even here?) If Exchange is supporting the open IMAP standard (which it’s capable of) then the support is there. Otherwise it’s not there, though there are rumors otherwise. I think Apple plans to make the bulk of their money on this device from consumers, not business. Native Exchange support would be nice, but I see no reason to believe it would help on day 1. Blackberry is all about business, but you don’t see them in the hands of many consumers. Apple would be fine if the iPhone was the other way round.

No other carrier except AT&T Wireless

Questionable, with an explanation. If you live in an area of weak AT&T coverage, you can’t even consider the iPhone. Period. That certainly sucks, so it’s “obvious” they should have supported more than one carrier. However, AT&T supports GSM, which is the international standard Apple wanted to follow. Further, AT&T was willing to compromise and work with Apple on things like visual voice mail. Also, it’s known that AT&T had no say in the device and didn’t even see one until very late in the game. Apple had control. Frankly, Apple needed control to make the iPhone what it is. No one else had that vision. You can bitch and moan that it’s all hype, but the reality is otherwise. If Apple didn’t work with a single vendor who ceded hardware and software design decisions to them at the outset, a lot of what the iPhone is would be compromised. In fact, it would likely be little more than just another cell phone.

No AT&T Wireless insurance

Not sure what the deal is here. Is there AppleCare for the thing?

No way to change SIM card or battery except through Apple

Silly, with an explanation. It’s “obvious” that in the future this will not be silly. I mean, duh, it’s why they went the GSM route in the first place! But it’s silly now (bordering on ludicrous). With all the exclusive talk the last six months, and Apple and AT&T making it clear that’s how it will be, only a wishful thinker of the highest order (or a moron) should be surprised to see that Apple/AT&T took many steps to prevent it form being used on another network in the US right now.

No GPS or live navigation system

Silly. Most phones don’t have it, and most of the ones that do are slow and it burns through the battery anyway. Google Maps provides directions with real-time traffic flows, and the only thing you need to know that GPS would otherwise provide is where you are. If you don’t know where you are then you’re hosed anyway. Oh, and the first one who counters this with being stranded somewhere under freak circumstances and being saved by their GPS is getting punched in the mouth. Can we have some realistic expectations, and not scenarios extracted from our rectum, please?

No VPN for secure communications

According to Apple’s own iPhone Q&A it does support VPN.

No access to a fast, 3G network

Questionable, with an explanation. WiFi blows away 3G, and the iPhone is given too little credit for its inclusion. I believe that, as a consumer device, Apple sees this being used a lot more at Starbuck’s than on the road. Sure, 3G would be better than EDGE, but AT&T’s 3G rollout is limited, and Apple had other good reasons to go with AT&T.

Bottom line to me is that anybody can list what’s “missing,” but a realistic analysis of the device and target market makes most of the above questionable. If all the “obvious” items were added, they may grab a few potential buyers right off the bat. Maybe for day 1 Apple feels they’ll sell every one they make, so at this point they don’t need those buyers? Regardless, I can see the “obvious” getting added down the road.

As for the questionable items, if they were all added to the iPhone tomorrow, the critics would not stop howling (they’d just come up with more) and, more importantly, relatively few people would be swayed in favor of the device.

Finally, what Apple has included is clearly of more value than what they left off. If you do not agree, that’s fine, but then iPhone isn’t for you, and there are many phones that will fit the bill.