Paul Thurrott’s review-less iPhone shots: The hits just keep on coming.

In an earlier article I explained how Paul has gone off the deep end regarding the iPhone. He accused respected tech journalists of not doing their job and simply ‘furthering Apple’s brand.’ What prompted this tirade? They dared to review the iPhone positively. Of course, Paul knew better. He didn’t have an iPhone yet, mind you, and was probably a little more than bitter about that fact, but he felt he knew better nonetheless.

Then the day he got an iPod, he took the time to ignore his own advice from the previous article and started taking shots at the device.

Bottom line is that Paul will not give the iPhone a fair shake; he’s already made it clear he doesn’t like it. The device itself wasn’t helping him support those conclusions, but that didn’t stop him from sniping.

So what’s happened since then? It’s been over a week, do we have the long-awaited (*cough*) Paul Thurrott review? No. Instead of publishing a negative review that would be lost amid all the positive press, he chose rather to post numerous blurbs as if the thing is nothing but trouble. Indeed, it’s starting to dominate his Internet Nexus site.

Keep in mind when reading the examples that Paul mixes this crap with a tip of his cap. Nothing out of the ordinary for Paul: Say something nice, and then toss in a dig from left field. A flowery paragraph on the interface is rendered useless when a final sentence is along the lines of questioning availability of the first patch, or alleged iPod crashes, etc. To understand Paul you have to read it all. If you just skim the articles you’ll miss the digs, which are pointed and short. Here are a few over the last week:

  • On 7/2 he posts this out of nowhere:

“Countdown to iPhone 1.01. What’s the over/under on the first iPhone patch? Or the next upgrade to iTunes?”

He lists no bugs or issues, just throws out a line that implies an update is needed ASAP, and we should take bets on it.

  • On 7/3 he rails against the iPhone Mail app, despite the fact that it does what it promised:

“Ultimately, I was hoping that the iPhone would have a killer native GMail application, but really all it has is a POP-based GMail client.”

Which is exactly what was advertised. Apple said it would work with IMAP and POP. GMail is POP, Paul. Didn’t you know that? Aren’t you supposed to be a tech guy?

“BTW: Why does the iPod application crash so much when I’m using Safari? Songs just suddenly stop playing all the time, causing me to go back into iPod to start it up again. It’s not a fluke: This happens regularly, and regardless of what I’m doing.”

I’ve had Safari crash, I’ve never had the iPod crash. In any case, when Safari has crashed it’s when I was using it, not “regardless of what I was doing.” Of course different people may have different experiences, but do we get an elaboration from Paul? A test case or scenario of the crashes? No. We just get a disposable ‘by the way’ comment he apparently feels doesn’t require any details.

  • On 7/5 we get a jab at its podcast support:

“Sadly, because the iTunes application only supports five main buttons–Playlists, Artists, Songs, Videos, and More by default, you have to hop into the “More ghetto” to access your podcasts.”

Paul, are you kidding me? This is your big complaint today? You can change one of the buttons to Podcasts if you use it frequently, and avoid using More. (Later, he found out you can change the buttons, and did it, yet he still left his ridiculous comment posted.)

  • On 7/6 we just get this one-liner:

“If the iPhone supports both WiFi and Bluetooth (not to mention EDGE), why can’t it sync wirelessly?”

Because unlike devices that may do this, the iPhone has a great desktop syncing application in iTunes. Not only is this the syncing solution used for years with iPods, it’s also running on 200 million+ desktops, and everyone knows how to use it. As a Microsoft lover ease of use never figures into Paul’s observations, but it does for Apple. The iTunes ability to sync everything was a huge selling point for me, and obviously for others as well.

  • On 7/7 we get a link to a YouTube iPhone parody about the iPhone’s lack of flash, and then this comment:

“You can’t view this post on the iPhone. (That was a joke, people: YouTube uses H.264 now.)”

So you had to post a ‘negative’ crack even though you knew it wasn’t true, and then called it a joke to cover yourself? Sheesh.

  • On 7/8 we get some of the big stuff:

“I desperately want to give the iPhone a proper review, I do. The problem is, the buggy little device won’t work consistently enough for me to remain all that positive about it. Case in point: Sync. It’s been a complete disaster.”

Paul, as I pointed out before, you do not want to give the iPhone a ‘proper’ review. In fact, you ignored your own advice about that and began taking shots at it right out of the box.

Do you really feel this is a ‘buggy little device?’ Are you suggesting the flood of positive reviews came from people who never synced the device? Please. They synced, and it just worked. I do not claim you’re making up issues, but I will suggest that using a hacked Windows Vista Media PC as one of your test beds could be part of the problem.

For me (Windows XP SP2), Outlook syncing did not initially pull contacts, calendars, or email accounts. One quick trip to Apple’s help site showed there is an Outlook Add-In that needed to be activated. A single check box later, everything was flawless, and has remained so.

Paul concludes:

“Overall, the sync experience has been exasperating. The only time it worked correctly was on the Mac, go figure, and I can’t see myself using that as my central management point for contacts and calendar.”

and

“What’s needed here, obviously, is better compatibility with existing solutions (Outlook, primarily) and compatibility with a much wider range of email, calendar, and browser applications.”

As I said, Outlook sync works fine for me. There are undoubtedly more iPhones in the hands of Windows users than Macs, so it seems if there was a big Outlook issue we’d know about it. further, Outlook sync is not new with the iPhone, the iPod has synced Outlooks’ contacts and calendar for quite a while. No major issues that I know of. And none Paul knows of, since he never mentioned an Outlook sync problem with the iPod.

As for being compatible with a wider range of email and calendar systems, sure, I think that’s great. But it is compatible right now with the ones advertised. To have expected more was silly.

  • Finally, today Paul enlists the help of Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe:

“Today, The Boston Globe’s Hiawatha Bray, who previously penned an iPhone mini-review called “Believe the hype,” has come back down to earth…

[Hiawatha says:] “Despite the iPhone’s indisputable cool, it would have to be well-nigh perfect to get $600 out of my wallet. And it’s a long way from perfect. Its worst problem, by far, is the iPhone’s feud with Microsoft Corp.’s Outlook. A good deal of my life story for the past decade is tucked away inside Outlook, a combination e-mail program, address book, and appointment calendar that’s arguably the best bit of software Microsoft makes. It took about a dozen tries before the iPhone copied the Outlook data stored on my PC at the Globe; it’s never worked on my home machine. I’m not alone in this; a quick Internet search found at least a dozen complaints from iPhone owners with similar problems. Either the iPhone won’t sync with Outlook at all, or it does so intermittently or incompletely.””

Setting aside the comment that Outlook may be the best bit of software Microsoft makes (which would explain a lot), I covered my experiences with Outlook above. Works fine for me and likely for tens of thousands of others. What did Hiawatha do to correct the ‘problems?’ I went to Apple’s web site, checked one box in Outlook, and all was well. It took Hiawatha a dozen tries. What was done on that last time that caused it to work? Maybe Hiawatha just tried 11 times before going to Apple’s web site? Who knows, but the fact that the solution was not revealed may itself be revealing.

And this is hilarious: Hiawatha did an internet search and found ‘at least a dozen’ complaints from iPhone users about Outlook sync. A dozen? As in… 12? OMG!!! Recall!!!!! Hiawatha, if the number is that small, you couldn’t just count them? Second, 12 complaints out of 700,000 units sold (likely half of which were to Windows users with Outlook) is trivial.

Why is it Microsoft lovers (or Apple haters, take your pick) apparently think 12 is an egregious number for complaints about Apple products, and yet the tens of thousands of Microsoft Xbox 360s breaking down elicited a “nothing to see here, move along” response from the MS apologists? Microsoft is finally doing something about the Xbox 360 debacle, but it was not due to the press calling them on it.

I have no idea when we’ll get Paul’s full-fledged iPhone ‘review,’ though I have no doubt it’s coming. Doesn’t really matter, as the result is a foregone conclusion. He’ll tell us it’s not perfect (who ever said it was?), that he’s unbiased, etc. in the hope that no one has noticed his potshots since the iPhone’s release.

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