So Many Tech Headlines, So Little Time.

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Here’s some reading for the weekend with a few of my comments.

Bill Gates: Music genius.

The New York Times seems to think Bill knows what he’s doing re: Online Music. My favorite is this quote from Bill at the conclusion:

““People are going to listen to a lot more music because it’s going to be easy to find neat new exciting music, its going to be easy to have your music with you, in the car, when you’re running,” he said. “It seems like there ought to be a way to translate that into an opportunity.””

Easy to find? You mean like via a one-stop shopping online store with music, movies, TV shows, free podcasts, and more? Listen to it when you’re in the car or running? You mean like if you could easily burn a CD for the car, or have a player that clipped to your running outfit? Hmm, yes, Bill, you’re so visionary only you can see that that could be translated into an opportunity.

Retire, Bill. Now. Seriously, you’ve been looking awfully foolish lately.

A new Zune requires new management.

Now that the Zune 2 is here, Microsoft can get down to what they do best: Bureaucracy. They hired another exec to toss at the problem. Remember, you can never have too many managers. Heh.

The secret behind why WGA was removed from IE7.

I’m glad we have Mary Jo Foley to question this, otherwise all us gullible morons would just assume MS told the truth when the IE 7 team says it’s because of this:

““Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users””

But Mary actually wonders if maybe there is another motive. Firefox is digging into IE, and perhaps Safari could gain ground as it improves in beta. So to Hell with WGA, we just want as many people to download IE and use it. We’re all about numbers; always have been, always will be.

What’s most amazing about this, and the little secret nobody will talk about, is that it’s absolute proof — if any were needed — that WGA has never been a GA to anybody but Microsoft.

Time Warner to Universal: Oh yeah? Well, we can stick our heads up our asses even further than you!

Can you believe another label is setting up yet another online store? No, I don’t mean one that’s been successful like iTunes. And no, I don’t mean one that’s DRM-free like eMusic. And no, I don’t mean one that’s a major new force (and going to be successful) like Amazon. Instead, I mean one that has everything that makes a music store fail:

  • DRM? check
  • Microsoft WMA files? check
  • Won’t work with iPods? check
  • Only half the songs of iTunes? check
  • Build a new PC client player from scratch? check
  • PC only? check
  • Subscription service? check

Holy shit! This is absolutely unbelievable to me. How freakin’ stupid do you have to be? Where has TW been that last few years? This boggles the mind. Universal, I take back everything I said about you (I’ll just say it again later anyway), TW has got to be even dumber than you are. Amazing.

Thurrott again.

Didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this one since Thurrott is piggybacking on an article that itself is overreaching in its attempts to be “fair” about eight reasons why Windows users don’t switch to Macs. Still, Paul takes the nauseating and makes it worse.

For example, price is listed as one reason, and Thurrott drools all over it:

“Well. Actually, the truth remains: Macs are more expensive than PCs, they still are. Yes, Macs are often comparably priced to similar PCs. The problem is that PCs come in many, many more price points, and unlike with Apple, PC users are used to choosing exactly what they want and getting it. “

And yet, when it comes to MP3 players Paul says that you can only look at comparable devices. So what have we learned? As a shill, when it suits Microsoft you compare everything, when it doesn’t suit Microsoft you narrow the parameters at least until you can claim the #2 spot.

Number 5 (lies) and 6 (Windows bashing) and 8 (Mac users) in the list bother me even from the original author but Thurrott, as usual, piles on:

“This is, quite possibly, the biggest problem facing the Mac community. You may not realize how serious this is. But consider this:

Mac fanatics are like Detroit car lobbyists. They’ve spent decades doing nothing but propping up the Mothership, all for what they think is a good cause, but all they’ve really done is harmed the thing they love so much. People understand quality, and that’s why so many are swayed by Apple’s products. People also understand bullying, and that’s why so many ignore Apple’s products.”

Paul, Microsoft INVENTED bullying. Regarding lies, isn’t your leader Bill Gates quoted as saying Vista was the first OS with parental controls, and that every day the Mac OS is hacked? Every day! Didn’t Balmer claim the iPhone was the most expensive phone ever? Doesn’t Microsoft claim shipped units as sold? Didn’t the IE7 team just claim they removed WGA to “protect the entire Windows ecosystem” (see above, and do try to keep up)?

The fact that marketing people “lie” is a given everywhere. That somehow Apple has done more of this, or been more egregious about it, is such horse shit I wonder if you have to wash yourself after you type this garbage.

Microsoft’s sins are not just on paper. They’ve been dragged into more LEGITIMATE court cases (not the BS type that they and Apple have to suffer through) and have SETTLED more times than anyone cares to count. Did you read ANYTHING out of the Iowa antitrust case? And wasn’t Microsoft just busted big time by the EU?

As for bashing, go to the comp.sys.mac.advocacy usenet news group to see what your precious sainted MS community has to say and how they act, Paul. Heck, just go to Digg. As Microsoft is fond of pointing out, they outnumber the Apple supporters by 9 to 1. They make Apple “zealots” look like kids at Sunday school, and have for 20 years!

Oh, and don’t forget this FACT: The vast majority of Apple supporters have experience with Windows (as Microsoft is also fond of pointing out, most people have to use it at work). Meanwhile, what the vast majority of Microsoft zealots know about Apple and Mac OS X would fit under a gnat’s armpit.

Any blogger attempting to be “fair” and somehow equating Apple’s sins with Microsoft’s, or Apple’s supporters with Microsoft’s, is either trying way too hard to get in the “big boys'” sandbox, or has a disgustingly short memory, or is too young to be writing about it with any authority. Paul saves his “best” for last:

“while Apple’s fanatics might have been desirable or even necessary during the rebuilding years, now they’re just dead weight. Good riddance, I say.”

Screw you, Paul. I love the way you bash people in a post that includes a lecture on bashing people. Jerk. Your livelihood is crumbling around you. The only dead weight is on the back of your old ideas about technology and the supporting business models. It’s to those ideas you should be bidding “good riddance”.

Radiohead’s stance must be honored; Jobs is an ass who doesn’t care.

I like the Rough Type site, but in this piece I think Carr is way off the mark.

Basically he says that since Radiohead won’t allow singles to be sold (only albums) they can’t be on iTunes. This is true, and it’s a choice made by them and Jobs. Jobs wants singles (rightfully so, album buyers like me are a dying breed; people want singles).

I haven’t seen Radiohead badmouth Apple or iTunes about this, and I haven’t seen Jobs or Apple badmouth Radiohead, so what’s the big deal? Agree to disagree, and all that. They both have stances and stick to them. Seems OK to me.At first Carr even seems to agree with this:

“You can applaud Radiohead’s lonely stance, or you can, as Crunchgear recently did, dismiss the band as “a bunch of crybabies.” … And you have to admit that Radiohead’s motivation in protecting what it sees as the integrity of its works is no different from Jobs’s motivation in protecting what he sees as the integrity of his products.”

Exactly. A sound statement and, as I said, agree to disagree. Crunchgear is wrong. But then Carr says this:

“Jobs’s lack of concern for the desire of Radiohead, and other artists, to control how people experience their creations undermines his attack on the people who would alter the iPhone to serve their own purposes.”

WTF? How the heck did we get from Radiohead and Jobs both protecting the integrity of their works/products to Jobs suddenly having no concern for Radiohead and other artists? And, oh yeah, Carr throws in the iPhone from left field ’cause it’s all the rage these days.

That’s nuts and, frankly, the one paragraph simply does not logically lead to the other.

I like Radiohead and have no issue with them not wanting to sell singles. I don’t agree with it because I believe it’s outdated thinking. And the fact is no artist can ever tell me how to enjoy their art. Ever. But I appreciate both sides stuck to what they believe, and really don’t see how either can be “wrong”. But Carr apparently believes one must be “wrong”, and that it’s Jobs. Nonsense.

As for throwing in the iPhone, well, why not? Apparently every blogger was contractually obligated to post a scathing “we want third-party apps” and/or “Apple is evil and mean to developers” piece on the iPhone this week.

Well, except me, I’m non-union. 🙂

Fun With Shilling: Paul Thurrott Edition.

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On Fridays, Paul Thurrott typically uses his Internet Nexus site to take quick shots (mostly at Apple) without actually having to write much. He does so by tossing snarky comments at headlines, apparently thinking because the word “fun” is in the headline it’s OK. Normally this is no big deal, but this week’s edition is especially egregious:

“iMac, Therefore I Am…
… a tool? An Apple toadie? Both?”

An article written by Bob LeVitus, who’s apparently an Apple tool and toadie. These accusations are no surprise coming from Paul. I’d expect nothing less from the man that debased respected tech journalists and accused them of just “furthering Apple’s brand.”

“An Artist Asks: Mac or Windows?
Because we often ask artists for buying advice.”

The artist is asking for advice, not giving it. The “giver” is BusinessWeek’s personal technology columnist. But wait, I haven’t seen Paul’s latest list of debased journalists, maybe he’s just furthering Apple’s brand, too.

“Mac OS X Leopard vs Microsoft Windows Vista
In which Chris Pirillo desperately begs for hits.”

Yes, as unpopular as Chris’ site is he really needs to beg for hits. Paul didn’t read the last item he linked to, it appears he skipped this one as well. It’s lengthy and, unlike Paul’s long articles, has substance instead of being stuffed with Microsoft’s latest talking points and/or flowery prose about the Vista experience. Paul should give it a read.

“Is the iPhone a serious device for business?
Nope. A week later, it still isn’t.”

Paul keeps saying that, but it won’t change anything. More and more solutions exist for Exchange, and Exchange itself allows this with secure IMAP. The alleged security issues are pure FUD; the device will make inroads despite people such as Paul railing against it.

“iLounge: An Open Letter to NBC re: Leaving Apple’s iTunes Store
Let me guess. He takes Apple’s side.”

Paul is accusing another writer of bias? Paul Thurrott?! Wow. Just wow. Look at his own sites listed on the screenshot from Internet Nexus above. Four of them have Windows (OK, one is “Win”) right there in the name! It’s not only clear where Paul’s bread gets buttered, but also where the dough is made and the loaves are baked. It’s time for Paul to post another entry on pot.kettle.black/blog.

“Why many Wintel support people dislike Apple
I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s a combination of the lies and the fanatics. Oh, you said support people.”

Apple has fans because they love their products. Wintel has “fans” because their professional world would crumble without it. There is a difference, and it’s not hard to see. Paul could check out a mirror for an example.

“Are service packs really passe?
No, but they could be passé.”

Hey, the Operating System could become passé, too, but it ain’t happening anytime soon. This Vista SP1 tune from Redmond Paul is singing is pretty bad. Off key, too. But I’ve already commented about that.

Maybe this will be a weekly thing with me. Nah. Most of the time Paul is harmless here. He must really have been tweaked by Apple this week, though. How is it he always believes he see the bias in others, yet never sees his own? Who’s furthering whose brand?

What Would A Windows Service Pack Be Without Paul Thurrott…

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I discussed Vista’s announced first Service pack in an earlier post. Paul Thurrott has also commented on SP1 on his Internet Nexus site. In it he references his lengthy article on his SuperSite for Windows. Seems to me if a service pack requires that much explanation as to why it’s not really a big deal, it is a big deal.

So what does Paul have to say in his abbreviated comments on Internet Nexus? Let’s start out with the new party line from Redmond:

“It’s just a service pack…”

Oops. Bad start. The whole tech planet has been abuzz about Vista’s first service pack, yet until now Microsoft had done their best to all but state there wouldn’t even be one. I’ve already written about their pleading with customers not to wait for SP1. Their insistence on keeping mum about it was a disservice performed solely as an attempt to keep people from waiting for fixes that we all knew had to be coming.

“With Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), now due in the first quarter of 2008, Microsoft is de-emphasizing the role that service packs play in the ongoing updating and maintenance of its operating systems.”

It’s not due for six months so, yeah, I guess it makes sense for Redmond to “de-emphasize” it. After all, they don’t want already disappointing sales of Vista to remain, well, disappointing (though it’s likely too late for that). Paul closes with his own take on Microsoft’s pleading:

“While Microsoft’s continued requests for businesses to not wait for SP1 before deploying Windows Vista may seem self-serving, this week’s revelations about the feature set of the service pack suggest that this advice is sound.”

What a load of crap! Microsoft’s pleas didn’t “seem” self-serving, they were. Vista is an unstable mess. This week’s “revelations” didn’t bother to list the litany of instabilities that will certainly be addressed, so I guess Paul thinks there must not be any.

When will Paul ever even hint that maybe Vista is not a success? Is it really possible he doesn’t know it? Dell, HP, and other vendors have touted XP and Linux as alternatives for quite some time — and they’re selling! The stories of Vista techies going back to XP are numerous, and even those that stay with Vista are not impressed. The number of weak, or downright hostile, reviews on Vista are too numerous to count, as are the number of articles on Vista’s overall unimpressive nature. Heck, Pirillo just fired two more shots here and here.

And does anyone think the Mac’s record-breaking sales and Linux’s increased exposure are due solely to Apple’s kick-ass products and Linux being “free”? Or is it that maybe, just maybe, Microsoft shoveling a shoddy Vista on us after five years is part of the problem?

“Windows Vista SP1 looks like a solid and necessary update, but it will not dramatically impact the end user at all.”

Nonsense. It will “dramatically impact the end user” because, if Microsoft does it right (by no means a certainty), they might actually create end users out of those who cannot or will not run Vista now.

It’s bad enough to live in a cave supplied only with Microsoft propaganda. What’s worse is actually spewing it with a voice of pseudo-authority. Whatever. Beats working, I guess.

Comments on Paul Thurrott’s summary of PC US market share.

I disagreed with Paul Friday regarding his look at PC market share, primarily focusing on his blowing off Apple’s US performance. In the following day and a half I’ve learned a few things.

In the comments of my article Paul says his article “was a post, not an analysis.” I’m not sure what that means, but it seems to imply that criticism can be deflected because a “post” doesn’t count as much as an “analysis.” Personally, I don’t care what it’s called; I have a problem with it for reasons stated in my article, which I stand by.

Paul updated his original post, in which he had this to say:

“It’s not an attempt to paint the Mac in a bad light. If you’re seeing it that way, relax.”

I was certainly relaxed. Did he think I wrote my post with clenched teeth? He should stop trying to write off Apple supporters in such a simplistic way, but I’ll get to that presently…

As for painting the Mac in a bad light, it’s difficult to read Paul’s post and not be certain it avoided giving Apple any due. It’s equally difficult to read the post and not be certain he knew this. I guess we have different definitions of “bad light.”

Meanwhile, on Saturday Paul published a new post that looks at (surprise!) Apple figures in the US. In it, Paul states:

“This is a summary, not an “analysis.””

So let’s review: An Internet Nexus article (can I call it that?) can be a “post” or a “summary,” though the distinction is not clear. I don’t know if it can be an “analysis.” You can probably already tell that in my view this is just so much semantic nonsense.

The closing paragraph of the post includes a shot at the Apple community:

“You’d think that the highly technical people who love the Mac would appreciate numbers. But when it comes to the Mac, or Apple more generally, people tend toward the emotional side a bit too often.”

You know what, Paul? The days of writing off Apple supporters simply by claiming they’re ’emotional’ (or should ‘relax,’ are ‘drinking the Kool Aid,’ are ‘in the RDF’ or are, in a derogatory term you used when debasing certain journalists, ‘Apple sycophants’) are over. At least, they are on this blog. That stuff won’t wash here.

You’re welcome to comment here anytime, but please bring something better than a thesaurus and 20-year old Apple vs. Microsoft “arguments” if you do.

A look at Paul Thurrott’s "analysis" of PC market share.

Part of Paul’s job is apparently to give Apple little to no credit for anything, especially sales. Lately, he’s almost had to work when the quarterly IDC and Gartner data comes out because it shows Apple is rising rapidly in the US.

This time around, Paul decided to ignore the US altogether. Brilliant!

Here are highlight’s from Paul’s “analysis” of the latest figures:

“…many are pointing out that Apple has rebounded in the US and is now in the top five in that market. (Apple doesn’t factor into the charts for worldwide sales, which includes many low-price markets that Apple either doesn’t sell in or doesn’t sell well in.)”

Why does Paul explain parenthetically why Apple doesn’t factor into the charts worldwide? To minimize the fact. He needs to do it this way because he’s going to base his analysis on the very worldwide figures for which he knows exactly why Apple doesn’t rate highly.

Apple does not sell $299 PCs in third-world countries, so their share will always lag on the global scale. Period. Since the market share of such machines brings next to nothing in terms of actual profit, it’s nothing but bragging rights anyway, and Paul knows this well. Still, he’s trying to show that Apple is somehow not growing rapidly in computer sales, and if he uses US data, well, that would be impossible.

“According to IDC, Apple is the number 4 PC maker in the US, behind Dell, HP, and Gateway, with 5.6 percent of the market. (Apple-friendly publications have reported this event as “Apple poised to become number three PC maker in the US” as the company was barely outsold by Gateway in the quarter….”

Why would it have to be “Apple-friendly publications,” Paul? Why wouldn’t any rational person come to this conclusion? It’s obvious. Apple and Gateway are “tied” in percentage at 5.6% with Gateway getting the nod for a few more units shipped. Apple’s #4 and climbing. This is clear to anybody.

“…I suppose it’s inconceivable that Gateway might also experience a sales surge, but whatever.) Because Apple does not provide US-only numbers, this is unreliable and thus less interesting to me.”

A Gateway sales surge? Are you serious? Gateway is fading, or did you miss that? Dell has a better shot at a sales surge than Gateway. Meanwhile, lately Apple’s US figures have consistently increased at a higher rate than the PC industry. Gateway will need a lot more than a “sales surge” to defend the #3 slot. Interesting that you don’t seem to know this.

Further, you ignore the Gartner/IDC numbers for Apple because, even though they’re good enough for PCs, they’re “unreliable” for Apple. Right. Let me translate: “Because these numbers — as they have for the last few quarters — support the fact that Apple is selling at a much faster pace than the PC industry in the US market, where they’re actually making profits instead of selling loss-leaders, I’ll blow them off with a wave of my hand.”

The rest of the post is about worldwide share. It’s all about Lenovo, Acer, etc. Having blown off Apple’s continued great showing in the US, he can forget about them.

Personally, I hope HP, Acer, etc. think like Paul and assume a “there’s nothing to see here” attitude towards Apple’s US sales. I don’t think that’s the case, however, since they’re expected to provide results (measured in profits, not share), which must factor in those skyrocketing sales.

What’s most amazing about Apple’s US sales — and I have to point this out since Paul ignores those sales totally — is that there have been no new Macs to fuel the continued growth, and no seasonal factors (e.g., back to school, holidays) that explain it either. Sure, the Macbook and Macbook Pro lines were refreshed, but that’s not much different than what the PC boys were doing as well. Rather, this is a bona-fide growth trend from people either fed up with alternatives or pulled in by the iPod (and soon iPhone) “halo.” Bottom line is clearly more and more people are considering Apple.

If the rumored new iMacs are any good (very likely), combined with the back to school season coming up Apple could be in for a killer upcoming quarter! But don’t expect Paul to let you know about it when that happens.

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.

Paul Thurrott decides he doesn’t need iPhone perspective after all.

First, here’s a summary of some publications’ iPhone reviews to show how professional reviewers feel about it. This provides context for what Thurott says below.

Second, here’s Paul’s tirade against professional tech journalists accusing them of not doing their job and working to “further Apple’s brand.” This shows Paul’s frame of mind, and makes it clear he’s already made up his mind on the iPhone.

From the above two pieces (and 11 iPhone reviews within them), you see a consensus building that the iPhone is a remarkable device, while Paul doesn’t like it. His world is not built on technology from Cupertino. But now that he actually has an iPhone it’s not cooperating with his plans to report negatively on it. So he has to really stretch himself to find some “negatives.”

But he can’t report on it yet, can he? I mean, in his earlier tirade he said (emphasis mine):

“You have to really use it, and do so alongside competitors, and do so over time, to put it in perspective.”

Uh oh, I guess that doesn’t matter any more. Great reviews are rolling in. He’ll get buried and forgotten under an avalanche of these reviews if he adheres to his old strategy, so he ignores it. He wants to discredit the iPhone, and needs to get started ASAP since the truth is coming out and he wants to somehow defuse it.

So, having had the iPhone for just a day, he starts jabbing at it. Since he’s made it clear he won’t be fair about reviewing it, the results are comical. How unfortunate for Paul that it must be working as designed and advertised, just like in the all the guides, videos, and commercials. If it wasn’t, then surely that’s what his complaints would be. Alas, he can’t criticize it for that, so all he can do is pick nits.

So join me now as we examine Paul’s initial “review” of the iPhone:

“In fact, the more you use it, the more problems you find. In my mind, the iPhone, so far at least, is a “but…” device. Because every time you want to point out something positive, you have to amend a “but…” onto the end of it.”

I guess this makes Paul a “but” head. So, Paul, you’ve never used another smartphone and said “but I wish it had a better browser,” or “but I wish it had WiFi?” Never read emails and said “but I wish the formatting was in place, and photos inline?” Never said “but I wish the battery life were longer?” Never said “but I wish it were lighter and thinner?” The list goes on and on. My point is that every device is a “but” device. If 100 people made “but lists” for all the smartphones out there, I think we both know which device’s list would be shortest.

Of course, Paul provides examples:

“The UI is simple, but there’s no Back button… There’s no sense that you’ve done a series of things because each action sits in isolation. Within ten seconds of picking it up, my friend Chris started turning it over, quizzically. “Where’s the Back button?” he asked.”

The iPhone’s apps have Back buttons, but since they’re smart enough to know where they will take you, they’re frequently named accordingly. Check the upper left-hand corner of the apps, and you’ll see this makes for a friendlier user interface. In cases where space is better used for something else (like the “Now Playing” screen), a traditional “back” arrow is presented.

“The screen rotates, but sometimes it doesn’t. Because oftentimes rotating just doesn’t work, especially when there’s a virtual keyboard on the screen.”

Some apps make sense in landscape, some in portrait, and some in both. The browser can work in both, and so does its keyboard. Email does not. Photos in both. Music in both (with landscape being cover flow). This has been known for months. If you want to question why email doesn’t work in landscape, fair enough. But that’s a trivial beef for a first impression. Don’t you have anything better?

“The photo stuff is wonderful but… You do it once and you’re done. How often will you really squint down at this small screen and enjoy photos, really?”

Good point. I don’t use photos often so lets make that interface pure crap. Boy are you ever reaching. For someone who wants to discredit the device so much, doesn’t it bother you that stuff like this is all you have? Oh, and nice shot at “this small screen”. The largest on a smartphone, and gorgeous in all other reviews.

“The iPod functionality works great, but 4 or 8 GB of storage isn’t enough for a lot of movies and TV shows. Plus, iTunes treats the iPhone sort of like an iPod shuffle. You have to really pick exactly the content you want, and that content has to be prearranged in iPhone-friendly ways first.”

The best iPod Apple has ever made doesn’t work good enough for Paul. Size not enough? The largest flash-based iPods are 4 and 8 GB, and the iPhone is… 4 and 8 GB. What’s the problem? The most popular iPod is 4GB so Paul, as usual, is clueless. But as I said before, he’s reaching. I understand he’s to trying to tear the thing down; it’s a shame he has no ammunition for the job.

As for treating it like a Shuffle, what? I don’t know why your job is to ridicule this thing, but you need to go back to your boss and tell him that there’s nothing for you to do it with. Making shit up isn’t working. Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists, scrolling lists, shuffle, repeat, and scrubber controls. These are on the iPhone just like a normal iPod. Are you losing it, or just writing without even trying the device?

“The iPhone syncs with Outlook, but it doesn’t work with some stuff that’s really important to me, like anything other than the default calendar. Or with any PC-based calendar besides Outlook. Or with Google Calendar. You know, the stuff I actually use.”

Not everyone gets their software free form Microsoft, Paul. Still, Outlook is the most popular calendar on the PC, so the iPhone syncs with that. It also syncs with Yahoo! calendar.

“The iPhone works with Gmail, but it only works in POP mode, which I refuse to use. And it doesn’t work at all with the Gmail Labels system…. It’s just a POP email client. Yawn. The only native Google software on the device is Google Maps, which isn’t as revolutionary as advertised, and the Google search feature in Safari. Big deal.”

First, does Microsoft know you have this new-found love of Google? Second, YouTube is Google, but perhaps that flew under the radar as you were reaching for stuff with which to bash the iPhone. Finally, “it has these features but I refuse to use them so it sucks” is a pretty weak argument. Don’t you have anything that might even be in the same zip code as a legitimate complaint?

Oh, and it’s interesting you make no mention of Yahoo!. You don’t mention Yahoo! calendar syncing, or search, or IMAP email, or the free push email. They’re only the most popular email out there, so I can see how you might have missed it. Funny how the iPhone’s Yahoo! support has caused you to forget all about them, and sent you into the arms of Google all of a sudden. I guess that’s just a coincidence.

“The EDGE network is faster than predicted, but it’s still as slow as dial-up, and a joke compared to EV-DO or Wi-Fi.”

Are you for real? I was on dial-up, Paul. Lived through it. Rode it all the way to 56K. EDGE is faster. But you knew that, of course. And Paul, the iPhone has WiFi. Further, no matter how much you tongue-lick EVDO it’s still a dog compared to WiFi and slower than what most of your readers have in their homes. What we all want is WiFi, and the iPhone’s got it; most smartphones don’t.

“The iPhone includes cool ringtones, but you can’t download more or use songs on the device, which seems like an obvious feature.”

Translation: “I want to pay $1.99 for a ringtone like Verizon.” Besides, using iTunes songs as ringtones is a licensing issue. Maybe the labels will allow it soon?

“This could go on and on and on,”

Of course it could, because you’re reaching. Paul, you’ll have to do better if you want to be taken seriously. What’s funny is that now that you actually have an iPhone, you’ve discovered you can’t run it down based on how it works, so you have to resort to stuff like the above. Hilarious!

“But it’s not perfect. It’s not even close. And that’s not going to be good enough for a lot of smart phone users.”

It’s not perfect? I’m shocked! Who can define “perfect” in this context anyway? If not being perfect is “not going to be good enough for a lot of smartphone users,” are their smartphones perfect? What are they, Paul? Point me to the perfect smartphone.

Anybody could pick nits over the Treo, Q, Blackberry, etc. They wouldn’t even have to resort to the same minuscule bullshit as above. Those phones would come out as not even being workable, let alone “good enough”.

Most smartphone users will consider the iPhone a breath of fresh air, and even the ones who don’t will still know it’s what future smartphones will become in terms of features (WiFi especially) and user interface. But you don’t get it, or have been instructed not to, depending on whose brand you’re furthering today.

Who has ever worked with new hardware or software and not said “this is good, but…?” If the “but” argument is all you’ve got against the iPhone, Paul, you should wait until you have something real.

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.