Throwing his toys out of the pram
Considering he's the mastermind behind a communications strategy that means there is ten times more hype and media speculation behind an Apple launch than any other company, Apple CEO Steve Jobs' performance in Friday's emergency press conference was surprisingly inept.
What grated with us the most was his sustained attack on the media for making more of the issue than he thought it merited. Leaving aside the wisdom of attacking a profession that has done so much to help him sell his products, this approached reeked of hypocrisy when you consider how Apple actively encourages hyperbolic positive coverage.
The whole culture of secrecy - which must be difficult and expensive to maintain - is geared towards working the press into a frenzy of speculation prior to any announcement. Furthermore, the lack of available information means that any rumour or factoid, no matter how microscopic, gets a disproportionate amount of eyeballs (just look at the 'most popular' stories on HEXUS.channel). When you distill it down, the job of a journalist is to cater for their readership, something best measured by circulation/traffic.
So Apple has deliberately created an environment in which the media are disproportionately rewarded for writing about Apple and has made a culture of rumour and speculation inevitable by tightly controlling the flow of information. Now Jobs has the gall to come out and accuse the media, like over-exuberant children, of getting carried away.
So what does this say about how Jobs views the media? To us, that it's an extension of his marketing department. We were collectively scolded for not doing our jobs properly on Friday, and Jobs seemed genuinely mystified at our failure to follow simple instructions. We're afraid it doesn't work that way Steve; if you live by the sword, you die by the sword mate.
Meanwhile, in case you think this is an Apple-bashing piece, we think Apple has done entirely the right thing by creating a special page to address the matter here, and publishing the video of the press event, which we would have embedded, but of course it's QuickTime only. And we think holding the event in the first place sends out the right signals about how seriously Apple takes the matter.
We also think the free case offer is the best solution to the matter. Although, if we were spending two grand on a phone, we might expect it to come with one in the box. The site includes studies of alleged reception issues with the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the HTC Droid Eris and the Samsung Omnia II.
And that brings us onto the other aspect of Friday's press event that stuck in the throat somewhat. Jobs opened with an extended diatribe on how this isn't really an issue anyway, but that the iPhone's competitors also struggle with this issue that isn't. Understandably, they weren't too pleased at being dragged into this affair, and many have commented subsequently, which we have collated overleaf.
UPDATE - 11:10, 19 July 2010 - In the absence of the press event video, here's a funny Taiwanese cartoon take on the saga, discovered by, and featuring, Apple nemesis Gizmodo: