Apple Claim Chowder: Cynicism

on September 2, 2014
Reading Time: 7 minutes

With an Apple Event fast approaching, I’m reviewing critiques of past Apple Events to see how accurate they were. Turns out, not very. Critique is needed and welcome. Repeated errors? Not so much.

Cynicism

All companies suffer from the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism. However, some companies seem to suffer more than their unfair share.

If a fool has a hump, nobody notices it; if the wise man has a pimple, everybody talks about it. ~ Russian

It is unwise to hold a company in disdain if you are trying to analyze that company. Yet I routinely see Apple labeled and dismissed by the very people who are supposed to be objectively evaluating them.

Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment. ~ Mario Puzo

Many of Apple’s critics think Apple’s success is based upon the foolishness of its customers. It’s a bizarre, but widely repeated — and widely accepted — theory.

A meaningless phrase repeated again and again begins to resemble truth. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

There’s a strong element of cognitive dissonance at work here:

  1. We don’t like Apple’s products;
  2. We’re rational;
  3. Apple’s customer’s like Apple’s products;
  4. Therefore: Apple’s customer’s must be irrational.

We often challenge the perceptions of others, but only very rarely question our own. ~ Dr. Mardy

Cognitive dissonance is a form of mental jujitsu that lets us flip our weaknesses and turn them into the weaknesses of others. If we don’t understand why someone does what they do, we don’t think of it as a lack of knowledge on our part, we think of it as a lack of knowledge on their part. Why should we question our own understanding of how things work and take the time to learn more about how others think when we can confidently assert that they don’t think at all?

Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack. ~ George S. Patton

Here’s the deal. Apple has well over 800 million active customers and they’re rapidly approaching the billion mark. That’s an awful lot of people voting for Apple with their hard-earned cash.

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. ~ Stephen Colbert

Apple’s customers are not part of a cult. They’re not mindless fans or slaves to fashion. Neither are they victims of Apple’s Houdini-like marketing or Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field. They’re not to be mocked or dismissed out of hand.

If we want to understand Apple, we need to understand why Apple attracts so many customers and why those customers are so very loyal to Apple. And if we don’t want to understand Apple, that’s fine too. But if we’re going to stop thinking, we need to stop talking too.

If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much. ~ Ted Williams

Joker with big bone

Claim Chowder

Cult

I just have to wonder who will want one of these things [an iPhone] (other than the religious faithful). … So please mark this post and come back in two years to see the results of my prediction… ~ Richard Sprague, Senior Marketing Director, Microsoft, January 2007

I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch. ~ Charles Golvin, Forreter Research, 27 January 2011

For those of us without Apple tattoos, the reaction to Apple’s new iPhone 3G S, announced on Monday, seems to look pretty unanimous. ‘That’s it?’ ~ Nick Mokey, Digital Trends, 8 June 2009

The whole Apple cult is starting to creep me out. ~ Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal, 22 December 2010

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. ~ Proverbs 26:11

Fans

apple-logo-chest-fanboy

It’s the loyalists who keep promoting this device as if it is going to be anything other than another phone in a crowded market. And it’s exactly the crowded-market aspect of this that analysts seem to be ignoring. There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 28 March 2007

It’ll sell a couple million units to the many people who have wet dreams about Steve Jobs, and that will be about it. ~ Matt Maroon, MattMaroon.com , 7 May 2007

This morning, the fool’s parade gets started. Apple is taking online “pre-orders” for its iPad tablet, which is supposed to begin shipping on April 3. ~ Galen Gruman, InfoWorld, 12 March 2010

Now with Android better suited to low spec hardware and commodisation of smartphones seeing powerful handsets available at bargain prices, starting with Android could well shift from a cautionary tale to powerful gateway drug. At that point blind loyalty would be almost impossible. Even for self-confessed iSheep. ~ Gordon Brown, Forbes, 21 March 2014

When [logical] ammunition runs low, inevitably the rusty artillery of abuse is wheeled into action. ~ Wallace Stevens

Fashion

Consumers are not used to paying another couple hundred bucks more just because Apple makes a cool product. Some fans will buy it, but for the rest of us it’s a hard pill to swallow just to have the coolest thing. ~ Neil Strother, NPD Group, 22 January 2007

The iPhone is going to be nothing more than a temporary novelty that will eventually wear off. ~ Gundeep Hora, CoolTechZone Editor-in-Chief, 2 April 2007

That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fook, 6 Mar 2012

If you’re an image-conscious hipster/rebel/brand-monkey and you don’t use the AT&T network in the SF Bay Area, the iPhone is a great choice, especially if you need obscure apps. ~ Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert, 17 August 2011

Apple does what it does well, and then sluffs off everything else — like getting e-mail and actually making a call on the iPhone. Succeeding with that sort of hauteur and dismissiveness is awfully dependent on charisma and sex appeal, an expensive proposition in a commodified market. ~ Michael Wolff, USA Today, 11 Nov 2012

You can’t use the iPhone 5C to make your friends feel bad about themselves, and that’s creating a problem for Apple. ~ Kim Bhasin, Huffington Post , 23 October 2013

Apple iPad Fad Is Over. ~ Robert McGarvey, Main Street, 14 August 2014

My definition of a stupid person. A stupid person is a person who treats a smart person as though they’re stupid. ~ Errol Morris

Hype

I can’t believe the hype being given to iPhone. ~ Richard Sprague, Senior Marketing Director, Microsoft, January 2007

That’s the problem with hyping a product before it comes out. It’s bound to disappoint no matter how good it is… ~ Brent Schlender, Fortune, 30 May 2007 (11 June 2007 Print Edition)

God himself could not design a device that could live up to all the hype that the iPhone has gotten… ~ Harvard computer science professor David Platt told Reuters, 25 June 2007

What an utter disappointment and abysmal failure of an Apple product. How can Steve Jobs stand up on that stage and hype this [iPad] product up and not see everything this thing is not and everything this thing is lacking? ~ Orange County Web Design Blog, 27 January 2010

For all the hype about an Apple tablet, it is at best a niche product. The world doesn’t need an Apple tablet, no matter what the hype about rumored features or regardless of what actually releases (if anything). ~ Joe Wilcox, Betanews, 2 January 2010

Don’t Believe the iPad Hype. Apple has sold out pre-orders of the forthcoming device, but it could all be a marketing tactic. ~ Mike Schuster, Minyanville.com, 29 March 2010

I don’t get it. It costs $500 for the basic model, when you could get a laptop with a lot more functionality for about the same price. The iPad hype machine has been in full effect this week, and I still think it’s just that—hype. If I turn out to be wrong, I’ll gladly eat my words, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not wrong. ~ Alex Cook, Seeking Alpha, 3 April 2010

The man who questions opinions is wise. The man who quarrels with facts is a fool. ~ Frank Garbutt

Marketing

‘Mum, the iPad is not ‘amazing.’ It’s just marketed very well, both by Apple and its culpable partners in mainstream media. ~ Paul Thurrott (in response to comment by Mum), Paul Thurrott’s Super Site for Windows, 26 April 2010

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. ~ Charles Darwin

Reality Distortion Field

From my perch, the market’s very favorable reaction to Apple’s iPhone is yet another example of disbelief being suspended … on the Street of Dreams. ~ Doug Kass, The Street, 17 Jan 2007

The reality distortion field will fade. People will come back to their senses and ask what really matters to them in a mobile. The answers will be basics, like good telephony, long battery life, small size and low price. Which of these attributes apply to the iPhone? ~ Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch, 10 January 2007

Apparently Steve Jobs had a lifelong battle with reality, and won ~ Scott Adams

Wealthy

The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. ~ Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 15 January 2007

The iPhone is an expensive toy for the wealthy and self-indulgent… ~ Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities, 14 August 2007

It seems like a high priced, unnecessary trinket to me. ~ Paul Thurrott, SuperSite for Windows, 27 January 2010

[The iPad is a] device for people who have more money than brains. ~ Alex Valentine, /dev/null, 28 January 2010

Apple is great if you’ve got a lot of money and live on an island. ~ Andy Lark, Global Head of Marketing for Large Enterprises and Public Organisations, Dell, 29 March 2011

It’s a nice-to-have product, for those of us who don’t have a budget… ~ Ashok Kumar, Analyst, Rodman & Renshaw LLC, 12 November 2010

If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool. ~ Carl Jung

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb…and I also know I’m not blonde. ~ Dolly Parton

Apple is like Dolly Parton in the sense that they know they’re not dumb and they know something about themselves that we haven’t yet discovered. If we want to understand Apple’s success, we have to stop insulting them and their customers and start questioning our understanding of them instead. Here are some lessons to get us started.

First, never assume that what is right for you is right for others.

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Second, if we don’t understand someone’s motivations, assume that it is due to a lack of understanding on our part, not due to a lack of intelligence on their part. Just because we don’t understand a thing doesn’t mean that it can’t be understood.

The things we know best are those we have not learned. ~ Luc de Clapiers

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right. ~ Laurens Van der Post

Third, never stop learning, never stop questioning. Certainty ends thinking. Doubt is the beginning of wisdom.

It is easier to be critical than correct. ~ Benjamin Disraeli. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions. ~ Charles Steinmetz

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. ~ Voltaire

Doubt is the origin of wisdom. ~ René Descartes

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Introduction
Events
Killers
Cynicism
Product
Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models