Apple Claim Chowder: Events

on August 31, 2014
Reading Time: 5 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.

Events

A book is a mirror; if an ass peers into it, you cannot expect an apostle to peer out. ~ George Christoph Lichtenberg

An Apple event is a mirror too. If an ass peers into it, you cannot expect an apostle to peer out.

Prophesy is a good line of business, but it is full of risks. ~ Mark Twain

WHAT WOULD JOBS DO?

Ever since Steve Jobs’ death, there has been an unfortunate tendency by some critics to create counterfactuals that compare the Apple of this world to an Apple still run by a living Steve Jobs. There seems to be an inverse relationship at work here. The less likely it was for a critic to understand and predict Steve Jobs’ actions while he was alive, the more likely it is for that same critic to claim they can channel Steve Jobs’ spirit from the beyond. Ironic, no?

Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity. ~ Frank Leahy

All this talk of trying to figure out what Steve Jobs would have done reminds me of a true story:

    For many years, a Franciscan priest by the name of Andrew Agnellus served as an adviser to the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) on religious affairs. One day, a BBC producer sent a memo to Father Agnellus asking how he might ascertain the official Catholic view of heaven and hell. The witty priest’s return memo said simply:

    Die. ((Excerpt From: Andre Bernard. “Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.”))

To those critics who truly wish to know what Steve Jobs is thinking now, I extend the same advice.

And he looked at me with those intense eyes that only he had, and he told me to never do that, to never ask what he would do. Just do what’s right. And so I’m doing that. ~ Tim Cook

Premature Predictions

For some reason, people can’t wait until they actually see and use a product before predicting it will fail. It’s like judging a wine before you’ve tasted it. Why we listen to these pre-predictions, I have no idea. But we do.

It’s generally a bad idea to have a strong opinion of a consumer product you have no experience of. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Some past premature predictions:

    Apple is slated to come out with a new phone… And it will largely fail…. Sales for the phone will skyrocket initially. However, things will calm down, and the Apple phone will take its place on the shelves with the random video cameras, cell phones, wireless routers and other would-be hits… ~ Michael Kanellos, CNET, 7 December 2006

    BaF8LuUCYAAqxrm.jpg-largeApple will launch a mobile phone in January, and it will become available during 2007. … After a year a new version will be launched, but it will lack the innovation of the first and quickly vanish. The only question remaining is if, when the iPod phone fails, it will take the iPod with it. ~ Bill Ray, The Register, 26 December 2006

    When Apple introduces its iPhone this month, will it pass the acid test? In my opinion, no. ~ Al Ries, AdAge Blogs, 18 June 2007

    In fact, I’ll go far enough to say that, if the iPhone 5 looks like the pictures that have recently appeared, Apple may be screwed. ~ Henry Blodget, Daily Ticker, 30 July 2012

    With Apple’s next smartphone still months away, fans have been gobbling up iPhone 6 rumors faster than Pac-Man on a power pill bender. However, even the hottest rumor mill in tech can’t turn this device into a winner. ~ Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director, 14 March 2014

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. ~ Dutch proverb

All great ideas look like bad ideas to people who are losers. It’s always good to test a new idea with known losers to make sure they don’t like it. ~ Scott Adams

Speculation

If you believe everything you read, better not read. ~ Japanese Proverb

Speculation can be fun. Speculation can even be helpful. However, building elaborate arguments on unfounded speculation is like building a castle on shifting sands.

A foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. ~ The Bible, Matthew

When it comes to speculation, a couple of rules of thumb can be helpful:

It is better to debate a question without deciding it than to decide it without debating it. ~ Joseph Joubert

Exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence. ~ Christopher Hitchens

Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt. ~ Eric Sevareid

Taking crazy things seriously is a serious waste of time. – Haruki Murakami

Wrong

We don’t know what’s about to happen but we’ll pretend that we do. Then — when we’re proven wrong — we’ll still pretend we knew it all along.

If futurism is visionary, history is revisionary. ~ Bruce Sterling. ((Excerpt From: Robert Cottrell. “The Browser Book of Quotations.” The Browser, 2012.))

Here, for example, is what we thought the iPhone would look like:

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Image From “iPhone Dreams: Renders from 2006 tell us everything about what we used to think a phone could be.

No one remembers how wrong they were about the iPhone and the iPad. All they remember is the parts they got right — or the parts they re-imagined that they got right.

The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth. ~ Scott Adams

Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian. ~ Lee Simonson

Even God cannot alter the past, though historians can. ~ Samuel Butler

Change

Whenever a prediction doesn’t pan out, we’ll simply claim we were absolutely right on the money, but Apple changed their mind at the last minute. What the Onion writes as parody, some Apple critics take as gospel:

    CUPERTINO, CA—Claiming that he completely forgot about the much-hyped electronic device until the last minute, a frantic Steve Jobs reportedly stayed up all night Tuesday in a desperate effort to design Apple’s new tablet computer. “Come on, Steve, just think—think, dammit—you’re running out of time,” the exhausted CEO said as he glued nine separate iPhones to the back of a plastic cafeteria tray. “Okay, yeah, this will work. This will definitely work. Just need to write ‘tablet’ on this little strip of masking tape here and I’m golden. Oh, come on, you piece of shit! Just stick already!” Middle-of-the-night sources reported that Jobs then began work on double-spacing his Keynote presentation and increasing the font size to make it appear longer.

Claiming that Apple suddenly changed its collective mind is not enough for some critics. Some will go further and claim that that a spiteful Apple changed its plans IN RESPONSE to a critic’s predictions.

When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. ~ Bernard Bailey

The bottom line is, no matter what shows up on stage at an Apple Event, our predictions are never wrong.

Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love the truth. ~ Joseph Joubert

Delay

Here’s another dodge favored by critics — the old “nonexistent product delayed” trick. You know how it goes. We make an outlandish prediction. Said prediction doesn’t happen. Were we wrong in our prediction? Of course not! The predicted product was simply “delayed” almost certainly due to production issues on Apple’s part. The beauty of this claim is two-fold. We weren’t wrong. Apple is incompetent.

Some recent examples of this line of argument:

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A fresh report from China’s Economic Daily News believes that Apple has indeed delayed the Retina iPad Mini’s launch until early 2014 because of the troubles it’s having. Apple can’t afford to wait that long. ~ Evan Niu, Motley Fool, 13 July 2013

Continued production issues may force Apple to delay ‘iWatch’ until 2015 ~ @appleinsider

When we risk no contradiction, It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction. ~ John Gay

Lessons Learned And Unlearned

People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they were willing actually to remain fools. ~ Alice Walker

Set aside your predictions and preconceptions. Go into the Event with an open mind. See what is, instead of what is missing, and go from there.

The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind. ~ E. B. White

The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. ~ T.Pratchett

Apple Claim Chowder Series:

Introduction
Events
Killers
Cynicism
Product
Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
Business Models