Searching the word “Apple” into the Google search bar reveals the following article titles: “Rolex The Apple Killer” by Forbes’ Ewan Spence, “Fix Apple’s Wireless AirPods with this $10 Wire” by Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski, “iPhone Upgraders are suing Apple, saying it’s putting new customers first” by Recode’s Ina Fried. All of the titles, and much of the content of these articles are inherently negative. I am not sure if I’m the only one or if I’m just crazy, but I have seen a lot more negative press surrounding Apple in the past year or so. One big offender, Forbes, has written countless articles about the company during that time. Lately though, I have seen a lot of articles from Ewan Spence and from Gordon Kelly on the top of the Google search list lately. Anecdotally speaking, I have seen more negative articles about Apple from those two Forbes contributors on the top of the news stories, than I have seen positive articles about Apple anywhere else combined.
Gordon Kelly, for example writes about “Great New Features” and “Nasty Surprises” concerning different tech companies, but particularly focusing on Apple. In the past two months, he wrote 10 articles that are either titled with these two phrases in the title, or are similarly polarized. Only two articles out of the ten had positive titles. A few of them talked about the ‘nasty surprises’ in iOS 9.3.3 and 9.3.4, which in actuality were not all that ‘nasty’. Many won’t read past the headline and instead just read the title, and perhaps the first few lines. That is enough to foster a negative clout toward Apple. People may not read or even understand the entire article. Instead, they may take his word for it and assume some ‘nasty’ things are coming out of Cupertino. Psychologically speaking too, the word ‘nasty’ will elicit a much more negative response than will the word ‘great’.
Forbes is not the only contributor to this recent anti-Apple spout. While I understand that not everyone can be like MacRumors, and thus biased towards Apple, that isn’t the problem. The problem is that I’ve found search results for “Apple” to be incredibly anti-Apple biased. Articles from MacRumors (macRumors?) are scuttled in the crevices of Google search, while Gordon Kelly’s relatively short, anti-Apple biased articles are at the top of the list of hits. Articles from mostly pro-Apple biased DaringFireball are never, ever in the search results at all. Getting to that site, and to MacRumors, requires typing in the name instead of just “apple”, especially during lengths of time where Apple has not released anything.
Of course, the bigger question in all of this is why? Why is Apple receiving such strong negative press? Is this strong negative clout influencing the company’s recent PR spout it had with Steven Levy’s article on Siri, or a similar “State of Apple” article published at the same time? Is this PR Apple fighting back against this negative press? I personally believe so. It’s no secret that many people believe that Apple lost it’s mojo when Steve Jobs died, or that Apple really hasn’t done anything since then. They did release the Apple Watch, but that too has had mostly negative press, even before it’s official release. While I don’t mind a article of constructive criticism for the company, I do believe that this negative press is contributing to a ‘nasty’ cycle. Every individual negative article is feeding the clout around Apple and only furthers the clouding image Apple has been getting lately. Perhaps Apple felt it needed to open up a little in those recent interviews to let people know the boat isn’t sinking, as many journalists appear to believe.
I also have to wonder if anything Apple does will matter, if anything they release will stop this negativity. Perhaps, innovation from Apple became less synonymous with Apple and more so with it’s co-founder Steve Jobs. If this is the case, anything Apple does, good or not, will receive more negative press than if he were still alive. If Apple releases a new product tomorrow, journalists, like they did with the Watch, may largely discredit it before it even gets off the ground. When it was first released, the iPhone isn’t what it was now, and even then some negative journalism surrounded it too. However, some of it was still hopeful. Apple, along with Steve Jobs, was able to iterate it enough to become the most successful product from a single company in history.
What is important to remember though is that it didn’t start that way. The Apple Watch, too, may become a very successful product, but that’s only if journalists don’t successfully kill it first. Negative press surrounding the Watch, I am sure, has to have affected sales of the Watch to some degree. Contrasting with the iPhone, journalists don’t seem to have as much hope for the Watch, some even declaring it DOA. Not everything Apple has been doing lately has been fantastic. Questionable design decisions, recent products raising a few eyebrows, but for the most part these issues existed with Jobs around too. Apple screwed up with Jobs at the helm too. That is not what has changed. What has changed is that Apple became vulnerable the day he died. When he died, the messiah was no longer in control, just his imperfect disciples. Jobs knew how to work the press and he was incredibly affective. Without him, it’s not that Apple has just started making mistakes without Jobs around, it’s that Jobs isn’t around to deflect the press negativity it could get with those mistakes. Despite what some journalists will say, Apple is still innovating and it is still moving towards the future. It will only do so with products it feels are completely ready to go into the market. They will not release Google Glass. With the iPhone, Apple wasn’t the first, but it was the best. Journalists, with deadlines, and the increasing need to drive ad traffic (clickbait, anyone?) don’t see into the future. They do not see what Apple will be. They only see what Apple is. What’s changed though is that they are only now seeing what Apple has always been. An innovative, if imperfect, company. Jobs deflected the press from the imperfect part. Cook and Co. aren’t doing as good a job with that.
In the end, it doesn’t matter all that much what press say about Apple, good or bad, and I hope the company can weed out what articles are actually good advice, and what articles are simply “nasty” clickbait. Some things the press says about the company are important and some are messages I really hope Apple is listening to. Apple does need to update it’s Mac line, Apple does need to continue to tidy up Apple Music and some of it’s recent design decisions. Let’s see too what comes out of Apple after Campus 2 is complete and Jony Ive starts worrying about products entirely again. Apple has bright days ahead of it. Nothing it can do will change the fact that it remains one of a handful of the most important companies on the planet. Time, not clickbait journalists, will tell if we have truly seen peak Apple yet or not.
Thanks for reading,