Misleading and distorted press reporting of Apple/Samsung


Reading the previous entry – about how the press should be regulated – before reading this should provoke some thought. There’s a narrative in the media at the moment about Apple “stumbling” in some way. People used to complain, when Steve Jobs was alive, about his “reality distortion field” – his way of convincing people that something was true beyond a doubt even in the face of the evidence. Since his death, the reality distortion field is on the loose, and has infected both the share market and the media.

Yesterday, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber linked to this shameful BBC News article, which included the phrase, “a few recent missteps with product launches”. Gruber goes on to question this phrase, and he has a point. Apart from the dodgy Apple Maps app (with which, by the way, I’ve had no problems at all, not even with the route planning), Apple’s recent launches have been nothing but successful.

Not that you’d know that from the media narrative. Gruber lists some recent Apple product launches, pointing out how successful they’ve been:

The iPad Mini is the best-selling, best-regarded small tablet in the world. The iPhone 5 is the most profitable and best-selling smartphone in the world. The iPad 3/4 is the best-selling tablet in the world, and is single-handedly transforming the entire PC industry. Retina MacBook Pros — best laptops in the world. MacBook Airs? Better than ever.


Clearly, we can’t trust the BBC’s reporting to be unbiased. They’re basically taking a Samsung press release and regurgitating it, without balance, without questioning the misleading narrative. Samsung are in competition with Apple, and they have the same interest in being truthful about how well they’re doing as Coca Cola have in being truthful about how sugar causes obesity.

What is this narrative about Apple stumbling? Who benefits? Well, there are a number of conspiracy theories. Many bloggers have pointed out that an awful lot of traders made a lot of money by speculating about a possible fall in Apple’s share price. Lo and behold, when the share price fell, they cashed in. So there’s that. I think there’s also a sense that, in terms of narrative, the mainstream media have collectively decided that something needs to happen to make this story interesting.

So they just make stuff up. Write fiction/opinion and present it as fact/news. And if they do that with Apple, you should be asking yourself, what else are they doing it with?

Here’s John Gruber’s entry about a report in Reuters, spookily similar to the one from the BBC:

But this brings us back to Gupta’s report for Reuters, which I repeat below, this time with emphasis added:

The marketing chief’s rare attack on a rival, on the eve of the Galaxy S4’s global premier in New York, underscores the extent of the pressure piled upon a company that once stood the undisputed leader of the smartphone arena, but ceded its crown to Samsung in 2012.

That’s a statement of fact, in a Reuters news (not opinion) story, about a company with 70 percent (and judging by last quarter, growing) of the industry’s profits. The same company that runs the best and most popular app store (including the most successful handheld gaming platform), and whose media entertainment ecosystem has, by far, the best reach worldwide. The same company whose platform disproportionately dominates usage statistics.

via Daring Fireball.

It’s been the case since the launch of the original iPhone, by the way, that the technology media in general dismisses Apple’s products in comparison to those of other companies. You might remember that the iPhone was going to fail because it didn’t have a hardware keyboard, or because it’s camera was only 2 megapixels.

And then the iPad was going to fail because it was “just a big iPod Touch”.

And then the iPhone 5 was going to fail because it didn’t have a jet pack, or something.

The techie guys never get it, because they don’t understand audience theory. Now this “reality distortion” has spread into the mainstream.