Apple fans, re-hypnotize yourselves with the photo above and get ready for the wave of anti-Apple stories, because I can feel it coming. I’ve been in this business long enough to know how it works. They boost you up and hype your stuff and turn you into the reincarnation of Buddha himself; then they tear you down. It’s not their fault. It’s what they do. The big thing to know about the media is that they’re not out there “covering stories.” The way to think about the media is that it’s basically the same as one of those TV soap operas that’s been on the air for twenty or thirty years. The story just rolls on, curving and unfurling, no matter who the actors are and no matter who the writers are. The story itself is bigger than the actors or the writers. The filthy hacks at the Journal are basically no different than the aspiring novelists and screenwriters who take jobs writing for “General Hospital”; they’ve been hired on to the show for a few years and they’re doing their best to keep it entertaining. People like me are the characters in the soap opera and what you realize early on if you’re in my position is that you don’t have much more control over the plot than do the actors who play roles in a TV soap opera. The trick is to figure out what part the filthy bastards are imposing on you and then to surf that wave and make the best of it.
It’s also worth remembering that the writers don’t have any control either. We tend to blame the reporters but really it’s not their fault. They have to do as they’re told. The story has certain demands. Heroes achieve things and win; then they fuck up and fall; then they dust themselves off and overcome obstacles and climb back into the ring, blah blah blah. The writers just make up the details to keep it colorful.
Anyway, the backlash is coming. Sooner rather than later some a-hole who thinks he’s really smart is going to write the “contrarian” piece saying Apple is crap. Of course this point of view is not really contrarian at all; in fact it’s inevitable, and it’s a requirement of the overarching narrative that we’re all part of. But whatever. He’ll think he’s a big bad ass who’s figured something out before everyone else and dares to say it out loud. You know why this is? Because most of the poor dimwits who work in the media are so clueless that they don’t realize they’re part of a big overarching ongoing story. They’re like the pod people in “The Matrix,” churning away at their computers, totally unaware of the reality in which they’re living. They don’t realize that they’re just harnessed to the soap opera that’s writing itself with or without them; most of them really think they’re “breaking” stories and shaping the news. Poor saps. The fact is that all the journalists I’ve ever met boasted a combination of incredible naivete and limited intelligence with an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a wrongheaded belief that they are a great deal smarter than the people they interview. Without those things you just couldn’t do their job.
In our case right now the backlash started with Dvorak, that grumpy old liver-spotted bastard, saying maybe it’s time to start shorting Apple stock. More recently we’ve seen the general grumbling about the WWDC keynote and how it lacked sparkle. The great thing about the press and their ongoing narrative is that this makes them utterly friggin predictable. Steve Dowling and I sat around yesterday in a PR strategy session and mapped out exactly what the papers will do. Here are some data points:
* The stock is too high, has gone up too fast, is due for a “correction.”
* We’ve hyped the iPhone so much that it can never live up to the expectations we’ve created and therefore is bound to be a disappointment. The touch screen is going to drive people nuts.
* The iPod is great but at this point we can’t sell any more than we already do, so there’s no way to go but down.
* Apple TV is a flop.
* Leopard is late, a sign we’re struggling in the labs.
* Leopard is a letdown. The first glimpse of it got tepid reviews in general and some, like Mary Jo Creepy, actually claimed we’re stealing from Vista.
* The current iMacs and Mac Mini have gone nearly 300 days without a refresh; we’ve lost our way.
* Technology is changing again and iTunes-to-iPod model isn’t the way of the future; it’s going to be streaming technology and we don’t play a role there.
* Movie companies aren’t getting on board with iTunes.
* Vista got bashed for being such a hardware hog but Leopard is going to be just as power hungry, needing at least 2 gigs of RAM to run decently.
The question is, how do we respond? Do we fight it? We think not. It would be like fighting a tsunami. Better off to get to high ground and ride out the storm. I call it the Obi-Wan Kenobi defense. I put on my brown robe, turn off my light saber, and just let the bad guys attack me. It’s a necessary part of the story. The story needs me to fail now, to suffer, so that then I can come back in even greater glory. It’s like Jesus — no crucifixion, no resurrection. Media whores, listen to me: If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.