This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
THE NEW YORK TIMES has done a hatchet job on the latest RIM Blackberry Storm with a stinging review by David Pogue with calls the latest offering a "Blackberry dud".
I have long been sceptical about how Apple uses a select band of tame hacks who get their paws on Apple gear early in return for writing glowing copy about the company. This is a case in point.
An analysis of Pogue's work shows him writing 90% wonderful things about the Apple iPhone and also getting hold of the 3G Jesus phone before it hit the shops.
The New York Times was penning loads of pro-Apple iphone stories before the launch and rushed to cover the queues that were forming to buy the thing.
However, getting gear early in return for writing gushing pieces is one thing, making the move to attack Apple's rivals on its behalf is another.
Looking at Pogues' review he has nothing good to see in the BlackBerry Storm which he compares to the "much adored iphone". We should point out, in case you have not noticed, that I do not adore the iphone which even Pogue admitted was flawed in his only negative comment about the toy.
His review claims that the touchscreen was a bid to cash in on some of that iPhone touch-screen mania. But while it is good for the Apple, Pogues claims that a "BlackBerry without a keyboard is like an iPod without a scroll wheel". Yup, even his similes are an advert for an Apple product. An ipod with out a scroll wheel is an MP3 player and my Sony Walkman is just fine thank-you and it does not require me to give all my personal details to Sony before I use it. Why is a touch screen brilliant and wonderful when Apple use it but not when its rivals do?
The thing that Apple didn't come up with, the click function, is written off as 'not a bad idea' but the Storm's execution is 'inconsistent and confusing'.
He 'quotes' an unnamed person who couldn't send an email. Unnamed people in tech stories are a bit like 'friends of the family' in tabloid stories. They have a habit of saying what ever the hack wants them to say. Who was this elusive shadowy figure who couldn't send an email using the device? Was it a techie? Was it a badger who lacked opposable thumbs who fought in 'Nam.
"I haven’t found a soul who tried this machine who wasn’t appalled, baffled or both," he concludes. Maybe you should stop talking to Apple fanboys or the Apple press office David, none of them can have a dump if Steve Jobs has not told them how to do it.
The point is that the phone might be pants. Pogues may be completely right about it. However, reviewers lack credability when they sign themselves up to a manufacturer in return for gear.
Apple is fighting a tooth-and-nail campaign against RIM and it just makes you wonder if Pogue is dissing the Storm because it is daring to compete against his manufacturer of choice which does him so many favours.
In IT journalism there is no room for fanboys of any flavour. A good hack should hate everyone and pour scorn or praise on a device because of the way it works.
Not because you have swallowed some corporate Kool Aid. µ
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