Mar 262012

It appears as though Mike Daisey has finally yielded to the compounding effect of castigation by the media, the technorati and his “peers” in theater. He wrote something on his blog today that resembles an actual apology to everyone he moved by his lies – almost everyone, anyway. So what’s my beef?

First of all, the apology stinks of nothing but desperation, a ploy designed to keep Daisey relevant and not totally ostracized from people he considers his peers. When people first got wind of his lies, the assault that hammered Daisey for his practices came from all directions. Despite the ubiquity of condemnation, he remained hilariously recalcitrant, his self-righteousness gland working overtime in the face of uniform scrutiny, his enormous ego probably convincing him that it was the right way to respond. Even universally reviled fuck-ups like Jerry Falwell knew to cut straight to the bawling when they were caught red-handed. Not Mike. It wasn’t until everyone with a pulse and access to a keyboard continued to pound him for a while that Daisey relented. Which leads me to my bigger issue.

Daisey’s apology covers just about everyone: This American Life listeners, the people who paid money to see him lie on stage, even the theater community that he probably believes he can ingratiate himself to in the hopes of working with them again. The only glaring omission is the entity he slighted, the very reason Daisey got to make all that money and get his face splashed across the media in the first place.

He didn’t apologize to Apple.

It’s probably because, on some level, he believes that what he was accusing Apple of is a truth that rises above all the lies he injected into the discourse. Somewhere, somehow, Mike Daisey still blames Apple for the shitstorm he alone created. Nevermind that Apple’s success is the only reason that Daisey was able to line his venues’ seats with asses, nevermind that no one would give a shit about what he had to say if Apple wasn’t the most successful company on the planet; people wouldn’t give a shit about what he said if he spoke the truth about the most successful company on the planet. It’s a little like Dan Lyons’s schtick with Fake Steve Jobs: the parasite’s venom is proportionate to the success of its host.

This is what Tim Cook had to say about the liquified bullshit stirred up by the likes of Mike Daisey:

As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple’s values today, and I’d like to address this with you directly. We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It’s not who we are.

If Daisey knew anything about Apple – if he was 1/10th the “fanboy” he claimed himself to be while operating his manure-spreader on stage – he’d understand that Cook’s quote wasn’t rhetoric designed to appease shareholders. In Daisey’s mind, Apple is some faceless monolith that feels no responsibility towards its supply chain – that’s the image that made him so much money and got him so many sound bytes, after all. But it’s not the kind of company Apple is. Daisey insulted the integrity of Apple and everyone who works for the company. Above anyone else, they deserve your apologies, Mike.

I personally don’t care if Mike Daisey ever apologizes to Apple and I’m pretty sure Apple doesn’t care either. But the company’s absence in his “apology” tells you – again – all you need to know about him. His heartfelt mea culpa is a vehicle deployed for the express purpose of keeping him relevant, a last resort thrown out in an effort to get him off the many, many “most hated” lists he’s found himself on despite his belief that he shouldn’t be there. His words contain the same level of sincerity as anything he’s written since he’s been called out as a fraud.

Which is to say none.

 Posted by at 8:25 pm
Mar 262012

If you’ve read my opinions about tech company advertising, you’d know that I think Microsoft has some of the worst in the business. Historically, their ads fall cleanly into one of 2 camps: “disingenuous comparisons” and “adolescent humor”. Their latest attempt to breathe life into their Windows Phone offering, “Smoked by Windows Phone” was doomed to failure the second someone in Marketing decided to port it from “CES novelty” to “major marketing push”.

The gimmick, as it was first covered at CES, is that you bring your smartphone and match it up against a Windows Phone in a real-world speed test using one of Microsoft’s pre-designed benchmarks such as “take a picture and upload it to Facebook”. If you won at CES, you got a crisp Benjamin. In the most current promotion being run at both Windows Stores, if you win, you walk away with a special Hunger Games edition HP ultrabook.

The problem with this set-up should be obvious. Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second and assume that the comparisons are fair and decent representations of useful things you would do with your smartphone. With a $1,000 piece of kit on the line, don’t you think people are going to do everything they can to rig the game in their favor? And how does Microsoft think it’s going to look when someone beats them – fairly or unfairly – and the dude in the Windows Store refuses to pay out? What excuse do you think the general public is going to find acceptable? The answer: none of them. Microsoft is going to looks like dicks that not only rigged a competition in their favor, but dicks that welch on bets when they can’t win a competition rigged in their favor. And that’s exactly what the breeze coming off the Internet about this debacle smells like.

Exhibit A: dude beats Windows Phone using Android phone at Windows Store. Windows Store employee redefines the rules of the competition on the fly. Dude tweets what bullshit this is. Windows Marketing guy tweets back and offers the cheated Android user a rematch.

Exhibit B: guy on Reddit finds it funny that Windows Phone outperforms his phone when uploading a photo. Guy Speedtests Windows Phone and finds upload speeds significantly faster than his, leading to claim that Microsoft throttles the WiFi in their store to give them an unfair advantage when uploading a photo to Facebook.

This does not have the makings of a viral marketing campaign; it has the makings of Microsoft hanging itself out there like a piñata at a birthday party.

Update: It looks like the gentleman from Exhibit A is a good example of what howling on Twitter about your misfortunes can do: after challenging Sahas Katta to “a rematch”, Microsoft manned-up and made good on granting him his reward: a laptop and a Windows Phone. Score one for Redmond. I still think the campaign is a horrible idea, but at least they’re honoring the terms of their challenge (after being called out on the Internet, that is).

 Posted by at 11:57 am
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