Getting pretty bad out there isn’t it? All of the faux-anxiety preceding Apple’s earnings call this afternoon brought out the usual caste of knuckledraggers, hit-whores and never-rights, and they were working hard for your pageview. The stench was overpowering. Is Apple looking for a replacement for Tim Cook? In what ways does Tim Cook resemble Steve Ballmer? The lead-up to Apple’s announcement has sunk the trolling hook to new depths. If only the line would catch on a sunken wreck and drag all these idiots to a watery grave.
So how did it get this bad?
One of the biggest obstacles in this here information age, if you’re a supposed purveyor of said information, is getting your message out. This especially applies to companies that are both wildly successful and wildly secretive – like Apple. Sources delivering insider information are hard to find, which is why you see EXCLUSIVE splashed across such content like a banner for free nachos at a Dollar Store Grand Opening. Decent analysis of a news item takes time and resources – and there’s always 50 other blogging houses willing to compromise a story for the sake of time. And this only applies to the stories resembling actual news, which leads me to the other category of writing about Apple and how the current crop of short-order manure cooks try to monetize negative attention. But first: some behavioral psychology 101.
When you’re 5, you don’t have a highly-developed sense of causality between the attention you crave and the behavior that attracts it. If you’re raised correctly, it’s your parents’ job to associate certain kinds of behavior with positive attention. As a toddler, that boils down to doing what your parents tell you to. If you had shitty parents or perhaps were competing for attention with 7 other siblings, another way to garner a reaction from your parents was to act inappropriately – seeking negative attention. In my childhood, seeking negative attention resulted in a swift smack in the ass. Nowadays, if you’re a decent parent, you put your kid in a time out. The message is the same: there are rules for what is acceptable and consequences for breaking these rules. If you suck at parenting, or are suffering from a momentary lapse, you ignore the behavior, or worse, address it as something worthy of the kind of attention you should be reserving for positive reinforcement. This confusion makes it tough for the child to discern the behavior that is generally acceptable from that which isn’t, which can result in longer-term issues such as a goth lifestyle, seeing your daughter on the back of a motorcycle or your son getting a ride in the back of a patrol car.
The state of reporting about and analysis of Apple largely resembles the relationship between a shitload of bad parents – the readers – and how they respond to a shitload of negative attention-seeking brats. It’s not really the readers fault. The internet is powered by the response to negative attention. If you’re restrained, you don’t engage. If you indulge your very human instinct to point out that which is (not even close to) correct, you visit the site, comment on the site and reblog or retweet the article. Hell, 90% of my writing – along with those myriad others that rationally cover Apple – is dedicated to telling these Kassholes off.
The form of attention that in our personal lives is designed to admonish has been turned on its head by the economics of the internet. I’ve said it before: outraged readers make the pageview money wheel turn. While it has always been a problem with Apple, it’s quickly devolved into the worst kind of tabloid journalism. Those articles I mentioned in the opening? The first is from Forbes, which has weathered the transition from print media by transforming itself into a poster child for spontaneous fecal evacuation. The second is the Gray Lady, which I’ve previously aired my grievances with.
Back in the real world, Apple announced earnings and gross margins that were almost perfectly aligned with their guidance for this past quarter. YoY they made slightly less profit on slightly more revenue. QoQ they fell off like every consumer electronics maker does after the holiday quarter. Overall, they beat the analyst consensus predictions for both revenue and EPS. Tim Cook wasn’t fired, nor will he be.
Because that would be fucking stupid.