The rule of thumb for following Apple is that if you want to know what Apple PR’s official line is, you just need to read the top-tier Apple apologists like John Gruber and MG Siegler. They’re pretty much operating as unpaid Apple spokesbots. Apple briefs these guys, but instead of having the balls to do it on the record, Apple feeds them some spin with the condition that they will write it up while attributing their info to “sources who are familiar with the situation.” It’s a bit like being a Kremlinologist and reading Pravda and Izvestia.
And, sure enough, in the wake of the Mapocalypse, today come Gruber and Siegler with Apple’s spin. Gruber pens “On the Timing of Apple’s Map Switch” and Siegler provides “Ripping Off The Bloody Band-Aid.”
Both fail to discuss the suckiness of the maps app itself and instead spin the story to one about timing. Meaning, why did Apple do this now? Why not wait and switch later? And, of course, in this version of events, Apple is doing the right thing. And, of course, the villain is Google.
So this is the best Apple can do. They can’t try to pretend that their maps app isn’t a huge step backward. They can’t try to pretend that they aren’t putting their own squabble ahead of the needs of their customers. They can’t try to pretend that they’ve actually devoted sufficient resources to solving a very difficult problem.
What’s left? Stories about Band-Aids, and timing. Yes, by all means, let’s all talk about timing. Timing, timing, timing. Let’s talk about why this happened now instead of next year. It’s called misdirection, and it’s mostly used by magicians and PR people.
Don’t look here, look there. Oh, hey, up over the hill — is that a flying saucer?
This is pure Apple. They knew — had to know — when they first showed off the new maps earlier this year that the app was a piece of shit. How could they not know? So they did what Apple always does, which is to go out full-blast saying that this new maps app was the bestest, smartest, superduperest maps app ever created in the history of mankind. Oh, and Flyover! Wow! Look at how amazing Flyover is! Why it’s so amazing that TechCrunch said it made Google Maps look antiquated! “Are you listening Mountain View?” is how they put it, saying Apple had just released its own “stunning” maps app.
Remember that now? Apple’s new maps were going to kill Google. This was the death blow. Same for Garmin and others who, the Telegraph noted, were stubbornly “not conceding defeat.” (Fools!)
See, this is how it works. When you’re foisting a turd off on your customers, you don’t call it a turd. You cover it with shiny sparkly fake jewels and call it a tiara. If it’s FaceTime, the videoconferencing that nobody uses and that just does what loads of other products have done for years, you talk about the Jetsons and how we’re entering a magical space age thanks to Apple and you make a call to Jon Ive and act like you can’t really believe it and oh my God are we actually looking at each other and talking to each other the same time?
If it’s Siri, the voice assistant that doesn’t really work, you talk about the power of the revolutionary artificial intelligence that is going to change human civilisation and is the product of profound research that has taken decades to perfect and now is “heralding the future,” as Siegler gushed on TechCrunch.
Fortunately Apple still has shills who will carry water for them. But it seems significant to me that they’re down to only Gruber and Siegler on this one. I’m sure Apple is briefing others, but so far it appears they’re not going for it. Even Pogue couldn’t bring himself to hold his nose and read from the script this time.
For what it’s worth, there’s still no word from Gruber and Siegler on how they never noticed any problems with maps when they were writing their original reviews. Siegler, for the record, wrote in his original review for TechCrunch that he’d “come away impressed” by the new maps, saying “they’re not bad by any stretch of the imagination.” Now it’s like tearing off a Band-Aid.
And, painful as that might be, it’s actually a good thing. See how we did that? The new maps app sucks, but we’re ripping off the Band-Aid quickly, so that’s a good thing.
Steve is dead, but the reality distortion field lives on.
Among many other things, Newsweek Technology Editor Dan Lyons enthralled the worlds of business, media and Silicon Valley with his wildly popular, scathingly hilarious and insightful blog, The Secret Diary of Fake Steve Jobs, which drew as many as 1.5 million visitors each month – not bad for a one-man Web site with zero dollars spent on marketing or promotion. You can read his articles at Real Dan Lyons.