I actually quite like Fairfax, generally. They’re somewhat left-wing in their outlook, and as such represent added balance in an oft-times boganised Australian media landscape.
However, when it comes to consumer tech stories, I honestly wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire. For years, they’ve beaten a big drum bemoaning everything Apple. Thus, you get headlines like:
That story, “Toner gate: iPhone payoff” (June 15 2011), which, incidentally, if you happen to click through, comes up with a more sedate headline of “Victorian government printer toner scam revealed”, trades directly on Apple’s products for clicks, and reveals the other side to how Fairfax seems to approach Apple stories. Maybe instead of being Windows fanboys, they’re actually just clickwhores, and like Greenpeace, they rely on stoking the fires of trolling and advertising by aiming for a maximum number of clicks.
How much focus was on iPhones though, once we got into the story? The start of it gives you an indication:
Corrupt Victorian public servants have accepted bribes for buying unauthorised printer cartridges in a rort that is estimated to have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, the ombudsman revealed today.
In return, the employees have pocketed iPhones, MP3 players, an LCD television set and thousands of dollars in gift vouchers for ordering the toner cartridges at wildly inflated prices.
Indeed, in the course of the story, the word iPhone was cited just 3 times – in an 877 word article. Perhaps though, the iPhones represented the highest numbers to talk about? Perhaps not:
“[an officer for Arts Victoria] was estimated to have cost Arts Victoria and the public purse more than $80,000. In return, she received $8000 in prepaid Visa cards and Coles Myer vouchers.”
Surely that would warrant more attention in a click-attracting headline than 3 measly iPhone mentions?
So, the Windows fanboy accusation sits well with Fairfax. Every new product that comes out is an iX killer, and Microsoft announcements or proclamations are treated with sycophantic respect. Take for instance the laughably inane ramblings from Microsoft’s Craig Mundie, which was revealed in a gushing March 30, 2011 article, “Tablets might be a flash in the pan: Microsoft global chief strategy officer“. The article opened with the following summation:
As virtually the entire consumer electronics industry throws its weight behind tablet computers, Microsoft’s global chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie said today that he did not know whether the booming new category was here to stay.
However, one would have thought any journalist with an understanding of reality might have thought to mention that Apple’s insanely great sales figures for the iPad were tangible evidence otherwise. Instead, we got the limp statement that:
Mundie’s views diverge from that of Apple founder Steve Jobs, who believes tablets form an integral part of the “post-PC” era.
Although Mundie and Jobs agree to an extent in that they both believe smartphones are becoming our main computing device, Microsoft has consistently criticised tablets for lacking traditional PC features like keyboards. Ballmer has previously said the iPad was just a new type of PC form factor.
One would have thought that a complete presentation of this story might have pointed out how ineptly Ballmer was in even understanding the iPhone, prior to its release. In an interview in 2007, Ballmer decried the iPhone as being a completely laughable product, comparing it to a pissy little phone, saying:
“Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? I want to have products that appeal to everybody,” he said. “We’ll get a chance to go through this [Apple versus Microsoft debate] again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.”
Was Ballmer correct? Well, consider “Apple Has 50% Of The Profits From Major Phone Makers“:
According to an analysis by Canaccord Genuity’s T. Michael Walkley, Apple captured “a remarkable 50% value share of estimated Q1/11 handset industry operating profits among the top 8 OEMs with only 4.9% global handset unit market share.”
From the gay community perspective, I’d suggest Ballmer sometimes speaks like a size queen. It’s always having the biggest everything – particularly where the actual dollars are concerned. Sure, the above article was generated after the Mundie story in SMH, but it was already clear Apple’s sales for the iPhone were impressive and real counter arguments to the dribble Ballmer had spouted in 2007.
Fairfax has a strong history of aiming for reasonably negative Apple stories, including such corkers as:
- “Apple iCloud ‘legitimises’ music pirates“;
- “Android, RIM, Nokia offerings beat Apple App Store’s growth“;
- “Apple: Child Labour Up | 91 Children work at Apple Suppliers“; and
- “Pedestrian death rise blamed on iPods“
The proof is in the pudding. If you’re a regular reader of Fairfax, keep an eye on the Technology section. There is a unwholesomely negative approach to stories about Apple and Apple products which inevitably boil down to either pure Microsoft Fanboyism, or a devout Clickwhore approach hoping to entice the most ad views.
Neither of which is actually journalism.