Apple cons the bloggers

What they thought was a scoop just turned up on Apple’s website.

Charles Arthur described his App Store briefing as a Telegraph “exclusive.” The Verge’s Lauren Goode characterized hers as a “rare pre-WWDC sit-down interview” with Phil Schiller. Apple’s powerful marketing chief also “sat down” with Jim Dalrymple of The Loop. “So started my phone call with Phil Schiller yesterday,” was how Daring Fireball’s John Gruber framed his piece.

As near as I can tell, none of these journalists was aware that everything Apple told them for release on Wednesday would be laid out in more detail, and even more clearly, on the company’s website the next day.

Apple this week turned a new page in its long history of press manipulation. Not content to monopolize the attention of the hundreds of tech reporters who will gather in San Francisco Monday for Tim Cook’s two-hour WWDC keynote, it has found a new way to front-load the coverage. To drum up attention for two App Store initiatives that fell out of what he describes as an already over-packed keynote, Schiller made some phone calls.

I don’t blame Apple for trying to take control of an event that had lost, thanks largely to Mark Gurman, much of its capacity to surprise. If Apple PR can extend the WWDC news cycle a few days forward, more power to them.

But should Schiller be punishing Apple-friendly bloggers for carrying his water?

I feel especially sorry for Gruber, who crafts his long-form pieces with care and doesn’t like to deliver on deadline. Having taken Schiller’s call, he banged out one of his longest stories in recent memory—2,073 words—taking care to get every detail just right. I haven’t read each word of Apple’s What’s New in Subscriptions, but it seems to have all the details Schiller gave Gruber, from the new territory pricing scheme to the App Store’s 200 Apple-approved price points.

“Wow this looks like a crapload of words,” wrote one critic on Daring Fireball with comments, a browser extension created by readers for just such an occasion. “I haven’t read beyond the first 2 paragraphs yet but I am assuming this is basically just a big Apple PR piece. WTG Jon!”

“I spoke to Phil Schiller,” mocked another. “He called me, you know. Not the first time that’s happened. Here are the things that he, Phil Schiller, told me when he was speaking to me. On our call. Between Phil Schiller and yours truly.”

Ouch.

10 Comments

  1. Scott Warren said:
    Still majoring in Snark, I see. I think this piece is way too harsh on Schiller. In fact I’m calling it click bait, and it saddens me because I think you’re better than that. I await with interest the responses to your piece from “conned” bloggers. Maybe I’m wrong and they’ll agree with you.

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    June 9, 2016
    • Schiller never calls me, which may be where the snark comes from. But if I had put as much work into a piece as these guys did, I’d feel conned.

      2
      June 9, 2016

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