PC Mag puts Apple gadfly John Dvorak out to pasture

For most of his 36-year career as a tech columnist, Dvorak got Apple extravagantly, shamelessly wrong.

Here’s how Dvorak tweeted the news:

Under the headline PC Magazine unceremoniously jettisons bloated gasbag John Dvorak MacDailyNews celebrated some of Dvorak’s greatest pratfalls:

  • The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a “mouse.” There is no evidence that people want to use these things. — John C. Dvorak, 1984
  • Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a ‘reference design’ and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures… Otherwise I’d advise people to cover their eyes. You are not going to like what you’ll see. — John C. Dvorak, 2007
  • iPhone which doesn’t look, I mean to me, I’m looking at this thing and I think it’s kind of trending against, you know, what’s really going, what people are really liking on, in these phones nowadays, which are those little keypads. I mean, the Blackjack from Samsung, the Blackberry, obviously, you know kind of pushes this thing, the Palm, all these… And I guess some of these stocks went down on the Apple announcement, thinking that Apple could do no wrong, but I think Apple can do wrong and I think this is it. — John C. Dvorak, 2007
  • The Apple iPad is not going to be the company’s next runaway best seller. — John C. Dvorak, 2010
  • Within the decade, Microsoft should have a minimum of 300 stores. They should do as well as the Apple Stores. — John C. Dvorak, 2012

My take: I’m with “Herself” (from the MDN comment stream):

I like John Dvorak. He is a contrarian, which is attractive because cloying adulation leads to heart disease, and he has many entertaining opinions, and that is exactly the key to his success over the years. He isn’t always wrong, which you can’t say for most of the other pundits. When he is wrong, he is spectacularly wrong, not the kind of “whatever” wrong that other cheap pundits get away with every day. He has always stood up proudly to the catcalls, and moved on. Also, he is the only writer whose stealth tongue-in-cheek humour is over the heads of shrill antidisestablishmentarians. And he is the only Apple antagonist who had a column in a leading Apple magazine. I nominate him for the Howitzer Prize in Tech Journalism.

17 Comments

  1. David Emery said:

    I definitely agree with him that getting fired via email from a job you’ve had for 36 years is REALLY TACKY and says a lot (all of it bad) about the employer.

    3
    September 23, 2018
  2. John Kirk said:

    I’m not opposed to making mistakes. Even big mistakes. People who think big make lots of mistakes both big and small, but it’s worth it if they eventually get it right.

    What I AM opposed to is never learning from (or admitting to) one’s mistakes. Dvorak was good at getting Apple wrong but he wasn’t good at admitting when he was wrong. Dvorak was a good writer, but he would have been a much better writer if he had, just once in a while, looked in the mirror and said: ‘I was wrong.’

    4
    September 23, 2018
  3. David Drinkwater said:

    “Spectacularly wrong” gets my vote. 🙂

    2
    September 23, 2018
  4. Neil Shapiro said:

    When I started MacUser magazine I decided right away that it should not be an unquestioning fanboy magazine. But in 1984 it was not so easy to balance all the happy enthusiasm to make it into a true look into the real ideas behind the Mac and its development. We turned to John Dvorak to write a monthly back of the book column that would give at least one view a month that would not be unrestrained Love. Dvorak lived up well to his masthead title of “Anti-Editor.” More, his professionalism and fiery yet tongue in cheek rhetoric flavored our young Magazine’s personality. It as an honor to work with him and I wouldn’t mind doing it again someday!

    5
    September 23, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      I have EVERY copy of MacUser in boxes in my basement. Congrats on a great run.

      0
      September 24, 2018
      • Neil Shapiro said:

        Thanks, Richard. It was certainly a fun time to be a Mac editor!

        0
        September 25, 2018
  5. Ken Cheng said:

    “He is a contrarian, which is attractive because cloying adulation”

    Seemed like a false dichotomy. Anyhow, John wasn’t a contrarian, he was a curmudgeon with no vision of the future. Clearly a blind spot, because if he had realized that, he would have stopped trying to opine about the future. But if you never admit your mistakes, you’ll just keep making the same ones over and over again.

    2
    September 23, 2018
  6. Mordechai Beizer said:

    Regardless of what one thinks about his writing, you don’t fire someone that way. It’s bush league.

    3
    September 23, 2018
  7. Gregg Thurman said:

    Those lamenting the way Dvorak was fired should keep in mind that he intentionally, and admittedly, wrote anti-Apple solely because because it generated eyeballs.

    He was a cheap hack that in the end got what he dished out: no respect.

    0
    September 24, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      You make a good point Gregg and I was going to say the same except put a different spin on it: What Dvorak did well (online) was using outrageous ideas to get all of us Apple folks to go comment on his columns, thus generating ad dollars. It worked and as you well know, others have used similar techniques to great effect in many domains.

      0
      September 24, 2018
  8. Martin Beutling said:

    Looking at who is sitting in the WH he should be grateful that he got an email and wasn’t fired via Twitter because ” a lot of people told the publishers to fire him”…..

    2
    September 24, 2018
  9. Ken Cheng said:

    I’m wondering if Dvorak was the original troll? Can anyone think of someone before him?

    2
    September 24, 2018
    • Jonathan Swift, with his 1729 “modest proposal” that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for “persons of quality and fortune.”

      3
      September 24, 2018
      • Ken Cheng said:

        Haha, good one. I was thinking of internet trolls, but satirists of a certain age were most certainly literary trolls.

        0
        September 24, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:

      See my comment to Gregg above. I think he was the original online troll for sure and he generated plenty of ad money for all the places he wrote because all of us swarmed to yell at him.

      1
      September 24, 2018
  10. Jonny Tilney said:

    Having been incensed so often over the years I’m afraid I’m not with you on this one PED. Dvorak had an agenda, it was anti Apple, Year in year out. He was pro Microsoft year in year out. I have no sympathy for that kind of manipulative, ongoing feed of misinformation in the face of the truth.

    Good riddance.

    Perhaps his tech journo tombstone should read: ‘Don’t buy an iMac because its design means it will fall and break in an earthquake’.

    0
    September 24, 2018

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