This afternoon, a reader wrote to ask us:
“Have you noticed a dramatic rise in FUD about the iPhone over the past week? Do you happen to know whose PR firm(s) is (are) behind all the articles? I’d love to see a Backstage article on this topic.”
Our answers: No, sort of, and sure.
Has iPhone FUD (“fear, uncertainty, and doubt”) risen over the past week? No. There’s been FUD about the iPhone since January. This week is only different in that some of the fears and doubt people have had for months are proving to be justified. Even Apple’s favorite reviewers weren’t able to avoid problems with AT&T, or find nice things to say about iPhone’s speed when you’re on its EDGE network. And some of the more onerous details—the service contract length, lack of a user-replaceable battery, and others—are the same ones people knew about way back when. The last week has actually been more balanced than most as far as FUD is concerned; uncertainty has been transformed into certainty, and fear given way to reality. Hype aside, you now have almost all the facts you need to decide whether you want to buy into this particular reality, or hold off.
Who is behind all the articles? There are a few sources of negative articles on iPhone. Our reader points out an ABC News article (“Why You Shouldn’t Buy an iPhone, or iPhone Fever: Not Everyone Buys the Hype”) and one of many recent, similar ZDnet articles, “11 More Reasons NOT to Buy an iPhone (and that you haven’t thought of)”. He might have missed the little gem on CNN.com’s iPhone page called “No iPhone For YOU!”, where Allen Wastler basically goes ape over “the way Apple has been promoting the iPhone and the lack of access given to journalists.” It’s almost amazing to see the CNN logo in the background on that one.
Our feeling is that the biggest source of negative articles on iPhone is “angry journalists.” Despite the fact that they feel compelled to cover it, you’d be amazed at how many writers are cursing Apple right now for handling the iPhone’s launch as it has—TV news folks have on occasion been barely able to conceal their envy or rage. They’re used to telling their own stories, but now, they need to cooperate with Apple or one of Apple’s hand-picked journalists in order to get something new to show on their programs. A Business 2.0 blog went straight for the jugular by attacking the credibility of three of these journalists, then took public a further dispute with David Pogue of The New York Times over the initial article. People are very, very upset.
The negativity is also coming from “angry journalists’ sources.” Apple partners and potential partners have publicly and privately grumbled about how they’ve been treated. This widely circulated article, “EU Operators Bemoan Apple’s iPhone Arrogance”, is merely the tip of the iceberg based on what we’ve been hearing. While journalists and Apple partners/wannabe partners may not have any ability to stop the iPhone juggernaut, it would be very surprising if they didn’t redouble their efforts next time around. They could slam Apple’s products, like they used to do years ago, or they could just ignore them.
Have PR firms been involved? Only a little. There have been mass e-mails going out for months on behalf of certain AT&T and Apple competitors, suggesting that some other company has an advantage at doing something or many things iPhone can’t do. But we’ve seen at least as many, if not more e-mails from companies talking about how they want to jump on the iPhone bandwagon with new products and services you probably couldn’t care less about. As hard as it may be to believe from all the iPhone news that’s been on iLounge recently, there is plenty more “wish-we-were-involved-with-iPhone” news that we haven’t published.
So, those are our thoughts. We can only speak for ourselves, and as always, we’re focused on publishing objective, honest information on the product in a timely fashion. Our review, coming soon, will quite likely be substantially different than the rest. And hopefully worth waiting for.