Marketeers and snake oil peddlers fog up the bigger picture

Do a search on Google news for stories and you will see that most of them are Apple related.

They are either about the iPhone, or angled so that Apple’s mantras on its products – “it just works” – are repeated. Although negative stories about Apple exist, they are more than shouted down with positive ones.

This week Apple released a phone that was, by all accounts, broken. It was reported as being broken and Steve Jobs was reported as not caring. Idiots still queued for his broken phone.

It is the way things are heading. Technology has long been a battle ground between reporters looking for news, and marketing companies who want you to write their press releases.

Hacks used to treat all companies with contempt. We knew they had an agenda, we still drank their free booze, but would write what was true.

Technology was the hall mark of what was true. If it was good hardware or software then it clearly was clearly going to be reported. Bad technology was going to be mocked. If a company was not doing anything new, then it was not news.

In this environment, we saw the rise of technology giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, Novell, Oracle, AMD and Intel. The stories became “x has released a new (technology) which will do y”. Businesses knew what they were getting and where everything was. There was spin and some magazines were spun, but generally people knew what was going on. A company could fail because its technology was pants, or just mediocre.

In the last five years this has all changed. Somehow, the marketeers have won and the only people suffering are businesses and people.

People do not make informed decisions. If there were informed choices in the IT industry, then Apple would not have succeeded. None of Apple’s achievements have come on the back of “game changing technology” they have been as a result of marketing. There has been nothing that has spewed out of Apple’s Chinese plants that has been new, or not done elsewhere. Tablets have been around for ages and no one wanted them, MP3 players had been the same, smartphones were a minority interest, Apple still has only a tiny market share of the PC market.

Yet Apple has marketed its way into being important. Steve Jobs’ view of Flash is even taken seriously as a valid point of discussion.   In an ordinary world, who cares what someone as small potatoes as Jobs would have thought about a majority software which appears on most the world’s web pages?

Apple has marketed an image of perfection which persists even after the child shouts that the emperor has new clothes. People queued for the iPad even though many of them could not think of a use for it. They are now lining up to buy the iPhone 4G even though it is clearly broken.

How did this happen? At what point did the technology press give up and let the marketeers take control of the industry? When did puff give way to solid technology?  My Amiga lasted me for nearly seven years, I even dragged it from New Zealand to the UK before I gave it to a mate who still has it. An iPhone is redundant after a year and no one actually cares.

The only way this situation is going to change is wholesale sackings by Editors with a sense of what is right. However newspapers like the New York Times are almost proud of their surrender to the marketeers. After all, they get the latest gizmo to review early. However, they are not allowed to write the truth about it because the truth is too much for them, and anyway Steve Jobs would not let them have the phone early again.

In this big sell out, which has seen journalists giving Jobs a standing ovation, the media has become the IT industry’s trailer trash crack whore.

Bill Hicks once said that the people in marketing should “shoot themselves” because they were Satan’s little helpers and did not add any value to the world. Now he would expand that to include the IT press.