Rory Cellan-Jones

Stephen Fry, Apple and the BBC

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 26 Jul 08, 19:58 GMT

After a long absence, Stephen Fry is back with his Dork Talk gadget column in the Guardian. Terrible news - he's such a witty and well-informed observer of the technology scene that he makes the rest of us read like a laser printer user manual.

His first piece on his return is about the 3g iPhone - and halfway through a pretty positive review he launches this, admittedly mild, sideswipe at us: "The BBC's technology site is so afraid of looking as though it "favours" Apple in some way that it has been failing to file legitimate stories for fear of the anti-Apple community, because, believe it or not, there are people out there who think the launch of yet another Nokia or WinMob Apple-a-like should be given equal prominence."

Oh dear, have we been failing to give enough coverage to Apple? Those of you who are frequent visitors to this blog - many, many millions of you - will be aware that every time we do write about Mr Jobs' company, war breaks out between the Macaholics and the rest. The Apple fans accuse us of being insufficiently respectful of the wondrous gifts emanating from the shrine at Cupertino, the non-believers stifle a yawn and complain that we give this minor business far more attention than it deserves.

In the run-up to the launch of the 3g iPhone the complaints were so numerous - at least a dozen - that I was dragged in front of the ultimate tribunal, the BBC Editors' Blog, and forced to explain myself.

So that probably made us a bit more cautious in our coverage. I decided that I really couldn't be bothered to write about the new iPhone - although I did cover the arrival of the applications store, which I,like Stephen Fry, thought more significant. It wasn't just the wrath of some readers that put us off covering the 3g launch, it was the attitude of the Apple press office. We had planned a jokey video comparing iPhone 3g with the HTC Diamond, but so manic and controlling was Apple about letting us film a phone before the launch that we chucked the whole idea.

And yes, I agree that our caution means we may have failed to file some legitimate stories. Like the total Horlicks (oh no - more product placement) Apple has made of the launch of its MobileMe online service. I'm not going to write about it now - it's about as boring as watching the spinning beach-ball as my laptop fails to synchronise with my desktop. But considering Apple plans to charge £59 for something which the likes of Plaxo do for nothing - synchronise your data between different computers - then this ranks as one of the most disastrous launches since Heathrow's Terminal 5 lost half the world's baggage.

Oh, and while I'm at it, the 3g iPhone is indeed a thing of beauty - and I love turning my phone into a light sabre as much as the next man. But the GPS can't find me four times out of five, the SMS application takes an age to launch, there's no cut and paste - and the battery barely lasts beyond 4pm on a busy day. Whereas the 2g iPhone now does almost everything the new one does - via the 2.0 software - with longer battery life. There. I'll shut up again now - and let the Mac-bashers and boosters have another go.

UPDATE: Darren Waters, the editor of the Technology section, has given his view on all this, below.


  • Comment number 1.

    You do know that you need to be outdoors for the GPS to work right? Or at least next to the window. I'm sorry to tell you my dear fellow, but the GPS on the iPhone has worked for me every single time.

    Furthermore, I'm pleased to inform you that there is a little more to love about the iPhone than the - free- light sabre application.
    Sudoku game, Crash Bandicoot racing game, Brain Challenge games, some very useful - free- pocket translator (French, Spanish, and German) with pronounciations

  • Comment number 2.

    Judging by the first post - your not going to win this one Rory!

    But hey - one man's apple is another man's gripe, er grape!

  • Comment number 3.

    There must something wrong with your iPhone Rory.

    The GPS on my iPhone has finds me everytime, usually within five seconds! My Nokia N95 can take five minutes!

    SMS launches within a second or two.

    Battery life hasn't been a problem (try turning off wifi until you actually need to use it), but not having cut and paste is a bit daft (but coming in a few weeks apparently).

    Having a touch button on my phone that takes me to the BBC News website via 3G knocks my Nokia N95 out of the way every time and now I've got the hang of the touch qwerty keyboard, it makes using a stylus on other smart phones seem almost daft .

    Thank god you shelved the 'jokey' comparison piece. The one you made about the original iPhone and what was the other phone? Oh, we've forgotten, barely raised a laugh in our office.

    Finally, lets remember that Apple are new to the phone market. I laughed when I heard they were getting into handsets. A year on, I doubt many people at Nokia, Sony and Motorola are laughing now that, as Stephen Fry points out, a staggering 75% of all mobile web browsing is done using iPhones. Apple must be doing something right!

  • Comment number 4.

    The BBC is not anti-Apple but it is absurdly pro-Microsoft.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Rory! Get a life! We switched the business to Apple and have just set up a new project with Apple equipment for one simple reason - it works better than Microsoft and the PCs. The examples are too numerous and therefore too tedious to mention. As for the phone - both my 1st gen and the 3G work very well and have a much higher level of functionality that the old Nokia and Sony Ericcsons we used. Most people I know use them and the GPS works fine.

  • Comment number 7.

    The people who post on this blog are absolutely hilarious. Every time there's a post about apple or Microsoft its the same thing. "You're biased to Apple", "You're biased to Microsoft". Can't you give it a rest now, its getting very tedious.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Jesus christ how much does Apple pay that fool Fry? As much as they give Mossberg and Gizmodo probably......"

    Stephen Fry has been an Apple user for 20 years, and I believe it was Douglas Adams who introduced him. Adams himself a user of

    For any blog commenter whose not prepared to display their real name, to call Stephen Fry a "fool" shows an amazing ignorance to the man, one of Britain's national treasures, and to the UK technology community as a whole.

  • Comment number 9.

    I believe you can turn off 3G and use EDGE. You've then essentially got a 2G iPhone, and the battery life should be even better... If you're in the office most of the day using wifi (or your computer) EDGE should be perfectly good for making and receiving calls.

    It's hard to get a balance with news reports about Apple. The world+dog goes mad and tends to over-report it, so I'd say some caution is necessary. Perhaps it went slightly far the other way? Like Mr Fry, I noticed the lack of coverage...

  • Comment number 10.

    For me, the HTC Diamond is a better phone. Not because it 'just is' but because it is better for my needs. I did use an iPhone for a while and while I was impressed it's not my sort of device - and it was even worse before it had 3G and an app store, which were real deal breakers.

    I like Apple, they improve the UI and look of a device, which everyone else copies. That's a good thing - even if the technology behind their devices isn't always top notch and you occasionally have to pay a little extra.

    If I'm honest, Steven Fry's opinions don't interest me. If I'm comparing two phones I'll read 10 reviews of each, filter through the bias and compare the specs. That's as good a way to choose a phone as any.

    And, as I said above, [b]for me[/b] there are better phones than the iPhone - but I'll never convince half the population on earth of that. Fortunately, I don't care.

  • Comment number 11.

    Apple products are undoubtedly popular, but should they be given special mention? No. Popular doesnt mean good. You only have to look at the singles chart to see that!
    Apple launches should not be given any more space or time than the launch of any other device. From what i see on the BBC they make a headline out of the launch then review the device later, and when its not especially favourable, which IS fair, the Apple fans complain.
    Sorry Apple boys, but you cant have it all ways. Your products are made a fuss of, then reviewed, then found to be a bit naff and over rated. Thats par for the course for any apple device, because its true!

    Apple does work for some, but Apple fans need to understand that not everyone likes the interface or the image.

    As for GPS well i currently use a Nokia N95 8GB, it locks on in about 5 seconds and will do so indoors usually in perhaps 15 seconds if there is a floor above me. It does the core mobile functions better than the iPhone and with Opera installed the web is just as good as Safari. I dont see the need to change and pay more, for no gain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think people in general are just sick of seing yet another blog entry about apple. There is an apple blog entry here atleast once a week, typicaly more likely to be atleast one every 1-2 days.

    I mean seriously, the apple iPone 3g isn't a technological marvel. It isn't fantastic, it isn't particularly amazing in anyway and it doesn't really do anything that the other comparible phones from the other companies do. Apple know how to sell a product and thats really where its big difference ends.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing Apple or its products, but unless they release something orgasmicaly fantastical (and as yet they most certainly have not) then I don't see there is a need for them to be continual targets of the media.

    Give us something interesting to read! Tell us about some funky new device from Japan that reads your mind before you go to the toilet so it knows whether to put the seat up for you or not ... or maybe dare to enter the fray of the console wars and give us some in-depth information on how Sony plans to destroy the xBox or vice versa. How about hunting down the guy thats building the new latest AI that is becoming self-aware and plans to make a race of metal warriors that will say funky catch phrases like "I'll be back"?

    It would just be nice to see a more broad spectrum of stories instead of always seemingly foccusing on what company regardless of what that company may be.

  • Comment number 13.

    The unboxing of the macbook air...a legitimate story or blog entry?

    It's not that apple products are bad, it's just not that they are special either. They are products that are coming around at about the time they should. Only the iPod has been a revalutionary device that has changed peoples lives on a great scale.

    Apple products are pretty, reliable and average....not much more.

    I would hate to have more microsoft posts too as their products are even less interesting than apple's.

    Rather give us stories from small companies that are breaking new ground, get their technology noticed so that we don't have to wait for years for the giant snails like ms and apple to catch up.

    Also how about all of the wonderful open source apps out there. Believe it or not there are more open source products than linux and firefox. There are hugely inventive stuff out there that given a bit more exposure may attract developers, users and finances. For example media portal, xbox media centre and ultrastar. These could all potentially change the way we live our lives and interact with our media.

    How about standing up for digital consumers a bit more against the dinosaurs in the music and film industry?

  • Comment number 14.

    Another day, another "blog" about Apple on the BBC "yawn"

    Bored with this. Write about something else please. IT and technology doesn't revolve around this brand, although if the BBC was your only source of information you'd think that it did.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm loathe to stir up yet more Apple debate, not least within the walls of BBC News, but I wanted to make a few things clear.

    Stephen Fry has written in his Dork Talk column in The Guardian of the BBC's technology site becoming cautious of legitimate Apple stories for fear of stirring up the anti-Mac brigade.

    That's utter tosh. I can honestly say we have never not written about a legitimate Apple story for fear of the reaction from readers.

    We do, however, spend time questioning ourselves about the legitimacy of any story, something I know peers at The Guardian do also.

    All serious journalists ask that question, each and every day. As a columnist I doubt that Stephen Fry asks himself the same questions. He's paid to have opinions, after all.

    Sometimes that debate about legitimacy lasts a micro-second, sometimes it lasts a lot longer.

    If you read the this entry on the blog, you'll see my colleague Rory Cellan-Jones saying that he thinks that we have become more cautious of late, in effect agreeing with Stepgen Fry.

    That's Rory's opinion. It's not one I share. As the editor of the section I decide which stories we do write about, and ones we don't.

    And there's been no steering away from good stories, not matter what they are about - ever.

    Some respondents here have been complaining about yet another Apple posting.

    But isn't that the point: on the one hand we have Stephen Fry accusing us of not doing enough Apple stories, and on the other we have some readers saying there is too much.

    It' about choosing the legitimate stories - and I think we do that well.

  • Comment number 16.


    "...insufficiently respectful of the wondrous gifts emanating from the shrine at Cupertino..."


    Are we supposed to take you seriously as an "impartial" journalist? Perhaps another session in front of the Editor is required.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think the BBC and all other outlets have just about the right level of Apple reporting. The only issue I have with the reporting is the time given to defending said coverage. I am bored with all the 'blowback' associated with Apple stories.

    This month, Apple - a technology player as big as the likes of Google, Microsoft and Dell launched a new product, a two new services and three major software updates. Each one of these launches has a few news stories pinned to it. The BBC report because Apple IS in the news just now.

    I doubt for a moment that all the reporters are called into BBC HQ ever Monday morning at 7 am for crisis talks as the week ahead might not contain enough juice for a predefined apple-fanboyist (I love it when I make up words, don't you?) quota of stories!

  • Comment number 18.

    Darren Waters and Co.,

    Carry on as you are, promoting Apple isn't wrong, neither is promting Linux.

    The facts of reality are that through false advertising Micorosft has gained an illegal monopoly in the IT world, and people must be made aware of the alternatives whether or not they are cheaper (Linux) or more expensive (Apple).

    I have only had to complain once, which was against a Radio 1 report of E3 not a report from you guys, but so far on the Technology section things are going fine... not quite as a good as the days between 1999-2005 (more to do with numerous ground breaking advances than reporting so not your teams fault) but by all means cary on.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think people should just stop complaining. If you don't like an article, just don't read it, you utter fools!

  • Comment number 20.

    Oh god, this apple on the bbc debate is getting boring.

    I do think there is a huge amount of coverage of apple and firefox on the site, but that is the decision of the editor, and if the editor feels that the readers can't cope with anything that isn't entirely mainstream then so be it, get your technology updates from somewhere else (i know i do).

    I think the BBC technology blogs are best for the hilarity factor. Reading articles written by people who appear to have no idea what they are talking about is genious.

    I think its time the BBC started doing more 'blogs' on more minor but yet inovative companies. eg: when firefox 3 was launched there was a HUGE amount of coverage, but not even a squeak about Opera's 9.5 launch. (probably because the bbc technology journalists don't use it and don't know anything about it).

    But there are many small companies out there that could really do with the BBC plugging them, rather than already super rich million dollar companies.

    The BBC should offer a wide variety and broad base of reporting, and i feel that just doesnt happen.

  • Comment number 21.

    "It' about choosing the legitimate stories - and I think we do that well."

    The BBC haven't done anything well recently. The News redesign in particular, which has stalled with the front page... and this blog, which has done nothing but post sensationalism this week (The disgusting does Steve Jobs have cancer article for example)

    I'm afraid when it comes to journalism, Stephen Fry is paid to have is opinions, but are you saying you don't? You and Rory are particularly opinionated at times.

  • Comment number 22.

    "I think the BBC technology blogs are best for the hilarity factor. Reading articles written by people who appear to have no idea what they are talking about is genious."

    I really couldn't agree any more with this. I don't think Darren or Rory are particular knowledgable about the subject.

    Its similar to IT teaching in schools in the mid 80s... they just gave it to the maths teachers to deal with. I think White City just went "Who has the poshest phones" and picked Darren and Rory based on that.

  • Comment number 23.

    The main issue for me was that, at least perceptually, there was a lot of focus on the products - or more specifically the hype around these products - of one manufacturer, in this case Apple.

    Stephen Fry has a right to his opinion, however his quote "there are people out there who think the launch of yet another Nokia or WinMob Apple-a-like should be given equal prominence" kind of sums it up because I'm actually one of these people. I find it quite bizarre that so much hype and coverage was given by tech sites to what were essentially minor hardware updates (GPS and 3G) that have been around for years on other devices or the launch of an application store that merely replicates what sites like Handango have been, again, doing for years.

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't hink it would be useful to cover every new Nokia phone release, however it would be to, say, look at S60v5's touch interface or how making Symbian open source will impact Android because, whether Mr Fry likes it or not, these are points of interest to us.

    Balanced reporting is what I'm after and the BBC gets it right 95% or more of the time. It's when that balance feels a bit off that I and others will comment on it.

  • Comment number 24.

    The BBC has always been neutral on Apple, that is apart from arty lot such as Mr Fry who like the look of the box more than what is inside it.

    At one time BBC techies were very, very very anti Microsoft and very, very pro Linux and not Apple. Instead of Media Player we had to endure RealPlayer and the constant stream of updates, requests to upgrade and emails. Then Mr Gates paid the BBC visit to discuss working together and it has all been Microsoft since and all the better for it.

  • Comment number 25.

    I think that the throwaway comparison of Plaxo with MobileMe is a bit lazy. No its worse than that, its very unfair on Apple.

    I accidentally signed up with Plaxo when a 'friend' invited me to join. I wasn't prepared for the pseudo-spamfest that resulted as the system repeatedly offered me the opportunity to 'update my details'

    MobileMe, in addition to syncing my two laptops and desktop (and when I get one my iPhone) note that this includes - email, bookmarks, and contacts, and compliant third party apps like Yojimbo - Plus it offers a substantial amount of online storage (at least 20Gb) via the iDisk facility, an online web account, and picture galleries.

    (Disclaimer : I've slowly become an Apple convert, starting with a powerbook in 2004 and now finally my desktop. Now I only have to do boring systems admin on the rest of my family's machines which are windows based, so they are the only ones with corrupted registries, endless nuisance messages etc. etc... In fact the only thing that has ever annoyed me about Apple is the fact I can't just order an iPhone 3G online, and the fact the phones are tied to a network O2 that I'd rather not join if I didn't have to.)

  • Comment number 26.

    Stephen Fry is a jolly fine fellow but his opinions on tech issues have no more credibility than any contribution to this blog.

  • Comment number 27.

    Fan-boys make me laugh, so desperate to justify their chosen brand or purchase that they wilfully lose all objectivity in the face of criticism. Windows Vs Mac, Xbox360 Vs PS3....

    i'm sure that the snes was better than the megadrive tho.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm looking around here, and I don't see a lot of coverage on FreeBSD.

    And after all the engineering that went into version 7, too.

    Must do better, BBC!

  • Comment number 29.

    Wow, Stephen really touched a raw nerve there hasn't he!

    If the cap fits... I think he has a valid point.

    ALL companies, HTC, HP, Dell, Toshiba, Sony et al. have one thing in common - they are all signed up to Microsoft.

    So to people who say that the BBC focus on one company (Apple), whenever the focus is on ANY OTHER company, it will always be covering Microsoft too.

    I can't wait for the day when M$ is no more than a footnote in history, imagine how good the competition, REAL competition, will be when Sony etc. are writing their own OS. It can be done, it is done by Linux, OS X etc. Open Standards will allow this to happen. M$ wouldn't know an open standard if it hit them in their wallet.

    Time will tell. But my money is on Open Source and REAL competition - not this monopoly that rules at the present time.

    Well done Stephen, you summed up in 1 sentence what I struggle to say in all my posts - the BBC are scared to cover Apple because of the M$ fanboys.

  • Comment number 30.

    @29 twelveeightyone

    "I can't wait for the day when M$ is no more than a footnote in history"

    Haha, your joking, rite? There won't ever be a day without microsoft... At least not in my lifetime, or my childrens' lifteime, or their childrens' childrens' childrens' lifetime.

    I would hate to see the day where we have to pick a computer manufacturer because of the OS they run... Thats why apple were making no money before they became 'trendy', locking software to hardware is a big no no.

    I want to choose what software to run on my hardware, not have that made for me. (i know your saying that you think we don't have that choice atm, but i feel i can choose between windows and (all those versions of) linux, winamp or WMP, etc. my self, even if you can't).

  • Comment number 31.

    Can we have a few more blogs about Sony Ericson please....pleeaassee! :P

  • Comment number 32.

    As someone who owns 4 macs, an iphone (well two after the upgrade) and a couple of ipods, I'm probably not in the Stephen Fry class of Apple-fan but am probably closer than many.

    And if I were writing stories about Apple right now I'd be writing about how they and O2 completely mucked up the iphone 3G introduction for their existing users, how they've actually managed to reduce the amount of functionality for end users on this new mobileme service (no icards, no free downloads for "club members", just a bunch of low functionality web services), how the battery usage on the 3g phone is dire (and I'm told on the iphone touch battery life has been affected by the latest updates) and so on. Oh, and by the way, I took my handy dandy new 3G iPhone to Turkey last week (where there is no 3G) and instead of roaming to Edge, it just didn't do data services. And does GPS work? Apparently not on a large number of the iPhones which have been supplied. Apple made its great (and it was a massive) leap forward for the market with the original iPhone introduction. This new release is just a cheaper one with a few new features and lots of bugs.

    On the other hand, where the BBC falls down is the tectonic slowness whereby it is extending the iPlayer service to non-Windows users (is there an announcement for Linux users at all yet?). Can I defer my license payments for 18 months please?

    PS: when the Mac Air was introduced, there was a lot written about it. How many have actually been sold? I've seen precisely one in the wild.

  • Comment number 33.


    Never say never my friend.

    Apart from Windows and Office, no other division at M$ makes any money! When these cash cows disappear, all they will have left is a failing online division (which is why they are trying to buy Yahoo!), a Zune device that was an abject failure before it began, a profit losing X-box division, 'Surface', an idea so big it only fits inside a giant table, and Windows 7, which will be the same old Windows (read registry, DLL Hell, no real security and yet another rehash of the 'Start' button) with an awful touch interface that serves no purpose other than to say "look, we can do touch computing too!"

    I'm looking forward to the M$-free day. Whoever would've thought Amiga and Atari would throw away their businesses?

  • Comment number 34.

    Guys, I wonder if you put too much thought into this. When I go to I expect impartial journalism. When I come to a blog, I'm not looking for the same thing. We come here out of interest in the opinions of the BBC's (hopefully) well-informed writers.

    Personally, I think of the BBC site as like a newspaper... or at least what a newspaper ought to be if they weren't all so biased. The "news" should be just that; unbiased fact. The blogs are, to me, the opinion columns. I don't always agree with what you write, but that's rather the point.

    Of course you have to be careful, but I would use the following yard stick - do you find a story interesting? Then feel free to write about it...

  • Comment number 35.

    Stephen Fry is one of my personal hero's, but I have to say that he responds just like every other 'mac fanatic'.
    They have a lot of valid arguments, but after being subjected to years of ridicule for their love of macs, behave like a wounded animal, and will now fight their corner till the bitter last.
    They can see mac doing no wrong, and will even defend mac's un-winnable arguments.
    This unfortunate state of mind leaves them utterly impartial and in my opinion, unable to comment on technology.
    Rory, please write a blog on Psystar, for an interesting mac related story.

  • Comment number 36.

    Unfortunately you're always going to get avid followers of a certain make or brand jumping on even the slightest criticism of their favorite products. I do find it quite remarkable that grown adults can get so emotionally charged over a piece of plastic and chips.

    Me, I just use whatever is to hand whoever it's made by. I'm actually sitting here tying this on an 7 year old Toshiba notebook.

  • Comment number 37.

    "The BBC has always been neutral on Apple, that is apart from arty lot such as Mr Fry who like the look of the box more than what is inside it."

    Anyone who buys a technical product for what it looks like, over what it can do, is an idiot. I for one don't think Mr. Fry is an idiot. Perish the thought that someone can be 'arty' and tech savvy.

    I've used the entire spectrum of computers in my career...even built my own PCs, and I still find Apples to be the best computers I have used, in terms of actual usability. In terms of operating systems, OS X is so far ahead of Vista its beyond a joke. OS's are supposed to make using computers easier, not harder.

    At present I have to use Windows applications because of my work, but I'm able to do that by virtualisation, via OS X, along with the Linux environment I also need for my work. ...all on a lovely, arty, little MacBook.

  • Comment number 38.

    An article on Psystar would be good... OK let's contact the company. Oh, they've closed down and their office space in Florida is up for sale. The company directors have 'disappeared'. And they are due in court pretty soon to face copyright charges brought about because they thought they could completely ignored the EULA that you accept as soon as you open a copy of OS X and install it.

    Plus you cannot update OS X once it's on one of their franken-macs, despite what Psystar tell you.

    I don't think it would be a very newsworthy story. More like a horror tale!

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Twelveightyone

    A horror tale for mac maybe?
    What are they so scared of? The huge loss in revenue when they cant mark up the hardware they put in their machines?
    The fact that when OSX moves to an open OS (Which I thought you were all for) it will crash even more than windows, because people will have a choice in the hardware they use?
    Personally I'd of thought that the increased sales of OSX would have generated excitement from mac fans, increased user base, competition in price for hardware.

    And by the way, their phone number is 0018884567801.

  • Comment number 40.

    Stephen Fry for prime minister, the guy is a legend! The BBC seems to consistently fail in technological related subjects by being misinformed or just quite slow on the uptake, the people you have researching some of your content just don't seem to know what they're talking about, Click! being an example, the brilliance of the Guy Goma incident and so on ... Am I the only one that thinks the iPhone is the most overrated gadget since the Sinclair C5? Looks pretty I agree, but it's too big, you need iTunes to use it properly, texting is impossible, the camera is very average and it's very time consuming to do almost everything, I took mine back after a week. I've just taken delivery of Samsungs attempt at touch screen technology and frankly it blows the iPhone away and being much better looking than the HTC, worth considering!

  • Comment number 41.

    Surely Darren, if Rory admits that "caution means we may have failed to file some legitimate stories", it doesn't matter what you as Editor think. If your contributors are already self-censoring, your editorial control is diminished.

    Despite Rory's slightly truculent tone as he lists some bad Apple stories he might have covered, I'm curious: why didn't you cover the MobileMe launch fiasco? Or the weaknesses with the new 2.0 software? Look around a few places and you'll fine a host of iPhoneowners (me included) who have found the new software slower, buggier and less polished. You'll find others who really like the new features. Fertile ground for journalism.

    I understand that covering Apple news is an occupational bore given the excessively stroppy reader response it generates, but Rory's post is actually fairly shocking - do journalists really get to decide what they file based on what they 'can be bothered' to cover?

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 34 rdepom

    "I think of the BBC site as like a newspaper... or at least what a newspaper ought to be if they weren't all so biased. The "news" should be just that; unbiased fact."

    Indeed, it should be unbiased fact, but i think the BBC offers about as much unbiased factual reporting as the Daily Mail.

  • Comment number 43.

    I read Fry's column in the Grauniad Weekend magazine on Saturday (I'm a regular). While he wasn't exactly excoriating in his scorn of the new 3g, he did admit to a few of its faults (and missed some others, like its limited Bluetooth performance). We must also consider that SF is an ardent Macophile, having been (after the late Douglas Adams), one of the first Mac owners in Europe. So, well written and witty as it was, it was hardly the most impartial, nor indeed exhaustive, article in the world. It was a pleasant filler in a Saturday newspaper.

    The phone is good. nothing more, nothing less. It's not a market killer, it's not going to "change paradigms". In terms of browsing it's not hugely different to the experience I have using Opera Mini on a Nokia 6500s (hardly a high-end phone). Apple does design well. Others will follow that (in fact, I even skinned my own phone with something vaguely iPhone-y). Let's just keep some perspective, shall we?

    [I will issue a disclaimer here. I like Mac, and use them on a daily basis, but I also use windows (and suffer Vista) and Linux everyday too. In that sense I don't really have an axe to grind.]

    As for the Beeb: when you have both sidesof a debate vituperatively rounding on you for bias towards the other side, then I think someone must be doing something mostly right.

  • Comment number 44.

    A horror tale for mac maybe? What are they so scared of? The huge loss in revenue when they cant mark up the hardware they put in their machines? The fact that when OSX moves to an open OS (Which I thought you were all for) it will crash even more than windows, because people will have a choice in the hardware they use? Personally I'd of thought that the increased sales of OSX would have generated excitement from mac fans, increased user base, competition in price for hardware. And by the way, their phone number is [Personal details removed by Moderator]. Hi Lem001, You should try calling that number you posted - you will get an answering machine, and won't get a reply. It's not a horror tale for Apple Inc., the very reason that Macs are reliable is because it works on a pre-determined set of hardware. I can't see that changing in the future. OS X is open. Based on BSD. Unix Certified. I personally don't want to see increased sales of OS X if it means it will be installed on any machine Tom, Dick or Harry (usually calling themselves a PC manufacturer) builds in his garden shed (much like Psystar). Apple are selling more Macs than ever, so it's not like they need to start licencing OS X to 3rd parties. They tried that back in the 90s, remember? It nearly ruined them, until Mr. Jobs came back to Apple and one of the first things he did was stop the clone manufacturers. Apple make money from their hardware, there's nothing wrong with that, and plus they make the best hardware (IMO). Period. Did you see Ballmers memo last week to M$ employees, saying basically (if you read between the lines) that they want to copy Apple's vertical approach? Wanna know why? Because it WORKS VERY WELL. They aren't supporting every damn motherboard manufacturer from China to Singapore, they aren't trying to make every sound card in the world work with OS X.

  • Comment number 45.


    Here we are again, same arguments, different post!
    It works well because it makes more money.
    Id rather see advancement in hardware than rich computer manufacturers.
    Apple only make motherboards and cases as far as i can remember, the rest they just put together.
    Why dont you want to see OSX installed on different hardware? You're not really clear as to your reasons.

  • Comment number 46.


    Yeh, I like discussions :-)

    I thought I was quite clear. The last time Apple licenced Mac OS to third parties in the 1990s, it very nearly bankrupt them.

    Apple make their profit from their hardware. They are a computer company, in the business to make money. No money = no Apple.

    So they either stay as they are, making healthy profits which enable them to invest more money into better products, or release OS X to third parties and become bankrupt. Hmmmmm, a tough choice.

    Simple hey!

  • Comment number 47.

    Things are different now, and I believe OSX is in a position to really cause upset to M$. With Vista signaling another failed release OSX could step in there, and im sure the uptake would be such that any lost revenue from hardware would be more than made up.

  • Comment number 48.

    Hi Lem001,

    Yes things are different, M$ is struggling with Vista.

    I mean, I'm just a guy from Liverpool speculating and giving my opinion. From what I know (albeit limited), I don't personally think it'd be a good idea, financially speaking, for Apple to licence OS X.

    But like you say, things are different from 1990s, and I would like Apple to be able to licence OS X. Would we then see the draconian 'activation' schemes like WGA on OS X? I hope not. you don't even need a serial number to install OS X, which is one reason I love it. I can make a bootable USB key with OS X on, and run it on any Mac I desire (I do this for troubleshooting, works a treat).

    It would be interesting to see how innovative Sony, HP, Toshiba etc. could be if they had OS X running on their machines instead of Vista.

    My $0.02

  • Comment number 49.

    Children, children.

    Appleheads and Microsofties, whatever, grow up the lot of you! Your favourite technology is a poor base from which to start a religious cult.

    The iPhone is just a slightly better way of doing something, not a step-change technology. It's little more than a toy, albeit a fun and useful if expensive one.

    How many people NEED an iPhone (ie it does something ESSENTIAL for their work / private life that nothing else can do?).

    Close to zero or zero, I would hazard a guess.

  • Comment number 50.

    I understand the BBC have managed to get their iPlayer working on the iPhone.

    I've got a Nokia and am waiting patiently to be able to use this feature on my phone.

    Sorry to be so blunt but I do not want to be accused of being a fan-boy.

    Anyway, lets have a closer look:
    iPhone - iPlayer, hmm!

  • Comment number 51.

    I think you are right about things being different from the 1990s. Microsoft hadn't so singularly failed with its OS up to then and Apple wasn't running with Intel.

    I'm sure there is massive pent up demand for a serious alternative to the Microsoft OS, that supports critical industry standard applications, if only to send them the message that its OS customers aren't happy with what they are doing.

    People buying into Apple do so because of the whole package, OS and hardware, and would continue to do so, leaving their current market virtually intact.

    The possibility exists for Apple to take a massive bite out of Microsoft without having to convert everybody into Apple hardware fanbois.

  • Comment number 52.


    As soon as someone mentions 'cult' or 'religion' in regard to technology (usually Apple), their opinion is instantly voided as far as I am concerned.

    People, please listen carefully - there is no 'cult' or 'religion' for us Apple fans. We are passionate about our technology because we care about the tools we use every day of our lives.

    You can't compare it to a toaster (I hear people saying 'you wouldn't get this passionate about a toaster') because a toaster does one thing - it toasts bread. What does a computer do? It does a myriad of things every day, and is being made to do more and more things every day that simply weren't possible before. THIS is the reason why we are PASSIONATE (not in a cult, or part of a religion) about Apple Computers - they perform these tasks with minimal effort and only a bit of knowledge - the computer does the rest. They are by no means perfect, yes they do crash (although rather more gracefully than other OS's) and yes there is always a need for improvement. But just because we strive for perfection does not mean we are 'brainwashed', 'part of a cult' or 'part of a religion'. Look up the definitions of those words, and see how ridiculous they sound when you understand the true meaning of each of them.

    We care about what we use. Isn't that something to be proud of?

  • Comment number 53.

    twelveeightyone: Apple don't need silly anti-piracy stuff because they don't have a massive issue with OS X being pirated; everyone has a copy on their macs anyway.

    If they enabled anyone to run OS X on any computer, then piracy would become a problem, so it probably wouldn't be long before they brought in something similar. Especially since, as has been said already, they'd be making less cash on hardware.

    Things like the iPhone are lovely to use, but the way they do this is by restricting the way they can be used. That's fine, but it's a very different philosophy to Linux and even Microsoft's everything-must-just-about-work philosophy.

    Apple are just as evil as Microsoft, only in different ways (and not quite as successful!)...

  • Comment number 54.


    "Apple don't need silly anti-piracy stuff because they don't have a massive issue with OS X being pirated; everyone has a copy on their macs anyway."

    I know, that's why I said it.

  • Comment number 55.


    But they would have a problem with piracy if "Sony, HP, Toshiba etc" ran it, though, wouldn't they? I struggle to see whether you think that's a good idea or not.

  • Comment number 56.


    I'm asking the same question you are asking!

    Re-read the thread - Lem001 thinks that licencing OS X would be a good idea, and I don't think it would be BECAUSE of the reasons you and I have both said - piracy and activation Apps!

    But I also think in a perfect world it would be a good idea to licence OS X. But as we both say, if they then have to implement an anti-piracy measurement (see WGA) then it would not be good, in fact it would be terrible. The fact that I can install OS X on a USB key (or external HD, or DVD) without jumping through activation hoops and entering 50 digit serial numbers is one of the reasons I love OS X. But, as we both know, if anyone could install OS X on any machine, this would all come to an end.

    So, to summarise, I would love to see OS X on more hardware, but without the activation woes - so I don't think it's a good idea.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 30 pidgeonfriend

    A world without Microsoft is indeed very plausible, becasue the company is made up of nothing but investment money from other people not connected to the company except through the stock exchange.

    That massive warchest we all hear about it getting eaten up by lawsuits (most notably from the EU and rightly so) and repairations to the hardware it currently makes ($1.5B to date, and this is just after 2 years of the 360)

    If Windows 7 proves to be a poor seller (even 50 million copies is considered very poor by the investors) then they will simply pull their money out of the company and start a downward trend. A company the size of microsoft will find itself in massive trouble in no time.

    Add to that the likelyhood that this credit crunch will still be in full swing by the time Windows 7 is released and what you are looking at is Success for Micorsoft in the next few years is not so much desirable as it has been over it life, but now absolutely essential to its very survival.

    Microsoft is currently on a very thin line, and to be honest I don't think there are many people who will predict which way they are going to go. The company itself doesn't know which business direction it wants to go, that in itself is not given the investors any confidence.

  • Comment number 58.

    Rory, your comments are spot on, yet again.
    The apple marketing machine (and yes it is exactly that) has come down heavy handedly and crushed alot of the individuals that, in the real world (that apple does not live in) it relies on.

    and a quick message to the Mac Zealots " Mr Jobs has announced (to a round of applause...) that the colour black is actually white "..

  • Comment number 59.


    I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek but seem to have hit a raw nerve.

    "Strive for perfection..." "care about something we use."? Puh-lease. Its just a phone / computer, not an object of veneration.

    BTW, I've used both PCs and Macs and each does some things better than the other, but they are all just boxes of plastic and metal.

  • Comment number 60.


    OK friend, computers are just boxes of plastic and metal...

    I mean, computers are just like an aeroplane, which is just a metal box with some wings stuck on the side. Isn't it?

    It's easy to dismiss and trivialise something you have no knowledge of, especially when your off the cuff remark has been answered honestly.

    I have one quote for you, and I implore you to research who said it, and its' meaning:

    "It's the software, stupid."

    My $0.02

  • Comment number 61.

    So if it's just the software then you would expect the best for purpose, most compatible and easiest to use to dominate.

    And it does.

  • Comment number 62.

    @52 twelveeightyone

    I think people use the words 'cult' or 'religion' not because apple fans are literally in one about apple computers - as that would be obsurd - but rather, it is that you show the blind faithfullness (what a word) that many assosiate with the deeply religious or people that are members of cults. ie: You don't care what other peoples reasoning for not liking apple, you ignore it because you believe yourself to be right without any other considerations.

    From reading your post i feel that you are not one of these types as you admit to some of apples faults. For me, people can prefer watever they like, but i like people to have accurate reasons rather than the 'it just works' argument... As i like to say, If it 'just works' why is there an apple help facility on their website?

    @57 Mighty Morfa Power Ranger
    No, i dont think so. MS have such a strangle hold on the office application market and the business market that they won't run out of money (although their budget might be dented).

    And don't be saying the EU fining MS is the right thing. I doubt many people agree with me, but its a joke the amount they got fined and the reasons for them. Why should MS not be allowed to bundle media players or web browsers with their OS? They did well to get their company in the position it is, so adding this functionality is no big deal, i can still CHOOSE to download windows media player classic or (god forbid) real player, etc. I can choose to download Opera, (or god forbid even more) firefox or safari or any other. If MS are being fined for doing this sort of thing, then Apple should be sued for locking the iPod to iTunes, for including safari with their OS. There is far less choice with software for the mac. There is a myriad of software for windows or linux, but tend to be one or two for macs, now there is the lack of real choice.

  • Comment number 63.

    Rory, what is this about not writing articles because you fear starting an Apple/Microsoft argument? That debate will go on for ever as the die-hards on each side are tech-savy and respond to your blogs.
    What if the same attitude had been taken to BBC coverage of NI during 'The Troubles'?
    'Oh, we can't write about this as a vocal group will complain. 'And will if we don't cover it.)
    Nothing would have been written if this approach hd been taken.
    Why not just say 'It was an important development, in a company's history/progress or the market's development' and justify why.
    This is for all firms, not just Apple and Microsoft.
    I use Apple products at work and at home but my colleagues use PCs (with Microsoft software) at work. It's not an issue, and it would not be if someone said 'Could I use something else.' As long as it worked, why not? Why colleagues are happy with their Vista PCs, and it works for them (and as a company) so why should I ask them to change if it doesn't make their lives easier.
    Fry has been a long-time advocate of Apple computers, and a self-confessed v early adopter. He has bought more computers and gadgets than Dixons, only rapidly to ove on to the next new things. Yes, this gives him experience and the right to give his views, but it doesn't make him right all the time. If he was a Windows PC user who usually wrote in his columns that Windows was great, would anyone notice. Or care?
    Develop a thicker skin. Accept that different people like using different technology/shopping methods/supermarkets/lipstick/kebab takeaways (are you seeing my point?).
    If the story is worth writing about, then do so. If it isn't don't. And don't apologise every time a handful of people have a go at you. This is not a local newspaper column. Expect divergant views - it's global.
    Why not write about technology stufff that people actually use in their daily lives, or may use if they knew about it? People may switch between one technology/brand (eg DVD/Bluetooth) and the other as it suites them. Doesn't mean one is wrong and the other perfect.
    Just try to put it all into context. That's all I think readers/listeners want. What we 100% do not want is 'Someone had a go, so I have to respond.' And waste a slot for you or someone else saying something important that we may have missed elsewhere or would like to read your/an other's view on.
    If it was a daily blog, you could go into detail about stuff to your heart's content - people may not read it all, but isn't that the way of the blogs - and the next day they would have something else to read/complain about/recommend/write long replies about.

  • Comment number 64.


    "I mean, computers are just like an aeroplane, which is just a metal box with some wings stuck on the side. Isn't it?"

    Couldn't have put it better myself. When I fly I don't care whether the plane is a Boeing or an Airbus or whatever, just that it's fit for purpose and will get me safely and efficiently where I want to get. I do know a bit about their design and have great admiration for the engineering teams that put them together and the crews that fly them.

    Same with computers or cars or mobile phones. I tend to stick to the same makes as I'm averagely lazy and find it easier to find the controls laid out the same way as the one I had before. But if I hire a car on holiday or borrow a friend's phone to make a call I don't care what make it is and soon get used to its layout.

    And how do you know how much knowledge I have? I'm not a computer designer or software engineer but have been using them since the 1970s and have a reasonable layman's knowledge

    And I do know a bit about technological innovation and the diffusion of ideas, having researched and taught in the field for the same period.

  • Comment number 65.

    I don't really care about how often an article is written about Apple, and I have to say that most of the ones I have read (I tend to steer clear of the Windows/Apple articles) have been favourable.

    What would make me really happy is if the BBC site was more compatible with a Mac computer. I get sick of having to open up Firefox (ultra-modern Firefox 3 despises my old G3 iMac) just to check the TV listings, as when I'm in Safari it keeps telling me that my Flash Player is out of date, despite the fact that I have now reinstalled Flash Player 9 about 17 times in two weeks. And don't even get me started on iPlayer... :)

    Seriously though, the first computer I ever used was a Mac (at school), a BBC (at school), then an Amiga (my own first computer), then a couple of Windows boxes, and now the little bundle of love that is my aforementioned iMac (running both OS X Tiger and Linux, I might add).

    Ooh, can I now claim that the BBC are unfairly neglecting the greatness that is the Amiga 500?

    I'm not a raving Mac-nut and I'm not an ardent supporter of Windows either. I will use any operating system, as long as it runs on whatever aging pile of computer innards I've botched together into a workable machine. That's why I love Damn Small Linux, because it runs on pretty much anything, and you don't even have to install it, you can run it from a flash drive.

    Anyway, with regards to the iPhone - I'm currently awaiting delivery of a Sony Ericsson. No way am I spending that much on a phone to be tied to a network I have no experience of for 18 months.

    Oh, and if anyone feels like complaining about the lack of proper structure in what I've just written, I would like to point out that I only had four hours of sleep last night, so I'm a tad tired. :)

  • Comment number 66.


    Comparing fanboy arguments about Apple and Microsoft to The Troubles in Northern Ireland?

    To use the old Belfast colloquialism "catch yerself on".

  • Comment number 67.


    "So if it's just the software then you would expect the best for purpose, most compatible and easiest to use to dominate. And it does."

    Not necessarily. McDonalds are the biggest food chain, but they don't make the best food.

    They are cheap and cheerful, and that is why they are the biggest - just like Micro$oft (oh sorry, Microsoft are also convicted monopolists too, who stamp out rivals by any means necessary, legally or illegally, just ask the EU).

    Have a nice day!

  • Comment number 68.

    Oh I know, they do however make a product that is quick, accessible and does what the customer wants which is really what the vast majority of people are looking for.

    Of course that doesn't make them nice people, just tremendously popular.

  • Comment number 69.

    @62 pigeonfriend

    you seem to have misplaced knowledge about the industry

    The only reason their is a lack of apps for Macs is that most people chose not to code for Macs, this wouldn't be the case if Microsoft didn't have an illeagal monopoly.

    And an operating system should be just that, an operating system. By including their own software they have stiffled the effort of other legitimate organisations.

    It is fantastic that the EU are giving justified fines, if microsoft's own siftware was so good in the forst place then everyone would simply download the likes of Internet Explorer anyway. Such a download service is easily possible, where all the compatible browsers are listed.

    As for Office... does the same job with the same files types, plus it has the benefit of a 10x as many people at least looking at the code. Many companies will soon turn their back on the MS Office suite as the continues to be improved.

    Microsoft have to be careful, they can survive if they are prepared to embrace open source, but without it resentment will kick in. This has already started with individual consumers, and the once the shareholders of companies start damanding to look to cut down on IT costs further still, paid for apps will be re-examined. MS are in the direct firing line there in terms of apps, their OS' probably a further down the line.

  • Comment number 70.

    It is always interesting to note in these debates how anyone expressing satisfaction with Apple products becomes:

    'an Apple freak', 'an Apple fanboy', 'an Apple cultist' or 'a Mac zealot'. Or any other number of insults.

    These commentators demonstrate the fear that is clealry being felt by the old guard.

    The Apple freight train containing wonderful, useable, technology is going to crush them well and truly! And it will be achieved without us having to call them names or slinging mud.

    We do ask that the BBC gives Apple a fair case and doesn't, for example, entirely ignore the most successful technology launch ever witnessed.

  • Comment number 71.

    Bottom line is this: If the majority of people wanted to use Macs for business - or, indeed, at all - they would and they don't. Considering Apple have been around for as long as Microsoft I think it's pretty clear who won that particular battle.

    The belief that Apple will take over Microsoft's position is, frankly, not founded in reality although I think it's good Apple are there to provide a foil to Microsoft's bludgeon.

    As for fines, the EU were right to fine MS, however the scale is disproportionate in bith major instances. It is, however, interesting to note the EU's rumblings about inconsistent pricing on iTunes which resulted in Apple having to promise to equalise prices accross Europe by mid-2008. One wonders if Apple's claim that they've done this because of the current strength of the Euro vs the Pound will elicit much sympathy with them...

    It seems all large corporations have their unsavoury practices.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think you have it just about right in relation to Apple stories. The launch of a new iPhone is of course news worthy, not least because every other mobile company is now releasing lookalike touch screen phones.

  • Comment number 73.

  • Comment number 74.

    You shouldn't be dictated to by a small, mouthy minority of people who seem threatened by Apple and the iPhone's success. Its a blog, so just write what you want to write about. I find it sad that you give such credence to the detractors when a device is as monumentally popular as the iPhone, and they certainly do not reflect the minority. There was a three hour queue when I got my iPhone last week, so to say that your readership are not interested is just grossly out of touch with reality. I haven't had any problems with the phone apart from slightly disappointing battery life and I've owned several iPhones.

  • Comment number 75.

    Its always rather puzzling as to why people get so incredibly threatened by Apple's success. I think its because Apple is perceived as being more style than substance when the reality is actually quite the opposite. The iphone's flashy interface helps, it doesn't hinder, and for all the glitzy effects on OSX which existed long before Vista lumbered along, it doesn't alter the fact that the OS is still one of the most widely respected and easiest to use out there.

    Perhaps if certain other companies devoted so much time on testing of their devices and software on human beings rather than other IT people they'd be able to improve the interfaces. WinMo devices are usability -wise just jokes and always have been. Apple think different when it comes to software, you have only to use it to notice.

  • Comment number 76.


    And perhaps if Apple had spent more time testing Mobile Me it wouldn't have been such a debacle?

    I think that one put the myth that Apple's software is generally better firmly to bed.


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