Oh My Tech: Apple whore, Apple hater? I’m neither, actually

By Vince Horiuchi

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: October 18, 2012 10:01PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 11:31PM
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Vince Horiuchi

I just read your Oh My Tech! column in today’s paper. Do you work for Apple? It seems like that’s all you ever write about anymore. You must realize that only 10 percent to 12 percent of the population owns an Apple computer. I look forward to the day when you will be able to diversify your column and write about something other than Apple products. You know what they say. . .”It’s not the Apple products I dislike; it’s the attitude of the people who own them.” Either way, I wish you good luck and good cheer. I always read your column. — Willy.

As for allegations that I write about Apple products a lot, I respond with three words. Guilty as charged.

The fact is, Apple and its products make news because people are interested in them, not because I’m a shill for the Cupertino, Calif., company.

Although it’s true that only about 10 percent to as much as 16 percent of the total desktop market is made up of Macs, we have to remember that Apple has transformed itself in the past decade into more than a desktop company (which is why Apple dropped “Computer” from its name several years ago).

Today, Apple’s iPod is the leading mp3 player. Its iTunes is the No. 1 music retailer in the world, even over Walmart and Amazon. The iPhone launched the touchscreen mobile phone market, and now the iPad commands 68 percent of the computer tablet market, according to Nielsen.

Initial sales for the iPhone 5 were higher than previous models, not lower. Anticipation for new iterations of Apple products are at an all-time high. After all, when was the last time eager consumers stood in line for 24 hours to be the first to get an Android phone?

Today, Apple is the most valuable public company in the world, with a market capitalization of around $620 billion. It’s a company you don’t slight in favor of others. So, when Apple introduces a device, that’s newsworthy because people want to read about it.

That’s not to say Apple is the only thing I’ve ever written about, of course — not by a stretch. I’ve covered plenty of popular Android devices such as the Motorola Droid and the Samsung Galaxy S III, the Nokia 900 phone with Windows Phone, and previous Android tablets. I also have written much about Amazon’s Kindle devices and hope to have a review on the upcoming Kindle HD tablet when its released next month. I’m also planning to review the upcoming Microsoft Surface tablet and have written about it before.

I’ve been covering Apple a lot lately because, in fact, the company has made a lot of news. It has introduced the iPhone 5, which was one of the most anticipated pieces of consumer electronics this year. Then there were the usual rounds of complaints that followed its introduction, including the failed maps app and other glitches. There also was the introduction of a line of iPods and a new MacBook Pro with a higher-resolution screen. Next, there’s an announcement from Apple on Tuesday in which it is expected to introduce an “iPad mini.”

I do like some Apple products, but I’m far from an Apple fanboy. I own an iPhone, iPad and an iMac, but my main computer is a PC with Windows 7 (a trusted Alienware for gaming), and I stream video to my television with my PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, not an Apple TV. I’ve certainly bashed Apple on a variety of topics, ranging from its closed ecosystem for iOS to its recent lack of innovation in the iPhone.

Here is my greatest reassurance that I’m being fair to both those who praise or loathe Apple. One commenter to a recent story of mine that criticized Apple for its bungled maps app wrote, “We get it, Vince. You don’t like Apple.” It was immediately followed by another commenter who wrote, “Uhhh, Vince is an Apple whore.”

If one thinks I’m a shill, while another says I’m a hater, I must be doing my job.

iPad mini • Having said all that, it’s worth mentioning one more piece of Apple news (so, Willy and others like him should avert their eyes).

At Apple’s Tuesday media announcement, it’s speculated that the company will introduce an “iPad mini” that will be similar to a regular iPad except with a smaller 7-inch screen. This pint-sized device is being built to compete with the likes of the Google Nexus 7 tablet and the Kindle Fire, each which sell for $199 or less.

I would imagine Apple will price its “iPad mini” for a higher price than that, given that the company traditionally gives its devices a premium price for bigger profit margins. If the mini is priced for $249, Apple could still sell a boatload of them. At $300, it’s harder to convince users who don’t yet have a computer tablet that Apple’s is worth $100 more than, say, a Kindle Fire.

But if Apple wanted to snuff out Amazon’s place in this market, along with Google’s Nexus 7 and any other similarly sized device, it would price the iPad mini — or whatever it will be called — at $199.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he’ll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.