28 July 2008

Real Dan Lyons: Really Good

As so often, I'm with Matt on this one: good as he was when the Fake Steve jobs, Dan Lyons is even better as himself. This is particularly sharp analysis - not just of Apple, but of the twisted thinking of the PR people behind it:

If Nocera had simply refused to go off the record, the burden would have remained on Jobs to get his message out and to do it openly or suffer continued hits to Apple stock. By going off the record, Nocera let himself get played by Jobs and Apple. Consider this. What if Jobs is lying? I’m not saying he is. But gods have been known to lie, especially when dealing with mere mortals. Think of how Zeus looked upon humans and you get an idea how Jobs views pretty much everyone in the world who isn’t Steve Jobs.

If Apple lies in a press release, or if its CEO lies in an on-the-record statement, the company has problems. But if everything was off the record, who’s to know? Or maybe you don’t exactly lie but you kind of hint at something and shade the conversation and lead someone to believe something even without explicitly saying that thing.

If down the road it turns out Steve was lying and someone from the SEC or some lawyer in a civil suit wants to find out what was said in that conversation, they’ll have to subpoena Joe Nocera, and the New York Times will fight that request. Even if Joe Nocera wants to tell the world what Steve Jobs told him, he can’t. He made a deal. He went off the record. Even if Steve turns out to be lying, Joe Nocera is stuck.

More generally:

One of the many ironies and contradictions about Apple is that while the company presents this hip, open, cool image to the world, its PR machine is the most secretive, locked-down, hard-assed and disciplined of any company in tech, including IBM.

This is one reason why Apple sticks in my craw. As what Lyons has nicely dubbed a "freetard", I just find the company too keen on closed for my liking. That said, I think Shuttleworth is absolutely right that Apple is now the one to beat....

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