Let Us Now Praise Apple (Sort Of)

Here is professional technology enthusiast David Pogue on the big Apple product rollout today:

It turned out that everyone was right. The new iPhones have wireless charging, faster processors, and, in the ultra-luxe iPhone X, edge-to-edge screens. In other words, all the stuff that my Samsung 8 already has. And yet everyone is so excited they can barely sit still.

I like to make fun of this because I’m an Apple cynic, but honestly, kudos to them for keeping up their marketing mojo long after their actual products have ceased to be very interesting. Compare this to Microsoft, which—well, let me tell a story about that.

I’m a Surface tablet junkie. I love my Surface 3.¹ And my Surface 4 Pro. And my Surface Pro 2017, which I bought a couple of weeks ago. But wait. Why did I only buy it a couple of weeks ago? It was announced in May and began shipping in June. What took me so long?

Answer: I didn’t know it existed. I’ve been using Windows since 1991 and I’ve purchased two Surface tablets since 2015. The first one was purchased at a Microsoft store. I adore Surface tablets. I would appear in commercials for Microsoft if they asked me. And yet I had no idea that a new one was out. I didn’t get so much as a single email about it.² My Twitter feed had nothing about it. None of the media outlets I read bothered to highlight it enough that I saw it.

Is this because it was boring? In a way, yes. It’s the same size as the previous model and has all the same ports. Basically, it has better battery life, a faster processor, and a new stylus that’s considerably better than the old one (which was pretty good to start with).³ It’s definitely evolutionary. But the longer battery life was enough to suck me in.

If Apple had introduced this, everyone on the planet would know about it. The battery life would be a category killer for laptops. The pen would be an artist’s dream come true. The faster processors would do wonders for gaming and 3D rendering. The miscellaneous updates in the operating system would be game changers. It would be the greatest upgrade in history.

I dunno. Some people can get away with nonsense like this. Donald Trump. Kanye West. Apple. Everyone plays along because it’s part of the act. But no one else can do it because, after all, it’s also pretty ridiculous.

Still, you’d think Microsoft could at least do ordinary boring marketing for their new tablet. There’s no reason to almost literally keep it a secret, is there?

¹This is now Marian’s Surface 3.

²In fairness, it’s possible that this is because I opted out of getting emails from Microsoft. If so, kudos to them for keeping their word. Still, you’d think they could figure out some kind of workaround to target folks who obviously like Surface tablets.

³It also has the same ridiculously paltry storage options as the previous model. Someday I need to have a long talk with the Surface product manager about that. What’s the deal with 128 GB on a tablet that supposedly can “replace your desktop”? You can upgrade to 512 GB, of course, but only if you upgrade to the top-end model, which will cost you about an extra thousand dollars. Seriously?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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