It’s no secret that I don’t like most so-called “technology journalists“, men and women who are often skilled in the latter but painfully deficient in the former. Perhaps I take Mark Twain’s admonition to “write what you know” a bit too seriously, but I think it’s difficult for most journalists to wrap their heads around anything but the specifications they see on paper.
Another such egregious offender is TheStreet.com’s Scott Mortiz, an apparent CDMA apologist who writes a badly misguided post about five “blemishes” on the new iPhone, a post whose permalink is “5-reasons-not-to-buy-iphone-4”? Do we have any doubts about his impartiality at this point? Herein is my complete dissection of the nonsense this man foists upon an unsuspecting public in the name of objective “journalism”
Mr. Moritz, no favorite of Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, starts off by saying the iPhone has a “skimpy camera”. I’m not sure what color the sky is in your world, but in no universe in which I exist is 5 megapixels (MP) considered skimpy. Realistically, unless you plan on making large format (greater than 8×10″) prints from your pictures, a good 5MP shot is sufficient for small prints and web publishing. Additionally, you can increase the resolution of the camera all you want; if the imaging sensor chip in the camera doesn’t increase proportionally, your end result is smaller pixels on the sensor. Although Apple is notoriously opaque about the nuts & bolts that go into their phones and MP3 players, Steve Jobs did mention during the WWDC keynote that the pixel size of the iPhone 4 camera would be the same as the iPhone 3G S, strongly hinting that the sensor size had grown along with the resolution of the camera. In a video comparo of the the two flagship 4.3″ Android handsets, the HTC Sprint EVO and the Motorola Droid X, he clearly states that the Droid X’s camera is disappointing next to that of the EVO. I notice he hasn’t yet compared the iPhone, and its 720P video capability, to either of the larger Android handsets.
He then laments that Apple didn’t include a predictive typing technology called Swype in the iPhone. Swype is software that was invented by the creators of T9 predictive texting, which was either the greatest thing ever invented for non-QWERTY phones, or a harbinger of the Phonepocalypse, depending upon the person being asked. I hated T9 texting, and I’m concerned because Swype still seems to be a very beta product. Comments in the Swype forum indicate issues with the language support built into the software, which is a huge concern for any company wanting to sell their phones outside the US and other English-speaking countries. Incorporating Swype into their products at this point in the game would require Apple to fork their OS development efforts into two separate branches – Swype & non-Swype, depending upon language support. Such an effort would significantly increase the effort and complexity of keeping the two branches in sync, and of porting language support from one branch to the other once Swype added support.
Mr. Moritz then complains that the FaceTime video calling feature of the iPhone 4 is only available via wi-fi, and only with other iPhone 4 users at this point. Apple has already said they’ll publish the protocol as an open standard, paving the way for video chat services like Skype to utilize FaceTime in their product, and allowing for other manufacturers to build FaceTime support into their handsets.
His next point of contention is shortages of the iPhone, and how supply chain difficulties have forced Apple to cut their manufacturing output to a measly 1 million phones per month. I’m sure Google would have liked to have had this problem with their Nexus One, which only sold 135K units in its first 74 days. That time period is significant because the original iPhone, which was also sold unsubsidized, sold 1 million devices in that same period. The Droid, on the other hand, only sold 1.05 million devices in its first 74 days despite being heavily subsidized.
Finally we reach the heart of Mr. Moritz’s argument, that the #1 reason NOT to buy an iPhone is because there is no Verizon iPhone. He doesn’t argue that carrier exclusivity, or the absence of the iPhone on the other 3 major carriers, is a reason not to buy an iPhone. He shows his true colors as an unabashed fanboy, as someone whose subjectivity clouds his judgment, in saying that the news of a new iPhone isn’t as big as news of a Verizon iPhone would be. You can kvetch all you want about AT&T’s network, and how the iPhone exclusive is holding Apple back, but it’s no secret that Verizon originally spurned the iPhone. That move sent a jilted Apple into the arms of AT&T, at that point the only other network large enough for the iPhone, and the rest is history. Three years in, we’d be hearing nothing but complaints from Verizon loyalists had they landed the iPhone, wailing about how the network couldn’t handle the load, and how Verizon’s slow implementation of Voice Over Rev. A (VORA) was keeping iPhone users from being able to use simultaneous voice and data. Is it about time for Apple to end their exclusivity with AT&T? Probably. Is it also time for them to offer iPhones to every wireless carrier in the US? Definitely. Should someone work as a tech journalist with a seemingly poor understanding of technology and a glaring lack of objectivity refrain from calling himself so? Undoubtedly.