Friday, June 4, 2010

John Gruber jumps the shark

I have been using Macs since February 1984. From just about the day the Mac was announced I was writing software for it from my college dorm room using one of the school's two $10,000 Apple Lisa computers. The Lisa was, at that time, the only tool you could use to write Mac software, and no one else at The University of Pennsylvania seemed to know what to do with it, or even care.

I say all that to say, from the beginning of the Mac's life, I have been a fan. As an entrepreneur, I have built Mac hardware and software businesses and I think Apple, and Steve Jobs have indeed changed the planet. And as impressive as is Apple's long past, its current and next generation products such as the iPhone and the iPad are no less revolutionary.

But all that said, I am also, at times, critical of Apple. Sometimes very critical. I try to be a totally dispassionate truth teller. Needless to say that is very hard to do, I obviously sometimes fail, but I do try to filter my biases. That said, in recent years, as Apple has gotten bigger, more successful, and more powerful, there have been some issues that cry out for criticism. But being highly critical of Apple is not a historically natural stance for me. In fact this blog's name and first post were really an homage to Apple. But based on recent facts, I think criticizing Apple is the right thing to do.

I have been a fan of John Gruber, and his website, daringfireball for some time. For those of you that are not familiar with him, John writes, generally positively, about Apple. Gruber has always been far more pro Apple than me. And that has been ok for me. I have enjoyed reading him because his defenses have generally been pretty air tight, and he has seemed willing to criticize Apple when appropriate. He has not been, it seemed to me, a rabid illogical fanboi.

But recently, my sense has changed. I hadn't been able crisply describe any single bit of writing that was obviously problematic, but as a whole, his defenses and promotion of Apple have seemed more zealous. I no longer feel like I am listening to someone who I can get the straight scoop from. I am starting to feel like he is devolving into a pure Apple partisan.

To put this in a political context, I am a Democrat. And while I definitely lean left, particularly on economic matters I have a great appreciation of well made, logical, conservative arguments. That does not mean I always agree, but it means I am open to seeing the other side's point. In fact I always try hard to. And sometimes I do indeed agree. Of course in the current climate, conservatism seems to be becoming more "fact free" (think Obama birth certificate and death panels), so there are fewer reasonably argued ideas to embrace. But I digress.

The point is that many years ago I used to enjoy the David Brinkley version of the Sunday morning talk program This Week. And aside from enjoying Brinkley's acerbic wit, I really used to enjoy conservative commentator George Will on the show. I liked him because I felt like he was a conservative who followed logic and reason and would tell the truth as he saw it, regardless of ideology. He was willing to criticize Republicans as well as Democrats, and that gave him extra credibility in my mind. And because his language was so crisp and powerful, it was fun to watch him do it.

But times have changed. And while I do not think George Will is some Rush Limbaugh scale wacko, I no longer feel the same way about him.

Unfortunately, such is becoming the case with John Gruber. It used to be that while I knew he came from a very specific computo-political perspective, Gruber was willing to speak what was obviously the truth, regardless of where the chips fell. But I just no longer feel like that is the case.

To be clear I am not suggesting Gruber is being in any way disingenuous in his arguments. I think he is a thoroughly decent fellow, and I believe he believes his writing is thoroughly logical and fact based. But I do believe he is *much* less likely to follow logic to its natural conclusion when that conclusion is not favorable to Apple. There just seems to be more cheering, and less dispassionate analysis. I think, like all politicians and opinion givers in the modern age, it is very difficult to remain a moderate. Wildly divergent opposing forces insist that you pick sides. It is much harder to have truly fact driven political debate than it used to be. And it seems that is the case with the politics of computing as well.

And while this sense of a shift with Gruber has been coming for at least several months, the thing that triggered me to write this piece was something that Gruber said yesterday in a blog post. It was probably an off-hand comment, but it speaks volumes about where John's current psyche is. He said:

iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way.

Essentially, anyone who has criticized the iPhone, or presumably Apple is just someone not dealing with the facts. The only reasonable position one could have after looking at any iPhone related facts is, generally, acceptance and approval.


Yes, it is true that many iPhone critics are unmoved by facts. But so too are iPhone supporters, a.k.a. fanbois, who would more likely dine on Steve's output rather than accept even the slightest criticism of Apple.

And so, for me, John Gruber has officially jumped the shark. And while his often insightful analysis will still be in my regular rotation, just as I still occasionally watch George Will on the latest incarnation of This Week, it will never be the same. I used to trust John Gruber. Now I will just read him.


  1. It's less that he's changed and more that you have. I've been reading him for a long time too and noticed no particular increase in zealotry. My agreement with him has always been half-hearted and a certain percentage of his statements rub me the wrong way. That percentage hasn't really changed. He hasn't - to my eyes - drifted any closer to Daniel Eran Dilger territory then he was before.

  2. Gruber is a still a good source of upcoming feature/release predictions. He's not doing anything different than he has in the past, I guess you've just gotten tired of hearing it :)

  3. Gruber even edits his posts without disclosing it. I saw him call Apple's decision to ban an app as a "nameless individual App Store reviewer" fault and not Apple's!

  4. Gruber is just towing the party line, which looks increasingly absurd, as the media world comes down on Apple. He "jumped the shark" by continuing to defend the actions of a giant company as though it was a startup.

  5. what exactly did gruber ever ship, other than predictions, that makes him stand out from any other blogger?

  6. I totally feel you on Gruber, I stopped reading a month ago for the same reasons.
    "computo-political perspective" - I love it, are you a Googarian, an Appublican, a Microsofticrat,f OSSism? Our choices in technology are increasingly becoming political choices/statements(*cough*GNU*cough*). How long before there is no such thing as the centrist position and you have to be ALL microsoft/apple/google/OSS without any interoperability? Will the balkanization of policial discourse be mirrored in technology due to corporate antagonism & pursuit of profits via lock-in?

  7. @mcb That's a very jaded and ignorant mindset, that one must be all-in with one company/philosophy. The center of the spectrum is disappearing and that's because all the other extremes are moving toward it; standards are more prevalent in use, companies are communicating openly, and there's a great deal of cross-pollination (that's the polite term for it).

    As for Gruber, I don't think he's become an Apple zealot -- I think he's still Apple's biggest critic, *especially* when it comes to app store rejections. I think he's single-handedly covered more than anyone else in the industry. I think what the writer is tiring of the Apple universe and (and for good reason) and all its disillusion, and this is his out. That he picked a single sentence -- not an idea, proclamation or philosophy -- out of AAAALLLL of Gruber's writing (which was not even in an anti- or pro-Apple piece) speaks volumes.

  8. I don't see why that single statement made you write this. He's the same as ever (that is, he's right as usual) - iPhone critics _do_ seldom let facts get in their way. You even agreed: "Yes, it is true that many iPhone critics are unmoved by facts."

  9. So when Gruber does it, he's a fanboi. But when you say "Of course in the current climate, conservatism seems to be becoming more 'fact free'" and cite only the farthest fringes of conservatism... you still get to call yourself a left-leaning but open and reasonable person?

  10. I agree with what you've said. I've had the same feeling too but cannot point to any one thing in itself.

    However I would ask you to update this post to go beyond the one Tweet that prompted you to right this.

    I think you need to provide more examples. I got to the bottom of this post and felt you set up a good case but you did not follow through.

    You don't need a smoking gun, but you need more that this.

  11. "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way."

    I think you've taken this a little out of context. His point was that a compromise on the lock down of the iPhone (which he actually endorsed) likely wouldn't really placate those who fundamentally dislike the overall policy. That is, I think, fair comment.

    Yes you could read it as a more extreme criticism but I don't think it really reflects the tone of the piece.

  12. I think you're failing to follow the Democrat-Republican analogy through.

    I used to be a moderate who leaned Democrat. I saw both liberal and conserative sides of the argument, and both had validity.

    During the Bush years I became a much stronger supporter of the Democrats, but I don't think this is because my moderate tendencies changed. I think it's just because the Republicans abandoned the moderates, and conservative rhetoric became, as you say, more "fact-free". The Democrats of today are actually the moderates of yesterday.

    But a similar thing has happened to Apple. In the 80s and 90s they had products with advantages and disadvantages compared to the competition. Macs were better-designed with better interfaces than Windows computers; Windows machines ran much more software and often were cheaper. I preferred the Mac but I saw both sides.

    These days, Apple's products are better than the competition in *far* more ways than they used to be. Not all ways, granted, but many, many ways. It's hard to chalk this up as a personal taste. The iPod changed the game, the iPhone outcompeted all the entrenched players and redefined the smartphone landscape, and there is currently no competition at all for the iPad. What's more, the Mac is an increasingly-successful platform: the market likes it.

    If it's true that Apple really is doing a better job and making better products than other comanies, relative to other points in its history, doesn't it make sense that an objective observer would become more pro-Apple? Being "fair" isn't about picking two opposing positions and finding a midpoint—it's about considering the facts and trying to figure out whether the truth lies. The problem isn't with Gruber becoming a fanboi; it's with other companies failing to provide compelling alternatives. Hopefully that will change.

  13. Lol. A blog whose title is "Why does everything suck?" and then the opening paragraph is panting "listen to me, I have credentials!"

    The web needs Gruber as much as it needs the anti-Grubers. His points are almost always relevant, and his writing is superb--one of the best in my opinion.

  14. I agree completely. It's really just the last 2 or 3 articles that seemed to show this increased bias, but once you see it it's hard to take the next article at face value.

  15. I really don't buy your assertion that "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way." means that "Essentially, anyone who has criticized the iPhone, or presumably Apple is just someone not dealing with the facts. The only reasonable position one could have after looking at any iPhone related facts is, generally, acceptance and approval."

    At all.

    I think he drew a pretty fine distinction between his take on legit or reasonable criticism, and the type of criticism that will bubble up regardless of the facts. Do you have any more examples than that?

  16. He's got 75% a good blog, and 25% of dredging up old anti-Apple predictions and mocking them. Just mean spirited.

  17. I must say that I agree with you on this. It seems to me that Apple critics seem to hurt Gruber more personally as of late and it detracts, at least for me, from the good job he does in reporting the facts. Maybe there's some truth in that I have changed too so the distance becomes greater. I'll still read him too it justs keep making me take the other side most of the times.

  18. I think the jump the shark moment came when Steve Jobs referenced Gruber's take on App Store 3.3.1 in an email response that got published. Ever since "Insightful and Not Negative" was added to the Daring Fireball banner, I feel like Gruber's been sucking up to Jobs (and really acting like the lapdog FSJ describes him as).

  19. I'm glad I'm not the only one who think's Gruber has gotten progressivly more defensive trying to account for Apple/Jobs' actions lately; or dismissive and hostile to anything Google so much as looks at.

    Like yourself, I am an Apple fan (only got my first one in the summer of 2007 though), but I'm also mindful of the company's actions and am not without criticisms. On the flip side, I think astute readers can pick up on an undertone in John's writing that parallels Apple's goals; which boils down to the preservation of the Apple/Mac ecosystem. Not in terms of 'walled gardens' or platform lock-in, but the quality and attention to detail which Mac (and now iDevice) developers have cultivated with Apple.

    Daring Fireball has acted as both a spotlight and lighthouse, highlighting great software and services which often improve a Mac user's experience while at the same time trying to cut through the confusion that a portion of the public has had about Macs dating back to the 80s. In addition, John has continued to refine his analysis and outlook on the industry in a way that, if not always balanced, was at least open about biases and caveats.

    But as you've pointed out, and I tend to agree, things seem to changing. The snarky remarks which used to be clinching zingers against the uninformed critics have become turds flung at nearly any entity that doesn't convert to the industry strategy of the moment as dictated by Apple. There doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground anymore, with an effect that echoes in your political metaphor.

    As a young geek who has made the journey from Windows to Linux to Mac (and now a combination), I've always thought that good technology builds on, borrows, and learns from each other. There are obviously ups and downs with each approach, but the important thing is an open mind to be able to see the opportunity to improve the current state of things.

    To me, it seems like part of John (and maybe to a lesser extent Apple in some of it's recent actions) has grown tired of trying to open other's eyes to the genuine merits of the platform and software. I bet it's incredibly frustrating for him and others to grok the awesomeness Apple is trying to produce and be faced with an endless supply of jackasses and uninformed critics who dismiss or deride it without logic.

    After all the struggles of Apple and their supporters to return to glory, I would hate to see Gruber piss his helpful influence away by retreating to an ivory tower.

  20. I don't know about Gruber jumping the shark but your observation on George Will is bang on. I've been noticing the same from him since Obama's election. Is the old age changing him or something going on behind the scene. Maybe he is a closet gay (not that there is anything wrong with it) and getting pressured to tow the party line.

  21. Writing tip: using the word “fanboi” was never cool, never smart, never clever, and *never* strengthens an argument.

    Do you also write “M$?” ”Demorats?” ”Republiscum?”

  22. Not trying to be rude here, but that's it? Your entire basis for your argument is "gut feeling" and one line he posted yesterday?

    I don't think Gruber's line yesterday was out of line, especially if you understand the context? That comment was probably made in reference to the absolutely absurd article in some British newspaper that gave "10 reasons why you shouldn't buy the iPhone 4G".... That was an article criticizing a product negatively before it was even released, and quite frankly that kind of article is really common, and it's more common with negative criticism articles..

    fanboi articles don't pose as fact, but criticism articles often do. this is applicable to just about every product and company, not just Apple.

    I'd actually like to read this post again, but with more concrete examples, but you may have a solid case for stating that he's jumped the shark, but you should back it up with better evidence.

  23. Who is this Gruber and why does everyone care? Do we need narcissistic opinion leaders?

  24. I guess you've peaked my curiosity. What is it about the Republicans you despise so much even more so than the Democrats that you would even give up on George Will? The other odd thing I have with Blacks and their love of the Democrat party is that it was the Republicans that did the right thing for Blacks during the Civil War, then helped pushed forward the Civil Rights Act some years later, and the KKK was filled mostly with Democrats after the Civil War. During the lead up to WWII, the Nazis largely worked secretly in congressional Democrat positions in DC and were there to keep America from entering WWII -- plants from Hitler -- and the Democrat Party embraced them. Blacks in America have everything upside down on their view of American History. Time and time again, the Democrat Party comes up on the wrong side of history in benefiting Blacks, while the Republicans do not.

    On the iPad, it lacks a good camera, there are less apps for it than the Android, the approval process for iPhone is baffling where many legitimate apps get denied or yanked, you can only run one app at a time, it's too expensive, and a long list of other issues that even Hitler got made about. (Humor there.) Android has too many things going for it -- namely the inexpensive OS that manufacturers can bundle with cheap hardware after paying a small license fee. You can now buy iPad knockoffs for $205 from China that run Android, soon the market will be filled with Android pads because of this, and this trend will continue even more. Also, the HTC Droid phone is now outselling the iPhone, and that should let you know where the market is headed for the tablets as well.

  25. Strongly agree - Gruber was always pro-Apple, but over the last couple of months he's lost all credibility as a balanced commentator. The increasing amount of 'What Gruber says' from Jobs indicates he may have got too near the Reality Distortion Field and got sucked in...

  26. I would agree with this sentiment. He doesn't get paid by Apple and yet he certainly has devolved into a biased snot-nosed kid supporting the grand majority of Apple's moves. Maybe with his larger reading-audience (also being of the positive-light Apple bunch), he has started to cater to what his audience wants to hear. Such is the case with most blogging and journalism; perhaps he's "found his voice."

  27. I have many Apple fanboy friends who I feel fall into the Gruber-bias that you so carefully described. They come to Apple's defense, no matter how silly something might be. I can only suppose that they might feel they belong to an elite club knigted by Cupertino.

    Don't get me wrong... I more often favor Apple, than not. Many of my real and virtual friends might even identify me as an Apple fanboy due to my incessant announcement of Apple products on my Twitter stream. But, like you mentioned, I'm a moderate, and I can easily find myself vocalizing criticalities of Apple when the time is right.

    But I can't discuss Apple with my overtly fanboy friends, anymore. They listen to no reason, and they're unwilling to engage in a reasonable and fact-based conversation. They drink the koolaid, and it's not even grape flavored. I'd list their names, but then they'd no doubt take incredible offense to me calling them out, and they'd deny it anyway. But they know who they are! :)

    Really enjoy knowing there are other moderates out there, who are publicly willing to ride the fence with me.

  28. He jumped the shark 2 days ago for me when he championed the new AT&T data plans as good things.

  29. "He doesn't get paid by Apple"

    Can anyone actually prove this?

    My estimation over the years, derived from both his content and writing style, is that he has the air of an expert propagandist.

    I wonder; has anyone ever thoroughly investigated his background enough to prove that he is not somehow compensated by Apple for what he is doing?

    Could the "Insightful and Not Negative" badge of honor really have been an inside joke between the two of them?

    There's a conspiracy joke in here somewhere.

  30. This whole post lacked any meaningful content. Cite some points that describe this so called change of his? I kept reading your post to learn something I couldn't see from my perspective, but it just went on and on about how you don't like reading his content anymore. Boo hoo. Why does this warrant a post?

    By the way, the phrase "Jumped the Shark" has jumped the shark a long time ago.

  31. You know, that's a helluva lot of rambling and generalizing, especially with the Rush Limbaugh stuff thrown in for flavor, and all to say that, over several months, you think Gruber's writings have changed (but you don't point to any other examples of why you think this), only to point out one ten-word quote that I think even you should admit you're robbing of a bit of its context?

    Yeah, if Gruber had just declared, "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way" then what you're saying would have more of an impact. But if you paste in the sentence right before that for just the tiniest bit of context...

    "But if Apple did exactly what Snell argues, critics would still harp on the closed App Store. iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way."

    It not only sounds different, it clearly isn't as much of a shark-jumping statement as it is one that let's a bit of frustration slip through.

    Your interpretation of what he said strikes me as more than a little extreme.

    "Essentially, anyone who has criticized the iPhone, or presumably Apple is just someone not dealing with the facts."

    He didn't say that. Moreover, what he said doesn't mean that.

    Gruber's pretty good with words. I'm sure if he wanted to say that anyone who criticizes the iPhone or Apple is someone out of touch with facts or reality, he'd say it pretty clearly, probably with a bit of profanity thrown in for good measure.

  32. So, you have no evidence except one line taken totally out of context, and made to read like he declared it a universal truth? Seems pretty weak to me.

    I think the issue here is mob mentality. Apple does something like 3.3.1 and the whole internet jumps on the anti-Apple bandwagon without actually even thinking about the reasons behind the decision.

    Gruber thinks about the issue, finds there could be a valid reason behind it, and you say he's jumped the shark when he "followed logic and reason and would tell the truth as he saw it, regardless of ideology". Doesn't that include making positive statements as well, even if it's against popular opinion?

    So if Gruber writes negatively about Apple, he's good, if he writes positively, he's an Apple zealot? In reality, you just disagree with his opinion, nothing more, no reason to try to defame him.

  33. Just look at the last paragraph of this:

    Then look at what Apple just popped out:

    It seems like they're doing more than just riffing off each other to me.

  34. Too much blood on a streets and too many babies are cryin in Liberty City.

  35. Funny you say that. I came to the same conclusion over the last few weeks, and removed him from my google reader, though I still click over from twitter on occasion.

  36. Hmmm that's a pretty small shark there.

  37. This has been obvious to me for some time.

  38. For the most part, I enjoy Guber's work. I find his work to be 80% Apple, 10% general technology, 5% politics, and 5% miscellaneous. I am diametrically opposite of Gruber's politics and find him boorish when commenting or writing on the subject. I like his blog about 60% of the time and am thoroughly engrossed when he is spot-on. The other 40% ranges from inane to hard-to-endure and distasteful at best.

  39. It's why I created a Yahoo Pipes version of his feed. Just his links (which I like) without the words:

  40. is the REAL Secret Diary of Steve Jobs. if it's not then it's just the most biased, less credible source of information regarding Apple you could ever found.

  41. Spot on.

    Gruber is best (insightful and linkworthy) when his posts are < 1 or 2 paragraphs.

    Once he gets his rant on, however, especially on an overinflated scandal (Gizmodo's stolen phone, remember Brian Krebs?), his pontificating can get a little... unbearable.

  42. I read and mostly enjoy Daring Fireball, but there is absolutely no doubt that there has been a serious shift over the past year (or shorter). Instead of being Apple-biased, which is okay, Gruber has turned to full of Apple-zealotry.

    Do people really need examples of this? Just read Daring Fireball. Mind you after some similar complaints he really tempered it over the past week.

    If I had to point to a cause, I would say that he started to become an unashamed Apple stooge once it became clear that Steve Jobs read his blog. It's like he tasted something good and wants to make sure he never makes Jobs leave.

  43. The only time I have felt JG to be strangely defensive of Apple has been the coverage of the iphone leak/theft case.

    Other than that, Apple hasn't really changed and neither has JG -- their behavior just looks different when they are seen as the dominant force is computing rather than the scrappy underdog. JG has never claimed that you have to LIKE or AGREE with Apple's computing and design philosophy, only that it is consistent.

  44. I've been reading Gruber for years, I see no change. He essentially calls bullshit on stuff that needs it. Lately with Apple's increased success there just happens to be a lot more stuff to call bullshit on. It seems like a lot of people are having a tough time reconciling Apple's success with their worldview. This wasn't supposed to happen, the geeks were supposed to win.

    That's why we see a lot of nonsense like 'open vs closed', 'walled garden', and so on. I've seen a huge increase in anti-Apple sentiment around the Web, and very little of it is based in reality.

  45. I don't see it. Maybe you should give some examples to back up your premise?

  46. I read daringfireball for the comedic value of his arguments and rants. Gruber's just a misinformed corporate tool, but at least he's a hilarious misinformed corporate tool.

  47. I wonder how many critics of Gruber's actually read his blog. To act as if he's just a blind Apple zealot suggests either they haven't read it or that they lack reading comprehension.
    Yes, he is very pro-Apple; I don't see how that's a problem. Then again, it doesn't bother me when somebody is very pro-Google even though I don't like Google, so maybe I'm just a little more open-minded. What bothers me is when fanboys refuse to ever criticize the company they hold dear. Yet, anybody who pays attention to Gruber can see he doesn't agree with all of Apple's actions and policies. He might not be all "Apple is draconian North Korea Hitler Stalin Gestapo 1984!" but it's clear that he doesn't think Apple is immaculate. I don't think you have to be a raving lunatic who sees the tech world in black and white to not be considered a fanboy.

  48. As an iPhone critic, I found that Daring Fireball quote to be quite offensive. Overall I agree entirely with your post. Daring Fireball has gone from a rational site to a rationalizing site. I only continue to read it because I've yet to find a site that has such a good collection of Mac-relevant links. I try my best to ignore the added commentary, but it's hard.

  49. I would disagree. I find Gruber to be trending more anti-Apple (such as his ongoing rants about app rejections) over the past year. His most "pro-Apple" screeds have been the ones where anyone on the other side is, frankly, some sort of retrograde scum, like the people who think that stealing someone's phone and selling it--or knowingly buying stolen property--is peachy keen.

    I don't think those pieces are pro-Apple as much as anti-the-ongoing-bullshit-ification-of-American-ethics.

    I also think he's far too generous to Google; until recently he was going along with them in describing the whole illegal wifi-snooping thing as "inadvertant", when anyone with a tech background knows that you don't log and archive traffic going across the subnet unless you fully intend to.

  50. "Yet, anybody who pays attention to Gruber can see he doesn't agree with all of Apple's actions and policies."

    John Gruber is to Apple what Robert Scoble was to Microsoft...when Scoble was an explicitly paid corporate tool.

    Scoble would lob little softballs every now and then ("We care....TOO MUCH!" That sort of garbage) and say "See, look, I'm not all tool". It only fooled fools.

  51. John Gruber is certainly pro-Apple, and what's the harm in that? Bloggers are nearly always pro-something or anti-something else. They're enthusiastic. And we all benefit by it.

    I think that as often as not he's been quite critical of Apple decisions. My hope is that now and again they listen to him.

    In my opinion, he's (a) smart (b) witty (c) very well informed and (d) an excellent writer. You don't want to read him? Don't. Want to criticize him? Terrific. Writers usually do much better with criticism than praise. And, let's face it, if you want to deliver a few zingers, chances are you're gonna have to read him.

    The worst thing you can do to a writer is ignore his stuff. Trust me on this.

  52. I enjoy, for the most part, Gruber's writing on technology and design. But when he ventures into politics, I feel he's out of his league. He's blindly allegiant to Obama and Democrats, and he thus fails to see how they are little different than Bush and Republicans. He unquestioningly swallows and regurgitates whatever economic nonsense Paul Krugman is spewing. While I admire his analysis and critical thinking he applies to technology, it's as if he shuts off his mind in favor of pure partisanship when it comes to politics.

  53. There is a point at which "even-handed" and "unbiased" become meaningless. I'll use the point Hank cited. Do the "birthers" deserve a voice and equal time if what they are saying is idiotic and baseless?

    This happens a lot in America these days. The idea that someone's point of view, not matter how baseless or irrational, deserves to be aired.

    If Gruber's analysis is wrong, it's wrong. If it's right, it's right. The perceived "pro-appleness" or lack thereof is irrelevant.

    Gruber seems as precise and logical with his arguments as ever from my perspective.

  54. 14 rambling paragraphs to discuss a single line of quoted text. Yawn.

  55. So, by often posting reasonable criticism about Apple, he proves even more what an Apple tool he is? So, short of declaring Apple the ultimate existence of evil, there's not much he can do to be considered anything but a blind Apple zealot.

  56. One other thing has changed, that may have had an effect on Gruber's outlook and tone: Apple's primary adversary is no longer Microsoft, it's Google, and Google is both cooler and savvier, a more worthy adversary. I imagine it's a bit unsettling to find yourself fighting *against* the young upstarts when you're used to *being* the young upstarts.

    Also, if you enjoyed the '90s vintage George Will, you might try reading the Cato Institute's feed. I'm not saying you'll agree with all or even most of what you'll find there, but you may find disagreement that's a little more mentally stimulating than Limbaugh and Beck.

  57. Gruber isn't all that bad. He cries calls out Apple when they deserve it. And his pieces are generally very well thought out (and he includes examples that are not taken out of context).

    All in all, JG's wayyy more balanced than the tinfoil hat wearing, kool aid chugging proprietor of Roughly Drafted.

  58. Kevin: you may be on to something about his reaction to Google. The shift from MS to Google as the adversary is extra-annoying because Google is anything but "young upstarts", and yet that's the standard media line.

    They're a bunch of old PhDs and (some good, some evil) veterans of MS, Sun, etc. Their image as "young upstarts" is a very carefully-crafted PR maneuver, like much of their existence. There's a compelling argument to be made that, contrary to received wisdom in the tech world, Apple is the company truly invested in trying to make interesting stuff, whereas Google is about "cool", politics, and marketing. Don't forget which of these two companies makes their money from convincing people to buy advertising...

  59. I've got to say that I agree, especially now that Linked List updates have grown more frequent. I like Gruber, and still look forward to updates, but DF has taken the cable news route. He's gone from the NY Times to MSNBC. Or maybe the NY Times to the Huffington Post.

  60. Gruber's comment about iPhone critics seemed to me to be just a tongue-in-cheek wisecrack to cap a post and not a declaration of an ideological position. He may seem one-sided on some issues like technology or politics, but it's also a blog, so naturally he's going to be giving his side of things there.

    If zealotry on Daring Fireball bothers you, be glad you don't follow him on Twitter!

  61. "John Gruber is to Apple what Robert Scoble was to Microsoft...when Scoble was an explicitly paid corporate tool. "

    Now that? That's just mean.

    Gruber's not perfect, but I'll take him over 85% of the rest of the Apple bloggers. Especially in his longer pieces he's thoughtful and takes great pains to support his assertions. And the zingers are often priceless.

    He's up there with Ars and Ihnatko and Dan Benjamin as far as I'm concerned.

    But, I do wish he'd give the politics a rest. There, he is essentially hijacking his own RSS feed for an announcement from GruberPAC. Not a deal-breaker, but definitely an eye-roller.

  62. Totally agree with you. I've been reading Gruber for years. He's always been pro-Apple, but the shift has been dramatic over the last year or so. He's no longer just an Apple advocate, he's an Apple apologist.

    The tech media was traditionally slanted against Apple, so Gruber was a good counterweight. But as mainstream coverage of Apple became more positive, he seems less necessary -- which may be why he's gotten more vociferous in his opinions. He's probably not even conscious of the change.

    In his post today he says your argument is "example free". That's not the case -- there are examples right on the screen up there above me. For me, it was the coverage of the 3.3.1 change and the stolen iPhone story that made it clear he was, in a way, speaking "for" Apple.

    I used to trust him. Now I don't, really.

  63. I'd just want to quibble a bit about the 'jumping point.'

    Rather than the extended MacBook hack, his more recent breast-beating defense of Apple's questionable strong-armed behavior re: the lost iPhone prototype fiasco is what got me to suspect the shark has indeed been left back aways in the soup by John G, in a prior era a generally conscientious thinker, writer, opinionator.

    The guy's not a legal scholar and I doubt he'd claim any indie expertise in this regard and yet EARLY ON in the ordeal was parroting the legal talking points that law-and-order types were breaking out about how Gizmodo had acted way out of its journalistic bounds and was ever-so-guilty of outrageous criminal activity.

    All this arm-flapping, "sky is falling" hyperbole in context of the actual circumstances: a friggin' cell phone being left in a bar by a drunk employee that wouldn't produce much serious notice from anyone. Still, this stupid incident managed to get folks of all ilk to line up defending one side or the other in a matter that will be utterly, obviously MOOT in a matter of weeks. Then and now.

    What's the BFD, I gotta ask Gruber? But he's gotten quite defensive of late. Like today about this thread.

  64. This post has hit the nail on the head for me. I've been reading daring fireball since it started. I remember reading the opening post that he was going to start running the blog full-time and thinking, "yeah, good luck with that". A month later and it was one of my daily reads. He is an efficient writer and has obviously dedicated a lot of effort into his work.

    And despite being a tempered Apple fanboy myself (★), I started to get occasionally annoyed by his pro-apple blinkers a few months before the iPhone 3G release. I remember he dismissed the idea of 3G chips being ready for public use because of power requirements despite dozens of 3G models in Europe with less powerful batteries than the iPhone running 3G with better battery life than the iPhone. It was just an obvious case of pertinent facts being omitted to allow his defence of Apple lagging the competition. It was pointless and irritating, pointless to try and twist the truth when your audience is almost by definition tech-literate, and irritating to have a community voice reveal an ugly bias.

    Ever since the anti-flash crusade by Apple these occasional niggles have turned into a near ubiquitous discord. It's the vilification of Adobe, the near unquestioning support of every questionable decision by Apple, and a dismissive attitude to almost any criticism of Apple. They don't render the majority of his views any less correct, but they do reveal a shallowness to his overall game that wasn't visible to me before, and that does make his views and thoughts much less interesting to me now. The phrase 'jumping the shark' is pretty juvenile, but fits perfectly to how I feel about DF these days.

    ★ - I already confessed to being a fanboy, but my love for most Apple gear has been tempered over the years by the dozens of mis-steps by Apple. The fact that my macbook pro is falling apart after a few years while my G4 titanium is still going strong does piss me off, the shoddy workmanship of my last iPhone (and... 3 ipods) also makes me tend to be a little more cynical about today's Apple than I was a decade ago.

    And things like this;

    just chip away at that Apple love every damn time, and these days they happen all the damn time. In the last few years Apple has lost a lot of attraction for me, no small contribution perhaps to my next phone being an N900 and my next PC probably running something with a penguin.

  65. “There's a conspiracy joke in here somewhere.”

    As seems to have come from Rounders, “if you look around the table and can't tell who the sucker is, it's you.”

    Just what we need: the technosphere devolving into shouting matches between Birthers, Eco-terrorists and an independently irresponsible cheerleading squad playing, “let's you and him fight.”

  66. This is pretty thin gruel. Gruber may unapologetically love Apple, but that's because he unapologetically loves Apple. There's nothing about his facts or his arguments that have changed in recent months, what's changed is that the perception of Apple as the "cool" nearly "underdog" player in the consumer electronics market has all but disappeared. The author seems to be projecting this change in perspective onto Gruber, not the other way around.

  67. Out of curiosity, how do those of you who are fans of thief scum sleep at night? When your house is burgled or your wallet stolen, do you say "hey, oh well!"

    It's beyond comprehension (and immediately lets anyone with ethics and a brain know that your opinions on anything are worse than worthless).

  68. I've read Daring Fireball for years and in my opinion, Gruber has been a persistent source of sharp commentary on a range of subjects I care deeply about. Calling John an Apple fan, or even "fanboy," may be completely accurate but it misses the point.

    Gruber has an uncanny ability to understand and explain the actions of a hugely important and hugely secretive company. John defends Apple tooth and nail when he agrees with them, and criticizes them with equal fervor when he disagrees (recent examples include App Store rejections and AT&T partnership). Whatever its faults may be, Apple is a company with profound vision and unparalleled execution. It makes sense that a man as sharp as John would be on the same page.

    As Mr. Windsor above me said, for me, John Gruber is one of a very special class of tech commentators—along with Ihnatko and Siracusa—whose work I read religiously whether I agree with them or not. I make it my business to stay abreast of the tech world and few sources have been as consistently worthwhile for me as Mr. Gruber's Daring Fireball.

  69. Oh, so that's where Dave Chappelle went! You, sir, aren't sharp enough to criticize George Will.

  70. I don't see Gruber changing much. To take one sentence, and blow it into a trend resulting in shark jumping is kind of jumping the shark. Glass hosues and all that rot.

    Gruber is pretty much the same he's always been. It's harder to see maybe because his voice is being joined in by others as Apple becomes more mainstream. It's not the "outsider" chic it's been in the past. Not a way to differntiate one's self as in the past.

    So I really don't buy the argument that Gruber has changed. He makes me mad sometimes and is wrong on some subjects (Yankees) but in the end, he's still one of the most relaible bloggers to bring up the right topics at the right time. He finds a lot of interesting stuff I miss otherwise that nobody else seems to be picking up.

    In the end, I'm only here because he linked to it. I'm not likely to come back after reading this milqutoast critique. There's a lot more to the web than one blogger flinging stones at another.

  71. It's funny that supposedly reasonable people think that anybody is a blind Apple zealot if they didn't condone Gizmodo's extortion and condemn Apple's protection of its IP (as any company would do). Considering that these seem to be the people who are most critical of Gruber, and this is the very reason they are, it's more of a compliment to earn their disrespect.

  72. Someday I hope to be influential enough where 70 strangers discuss whether or not I've jumped the shark. If you're not rubbing someone the wrong way, you're irrelevant.

  73. I agree like 40930392048203843% with what you say, I've been having the EXACT SAME FEELING! he's just pissing me off now

  74. The "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way" jumped out at me, too. It's not just you.

  75. Gruber is not a writer, he is a Steve's stenographer.

  76. What he has done lately that drives me nuts is the regular and not mentioned editing of posts. He really ought to get all of his thought together before hitting "submit".

  77. Yesterday I finally got around to hanging my print of iA's Web Trend Map 4 on my wall, and I noticed something peculiar. Who is in the middle? John Gruber and Daring Fireball. So I pulled out my ruler to check, and he's not just in the middle, he's at the geometric center.

    There is a lot of noise in the world of tech. To sort out the fanboys from the experts, pay attention to how much is based on facts, examples, and well reasoned arguments. I've been reading DF since just before Gruber went full-time with it, and I can confidently say that when he writes about his primary subject, Apple, the Web, and technology, he has always based it on facts, given specific examples, and used logical arguments. That's not to say that he's never wrong, but when he realizes it he admits it.

    If you want to accuse Gruber of being a fanboy, then look to his secondary subjects: Kubrick, the Yankees, and Star Wars. On these topics he displays his unconditional fanboy love, and makes no attempt to disguise it.

    iA put John Gruber at their center of the Web, and I agree with their decision. If you want to sort through the spin and the misinformation and understand Apple, the Web, and the world of tech, one of the best places to start is at Daring Fireball.

  78. Really? You stopped trusting him because of "what is probably an offhand comment"? What exactly did you trust him on in the first place? Did you trust him to pick your car? Your wife? Your child's name?
    Stop reading so much into it. It's a Blog, not News. I check out his RSS feed because it provides me with something interesting to take my mind away from being at work. Is there anyone here who has EVER trusted him complicity on anything? If he said to name your kid "JG" do you think there is anyone on the planet that would actually do it? Stop giving him so much power over your life. It makes you sound spineless.

  79. What I've noticed in reading for many years is that there is a marked increase in his linking to things that mention him by name.

  80. I must admit that the one line you mention specifically was the one that really caught my attention, too. I'm surprised how much I've been turning that line over in my head the past day or so.

    Thanks for making me feel a little less isolated in that!

  81. "his defenses and promotion of Apple have seemed more zealous"

    I have noticed that too. I like reading his posts less than before. Especially his one-liners are kind of crappy. It's either "he get's it" or "he doesn't get it"...

  82. Ultimately an interesting discussion. Thoughtful points on all side, remarkably little name calling despite the personal nature of the topics under discussion.

    Here are my entirely pedantic comments on word usage:
    @McGraw and @Anonymous - it's not "tow the line," it's "TOE the line" (

    And @Anonymous - your interest wasn't "peaked," nor was it "peeked." It was "piqued." Trust me. Or look it up.

  83. I agree with your sentiments 100%. I'm a huge fan of both Apple and Daring Fireball but more than occasionally recently John Gruber seems to be assuming that Apple Can Do No Wrong, and that anyone who dares question Apple must (by definition) be either wrong or stupid, or both. He's not doing either himself or his readers any credit with that attitude.

  84. Thanks for writing this post, I've been feeling the same way as well.

    Many of the comments suggest you should treat Daring Fireball as just an opinion blog, but when Gizmodo happened Gruber wrote lots of posts about journalism ethics (specifically "Journalists are those who commit journalism, regardless of medium.") It seemed he was holding himself to a higher standard - and before Gizmodo, I felt he was.

    Now, between his defence of 3.3.1, taking days to cover the Foxconn suicides (when's the last time mainstream media beat Gruber to an Apple story?) and today's attack on Opera & defence of Apple's HTML5 Safari-only "standards" demo... it feels like Daring Fireball is a selective pro-Apple opinion blog. I'd hoped for more. (I feel Ihnatko is more balanced, even though he's clearly an Apple fan too.)

    I don't want to be too negative, as Gruber does a great job of sifting through the important stories of the day, and his blog is free. I doubt he enjoys people writing negative comments about him across the web either. But I do feel Daring Fireball has gone downhill, that disappoints me, and I had been thinking of unsubscribing.

    So just wanted to say, you're not the only one who thinks it has jumped!

  85. Hey, the new AT&T dataplans are a great thing for me. They will save me $45 a month on our 3 iPhones.

  86. If you are critiquing someone, you should be able to compare him/her to someone else, not to himself. Since when I change wrong? It is just your "opinion" or "taste" that he is changing for the worst.
    Please, do us a favor and tell us whom if not Mr. Gruber?

  87. I'm not sure why it is a surprise to anyone that someone who writes a blog *about Apple* is deeply interested in understanding what it is that makes Apple tick and why it takes a given decision. A lot of the comments here read along the lines of, "I don't agree with everything that Gruber says, so he's clearly gone downhill" or "he took a position on issue X that I completely disagree with, meaning that he's biased/a zealot/on Apple's payroll".

    He writes what I think many people would agree is a thoughtful, insightful blog. He analyzes issues based on his own judgement and knowledge, just as any of us do. Absent some specific examples (and the original post is woefully example-free beyond one clearly out-of-context quote), what we have left is a general *feeling* about the author's intentions that you'd have to fairly admit could be as much based on one's own selective filters and biases and reading comprehension as any other explanation. I think it says more about the reader's attitudes and preconceptions to generalize about the quality of the blog or the integrity of the author (as many commenters have done) rather than "I disagree with him on X for this well-thought-out reason."

  88. It's great how when dickhead Gruber gets intimidated by a post like this, he sends his band of douchebag followers off to stick up for him by posting the link to this post on his blog. And like little lapdogs, they did. I can't decide who's the bigger tool: Gruber or his sheeplike followers.

    He's been the most petty asshole ever over the Gizmodo thing. Why? Because people who like the ones who write for Gizmodo/Engadget/Wired/etc have infinitely more credibility than he ever will and his jealousy over it kills him. Sure, he has a hardcore following of mindless sheep, but it's just not the same.

    Fuck him. Greasy-haired twat.

  89. ...and why does he [John Gruber] hate Gizmodo so much?, I dont read his blog anymore

  90. How can people be ignoring Gruber's biggest fault - he's a Yankee fan!

  91. That line jumped right off the page at me too. You're not getting an unbiased opinion from someone who dismisses their detractors out of hand like that. Bad tell, Gruber.

  92. The more nerveous competition crap I read, the more Apple biased stuff I read too. So I keep reading Gruber more and more.

  93. Gruber took a pretty strong and strident stance concerning Gizmodo's actions. Disagree with him if you want, but that doesn't mean he is obliged to even-handedly handle every topic of the day with care and delicacy lest he offend or outrage someone who sees the issue differently. It doesn't even mean that he is wrong.

    Gizmodo can look after themselves -- they have their own giant website on which to do it, too. They don't need your outrage, as though calling Gruber a "greasy-haired twat" does anything except point out how subjective and gut-based this entire pointless discussion is. They can also hire a lawyer just like anybody else who is accused of committing a criminal act.

  94. John (and those he links to) are often very much misinformed on many topics relating to the mobile industry - so much so that they tend to blame the wrong people or make bad assumptions based on their very limited knowledge.

    The problem is that calling him out would probably break a lot of NDA's - which means that no-one does and he gets away with it.

  95. I've been a regular reader of DF for several years now, and have attempted to engage John every so often on issues where I thought his argument missed the point, whether unintentionally or willfully. Lately—by which I mean over the past six to nine months or so—it has become clear to me that his misses almost invariably fall in the latter category.

    (As but one example: I sent him a few links about Foxconn. He waited three or four days until he could find an article supporting Foxconn and rejecting, out of hand, the argument that something was really going wrong there [and whose arguments I personally found largely unpersuasive], then linked to that one as his first thought on the matter.)

    More generally, I've never once seen an example where he conceded a substantial point with the same vigor as he made the original assertion. Not ever. When he does criticize Apple, which lately has been limited almost exclusively to App Store rejections, he does so firmly, but respectfully. When he criticizes Apple critics, on the other hand, it's "jackass" this and "claim chowder" that. I used to be a somewhat smug know-it-all like that back in high school, too... until I realized that most people couldn't stand to be around me, the schadenfreude act got old pretty quickly, and acting like an adult instead of a contemptuous brat was actually not a bad thing to look into.

    What it boils down to, really, is objectivity. I have no problem (and, indeed, a great deal of admiration) for people who make forceful points and back them up with solid evidence, whatever the subject matter. I have much less respect, though, for those who obstinately and asymmetrically cling to one (predictable) side of any given issue, giving little or no quarter to any countervailing arguments. It reeks of arrogance, and it's boring.

    Until recently, I used to find DF both informative and entertaining, but now the only online commentator I can think of whose arrogance exceeds John's is Cory Doctorow. I removed BB from my RSS feeds a long time ago and never looked back. As of today, DF is gone, too.

  96. Gruber is not only enraged by Gizmodo, he is bashing them so often it is clear he is sadistically enjoying it ..

  97. Perfect post, Hank!

    Jeremy Horn
    The Product Guy

  98. Bang on.

    I'm fairly left-wing, as I think is Gruber, but I wouldn't doubt the worth of the market as a reflection of people's opinions. The sheer number of people here saying "I used to enjoy DF until three months ago" tells you something.

    For me it was Flash. I actually considered setting up a mirror of DF that excluded any posts matching "Adobe" or "Flash", so predictable had he become.

    Now I do some Flash development inter alia, so I figured it was just a personal dislike. Maybe the rest of the world likes him and I'm just pigheaded. But: no. The comments above suggest there are 50 different ways in which parroting the Apple line is starting to grate: for me it's Flash, for someone else it's the App Store, for someone else it's DRM. Whatever.

    He's a talented writer. I hope that he reads this (and I suspect he will) and reflects on the fact that he became popular because he was _original_. People read Daring Fireball because no-one else was offering that level of commentary, and because you enjoyed the diversions: typography, the Yankees, a bit of politics.

    That's all been lost. He's becoming a one-trick pony. Right now, he's aligned himself with Apple so closely that you could get the same insight from reading TUAW, and that saddens me.

  99. "I really used to enjoy conservative commentator George Will on the show. I liked him because I felt like he was a conservative who followed logic and reason and would tell the truth as he saw it, regardless of ideology. He was willing to criticize Republicans as well as Democrats, and that gave him extra credibility in my mind"

    I think that you've made a rookie mistake here. George Will cannot have been both "willing to tell the truth as he saw it" and free of "ideology". I'll presume that you meant to say that he was free of partisanship - something else entirely. No-one is free of ideology, unless they're in a vegetative state.

  100. Nice emotional piece. Are you sure your not a republican?
    taking a quote out of context and then claiming false outrage is a common playbook tactic for people who don't have facts to back them up.

    Gruber hasn't changed, but being anti-Apple has started to become fashionable with nerds. Google controls search, imagine how well they'd Astroturf™? Any slightly positive Apple story and you'll see how well they get the unwashed masses screaming "APPLE IS CLOSED & EVIL, ANDROID IS OPEN and GOOD!".

    How many of you Android FanBois rooted your phone? LOL That open OS can only install apps on the marketplace until you do - and rooting invalidates your carrier support. It's kinda like jailbreaking the iPhone - Oh no.. Wait…It's EXACTLY like jailbreaking an iphone.

    So I don't think Gruber changed… I think the Anti-Apple crowd got dumber and completely taken in by Google's BS.

  101. I am posting as another anomymous, xyz or yyz, because it was the only one click option.
    But hey, users are funny people, individuals even.
    So are readers.
    Read him again, calmer this time.

  102. I think your insight is excellent, Hank.
    I deeply appreciate your writings.

  103. You're absolutely right. Gruber is someone i associate with ONLY APPLE POSITIVE REVIEWS. I feel like he's steve job's bitch! Thats the feeling i get after every article i read of his and of all the types of articles he writes.

  104. Bullshit. The Republican and Democrat parties switched politically stances and ideology some time after the civil war. (I'm sorry, I don't know when.) In other words, that was a wholly different Republican party that helped Black Americans.

  105. Oh and re who's evil... Any company who claims to be open but whose share prices are around $500 can't be all that open. Google is no more open, despite the pretense, than Apple is. I'm like Andrew Dice Clay: I hate Apple, Google, and Microsoft equally. Well, almost equally, with a slight tendency towards Apple, as a fan of their products but not their policies

  106. The Darling Furball is obviously on Apple's payroll.

  107. "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way."

    Are you so simple that you cannot understand what this means? Or do you not live on the internet, if so, you are forgiven.

  108. Wow, all these comments about how DF is Steve's stenographer, and not one specific, clear example. Just that one out-of-context line in the original post. Great work.

  109. So, for openers I'm a Black Conservative that has been using Apple products since 1987.

    Most of the anti-Gruber comments are about how people "feel" about Gruber's analysis. I don't hear much of anything actually refuting his arguments. This is because he is usually extremely trenchant.

    I agree that there is victim-turned-oppressor vibe going on in tech discussions about Apple: meaning when they were the struggling "boutique" computer shop, fighting against the imperial Microsoft, they got the sympathetic press. Now that they have risen from the dead and are a determined, confident commercial computing power it is chic to cast them as evil-intentioned.

    Well the neat thing about a free, market-based economy is that no one is forcing you to consume Apple's or Gruber's product. You are free to vote with your bucks or your clicks. The market will decide the value of Gruber's blog. And it looks like to me that "business is a'boomin'."

    Back to my first sentence: I say all this as a guy who despises Gruber's politics (I agree with "Anonymous" above regarding the history of Democrats in America) and wish he would stick to tech topics... but I read him twice a day anyway. I've determined his value to me -- even after discounting it due to his reflexive liberalism.

    By the way, the current Democrat party is nowhere near moderate -- that would have been JFK's Democrats -- and George Will hasn't changed; maybe you have?

    JWH in Delaware

  110. John Gruber is what? An Apple critic? When was the last time he criticized Apple? His head is up in Steve Jobs' ass

  111. Gruber didn't jump the shark, he's just holding Fonzy's pants while he raves about reinventing the web.

  112. The article has no substance. Some of the comments beyond belief. Scum? Really?

    From what I'm reading, I think a lot of people don't get what Gruber is doing. He's primarily analyzing Apple, making predictions, occasional judgements. For Gruber to think Apple is making a wise choice *for them* is not apologizing, or evangelizing. It's analysis.

  113. I noticed the same thing during his long series of posts trying to show Gizmodo as criminal with new iPhone. The way he approached the entire subject seemed as if he were trying to persuade a grand jury and not speaking to real people about a largely irrelevant topic (anyone who would argue that his entire sphere, Apple news, isn't irrelevant in the grand scheme is a fool). He seemed as if he were standing on a table shrieking "Gizmodo is teh bad", rather than simply covering the facts, he was trying to act as if he's a lawyer citing statues and such as if he truly understands them in a legal, rather than logical, context. During that sequence, he really showed his douchiness.

  114. Man I knew it wasn't just me,

  115. Which is worse, shark jumping or link baiting?

  116. So JG is critical of Apple re: it's App Store policies and its partnership with AT&T.

    That's a Profile in Courage if I ever saw one. At least the inane Mac OS-UI-element-as-real-person, i.e. Brushed Metal, skits stopped a long time ago

  117. Well Hank,

    I guess that mentioning Gruber and Daring Fireball in your blog is one way of increasing your hits - I note that Google Tends shows that he has about ten times the number of hits that you do...

  118. A co-worker and I were talking about this just the other day. I've been reading DF for well over a year and HAD enjoyed his good writing and insight...but it seems over the last 3-4 months that he has totally moved into a completely defending Apple mode. I agree with others here that it seems that once Jobs mentioned him...he got stars in his eyes and now won't say anything negative about Apple. Look at his recent stances:

    1. Wont say one good thing about Android. Its not as nice as iPhone but any rational nerd can find 3-4 great things about the android platform (I have a Nexus one, iPhone 3G and iPad)
    2. Wont say one nice thing about Adobe Flash. I don't miss it, but I would admit that it DOES annoy me when I often run into websites that don't work on the iphone.
    3.Is so incensed about the Gizmodo iPhone he is taking it personal or something. It wrong to continually call Gizmodo thieves and demanding prison time. I've read everything on this story and haven't seen anything that makes me believe Gizmodo knew (as you claim) that it was buying stolen property.

    I'm convinced he is angling for a Apple Marketing job.

  119. "I don't hear much of anything actually refuting his arguments."

    Well, the first example that springs to mind is when he happily regurgitated the notion that open source compilers don't exist for Flash. Er, fail.

  120. Im absolutely sure Ive exchanged no fewer emails with Steve Jobs than Gruber has in his life. And I dont post jobs responses on my "blog", insightful...not negative.

    But I think you have to look at Gruber as the quintessential fanboy. Not of Apple but of Mac.

    This new wave of Apple has nothing to do with Mac and the strategy is foreign, even if it seems eerily familiar. Defending Apple to a fault is Steve's ahem Job.

    Gruber would be better off writing about technology hobbies and getting out of the PR business. He does a shitty job of defending apple anyway and he needs to seriously get out more.

  121. Good lord - you've got quite an ego. You spend 99% of your post trying to justify your position - and in doing so drop WAY to much information about yourself. What does it matter if you are a Democrat, no longer like George Will, prefer Miracle Whip over real Mayo etc.?
    Instead of pumping yourself up and trying to stir up controversy over one or two statements from Gruber - why don't you systematically deconstruct what he has said (using more than one sentence of one post) and actually post something worth reading?
    Or maybe it's just easier to take potshots at people who have earned their position on the web by throwing out trite sayings like "Jumped the Shark" Weak

  122. I don't see the change as full-blown, just limited to iPhone v Android. I think it's because that's a market where Apple is entrenched, and Google is newcomer.

    What follows is pure speculation on my part, but I think he resents Google's current ability to get away with projecting themselves as the brash young rebels while they paint Apple as the evil empire (we all know that in the Mac universe that role has been owned by MS, so applying it to Apple is doubly offensive). And that resentment seems to color everything he says on that subject.

    This means anytime someone brings up a flaw in iPhone, the discussion immediately turns to whether other phones also have that flaw, as if it's not a flaw if another phone shares it. (Reminiscent of the car mechanic's "They all do that." Well, if they all do that, then they all should be fixed.) He moves the discussion from an absolute scale to a relative one. Whether Android does something better than iPhone is irrelevant to a discussion of whether iPhone gets something wrong. And that point seems to completely escape him these days.

    It's as if he feels a satisfactory answer to "Apple needs to improve iPhone with x" is "Android doesn't do x". He doesn't seem to realize the two points are orthogonal, and wants to redefine any criticism of iPhone into a claim that Android is better, which claim he then refutes. Maybe it's because he's afraid a discussion of iPhone's flaws will tarnish the phone in the marketplace, and he wants to make sure Android gets tarnished just as much, I don't know.

    But it's that attitude that's been making him harder for me to read.

  123. He refers to this:

    Some insightful comments responding to Hank Williams’s example-free argument that I’ve “jumped the shark”. -

    after writing this:

    Matt Warman wins the race as the first major technology writer to trash the unreleased next-generation iPhone, sight unseen. Unsurprisingly, (by my count) nine of his ten reasons are factually wrong. -

    If he doesn't want to be accused of jumping the shark, he might want to practice what he preaches. I used to enjoy his writing as the ultimate Apple Fanboy. But the attacks of anyone who would dare to question the Word of the Jobs has gotten a bit old of late.

    Oh, and as a Republican and a Conservative, I have always considered George Will one of those old line Establishment types that the media loved to trot out as example of the Right but that most of us generally saw as moderate Democrats. Between that and his obsession with Baseball, I lost interest in anything he had to say a very long time ago.

  124. I've only started reading Gruber's posts recently, so I can't comment on what they were, but I definitely think he's sometimes a bit disingenuous. Most recent example was the whole Google I/O brouhaha. There were just several posts going up on daringfireball were he claimed so and so was making factually inaccurate comments when only the most pessimistic reading of those comments would make that so. If you want to be debate seriously, you need to give your opponent the benefit of the doubt.

    Mostly, I read Gruber because, when a new Apple product comes out, he's usually a very good analyst of where it will go. If Apple makes a certain decision, he's mostly been bang on the money about why and why that will help them as a company (and criticising the occasional faux move). Where him and I don't see eye to eye is that in those cases where I believe Apple is making decisions that are fundamentally not in the long term interest of their customers, he seems to believe that whatever will make Apple more successful goes. This blind devotion to the company is probably what rubs so many people the wrong way.

    Also, after a while all the snark (the man is _mean_) really gets to you. Sometimes I just have to stop clicking those links, cause I like to live in a slightly friendlier universe.

  125. First you attack Gruber contending he's biased. Then you clearly identify yourself as a biased left-wing political hack. I say please stop it with the nonsense.

    Gruber's a bit like the star of on old western TV series who used to say, "If it's fact then it ain't bragging."

    Gruber is usually on the money with his commentary. His opinions are definitely his own. He's not controlled by Apple's PR department.

    If you want to read a truly biased blog I would refer you to Ed Bott's Windows blog or Paul Thurrott's Windows Supersite. These guys have their blinders firmly in place and heads buried deep in the sand.

    If you want to see biased reporting about politics you should stay away from George Will and tune into any of the following: PBS, MSNBC, CNN, Pacifica Radio,,, TheDailyKos, or you could watch a Michael Moore movie.

  126. Hank, thanks for writing this! I find myself in the same position. Mac user since the '80s, highly elated when Steve Jobs returned to the helm, and longtime reader of John Gruber's blog.

    But lately he just apologised for Apple one too many times. The hairs he is willing to split simply to put Apple on the right side of some issue (even if that issue ends up being so narrowly defined that it's essentially irrelevant) have become harder and harder to swallow. And the worst is, the moment he has found a way to fully or partially excuse Apple for some new armtwisting of its users, that's where the article stops. Every time now. No looking at the larger moral issues, no looking at the big picture, the impact of Apple's decisions on the culture at large. No concern for 'tinkerers' at all, and barely even any concern for artists. The moment he's found what he believes is a technicality letting Apple off the hook, he's got his post, and that's where he writes to, and that's where it stops.

    I have lost all my respect for the man as a journalist, and no longer visit Daring Fireball regularly, and in truth I now believe that my former opinions of him were overrated and more based on his well-spokenness rather than any real intellectual honesty towards Apple on his part, which judging from just how far into darkness he is willing to follow Apple, never really existed at all.

  127. @ Dave


    Yeah, because you know that only Fox News provides the truthiness that you feel in your guts, don't you? Idiot.

  128. So, for openers I'm a Black Conservative

    Well, you're off to a bad start there in convincing people that you can add 2 plus 2, aren't you?

  129. I think your argument strained all credulity the moment you decided to use the political discourse analogy. You actually believe George Will was once a man who made a forthright, intellectually honest arguments for sound ideas? Blinded by the bow tie, maybe? Sure, it was easier for him to appear "reasonable" in 1988 when a Republican was in the White House, but today George Will is really just the same guy he always was, only the more desperate version.

    Let's face it: Apple has always had plenty of critics. In fact, I believe it's fair to say that most of the writing, reporting, and general public observation concerning Apple is critical. It always has been, and always will be, as far as I am able to tell. And there have been legions of observers who can run Apple better than Apple can. Just ask them . . .

    And Gruber? Could it be that people inside Apple care what he has to say? Has this gone to his head? Has he "jumped the shark?" Well, no—he's the same guy. He has a successful blog. He writes facts and opinions. He does this carefully. You are free to disagree, but your disagreement with either Apple or Gruber (they have separate concerns) is not proof that you are correct.

  130. Gruber is a smart, measured and often witty commentator, but if you want him at his irrational best, look not for Apple apologia, but his vacant WordPress sneers and attacks (themselves stand-ins for animus towards the GPL, I think).

  131. Adding a link to one of my posts that provides an example of Gruber's strange attitude towards WordPress:

  132. As a commenter noted above, Gruber hasn't jumped the shark, Apple has. No more underdog, they are the big dog.

  133. Balanced, Shmalanced. I tire of this nonsense. The overwhelming majority of things Apple does are still on the up and up, and still done with an eye to what is best for their customers, even when that means restricting the platform. The difference between now and 10 years ago is that Apple is in the news nearly *every* *single* *day*! And the tech press cannot go for any more than an hour without referencing, talking about or rumour mongering about Apple. And that's all it is: people are just tired of hearing about Apple.

    Well I'm sorry, but that has nothing to do with whether Apple has become *Evil* (which is just bullshit from the sad shills that bet the farm on Microsoft), or whether it's walled garden makes it an oppressive company (because the Xbox, PS3 and the Wii have been such miserable failures).

  134. I've been feeling exactly the same way for a while now. It's not so much what Gruber's saying as how he's saying it. It's all the little things that build up over time and generate an overall impression that he's reached some sort of zealot tipping point.

    For example a recent headline:
    "Google Chrome for Mac Disregards Accessibility"

    It's not so much what Gruber says here, but the use of "Disregards". Really? Hasn't Apple shipped products without accessibility (iPhone OS)? Wasn't that ok? And if you read the comments on the blog Gruber links to you'll see Google had good technical reasons for this decision, but these are never mentioned by Gruber.

    So one example, which for me seems to step over the line of balanced reporting. There are others, and it's the cumulative effect which is the problem.

  135. If you like Gruber's comments, he is a good guy.
    If you do not like Gruber's comments and stances, then he is the Devil.

    If you stand with Google's we are here to take over the world and get rid of Apple's oppression, … Gruber is Evil.


    Then why he post the link?

  136. "Hasn't Apple shipped products without accessibility"

    A google search for "iPhone accessibility" took 0.16 seconds. How incredibly informed your opinions must be that taking two-tenths of a second to verify them was too much bother.

  137. From "Matt Warman wins the race as the first major technology writer to trash the unreleased next-generation iPhone, sight unseen. Unsurprisingly, (by my count) nine of his ten reasons are factually wrong."

    Point (3) is correct, (7) is correct, (8) is partially right in that the antenna design has previously been poor and (hopefully) has now been resolved in the fourth version and (9) is correct.

    So by my count, that's 4 (or maybe 3.5). Either John can't count or his fanboyism is blinding him.

  138. 2Anonymous from June 8, 8:09 AM

    By my account as you pointed IS a personal stance.

    Truth is nobody_s flag.
    I believe he can explain to you WHY.
    Can you prove what you wrote, bebore insulting anonymously?

  139. "June 4, 2010 7:00 PM" Is right on the money, this is how I feel precisely. His criticism of others is sharp and visceral while the occasional criticism of Apple is stated neutrally.

    Where I think the problem lies is this: with Apple's dominance, it is clear the company has taken on a pattern of abusive actions. Gruber treats each criticism (where undeniable) individually and dispassionately, without any consideration of the trend of Apple toward "evil."

    "June 5, 2010 3:35 AM" is John Gruber.

  140. 2 Anonymous from June 8, 2010 8:09 AM

    Better tell lies for love than hate.

    If it was fanboyism that blinded Gruber, then it was hate that blinded that writer.

    By your own account, missing 2 and missing 6 as the author of that article did, WHAT is worst?

    Apple is tiny and it does not fear being tony.
    Greedy means embracing all.

    So who is greedy, or you think greed is good?

  141. Hank's right to question the overall tone and treatment on DF rather than list a handful of examples. This comment bugged me in the same way that the "iPhone critics" comment bugged him:

    "Until they figure out a way to make AMOLED visible in daylight, they’re not even in the game."

    Since reading it, I've been struggling to understand what the phrase "not even in the game' can possibly mean here.

    It could just be a blustery way of saying "does not compete in the marketplace". Only that's not true. There are a number of devices with AMOLED screens that are doing very well.

    It could mean that AMOLED screens are "not even in the game" of being readable in sunlight. The phrase appears in exactly that context. But while it's true that AMOLED screens struggle in bright sunlight, it's not true that this isn't also a problem on TFT-LCDs.

    Anyone who's tried reading an iPad in bright daylight will know that you have to resort to the artificial darkness of a cupped hand to see what's going on. So to say that one technology beats the other to the extent that they're not even in the same game is clearly overdoing it.

    It seems like the only game John has in mind is the game of apples versus androids he's playing in his head. Which is nice for John (go apples! peow! peow!) but it's not exactly journalism.

  142. Off topic but - FYI Obama HASN'T shown a birth certificate and the ARE death panel provisions in Obamacare.

  143. I think we've just created a solid new metric for blog measurement: mention birthers and death panels, and see how many comments it takes before reality-impaired trolls weigh in on the issue.

    Whydoeseverythingsuck gets a 143.

  144. I've been an Apple user for 20 years now. I used to read Gruber's blog but now it's just impossible. He worships Apple and they can do no wrong.

  145. When's your next back page of Macworld?

    -- James Gowan

  146. He has not attained Nirvana but some of the people following him ask reverentially towards him and it is disgusting to see a CEO of a multi-million dollar company act like any human being has the powers of an Oracle. He has made some awesomely prescient points on the industry but more often than not, the point has been made before and since he comes off as that sort of snarky exceptionalism, I'm just not interested.

  147. Gruber is an Apple fanboi who cannot think independently.

  148. "Writing tip: using the word “fanboi” was never cool, never smart, never clever, and *never* strengthens an argument."

    Agree completely. Anyone who resorts to such tired drivel has forfeited the right to criticize someone else's perspective. (Or, for that matter, to be taken seriously on any subject.)

  149. "This week, “king of the fanboys” John Gruber and Apple evangelist Shawn King were instrumental to an online witch hunt that eventually included threats of violence toward a female blogger.";content


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.