When Tech Experts Pick Nits To Justify Existence

Well today is a most historic day….as the iPad 2 is already on sale on line and local stores here will begin selling around 5PM CT.  Our own intrepid OWC Chris will be standing in line to bring you unboxing photos and iPad 2 mania stories later today and next week..

Can you remember back in April 2010 when 300K units sold first day? 14.8 million have been sold since….some impressive numbers for sure.

But the iPad 2 looks to eclipse both those benchmarks. Expert analysts are projecting 600K units to sell today and 30 million units to sell between April 2011 and March 2012.

Early reviews by leading Apple centric media give it a resounding thumbs up.

But as one might expect, controversy has entered the arena.

Seems as though tech guru extraordinaire Walt Mossberg in his review of the iPad 2 had to find the slightest aspects in which to ding the new tablet.

And plugged into the Apple world goings on like no other, John Gruber,…well, he takes Walt to task on his opinions.

So we started asking ourselves, as a manufacturer that regularly interacts with reviewers and their sometimes questionable takes on our products, does one really need to find fault however small or personally perceived just to appear unbiased? Here’s a few of the OWC Blog team takes on the subject. And to keep things interesting, we’ll ask you for your opinion at the end too!

OWC Grant

As one of my roles is that of PR manager, I’m pretty close to this subject. And it is hard not to take some “observations” as an affront to your intelligence or at least sensibilities when the product has not been used correctly, not compared to other relevant technologies, or other grossly inaccurate/unfounded representations of the product itself are proposed. For example, one reviewer put an iPad into our NewerTech NuStand in a completely inaccurate position and then proceeded to pan the product…despite being told of their improper action AS WELL AS that any other stand on the market would suffer the same outcome….tipping over. Heck, our own OWC Larry went on a fact finding mission to all sorts of retail stores, employed the same “test criteria” and found the same result of all stands and sent me the iPhone video to prove it.

Bottom line….when someone sets out to find fault, there’s not much anyone, even a manufacturer can do about it. So a big NAY….you don’t have to find fault just to be unbiased. If you truly dig something, tell the world. If mankind told others everyone of our our minor dislikes and/or irritations, man…..not sure anyone…or any product would be left standing ;-)

OWC Chris S.

I can never be accused of being an iPad fanboy. I’ve gone rounds with Mike H. on OWC Radio about the merits of the iPad as a computing platform (it isn’t one, it’s a consumption device, just like any web-enabled device out there), ridiculed the masses for frothing at mouth over it, nearly vomited at the promo photo of the little girl hugging the thing, and have been known to scream “OMG! ITS AN APPLE TABLET!!!!” like a 12-year old at a Justin Bieber concert whenever someone in the company pulls out their iPad in the course of a work day.

Yet, at the same time, my criticism has always been—and remains—with the atmosphere around the product and the public perception of what it can do, rather than with the product itself. Take all the hype and “post-PC” nonsense out of the equation, and the iPad was actually a pretty sweet piece of hardware.

Really, the situation is the same with the iPad 2. Look at the specs: faster processor, faster graphics, two cameras, slimmer form factor, and yet has the same battery life. Sounds pretty darn cool to me.

So what the heck was Walt Mossberg thinking with his “criticisms”? “No Flash”? Duh – it’s an iOS device. “Medicore Pictures”? Since when does the embedded camera in ANY device who’s primary purpose ISN’T taking pictures or movies become so vitally important? If you want a video camera – buy a video camera. “The 10-hour battery only lasted 10 hours, nine minutes”? Wait… WHAT?!?!?!

FINAL VERDICT: Mossberg’s reputation for being an Apple fanatic may have led to this sad, shallow attempt at being “fair and balanced.” Unfortunately, rather than actually reviewing the device, it really looks like he was grasping at straws here; perhaps his non-Apple reader base is slipping.

As for the iPad 2 itself—I’ll reserve judgment ‘til I get mine in less than 5 hours… no.. wait.. 4 hours, 59 minutes… no… wait…

OWC Mike H

With all the iPad 2 hoopla and rumors nothing was really a surprise for the iPad 2 announcement other than it would be available within a week. Kudos to Apple for that! I love a good surprise now and then—especially in the rumor-happy environment that revolves around anything Apple.

I’ve long thought that the iPad 2 is the upgrade Apple didn’t have to make, but rather chose to make in order to really put the nail in the coffin of supposed “competitors” to the iPad, and to seal in iPad’s dominance and this awesomely new multi-touch computing era.

While I won’t be upgrading to the iPad 2 to from my original, I think the iPad 2 just builds on an awesome product and (I’ll use Steve’s word here) make the iPad more “magical”. The iPad 2 is a slam dunk—a product that simply couldn’t be recommended enough. I stood by that opinion of the original iPad; the iPad 2 just makes that recommendation easier.

Going against the grain on the iPad is a foolhardy endeavor; just ask the competitors. Sadly, iPad’s biggest competitor isn’t a tablet at all… it’s the e-reader market of the Amazon Kindle. It’s also amazing that a product everyone opined they didn’t see a need for last year at this time, is now the bar which all others only wish they could achieve.

So while many have jumped on board, it’s finally come time for the critics to do what they do… over-exaggerate and sensationalize their editorials by saying “no” when everyone else is saying “yes”. Why would they do this? Advertising. Simple advertising.

Published critics get way more attention and readers saying something against the norm, and essentially becoming a headline-chasing hooligans. It brings in more readers, especially when others comment or rail against your article all over the web. The old adage of, “there’s no such thing as bad press” comes to mind—and advertisers love increased readership numbers.

Here’s some more traffic to you, Wall Street Journal. Enjoy!

Your Opinion

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LEAVE A COMMENT


  • The main criticism is NOT that he criticized an Apple product.

    It’s that he criticized the iPad citing vaporware, incorrect pricing comparisons, and exuding the common but uninformed vitriol those that are anti-iDevice usually extoll on the masses.

    And the battery life thing is just plain weird. He was disappointed with batt life because it went over the 10 hours apple claimed it was. Odd. Maybe Walt was having a bad day or just bending to the pressure of the needed word count.

    Out of all his criticisms, the camera as you mentioned is really his only valid point, and I’d have to concur with you a little… why did they put a lesser camera on there?

    My thought is Apple really didn’t believe a camera was needed for the iPad (hence the original version didn’t come with one)… so they just resourced the iPod Touch camera and you’re seeing what a lower rez camera performs like on a huge screen. OK.. but not great.

    Apple must be doing something right… there’s still a 3-4 week wait as people breathlessly await to get an iPad 2.

    Me…. I’m waiting this version out and keeping my trusty original iPad. I just love the thing.




  • iPad and iPad 2, and the iPod Touches and iPhones before them, are ground-breaking, revolutionary products. That is not to say they are perfect. There is nothing wrong with wondering why Apple would put a phenomenal camera in the iPhone 4, then put a sucky one in the iPod Touch and the iPad 2. Why not spend a few more bucks and give us a 5MP camera?

    I think Mossberg’s a fine reviewer, most of the time. He just wishes he could have everything, like most of us do. I have used Apple products since 1983, and love them, but there are many, many wishes on my list. Next generation, right?




  • It’s funny, but despite being an Apple fan myself in most respects, I’ve always thought of Mossberg as a curmudgeon, and never cared much for his opinions.

    So I’m not really surprised at his being curmudgeonly about the iPad 2, but I think he went overboard with the criticism.

    I’m a hypocrite when it comes to nitpicking in a review, though–it feels unnecessary to me, but I routinely do it myself in movie reviews I write. I do think it’s not *necessary* to be balanced or appear objective, though. It’s a matter of style.




  • I like Mossberg overall as well, and generally just ignore people who hate him as much as they hate Apple. I’m more of a “walk a mile in someone’s shoes before you find fault” type of person. Or at least buy the product and try before being a critic. In reading Walt’s article, as I read it, I was a little surprised he fell victim to some of the overall anti-iDevice fluff like no flash and 4G and so on. It’s one thing to be a tech pundit, but another to be an antagonist.

    The perspective I think Walt’s coming from is he has an original iPad, and 10 months in, he doesn’t want a new one. But I think he’s wrong to view it entirely that way, as a lot of people will be buying their first iPads and simply need to know if the iPad 2 is a solid or better than the next one, without an easily dismissed caveats list which if Walt, with his years of experience, could easily have written better and omitted any fodder. Example: show me one tablet with 4G… how is that an issue.

    Now if he wrote about it like I’ve stated before in a podcast… “for those interested in using 4G, the iPad 2 continues using only the 3G antenna…” then that’s a different case, and a better article. There are people interested in 4G and it’s good to know it’s not offered right now, and not by anyone.

    At issue wasn’t criticism, which since we don’t sell the iPad 2 at all, has no impact on us. Almost no product is perfect and where criticism is warranted it should most certainly be in any journalistic piece.

    However, at issue is Walt’s criticism doesn’t pass the smell test when you take just a little effort to verify Mossberg’s criticisms. Check out Daring Fireball’s counter play by play at:
    http://daringfireball.net/2011/03/bending_over_backwards
    Gruber so easily refutes, as we Mac/Apple people hear this stuff everyday.

    You can’t fix stupid.

    One thing that was very revealing to me in this post though: OWC Chris attends Justin Bieber concerts?! Now that’s news :)




  • Mossberg’s article really seems to me to be a positive review, his complaints albeit small are legitimate. He’s not being heavily critical of the device, just pointing out a few things unfamiliar buyers may want to explore before jumping into tablet computing. His battery life observation was actually complimentary how I read it, the “only 10 hours nine minutes” in comparison to the iPad 1 which earned 11 hours on the same test. ??? It’s a simple comparison for iPad 1 owners wondering if they should upgrade! I think this post is hypocritical and nitpicking of his review, which came across as complimentary and factual how I read it. Also from the review: “As of now, I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.”




  • I read Mossberg’s article and found it to be reasonable. Are you so sensitive that you can’t take any criticism.

    When I read a review, I want to read the good and the bad. I think I am mature enough to handle the bad. The Boston Globe also criticized the front facing camera to be lacking in quality.

    I love reading Mossberg’s reviews and have found them to be spot on and among the best in the business. The nice thing about them is that Mossberg’s critiques, because he is such an important figure, lead to better products.




  • Mosspuppet has more credibility than Mossberg.




  • Unfortunately for Mossberg, he does have to make an obvious attempt to appear unbiased. That’s because he has been little more than an Apple mouthpiece for so long, he has little credibility among most tech journalists. Now, it sounds like his nitpicks are stupid, and that’s something worth criticizing.

    When a reviewer discovers issues with a product, not matter how “trivial,” he should report them, but should also qualify them and “minor” issues if that’s what they are. I think there is a very big difference between being honest and “nitpicking.”