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Why Apple Doesn't Blog - Vaporware 91

Posted by Zonk
from the no-major-nelson dept.
DECS writes "If anyone is still wondering why Apple does not encourage its internal developers to maintain blogs, Roughly Drafted is carrying an example of how the good intentions behind sharing information can result in unpleasant, unintended consequences." From the article: "As customers, we all want to know what's going to happen in the future, but we will also turn around and beat developers with the very information they share with us. One of the terms we hit them with is, of course, vaporware. The other thing about blogs is that written text fails to capture the full range of rich human communication. It's easy to take more offense than is necessary to the wrong choice of words. Minor and casual criticism can quickly ferment into a difficult stink, and attempts to burry it can often just make it worse. Blog entries are like emails that cc: to the entire world."
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Why Apple Doesn't Blog - Vaporware

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:06AM (#17162200)
    Apple may not have an official corporate blogging outlet like some enterprises, but some Apple employees do in fact blog in a (sometimes quasi-)official capacity.

    Dave Hyatt's (now WebKit's) Surfin' Safari [webkit.org] is one notable example of success, with Apple engineers being able to directly blog and communicate with end customers. It has now become a blog for all of WebKit, where other WebKit contributors - some within Apple and some not - can post as well.

    Mac OS forge [macosforge.org] (and the hosted sites within it) is another recent example: Apple engineers, blogging, on servers owned and hosted by Apple. This wouldn't have happened a few years ago, and was a result of responses to community concerns about Apple's interaction with the open source community. (And no, it's still far from perfect, but the interaction is increasing, and that's a good thing.)

    Both of these examples of Apple blogs are also open for comments, something some corporate "blogs" don't allow.

    So are these "official Apple blogs" in every sense of the phrase, or in the vein that the article is intending to discuss? Maybe not, but it represents a lot more openness than Apple ever used to exhibit in this context. And anything greater than zero is "more open". Will Apple ever open up blogging to just anyone or blog about futures and abstract ideas? Unlikely. But there are notable exceptions to the blanket statement that "Apple doesn't blog".
  • A hint (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As customers, we all want to know what's going to happen in the future, but we will also turn around and beat developers with the very information they share with us. One of the terms we hit them with is, of course, vaporware.

    Or, more to the point, Apple doesn't want their customers waiting for the new versions that may have the features that their customers really want. Apple wants their customers buying every release; not just the realeases that have the features that the customers want.

    Apple, the World'

    • Actually, I think they are the second greatest marketer. If they were number one, it'd be Steve with the Borg jewelry on this post instead of the happy Apple symbol.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        No. MSFT has the corporate market and some deluded people buy PCs at home because they think they need to be compatible with the corporate world for some reason. Back in the day, Apple used to rule the home PC market as well with the Apple II. The fact that people have PCs at home have very little to do with the effectiveness of MSFT marketing. Rather, it has everything to do with availability of games and some other niche software.

        I think the GP was referring to consumer devices like the iPod and consume

        • by garote (682822)
          Not exactly. You're right that people having PCs at home has very little to do with the effectiveness of MSFT marketing. Rather, it has everything to do with the low prices and fast development times in the world of PC hardware - and the fact that, 15-20 years ago, PCs catered to the business world FIRST, by a wide margin, and to everyone else second. You say that "deluded people" bought computers because they wanted "corporate compatibility", like that's some kind of hilarious blunder, but PCs were 1 .c
    • by Dekortage (697532)

      "Or, more to the point, Apple doesn't want their customers waiting for the new versions that may have the features that their customers really want. Apple wants their customers buying every release; not just the realeases that have the features that the customers want."

      Oh please. Apple does't force anyone to upgrade, not the way certain other dominant OS companies do. If you jump every time Apple releases a new software version, you are generally on the bleeding edge. Most Apple users -- heck, most comp

  • by 10Ghz (453478) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:21AM (#17162386)
    "Why Apple doesn't blog?", why not ask "Why should Apple blog?". Why is it that everyone takes corporate blogs for granted these days?

    So what would be the answer? "Because everybody is doing it!". "because I want to know what they are up to!". "I love Apple and I want to get constant news and articles about Apple!". Well, none of those are a valid reason for blogs, really.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Blogs are to fanboys what tabloids are to housewives.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Because blogs are a way to reach audiences that are not reached through traditional marketing outlets, they increase the amount of feedback you receive from your customers, and they provide a way to mine your user base for ideas.

      -- Brian Boyko
      -- Professional Blogger.
      • Because blogs are a way to reach audiences that are not reached through traditional marketing outlets, they increase the amount of feedback you receive from your customers, and they provide a way to mine your user base for ideas.

        That is one motivating factor to use a blog. However, this is not sufficient reasoning to justify it. There are reasons not to as well.

        First, if your product developers blog, they may be giving your competition advanced notice of what you are up to much sooner than you otherwise

      • by Omestes (471991)
        Erm... Thats sad... According to Google the average Blog only has 1 reader [nytimes.com]... I don't know if that one person is really worth all the work of getting.

        Seriously though, I don't Apple really needs to worry about this, there are plenty of "non-official" Apple blogs out there, probably more for Apple than any other vender.
      • by Foerstner (931398)
        Because blogs are a way to reach audiences that are not reached through traditional marketing outlets

        Yeah, because Apple has a real problem "reaching audiences." I mean, who ever heard of an iPod? They seem to think that TV commercials and word-of-mouth alone will sell the things.

        they increase the amount of feedback you receive from your customers, and they provide a way to mine your user base for ideas.

        If [macrumors.com] only [mac-forums.com] there [slashdot.org] were [macworld.com] some [macnn.com] website [appleinsider.com] where [lowendmac.com] Apple [applelinks.com] could [thinksecret.com] gather [macintouch.com] user [macminute.com] opinions [macfixit.com] and [ipodlounge.com] feedback [digg.com].

        -- Brian Boyko
        -- Pro
    • by version5 (540999)

      Apple should encourage blogging because openness and transparency are good things. Openness forces a company to behave ethically, which is good for customers but bad for companies. They prefer to keep their customers in the dark because it shifts the risk on to the customer, and when the customer complains, they get routed to professional "customer service" divisions whose job is to deflect criticism and insulate the developers and the rest of the company from the true impact of their decisions.

      What I fin

    • The reason Apple doesn't blog is that they have a unique method of marketing vapour that doesn't work right if the vapours are spreading around uncontrolled. Blogging interferes with the reality distorition field. Apple's litigiousness in instances where 'the smell' has leaked out in the recent past provides evidence of this.

      When you're marketing smoke and mirrors, you need a contained space to do so from.
  • by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:21AM (#17162396)
    Hey look! Someone who can define Apple as uber sneaky/cool by be being secretive and not blogging more BS for him to drool over. Not forgetting the side swipe that Microsoft sells you a future they don't have, and that's vapourware.

    Enough with links to blogs of people who - in Wikipedia terms - are not notable.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      MSFT has been promising an object or database file system since 1993.

      They have yet to deliver for whatever reason.

      It's not technological as BEOS did it in the early 90's and then modified it for improved performance.

      MSFT routinely annouces features and products and either fails to deliver or takes 5 years to do so.

      Apple promises nothing up front, So when they start releasing news on a product you know for a fact that the product in question will have those features. Hence why Apple is building _____Blank r
      • It's not technological as BEOS did it in the early 90's and then modified it for improved performance.

        Part of 'technological' is implementation.

        Be, Inc. could 'turn on a dime' since their userbase was a small group of enthusiasts.

        Why should I 'trust' either company. Both Apple and Microsoft are fronted by marketing shills who want to 'present their product in the best light.' Obviously both groups are going to hype their wares.

        It isn't an either/or proposition. Thank goodness.
  • Microsoft has just released Vista to companies covered by software assurance, in order to prevent lawsuits from irate business customers who were assured that Vista licensing would be included in their prepaid software contracts. Vista is supposed to be shipped to other customers in January of 2007.

    I don't know if I agree with the reasoning. I have never read the SA agreement, but I'm sure it's full of legalese that absolves MS of any liability should they not deliver a new upgrade within 3 years.

    i.e. "S

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      After all, the first SA licenses were back in 2001 when XP was released. Vista is well past the 3 year window. I'm sure if some companies were very upset, there would have been a lawsuit by now.

      Not necessarily. That just means no one actually ever filed suit. But potential lawsuits are not typically reported by the media unless one side or the other makes public statements about the legal threat (or there was a leak).

      Hypothetical: Acme Widgets Corp. buys a SA license in 2001. Microsoft doesn't Vista deli

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:27AM (#17162470) Homepage
    At the 1996 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, the newly-appointed head of developer relations--details of the painful 1996 WWDC are mercifully fading and her name escapes me--said that she had been talking to developers and one thing had emerged as the most important single issue in developer relations.

    Developers, she said, had been begging Apple for one thing: "Tell us what you're going to do. Then do it."

    Avoiding all talk of the future is a seemingly risk-averse strategy, but it carries risks of its own. If a company wants developers to be ready consistently on day one of new-product introductions, they need to have a reliable roadmap.

    Accusations of vaporware are a real problem, but I at least suspect that one of the reaons why companies hate discussions of futures by technical people is that it provides a public record of changes in internal direction, inconsistent decisions by executives, etc. which can be embarrassing to the company.
  • by catdevnull (531283) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:29AM (#17162484)
    Quoth the article:

    "...written text fails to capture the full range of rich human communication. It's easy to take more offense than is necessary to the wrong choice of words. Minor and casual criticism can quickly ferment into a difficult stink, and attempts to burry it can often just make it worse."

    I'm glad that never happens here at Slashdot!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)
      "Minor and casual criticism can quickly ferment into a difficult stink, and attempts to burry it can often just make it worse."

      Worse for everyone, worse for the northern England and Scottish readers, or for everyone but them?

      See burry(3) [webster.com] and burr(n:5a,5b) [webster.com].
    • I failed to include the "[sic]" after "burry." After all, I just "cut and paste."

      Ironically, the replies were a nice punctuation to the author's prophetic but misspelled point.
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:36AM (#17162562) Homepage Journal
    I assume that Apple have always been very keen to keep new products under wraps, because that (and getting as close as possible to 'build to order') means they can sell the last few of a product that's about to be superceded, not to remove accusations of vapourware.

    I'm not sure this is still a wise thing to do when they are entering new markets, as the much rumoured iPhone would do (if it exists). I need a new phone, but I'm holding off until Macworld San Franciso because of the rumours, rather than being tied in to a 12 or 18 month deal on a cometitor's product - which must be good for Apple if the rumours are true, and better if they publically said "we will ship an iPhone soon", as more people would wait.
    • by Intron (870560)
      Compare this to the strategy of a certain large software company that will announce products years early in order to head off competition.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by blugu64 (633729)
        Just so that you guys know I'll be posting a real smart-alek reply to this in about a week or so.
  • Dictionaries are wrong.

    Or more to the point, Dictionaries whose definitions aren't what I think they should be are wrong.

    What a Moron.
    • by ozbird (127571)
      Dictionaries are wrong.

      ... but unlike TFA's author, they spell "bury" correctly.
    • by honkycat (249849)
      The definition in the dictionary he quoted, while not strictly *wrong*, was certainly incomplete. As he points out, the term "vaporware" has a connotation that goes deeper than simply meaning not-yet-released. I've only ever seen it used to describe things which are not-yet-released AND which there is good reason to believe will never be released, and it usually also implies some ill intent on the part of the company who announced it. It is decidedly not a synonym for "unreleased," as the author points o
  • What do you call vaporware that has been so vaporous over the years it becomes a joke?

    I mean there are a very few that reach this lofty goal, most notably ... DukeNukemForever

    Not exactly "Vaporware" anymore, more of a running joke
    • What do you call vaporware that has been so vaporous over the years it becomes a joke?

      Plasmaware? Vaporware that's so diffuse, it's basic structure breaks down into a cloud of subatomic particles...

  • by Orp (6583) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:01PM (#17162864) Homepage
    I keep blog (what I used to call an online journal before that stupid term came about) but I disable comments. I think this would solve a lot of the problem. If developers simply want to do a brain dump every once in a while and share it with the world they should not feel obliged to turn on comments and subsequently respond to them. As a journaller from way back (junior high school) I have found journalling to be a very valuable process for collecting my thoughts and forcing myself to take stock of where I am currently at. The process itself is rewarding. But I feel no obligation to share my journalling with others (although I do in one venue, but in a self-censored way) or enable responses. I certainly see how enabling feedback/comments adds a whole new dimension to the process, but it's certainly not a necessary quality of a blog.
    • by edmicman (830206)
      I would think that the whole point of an online journal / blog would be to *encourage* the two-way communication between author and readers. Otherwise, why post online - why not just write in a notebook or a text file that you keep private?

      By posting anything online, I feel that an author is implicitly looking for feedback from others, whether he wishes to admit it or not.
      • Perhaps the online journal is intended as a means to propagate ideas in a 'broadcast' fashion. There is nothing wrong with that, and your notion that there should either be completely open discussion or no 'online journal' at all is ridiculous.

        There is nothing inherently wrong with one-way communications.
  • by macurmudgeon (900466) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:09PM (#17162964) Homepage
    Apple gets too much attention from their current way of doing things to want to change. They probably get more blog attention from outsiders guessing what is coming out at the next conference than they would letting employees blog or pre-announcing products. Apple's policy of secrecy and Job's showmanship have been a winning combination.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:14PM (#17163030)
    Perhaps we need to clarify the various flavors of vaporware, distinguished by intents and causes: (1) Deceit-o-ware: Marketing announces a "product" in order to discourage competitors, stake out mindshare, commit the partners and developers, and other dishonorable reasons. ( Taligent, others ) (2) Wish-o-ware: Developers promise to enhance a product, not realizing the current code isnt extendable. ( Copeland ) (3) Bloat-o-ware: Soo many promised features, the resulting code is too embarrasingly complex or slow to ever be released. ( Cairo, SQL file system, .NET code in the OS ) Now #1 is totally indefensible, but #2 and 3 are more likely unintended consequences of good intentions.
    • by Tankko (911999)
      I think there is a 4th. research-o-ware. Companies spend time exploring different things, sometimes with no direct intent to produce a product. Companies and employees often talk about these projects at conferences, blogs, etc. Someone picks up on it and it starts to gain life as a real product. When it fails to materialize, the company is accused of vaporware.
    • by dogfriend (609723)
      I was also thinking the same but only two classifications: Vaporware - the dictionary version - announced but not yet available Malicious Vaporware - which would cover #1 in your post.
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:16PM (#17163046) Homepage Journal

    Chuq Von Rospach, 17.5 year veteran of Apple, well known for his insights into email / usenet / web issues, did a series of blog entries on how Apple communicates. He went into, from his former privilaged position inside Apple, about how & why it communicates how it does, and what it is like being a communicator for Apple, officially & unofficially.

    The postings about Apple & blogging start at Why Apple doesn't have a blogging policy (it ain't what you think....) and then goes for a few days, with responses to/from other bloggers.

    Interesting stuff, insightful, and first-person from someone who was on the inside.

  • "...Blog entries are like emails that cc: to the entire world."

    No they are not because an email is sent proactively to a limited audience whereas a blog
    you know the audience are people who are seeking out that communication and you the sender
    do not necessarily know who the audience is.
  • by BlackRookSix (943957) on Friday December 08, 2006 @01:58PM (#17164434)
    Hey Schroeder, don't try to be a smart ass. I did extensive research before I wrote my article and the last thing I want is some nobody to tell me that I am wrong.

    Just STFU already!
    Daniel Eran, RDM | Homepage | 12.08.06 - 8:48 am | #

    This in response to a lengthy comment posted with plenty of meat to it as a counterpoint. This is the author's way of defending his article?

    This should be filed under "Stick-Your-Tongue-Out-And-Scream-Until-The-Others -Stop-Talking" department.
    • by DECS (891519)
      Nope, that was a fake comment posted by a reader in the same area as your followup comment taking offense:

      [this was a fraud posting purporting to be from the site author but actually made by 81.169.180.248]

      If it doesn't sound like Daniel Eran, it probably isn't Daniel Eran.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by slashwritr (1009921)
        You sound like Karl Malone now..."Karl Malone is going to retire because Karl Malone is tired." Seriously, talking in the third person?

        Also, it's nearly impossible to figure out whether it's a Daniel Eran posting or not. A lot of your "legit" comments sound exactly like those "fake" comments--insulting and condescending. Like this one in response to VGPowerlord below:

        "So go roll in Digg and leave the bits of the web that are not yet as stupid alone."
  • Now, that was a real waste of time (reading the article), in essence what you (the author) say is that (appart of the blog an vaporware) you can simple deny anything based on what a dictionary say, Well Mr. there are a LOT of definitions and you can always find a way to explain it your way, based on a definittion in a book or dictionary, and definitions always change, as time pass.
    C'mon even 0/0 now makes Nulity!!!
    Well, this is what i say: Vaporware IS Vaporware, sometimes FEEL like vaporware, and if someon
  • OK, when I saw the mention that this was a RoughlyDrafted article, I figured I'd do something fun: Without looking at the article, I'm going to try guessing how many paragraphs it is until the first Microsoft bash.

    My guess is 5.

    Now to count... Wow, I was way off. The first one (veiled insult) doesn't appear until paragraph 11.

    However, I did correctly predict that it would bash Microsoft, so I was right in one respect.

    I can summarize this article in one sentence: Apple doesn't blog because Microsoft sucks
    • by DECS (891519) on Friday December 08, 2006 @06:56PM (#17168400) Homepage Journal
      I appreciate feedback from readers, but it's more useful when its about actual ideas, not numerology.

      Seriously, you sound like somebody watching the Daily Show saying, OMG, I know that Jon Stewart is going to make some comment about Bush... THERE, THERE IT IS!!!

      As for Digg: it exists to tell weak-minded people what they already think they know. More than 80% of it is now PR fluff and other inoffensive written-for-digg articles that say nothing, and are commented on by people like yourself, who add nothing to the conversation apart from hypocrisy, impune bad motives without any proof, and generally suck.

      So go roll in Digg and leave the bits of the web that are not yet as stupid alone.

      • by slughead (592713)
        So go roll in Digg and leave the bits of the web that are not yet as stupid alone.

        You made no mention of the dig-spamming accusation (for which the author exposed some very compelling evidence).

        Regardless of what you think of Digg, it isn't right to offset the votes of other users. Maybe they just don't like your writing.

        I'm boycotting your site until you address this issue. I'm a writer myself, but I'm not about to 'cheat' just to get people to read my material.
        • by DECS (891519)
          So you are going to try me based on the "compelling evidence" of accusations scribbled in an anonymous blog, which have been repeateded in several places but never corroborated by other sources?

          I plead not guilty. I haven't set up any of the accounts in his McCarthy witchhunt.

          If you were a Digg user, or if you review the comments on articles submitted, you'd know that many people accused of being sybils on his list replied with "WTF? I'm just a user" You'd also know that "lackawack," or Mike Caddick, who si
          • by slughead (592713)
            Your accusing me of "cheating" without even looking at the facts involved. Interestingly, all of the baseless bullshit anonymous blog entries he submits get an unreasonable amount of support - apparently he's an expert at gaming various sites; I'm not. I just write.

            First of all, I was asking you to address those accusations, not accusing you myself.

            I looked at the facts (which is the only reason I called you on it). I looked at 5 (randomly) of the list of 60 and went back to the first 'dugg' articles. All b
            • by DECS (891519)
              If you look at any of the comments made by the "accused," its pretty obvous they were introduced to Digg by my site, because I used Digg's own promotional tags to encourage people to check Digg out. A handfull of people who read my site, but were not Digg users, chose to log into Digg when they saw I posted a new article, but otherwise didn't sit on Digg.

              Anyone who has a website that has been on Digg knows that 1000 diggs = about 40,000 unique visits. That suggests only 1 in about 40 people Digg an article
  • Everyone here is talking as if Apple would be excoriated for vaporware. Vaporware is usually software, not hardware, though some hardware can be vapor -- just not usually.

    The real reason why Apple doesn't promote blogging and also the real reason why Jobs is so careful to go after websites that predict (accurately sometimes) what Apple will be releasing is because Steve Jobs met and knew Adam Osbourne. While the effect [wikipedia.org] that is named after his is urban legend, Jobs is very interested in not making a suicida

    • by DECS (891519)
      Preannouncements can ding current sales, but the Osborne Effect article you linked to in Wikipedia actually shows the opposite: that the OE is mostly a myth, and that plenty of examples prove that it is more often wrong than a reliable law of marketing.

      I actually wrote about the Osborne Effect back when the Register was announcing how Intel Macs would kill Apple's sales before it could ever deliver them.

      Why Apple won't suffer the Osborne Effect [roughlydrafted.com]

      I also added notes from the article I wrote into that Wikipedia
  • Any old Apple salt knows that Apple used to be VERY KEEN on personal publishing; and letting the world know what was going on through their Advanced Technology Group. One of the ultra cool things about ATG for years was seeing the cool stuff at WWDC...

    And here is where Apple got burned.

    Showing the cool stuff often meant exposing research and development to ... Microsoft. There was an uncanny parallel between what was shown by the ATG at WWDC and Microsoft marketting press releases in the subsequent weeks.
  • http://ridiculousfish.com/blog/ [ridiculousfish.com]

    He's member of Apple's AppKit team (i.e. he develops both the AppKit and Foundation frameworks).

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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