The Flock: Another tech podcast


What if we held pundits accountable for their predictions?

2 September 2019

Whenever alleged information about Apple’s future plans is released, news outlets usually note the source’s track record and remind readers to take everything with the appropriately sized grain of salt. I imagine this deters overeager, rash predictions and makes it more likely that people are certain that what they leak is accurate. Otherwise, obviously, no one listens to them.

What if we held opinion writers to the same standard when they made guesses about the future? I’m referring, of course, to the subset of pundits who publish the first thing that pops into their heads and then call it a day.

Forbes’ Ewan Spence has a bold new take for us to take apart: “Radical MacBook Pro Promises Glorious Return To Form.” Don’t judge the article by its title; every piece Spence writes follows one of three or four generic headline formulas. You might wonder whether any of this is written by Spence himself or by a crude artificial intelligence — how can one describe it as anything but mechanical rubbish?

In classic Spencian form, the thesis is buried, timidly, beneath a bit of innocent news recap. After summarizing the latest rumor regarding the 16-inch MacBook Pro expected this fall, Ewan drops the bomb.

The question now is when we will see this MacBook Pro, and if Apple will grant it the professional courtesy of a full media launch.

You mean… like it’s done for… ever?

… it’s unlikely that Apple would sully the launch of the presumptively named iPhone 11 family…

Sure, that’s fair. It makes sense that September is off the table for a Mac launch. Because that’s never when Mac launches happen.

While it could be tied into an iPad or iPad Pro launch, why would Tim Cook push a tablet as the future of computing, and then wheel out a laptop?

You mean… like it did… last year?

This leads me to speculate that

Let me interrupt for a second: nothing substantive has led Ewan to speculate anything.

Apple is going to quietly slip the 16.5 inch MacBook Pro out through the exciting and affirming medium of a ‘press release’ … the high energy launch, the careful love and attention to detail, all of that will be lost in favor of a web store spec sheet.

Let’s review Ewan’s two (2) points in support of this theory: first, Apple doesn’t want to launch its phones and laptops at the same time. I don’t think anyone expected otherwise.

Second, Apple supposedly doesn’t want to launch its tablets and laptops at the same time. Sorry, this is some preposterous conjecture.

Apple is perfectly comfortable with having two parallel computing platforms, the iPad and the Mac, as it demonstrated last year. You’d really need to be reaching to find marketing confusion in the simultaneous launches of Apple’s computer for most people — the iPad Pro — and Apple’s computer for the most demanding segment of its users — the MacBook Pro. If anything, there was more confusion last year: the MacBook Air, another “everyone” computer, was announced alongside the iPad Pro family.

This piece is just fear-mongering, casting doubt on whether Apple is brave enough to own up to its past few years of MacBook missteps. And per usual, the fear-monger himself is the real coward, leaving his predictions slippery enough that he never has to own up to his missteps. When we do see the new MacBook Pro announced this year at the usual press conference, Spence’s reaction will not be “whoops, I was wrong” — it will be “Apple Shocks The World With Its Renewed Affection For The Macintosh.” There are no stakes whatsoever for this crackpot because he can twist everything to fit his narrative.

As infuriated as I am at Ewan Spence’s continued employment by any news publisher, I’m also more than content to watch him get proven wrong. Maybe someday, some wise soul will check his record the next time he makes a keystroke.