I think that there's a lot of criticism toward Gruber because his opinions are not a carbon-copy of the unified public geek opinion that you'd see on a site like Slashdot. I think it's refreshing to see a solitary source of Apple commentary in which the author actually attempts to understand Apple's motivations rather than blindly lambast them. Gruber is not afraid to criticize Apple (I've read dozens of criticisms of the app store approval process, for example).
And that's always been his attitude: The opinions from someone who is a long-time fan of Apple products and does not instantly overreact to every news story about them like most tech sites. You can't accuse someone of jumping the shark for consistently doing what they've been doing for years.
In the six or so years that DF has been running, Apple's product range, market share, mind share, and market capitalization have all grown remarkably (if not their own internal attitude), and with that has come a flood of both supporters and critics.
DF is not commenting on fringe products such as OSX 10.3 anymore. He's commenting on a major mobile phone manufacturer and the maker of an popular and unusual new computing tablet.
I would venture that Gruber feels no need to feed the Apple supporters, but he does feel a need to call the critics out when they just don't understand Apple or advise Apple to behave more like other tech companies.
The first thing I did with my iPhone 3G was turn off some battery draining options I didn't need. Some people, not me, actually turned off 3G altogether. No, it wasn't fun. iPhone and smartphone battery life is an issue for everyone.
Actually Bing shows a random professional image, not one of your choice from your photo album. Is that not an important enough difference to stand in the way of publishing this hilarious jab at Google.
Uncritically passing on patent threats just because it suits Apple's strategic posturing? Adding commentary to make it seem like a done deal rather than posturing? Ignoring the fact that they'd said they would do this before Google even announced VP8 and indeed have said similar about Vorbis for a decade?.
Also, much like Steve Jobs's one liners, you do get the feeling that cutting and pasting a link is such hard work on the iPad that you're luck to get more than a couple of words of commentary.
There have been some real gems in the last year, like when Gruber took it upon himself to declare the A4 the most advanced mobile computing chip ever created (despite knowing essentially nothing about what the A4 actually was).
I'm not sure we do, 'boucher.
I agree with the original post, he has been pushing harder and harder on Apple doing the right things with its control complex, whereas previously he wouldn't have done. If you swapped "Apple" from some of the pieces on the App Store and HTML5 stuff with "Microsoft" or "Adobe", you could be sure he'd be a frothy mess.
I loved the Gruber of old. Where's he gone? Why is it just "If you don't love Apple, you can git out?" Fortunately, at least Wil Shipley has been holding his feet to the fire on Twitter, but I don't know why Gruber's gone this route at all.
Apparently after reading HN:
Gruber’s point is this: if Opera wants some better “HTML5” demos (presumably that work across browsers, and don’t just “use HTML5 as a buzzword”) they can easily make some themselves. Why should Apple be responsible for making sure their Safari promotion showcase works perfectly in every other browser?
As for why they block other browsers: probably some or most of the demos break in some way or another. If a naive user with (say) Firefox visited a page and the layout looked like shit and nothing worked, the user would quite reasonably think that Apple’s site was broken.
Because the whole point of the exercise is to show how standards-compliant, open, web apps work so great on iPhone OS. Except by excluding every browser but Safari, it may as well be a front for the App Store. It might be standards-compliant, but it sure as heck isn't open or inclusive. In that regard, even Flash runs in more browsers than this showcase does.
Instead, as far as I can tell, the primary point is to promote Safari and prove that Flash is unneeded to make pretty neat graphics/interactive thingums.
Opera is maybe justified in being miffed if Apple can get traction off the back of using “open” and “HTML5” as buzzwords, but I really don’t think the primary audience for this showcase knows or cares much one way or the other what HTML5 really means.
("Opera for the iPhone" is using a mediator service, and as such is not a real web browser).
I think you kind of missed the point. To whit: putting an image behind the search engine homepage is a stupid gimmick which adds nothing to the value to my search results.
Just because you don't appreciate it doesn't mean it's a "stupid gimmick".
EDIT: clarify a point
what about (back in the day) microsoft, (recently) adobe and (since the january battle call) google?
all the time?
Yes. Numerous times. I’m not really in the mood to go skimming through the several months of archives it would take to find a good example.
To be honest though, Microsoft is much easier to ridicule, because they have much looser control over their messaging, and so it’s not terribly surprising that a generally Apple-oriented commentator could consistently poke fun at them.
If you think he's annoying, stop reading what he posts?
There are a people pushing words around on the Internet that are outlandish or that others don't agree with. Thankfully, most of them don't result in hundreds of comments and discussions over their shortcomings.
The only specific point of Gruber's that the author cites is "iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way." I'm sure there's something to criticize in that statement, but it's a pretty slender reed on which to hang a blanket condemnation of dozens of articles.
In the past, Hank probably agreed with John more than he disagreed, so it was easy for him to resolve any internal conflict; there was little of it. This was during a time when Apple primarily made desktop/laptop computers with a standard desktop operating system -- as opposed to operating systems like iPhone OS -- that was sufficiently Unix-like to please most geeks with a bend toward the Unix mindset.
The conflict comes in the fact that the Unix mindset allied with the hacker mindset. Some would argue they're one and the same. Apple's new direction (iPhone OS) cuts the hacker off from the Unix-y underpinnings of the device. To take it a step further, you can't easily run native software you developed yourself on a variety of devices. So there's a cognitive dissonance developing within many Mac users. Their Mac-self wants to continue to enjoy the use of tools from the one company who seems to share the same values as them (well-built products, Unix-y ideas), but their geek-self is struggling with the loss of access to the parts that satisfy the hacker inside.
I can identify with Hank, because despite finding no logical flaw with Gruber's arguments, I disagree with him. There is an indisputable subjective component to selecting tools. Gruber's inner-hacker is also offended by Apple's stance of the walled garden, but he recognizes that this offense is separate and unrelated to whether or not the product is a "good product", and he realizes that most of the world aren't hackers. This leads him to generally positive-leaning comments. At least in the context of potential market success. To put it simply, most people don't care that they can't get to a shell prompt on their iPad. They're perfectly happy browsing their iTunes library, watching YouTube, and reading web pages.
I wish I had a good wrap-up/ending, but I just kind of hammered that out on the fly. Maybe I'll use it as the basis for a blog post.
From his projects page, it seems that Gruber works on small command-line tools and extensions to other people's software. I'm not trying to impugn his coding credentials; his writing doesn't hinge on how far he's made it past HELLO WORLD. But none of the software he writes would be the sort of thing that would make it on to the App Store even if Apple fired their reviewers and opened the floodgates.
He takes the "Apple does X because it's in their best interests to do X" stance because his livelihood doesn't hinge on whether the App Store is open, closed, or purple.
I suspect we'd have a very different Daring Fireball if he finished his dream mail app "Letters" and tried to release it on the App Store. Would it be rejected because it "duplicates existing functionality?" Or because someone can use it to e-mail the Kama Sutra? Or some other arbitrary rule Apple has yet to invent? Or would he not even bother, for fear of wasting time developing software that he couldn't sell?
John doesn't like the way the App Store functions in its current state, but he understands why Apple operates it the way they do. As evidence that he doesn't like it, I'll offer some excerpts:
Jason Snell: "All Apple needs to do is add a new feature, buried several menu items down in the Settings app, that mirrors the one found on Android devices: an option that lets you install Apps from 'unknown sources.'"
John Gruber response: "Personally, I’d welcome such a move, but I don’t think it would have the effect Snell envisions."
A lot of what John Gruber says could be interpreted as back-handed agreement, were you not to trust him. But the body of his writing suggest that he's genuine.
John Nack: "The effect on product development and innovation can be chilling. Yes, it’s easy to point to 200,000 apps on the App Store; it’s harder to note all those that aren’t there — serious apps that will be created only if developers know they’ll get a truly fair shot to innovate and compete."
John Gruber: "I agree with much of this piece by John Nack today, regarding what everyone — developers, users, and even Apple itself — is missing out on because of Apple’s tight control and management of the App Store"
Back from 2008: http://daringfireball.net/2008/09/app_store_exclusion
Fraser Speirs: "Apple’s current practice of rejecting certain applications at the final hurdle — submission to the App Store — is disastrous for investor confidence."
John Gruber: "Exactly right. If you only find out at the end of the development process that your app has been rejected — not for a technical problem that you can address but because Apple deems the entire concept to be out of bounds — then who is going to put serious time and talent into an iPhone app?"
John Gruber conclusion: "Either way, something is seriously wrong."
John Gruber: "I don’t know that Apple is right. As I said above, de Icaza’s perspective — that these decisions and risks should be up to individual developers to make — is utterly sensible. Siracusa is exactly right that this is a wager from Apple. Apple is betting its entire mobile future that their developer platform is better than everyone else’s."
It's especially evident that he's conflicted here. He doesn't necessarily agree, but he understands Apple's position.
There are a myriad of other places where he's been critical, yet understanding of the forces driving Apple. What's concerning is that recently, John has been reconciling this conflict -- seemingly as much for himself as for his audience -- by pushing the Web Apps as an alternative approach. I'd love to provide a link to support that, but it's more of a tone than a specific rant.
Based on the nine occurrences of "Web App" on Daring Fireball right now, as well as the injection of some links supporting criticism of the lack of a robust Web App IDE, I'd suspect that a thoroughly vetted rant is in the works.
I agree on John's recent insistence that web apps are the solution to App Store woes. But that feels like a cop-out. Apple hasn't fixed the three problems Gruber identified in October 2008 from his article on "The Fear", which are:
(1) App Ideas Are Rejected Only After the Apps Are Actually Built; (2) There Exist Secret Unpublished Rules Regarding What Is Allowed; and (3) When Apps Are Rejected for Violating the Unpublished Rules, Apple Refuses to State Just What These Rules Are
They've gotten a little better on point 3. When My Frame was rejected, the developer did get a phone call and an e-mail from Steve jobs saying that they now refuse an entire category of apps. It's not much better, as Apple didn't give any justification for why they sent this rejection. Are they planning their own desktop environment? Do they think the app competes with the built-in photo frame functionality of the iPad? Who knows?
It depresses me that Gruber doesn't see the "build your software as a web app" angle as a cop-out. Instead of fixing these reasonable problems with the App Store that it would be in Apple's best interests to fix, Apple ignores them and highlights an entirely other method of delivering content to users.
I imagine a restaurant with chicken and fish on the menu. The chicken will randomly come out poisoned, but the fish always comes out fine. When someone complains about being sickened by the chicken, the owner says, "just order the fish."
My main point is that Apple are pissing off large chunks of previously loyal customers and betting the farm on the mass market - definitely a good move if they remain king of the hill but also an opportunity for shrewd businesses to service those disillusioned communities. Ditto Gruber's blog.
Hank Williams' statement:
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.
And unless the so-called "facts" are not indeed facts ("a thing that is indisputable the case") then yes, "the only reasonable position one could have after looking at any iPhone related fact" is "acceptance". IT IS A FACT!
You can criticize the iPhone, but if you say "people are not buying it" then you are arguing against the facts.
The guy who claims to have come up with the phrase doesn't seem to think so:
Q. What is jumping the shark?
A. It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now on...it's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark." From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.
Looking at the original episode of "Happy Days," I find it difficult to believe that the producers were not keenly aware that they had walked away from the show's concept and were now milking cheap popularity for all it was worth.
I suspect that the definition you give and the one I use are compatible even though they differ. Under the definition you give, the defining moment is really set by the viewer. It's the instant you know it's all downhill from here, not the actual peak. So Gruber's phrase might be the defining moment for Hank.
It's also possible, as was the case for Happy Days, that the producers turn cynical and start resorting to cheap tricks like throwing out all character development and turning the show into a parody of itself, focusing on a caricature minor character rather than the more well-rounded principals. That's the definition I prefer.
They could go together, and I would say there's value in combining them, as in:
"I realized that HN had Jumped the Shark when Paul introduced the Date-a-Hacker feature."
Once a meme goes mainstream, the primary idiom dilutes with use until its just a curios catch phrase.
I just nod, smile and go to my happy place where there's a guy water-skiing in a leather jacket...
But in this case I do like keeping true to the specific meaning even if the origin is lost in antiquity. I feel it's a useful distinction to make. As an example, I would say that some years ago John Dvorak jumped the shark when he turned his public personal into a troll. As a counter-example, Joel Spolsky didn't jump the shark: He woke up one day and decided that his blog had run its course.
I hope we are able to save some of its distinct meaning until some other phrase comes along with a similar usage.
People pander for a reason. It works.
There's also a signaling mechanism involved in the use of the term, which is probably part of why everyone leaps so fast to declare that everything has jumped the shark. "I, sophisticated me, have noticed that X is out of ideas and is now just pandering and spinning. You, the plebians, may still tune in for a while, but I in my sophistication have already noticed the downfall beginning." In my opinion, to really know for sure when a shark was jumped takes time. It's like trying to declare five days after an album comes out that people will consider it a classic in 30 years; you really can't do that, or at least you can't actually be sure. The only way to apply the test of time is with time.
I didn't watch the show (although I was/am the right age to have done so), so I don't have an opinion as to whether the show got better, worse, or stayed the same after that episode.
I don't know if it'd qualify as a meme, but the term "hacker" would be another example of this.
iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way."
That line actually bothered me too, but for me it was triggered by John's recent decision to start attacking Android for somehow using private APIs on the sly because he couldn't be bothered to A. understand the basic architecture of Android (those pesky facts; things that anybody who'd spent 20 minutes skimming the intro to the Android SDK could tell you) and B. the fact that he almost willfully ignores that Android is architected differently than the iPhone, and that things that would be system-level calls on the iPhone are handled at the application level via public system calls, even for Google's own applications.
This just happens to be something I can put my finger on; like the article's author, there's just been something about his tone recently that's been kind of off-putting to me. He seems quicker to jump at things simply for the sake of snark over correctness, which is a little bothersome for somebody who has a reputation for being a stickler for detail. It sucks because he's somebody that in the past I saw as being able to trust to get a take on things that was at least fair, even if I disagreed with him. Lately I find myself rolling my eyes at his posts often as not.
Which makes the site less pleasant to read for me.
And in a sense it's "jumping the shark" - having run out of ideas, the John Gruber show is starting to fill episodes with unlikely, contrived subplots that have nothing to do with the original premise of the show, which was to write, in depth, about Apple products.
iPhone critics have seldom let facts get in their way.
It does say a lot about John's thinking. He's thinking that there is a lot of criticism of the iPhone is not based on facts. Not only did he link to an earlier article that very day that had 10 reasons not to buy an iPad that Gruber says got 9 out of 10 reasons factually wrong (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/06/03/warman), but the very same article that quote appears in discusses misconceptions about the iPhone that are factually wrong. (Can I load my own videos and music on it, or only stuff I buy from Apple?)
"Snell’s argument is that Apple should do this to nip the argument that the iPhone is too closed. 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."
I know people don't read Hank for the cleverly barbed and expertly crafted prose... but, really? Fanboi?
Maybe it's more because using gay terms as pejoratives is a nasty habit and we should stamp it out rather than try and equivocate just because they're familiar.
So, we might as well have a word for it.
That's why I wish people wouldn't use the word.
Essentially, anyone who has criticized the iPhone, or presumably Apple is just someone not dealing with the facts.
Hank, your critique falls apart when you switch what should be an existential quantifier with a universal quantifier.
"Americans rarely get any exercise."
"French people rarely bathe."
If Gruber doesn't want it to be taken as "all iPhone critics," he should specify.
Snell’s argument is that Apple should do this to nip the argument that the iPhone is too closed. But if Apple did exactly what Snell argues, critics would still harp on the closed App Store.
"John Smith weighs in at an astounding 350 pounds, but that's not hard to understand. Americans rarely get any exercise."
The second sentence still means what it meant before.
The context makes it obvious which sentences are part of the author's thesis, and which are snark. Quoting the snark in isolation tells you only that Gruber is capable of sarcasm.
Edit: what's most interesting to me here is that Hank doesn't seem at all interested in Gruber's thesis, let alone in attacking it. He just seems interested in attacking Gruber.
Rather than the extended MacBook hack, the more recent breast-beating defense of Apple's questionable behavior about the lost iPhone prototype fiasco is what got me to suspect the shark has been left aways behind by DF.
The guy's not a legal scholar and I doubt he'd claim any expertise in this dept. but yet EARLY ON in the ordeal was parroting the legal talking points that law-and-order types were breaking out about how Gizmodo was way out of its journalistic bounds and ever-so-guilty of outrageous criminal activity.
The actual circumstance of a friggin' cell phone being left in a bar by a drunk employee wouldn't produce much notice from anyone but this stupid incident managed to get folks to line up defending one side or the other in a matter that will be 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.
I don't agree with him entirely often either, but god am I glad there's someone making the case for the App Store, mostly coherently.
Tech is driven by sentiment much more than people would like to admit. Android was a not-quite-there until IO 2010, now it's the new hot. What changed? Very little, technically. A lot, rhetorically.
I still think he should refrain from talking about politics, though, but the idiosyncrasy of the blog is also a part of its charm. I just wish he would ditch this one.
"I used to trust John Gruber. Now I will just read him."
I'm not certain what there is to trust about Gruber--follow the links and read things through if it is interesting. I'm mostly a fan of "claim chowder," so maybe the author is focused on other things.
To point out the (un)reliability of these analysts whose opinions people may trust (at act upon) because of their positions as "analyst." All things being equal, I will take the word of a police officer over the word of an accused criminal, but if I provided with facts that the officer is often wrong/lying, I won't automatically trust the officer's report.
I think there's a parallel in today's popular "news" shows. It seems like Olbermann spends most of his time mad at what Beck said and Beck is mad at what Olbermann said, ad nausium.
It's like an escape hatch—it gives him the opportunity to say whatever he wants without owning up to anything. Like the Foxconn suicides.
"I linked to the “hey, Foxconn’s suicide rate sounds high but it’s lower than China’s overall rate” thing not as proof that everything is just fine at Foxconn, but for context"
Right, sure pal. Whatever you say.
He used to split his feeds into an occasional commentary and sometimes several-times daily links. He combined them a while back, so now you get mostly links mixed in with very occasional commentary in a single feed. I.e., nothing has really changed.
Web Apps as the Route for iPhone Development
It’s insulting, because it’s not a way to write iPhone apps, and you can’t bullshit developers. It’s a matter of spin.
If all you have to offer is a shit sandwich, just say it. Don’t tell us how lucky we are and that it’s going to taste delicious.
(compare to anything from gruber on web apps in 2010)
I wonder how many of his detractors have actually unsubscribed from DF in their feed readers?
(here's my comment on one such instance: http://ahren.org/code/bit/john-grubers-15-minutes-of-schaden...)
Yes, you are. That is in fact exactly what you are doing.
I really don't get the appeal of his writing — other than an occasional Apple apologetic, it appears to be nothing more than a tumblelog of Apple bits, but yet he's paid a premium for it, due to high profile linkage…
What? It's still free? And people are still allowed to write about what they want to, and not what YOU want them to?
That IS weird.
If Walt Mossberg suddenly digressed into his favorite movie or what he likes for dinner while he's reviewing a product, I would call that unprofessional.
So what it means is people like Gruber are pseudo-professional journalists who are mixing amateurish diary entries about their personal life and topics they don't know about along with the commentary that actually brought them alot of hits in the first place.
And don't even get started about "free". Because it's not subscription but he gets paid thousands through advertising, but I'm not "paying for it"? Just like more legit journalists do. And if something's free I can't complain I suppose...
"Because staying on point isn't a civil rights issue, jackass" ... not only vapid, but again, anomalous. If staying on point is of no consequence why get soooo perturbed about it?
Does Gruber randomly digress during a product review? I personally have never noticed any such skylarking, besides, even if he has occasionally or even if he did habitually, so what? that would be his MO and thus would partially explain why you either enjoy his discourse or not, evidently you don't.
"most blogs aren't considered real journalism".
"people like Gruber are pseudo-professional journalists"
"legit journalists do" (as in get paid?? I think??)
It is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, obviously, just because a writer is paid to write does not imply that that writer is good (look up the word "good" in a dictionary as it covers a lot of ground, seriously look it up) and just because a writer is not paid does not automatically deem them to be bad (see dictionary for "bad")
Edit: Can you at least reply when you down vote? I know this was voted to the top of HN so it deserves to be there.
'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!'
The irony is that Gruber's fame originates from the outrage related to his app rejection.
Huh? Gruber's fame, such as it is, originates from the fact that for years he has been writing a blog filled with mostly-Apple-related stuff that lots of people (mostly Apple users) like reading. Daring Fireball has been a big noise in Apple-land since before there even was an App Store.