Every year about this time we read news about Apple cutting back on iPhone production. Why would Apple do that? iPhone sales are cyclical in nature. That means some quarters in the calendar year– the 4th quarter holiday season comes to mind; particularly robust for Apple since the new iPhone was released just months earlier– have far greater sales than others; likewise, other quarters have lower sales.
Here’s a recent headline in Forbes.
Disappointing iPhone Performance Forces Apple Into Drastic Action
The impression created by the headline is that iPhone sales are dropping like a rock and Apple was forced to cut production to keep inventory in line with sales. The headline reads like fact but it’s really fiction.
Where did the fiction begin? Nikkei Asian Review, which cobbled together some reports from a few suppliers that indicate Apple may have trimmed production in the first calendar quarter. There’s no byline on the article, which is appropriate because no self-respecting writer would attach a name and reputation to little more than scurrilous rumor.
Even the article mentions the same thing happened last year. And the same thing happened the year before, the year before that, and… you get the picture, right?
Every year about this time Apple trims iPhone product once customer demand meets inventory.
But the phones still have sold more sluggishly than expected. Information on production of the latest models and global sales suggests cuts in both the 7 and 7 Plus lines in the coming quarter.
That’s fiction, not fact. Reporters cannot possibly know what Apple’s expectations are, let alone iPhone 7’s sales numbers. The problem here should be obvious. It’s fact vs. fiction. Publications create a story based upon fiction but sell it via a headline which states the fiction as if it were facts.
Here’s another example. Amazon’s Echo is a hit, right? Everyone says so, but only Amazon knows how many Echo units were sold, and Amazon’s policy regarding such sales is simple. Keep quiet. Nobody else knows how many were sold.
Yet, Alexandre Linares (among others) had no qualms about publishing fiction.
Amazon Echo and Google Home were smash hits this holiday season
That’s the headline. But did Amazon or Google tell anyone about how many of their ‘smash hits‘ were sold over the holiday shopping season? Nope. Whatever numbers are touted are guesstimates, though in this case, guesses to the positive side of headline making.
It’s an arguable point among guesstimators, but most say Apple has sold 15-to-20-million Watch units in the same time period as Echo. That makes Watch a dud, according to the headlines and analysis, all done– again, because that’s the custom– without a shred of facts. So, why doesn’t Apple release Watch sales numbers– as it does with Mac, iPhone, iPad sales units every quarter? Watch is an accessory to iPhone, and it’s not a major product.
Yet, Watch has sold better than iPod and iPhone in their first few years as a product (according to Apple, which tends to deal more in fact than fiction when it comes to such numbers).
Here is what I see. A 21st century form of yellow journalism is at work thanks to the proliferation of so-called internet news sites which do not practice ethical journalism of the late 20th century.
William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer both owned newspapers in the American West, and both established papers in New York City: Hearst’s New York Journal in 1883 and Pulitzer’s New York World in 1896. Their stated missions to defend the public interest, their circulation wars and their embrace of sensational reporting, which spread to many other newspapers, led to the coinage of the phrase “yellow journalism.” While the public may have benefitted from the beginnings of “muckraking” journalism, their often excessive coverage of juicy stories with sensational reporting turned many readers against them.
The same thing occurs in varying degrees but in greater numbers thanks to the misinformation superhighway. Fiction is treated as fact, hence the birth of fake news, of which there are many examples, and many definitions. It’s everywhere and growing. I don’t see how this scurrilous evil genie gets put back into the bottle.