MarketWatch: editorial adjustment?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I was enjoying my morning coffee during a day off and using the free wi-fi at Starbucks when I came across this piece ‘Apple needs an attitude adjustment‘ (July 8, 2010) over at MarketWatch. The sentiment of the headline wasn’t the issue, what I was more concerned about was the lack of analysis and coherent facts to support the piece.

The author Therese Poletti cites Apple’s market capitalisation and the iPhone 4 issue as her rationale for why Apple should become in her words ‘its corporate culture of arrogance‘.

So let’s look at these items:

  • The market capitalisation is based on the whims of stock traders, and is often based on irrational sentiment. The consensus numbers that Apple has to beat quarter after quarter as its part in this process is set largely on Excel-based crystal ball gazing by equity analysts detached from Apple’s business. There is a strong incentive based on social norms for these analysts to cluster their guesses together. Apple has consistently low-balled them – not exactly the arrogance one would have expected from Poletti’s hypothesis
  • Apple’s handling of the iPhone 4 antenna is the kind of response I would expect from a confused technology company caught with its pants around its ankles. I am not saying that its right, but having seen these kind of things (and worse) from the inside, that it usually doesn’t come from arrogance, but fear and more than a hint of panic

What surprised me about this article is that there is plenty of evidence to support Polletti’s hypothesis of arrogance that either she, or her editors at MarketWatch had chosen to ignore, for instance:

  • Apple’s sometimes tense relationship with iPhone developers
  • The fact that Apple had turned its back on the community of Mac developers at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference which for the first time featured no Mac-orientated tracks
  • Apple’s relationship with Adobe
  • Apple’s relationship with Google and the rivalry between Android and iOS

Given Therese Poletti’s background in technology, the article begged two questions:

  1. Is MarketWatch moving away from providing indepth analysis and insight to Gawker-style link-and-comment bait?
  2. Or was it just poor journalism and or editorial judgement?

The move to a Gawker-style link-and-comment bait hypothesis is given additional weight by the ten-fold increase in comments that her post attracted compared to previous articles filed on July 1 and July 6.

You can read Apple needs an attitude adjustment by Therese Poletti here, I have been careful not to give the article the oxygen of a Google search friendly link that it craves by putting it at the end of the article.