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Apple has come a long way since its early days, but it's always had its fans and foes. Photo / File
Apple has come a long way since its early days, but it's always had its fans and foes. Photo / File

When I started this blog a few years ago, the very first one, describing the history and rise of Apple, quickly received all sorts of derisive comments. Some questioned whether I knew what I was talking about, ie: 'Mac becoming available in 1984 are you mad?' type of thing, showing how little people knew about Apple.

And immediately some comments were so aggressive the Herald forwarded them to me saying they weren't going to publish them. Some of these were quite disturbing, and I asked not to see any more. Although I had edited NZ Macguide up until 2007, that was a magazine only bought by NZ Mac users and Apple fans, so mail and feedback tended to be either helpful and positive, or requesting more knowledge.

I had existed in a pleasant Apple bubble; with Mac Planet it was 'welcome to the real world'. One in which Apple haters went out of their way to read a blog about Apple, then vent their spleen about it, sometimes in a well considered way, often not. Some of them were threatening.

Of course, the major difference is, you had to buy Macguide. If you hated Macs, you weren't likely to do so. You read Mac Planet for free. The other is anonymity - virtually the only person posting comments under their real name on this blog is me.

Still, I found this 'angry commenter' situation as bizarre then as I do now. If I don't like, say, Audi cars, do I go out of my way to find a blog about Audi and then register in order to vent how I hate Audi? Hell no. I couldn't care less. No matter what I think about Audis, I won't be going out of my way to visit an Audi blog, log in and tell the followers and the author what I think: why do Audi owners appear the most aggressive and arrogant drivers on three continents?

In other ways, I have always found the comments positive. For one thing, I found it rather heartwarming that some PC users were actually fans of their non-Apple computers. I had rather fool-heartedly assumed that PC users either used them because they represented good value for money, or that they had to use them because that was the platform their workplaces used, or because they believed the oft-touted salesman's fallacy that Macs 'weren't compatible'.

Now I have awakened another angry demographic: Samsung lovers. Who would have thought? Apparently a legally empowered and respected court using a tried and true jury system, after a lengthy trial process, was all wrong. Why? Not because due process wasn't followed, no. Because the jury found - clearly - in Apple's favour over Samsung in the patent dispute. That's what was 'wrong'. And I dared mention it.

Another facet is those who post that I 'don't employ balanced journalism'. No I don't, is the short answer. I call Apple out when I perceive the company is doing something wrong, that's all. Not out of a sense of balance, no: a blog is by definition opinion, and one called Mac Planet is pretty much pinning its stance on the wall.

I would have thought.

No, I do this because in those instances I see or concur, even as an Apple fan, that Apple is doing something silly, unconscionable or just plain wrong.

Another is that and 'do not do proper comparisons'. That's because I'm just a guy working from home. I don't have a test suite, or the financial resources to set one up. So real comparos can not be my thing: that's the role of your 'actual' tech journalists. And once again, I don't claim to be one.

Of course, the comments can turn into a great resource of their own. Want to know what apps Kiwis really rate and actually use?

Come on, people, of course I'm one-eyed about Apple. That's why I was asked to write this blog. I first saw Macs when I worked in the prepress industry in the late 1980s and I knew right away the Macintosh was going to change the game. I left my job, spent my accrued holiday pay on my first Mac (a Plus) and set up a home desktop publishing company.
Pretty soon I was designing car magazines and ended up as head of production over several auto and tech titles - I was the go-to Mac person and I trained new staff staff over the years, helped make purchasing decisions and solved problems. Macs were the basis of a whole industry - one of laser printers, the enabler of Adobe to become what it is now, among others, and myriads of startups in publishing around the world.

Then I went part time to write a book about the NZ car assembly industry (hence all the car analogies, I guess) and then ended up as editor for Macguide. That was a great job, overseeing an excellent team of writers on a subject we were all passionate about.

Then Macguide was pulled after five years, thanks to the company completely missing a gradual fall in advertising revenue. Advertisers wanted ad-spend tied to a web presence the company was too shortsighted to supply. So Macguide was closed. I went out on my own and set up various Apple-based services, many of them free.

And when I say the company that published Macguide was shortsighted, I mean it: the magazine had an audited readership of 26,000, pretty good for a niche mag in a tiny country. Tone magazine, apparently much broader-based, was audited at the same time at 30,000 readers. What makes me laugh now (at that company's expense) is Macguide achieved a good readership when Mac sales represented only three per cent of the NZ market. Now it's more like 12 per cent: who hasn't heard of Apple these days?

Of course, there's another side to commenters - those which defend my blog and/or set it straight, adding in their own consideration and knowledge. These are as valuable to the thousands of weekly readers as they are to me (comments are the tip of Mac Planet's readership iceberg). Life's a journey and all that - I certainly don't know everything about Apple. I'm always happy to add to my knowledge.

Anyway, I'll close with this: leave out the swear words or your comment will be culled by the Herald's online staff, but please do keep 'em coming. I love the debate.


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