The two-headed coin

It’s good to know the nation’s paper of record is still exploring the critical issue of our time: We know Apple sucks, but why does it suck?

Matt Richtel and Brian X. Chen start out taking a look at “Tim Cook, Making Apple His Own” (tip o’ the antlers to @lvdjgarcia).

Richtel and Chen first make the startling discovery that people who are asked to make public speeches … will start to reveal things about themselves in public. It’s hard to believe, but it happens almost like clockwork to people who rise to prominent positions.

This is happening as Mr. Cook, who declined to be interviewed for this article, finds himself not only in the limelight, but also under scrutiny.

Dun-dun-DUNNNNN.

Investors have clamored for Apple wizardry …

Any sufficiently advanced product development process is indistinguishable from magic.

One wonders what investors want Apple to Gandalf into existence.

… a much-anticipated iWatch or iTV …

SOMETHING. ANYTHING. JEEZ, ALREADY.

To these critics, Mr. Cook is uninspiring, his social views window dressing, when what they want is magic.

Kinda sounds like you’re describing a bunch of infants. Or, specifically, this guy.

“Where is the grand design?” asks Laurence I. Balter, chief market strategist at Oracle Investment Research.

Number-cruncher loudly bangs table and demands innovation NOW.

Mr. Balter credits Mr. Cook as having great skills in operations and in managing the supply chain …

Buuuuuuuut …

… but not with having the vision to design them.

Steve Jobs not only designed all of Apple’s devices, he did all the soldering. And he used to bang out a new one every month. These are all facts, people. You can look them up. In your wizarding handbook.

“Show me the product,” he says. “Show me the ingenuity.”

“We need to write a piece about Apple. Anybody know anyone really whiney about them?”

“Ohhh, yeah. I know a guy.”

Lower-level employees praise Mr. Cook’s approachability and intellect. But some say he is less hands-on in developing products than his predecessor.

The New York Times first complains that Tim Cook sucks at product design. Then it complains he delegates it instead of spending more time sucking at it. Let’s watch as this pattern continues.

Last year, Apple for the first time introduced two new iPhones instead of just one: the high-end iPhone 5S, which sold like gangbusters, and the lower-cost, plastic-covered iPhone 5C, which disappointed.

Disappointed … who? Strangely, Richtel and Chen don’t say. It certainly wouldn’t have been a disappointment at any of Apple’s competitors.

In the period after he became C.E.O. in 2011, the working conditions in Chinese factories used by major tech companies, including Apple, came under increasing scrutiny.

You won’t hear about it from the New York Times, but Apple’s record has always been better than its competitors. But, you can’t win a Pulitzer without breaking a few eggs. Because Apple, Apple, Apple.

At a shareholder meeting on Apple’s campus in February, one shareholder—who later described himself as having free-market values—asked Mr. Cook whether Apple should avoid embracing environmental causes that lacked a clear profit motive.

See how this works? On the one hand, the Times chastises Apple for worker conditions at the plants that supply it parts. Bad Apple! Focusing on the bottom line instead of workers! A few paragraphs later they chastise Apple for being too concerned about environmental issues. Bad Apple! Focus more on the bottom line!

Heads, the New York Times scolders win; tails, Apple loses. But, remember, the thesis of their pieces is “Apple sucks,” so this pattern is just the logical one to employ.

About WWDC Richtel and Chen say:

If the rest of the world yawned, the developers stood, and whooped.

But let us not hear whooping, even from developers. Let us instead hear what developers thought was wrong with the announcements, even if it doesn’t make sense.

[Developers from Orca Health] found one thing particularly jarring in the keynote: Apple did not hew to its tradition of pairing hardware and software. Specifically, Apple introduced a program called Health—which helps consumers and doctors monitor health status, like heart rate or glucose levels—but did not also introduce a piece of hardware to measure those results.

Apple also doesn’t make QR code scanners, and yet Passbook uses them.

Look, the Macalope doesn’t blame the hapless developers from Orca Health. He’s said dumb things about Apple before, too. No, he blames Richtel and Chen, who clearly trolled WWDC looking for negative quotes.

“It’s something Steve wouldn’t have done,” Mr. Brown said.

Steve never would have introduced just software. Well, except for at 2011’s WWDC when he introduced just software. But other than that, never.

It’s an impossible comparison. But it’s the one that Mr. Cook is being held to, at least until he makes enough magic of his own.

And rest assured: The New York Times will be there milking the comparison until he does.

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