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Roughly Drafted’s not a good thing

Fuzzy tactics aren’t helping the Mac community – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

Posts like this that use underhanded techniques and shoddy math to prove a biased point aren’t helping the Mac community. In fact, they’re making it look even worse because, once found out, they are (rightfully) transformed into key evidence for clueless Apple fanaticism, which can easily harm the reputation of almost anyone with something genuinely educated and relevant to say about Apple or their products, whether it’s a good or *gasp* unpleasant statement.

Unsurprisingly, the post that TUAW is refering to is from Roughly Drafted, which can only be described as the lunatic fringe of Mac fandom. While it’s perhaps understandable that some Mac users will want to “strike back” against what they see as media bias against the platform, as TUAW puts it:

These wholly inaccurate and misleading articles need to stop if computer users are going to learn the genuine advantages (and even disadvantages) of Apple and their products. Lying to grab attention for Apple may briefly taste sweet, but helping consumers make an educated choice (no matter what the outcome) based on pure, true merit takes the cake.

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

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  • Daniel Eran

    None of the hundreds of comments on the story actually point out anywhere where I actually misstated facts. Providing anecdotal recollections or alternative possiblities does not refute anything. I can do the same:

    I know of users who have paid out far more than the cost of their PC to have others clean it up. I’ve had people pay me $900 to salvage data from a hosed Windows install – ironically, it was messed up by “Internet Security” products!

    That doesn’t mean everyone does, obviously, or that anyone’s data was worth the price. I thought referencing an annual visit from the GeekSquad was low balling.

    Do you have any idea how much Enterprise customers pay for AntiVirus and malware? Hint: far more than I suggested in my article centered on “professional desktop users.”

    I’m glad you suffer less than most Windows users, but that doesn’t mean nobody is paying for AntiVirus and SpamWare. In reality, we are all paying to subsidize the cleanup of Windows, just like we all pay to subsidize the low wages that WalMart pays their employees, and the welfare healthcare those employees have to get from the State because WM fails to take care of their own.

    If somebody jumps up and says, “I work at WalMart and I make enough money!” it does nothing to refute the actual fact that there is a problem, and everyone is having to pay for it.

    The really interesting point is how the premium Microsoft has charged for Windows (even ignoring the spyware+antivirus issues) and the premium versions they imagine for Vista will turn out, now that Apple is offering users an alternative that is slicker, has fewer of the issues Thurrott has bemoaned in Vista, and even costs less!

  • cesjr

    Ian, even if you disagree with Eran about the Geeksquad cost, what’s your basis for claiming his blog represents the “lunatic fringe of Mac fandom”? It was one argument, which could be wrong or right. One argument, if wrong, does not make someone a “lunatic.” That’s a baseless charge without any backup.

  • Zato

    Good work Daniel, but don’t waste your time responding to Mac haters or anti-mac black PR sites like TUAW.

  • macguitarman

    >Unsurprisingly, the post that TUAW is referring to is from Roughly Drafted, which can only be described as the “lunatic fringe of Mac fandom”.

    “lunatic fringe of Mac fandom”, please.

    This guy is a Mac engineer and a Windows engineer and I submit he knows a hell of a lot more than you do in many aspects of the tech world.

    Now it may not be 5x’s the cost, but it is more total cost of ownership. Win XP Pro is over 200.00 plus and I have seen it for 300.00, while Tiger is 130.00. And no Windows Home / Media Center is not going to cut it in the business world, you have to be inserted into the Windows Domain, that’s Windows XP Pro.

    Spyware (like Spybot and Ad Aware are of course free) but in a business setting, IT dept’s must pay for Anti-virus, and thats going to be 50 bucks a license. Macs, at this point in time no Anti Virus software really needed. Now you take 5000 Windows machines times 50 bucks, that’s huge money, even if you get a site license.

    And you get 20 Windows PC techs chasing 5000 Windows machines, running: Spybot, Ad Aware and Antivrus all day long (I am not kidding, this is what they do) and that my friend is a joke on many levels: a waste of time and a waste of the users time. No kidding IT dept’s are looking at the Mac as an alternative platform.

    Of course this is in a business setting, not home, but you still need to pay for good Antivirus software in any environment.

    And will people cut the crap with the Macs are so called Secure, only due to the “Security via Obscurity model”, it’s total bull and has been argued over and over again, Mac OS 10 (10.4.x) is more secure (than Windows) because it just is, it’s better technology, period.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    First of all, Daniel, your comment is simply cut and paste from your reply to me on your site, so I’ll post the response that I posted there:

    “Daniel, what you’re writing is wrong because you’re taking what’s true for a tiny sample of Windows users and claiming it as the norm, while ignoring the opposite case for Mac users. At least the comments are based on anecdotal evidence: your claims for prices aren’t even based on that. How many people actually pay $200+ for spyware removal? Perhaps a bunch of well-heeled users with more money than sense.

    What you’re claiming is so far removed from the experience of the majority of Windows users that it’s simply FUD. The average Windows user doesn’t pay $200 a year for spyware removal and “security cleaning” by Geek Squad or anyone else. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s equivalent to claiming that all Mac users must have ProCare – simply not accurate.

    As for “premium Microsoft has charged for Windows (even ignoring the spyware+antivirus issues)”, by your own (inflated) figures, it’s $300 for full-price retail Windows versions versus $400 for full-price OS X versions. So I have no idea how you’re arriving at the idea that MS is charging a premium compared to Apple.”

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    Cliff, the reason that I labelled Roughly Drafted “the lunatic fringe of Mac fandom” is because it’s articles consistently seek to “boost” the Mac by misusing statistics in a way that borders on the nutso. Take, for example, Daniel’s piece on “the market share myth nailed” where he effectively doubled Apple’s market share by adding operating systems to PC hardware, thus giving Microsoft a 48% share of the combined market. It’s not just slippery use of figures – it’s outright nonsense.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    macguitarman: I agree totally that, in terms of TCO, Macs will usually win out. But that’s not the point Daniel is making. He’s simply adding in $1400 over seven years based on no more research than a $200 per year service. And he’s not adding in *anything* for Macs. Now while I agree Macs are cheaper, it would interest the IT guys I work with – you make a living supporting Macs – to know that Macs cost nothing to support.

  • Cliff


    I read the market share myth piece, and Eran corrected it at some point to state that Apple’s share stayed the same. What happens in his discussion is that he allocates the wintel share between MS and the PC hardware sellers. I don’t think that is so crazy. I mean you can disagree with it, but it’s just a way of viewing the fact that, when a PC is sold MS gets a portion of the sale (for the OS) and Dell gets a portion of the sale. MS is not reaping 97 percent (or whatever it is) of the revenue from PC sales, which you might think when you say Windows has 97 percent share. Nor is Dell reaping all the benefits of its PC sales revenue. It’s really just an alternative way to look at it.

    Further, that one argument is hardly central to Eran’s market share piece. He makes multiple points about the market share issue. And frankly, a whole lot of arguments can be leveled against the whole market share thing, some of which Eran makes quite well. My biggest issue with the market share issue is that your mixing markets, mainly consumer PCs with business PCs. I mean, would anyone combine the sale of Mac trucks with Totyota Camrys to figure out what the Camry’s market share is? Businesses buy all kinds of products nobody would buy for their home.

    Anyways, I think really it’s best to stick to substantive discussions and not label people lunatics. Otherwise it appears merely that you are biased against a particular viewpoint. Is that your problem?

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    Cliff, the arguments that you give are a fine example of why Eran’s posts are actually FUD of the highest order. Like all good FUD, they have a veneer of plausability, while twisting statistics into the realms of fantasy. You *could* combine the PC and software markets and get a real, interesting figure – but you’d have to do so measuring via revenues, not unit sales, to get a fair comparison. Dell doesn’t sell 97% of a PC – it gets 97% of the revenues, with Microsoft getting the rest. But Daniel didn’t do it that way. He instead went for unit sales, which cuts unit sales for PC vendors in half.

    Your point about Eran’s multiple arguments also holds up what I’m saying. Daniel’s method is to conflate lots and lots of small points, some of which are valid, and link them together to make some ludicrous claim. So he’ll say that Mac market share is slightly misleading because Macs have large figures in some markets (which is true), then add in that Adobe reports half its *profits* come from Mac software – as if this were somehow indicative of a higher Mac market share in general. When, of course, it simply means that the products it sells to Mac users tend to be more profitable on a per-unit basis.

    You’re completely right that the “big picture” PC market share isn’t the only game in town, and there are plenty of other shares that split down into smaller markets – some where the Mac does very much better than its average (design, education, home) and some where it does very much worse (corporates). But that doesn’t itself deny the validity or accuracy of that overall market share figure.

    And, ironically, the market share figure is actually not particularly important to Apple. Of course, I’d like to see more people using Macs – because I think that lots of people who would really benefit from a Mac end up buying a PC by default. But as long as the Mac market is large enough and healthy enough to support a vibrant 3rd party software market (I need my World of Warcraft 😉 ), and profitable enough to allow Apple to keep innovating, I don’t really mind how large or small it gets.

  • Cliff


    I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think Eran is crazy or a lunatic for making some debateable points now and then. Isn’t the whole point of debate that sometimes you are wrong? At least on specific arguments, you will be wrong now and then. Or make arguments that don’t hold up. That’s the whole point of debate. Get to the truth. I’m a frequent reader of Eran’s pieces and find them normally well supported. I have taken issue with some of his points. For example, he claims online rental movies make no sense. I posted a comment that of course it makes sense, people already rent movies and moving it online makes perfect sense.

  • Luis Dias

    The most ridiculous part of this ad hominem rampant attack is that it is now even part of wikipedia, where Daniel Eran’s objectivity “has also been called into question, as his website is supported by Apple advertising[citation needed]. In addition, Roughly Drafted has been called “the lunatic fringe of Mac fandom.”[31]”

    Woa. Talk about objectivity. Doesn’t matter if the argument’s solid. Doesn’t matter if most of the analysis is correct and insightful, and if the writer has the guts to put controversial material in it. One thing I have to consider though: he doesn’t seem to have anyone’s paycheck. He writes what he really thinks, not like Dvorak or anyother borg poster. To jump into conclusions and daresay the guy is a lunatic… I daresay you’re a sheep.

  • Ian Betteridge

    Luis, I’d suggest you look up a little of the history of this post and how it came about. Far from being solid, Daniel’s argument was the kind of fudging of figures and misleading use of numbers which, if Microsoft did it, the Mac community would laugh out of court – and rightly so. He may “write what he really thinks”, but when what he writes is ludicrous he deserves to be called on it.

    As for “ad hominem attacks”… I don’t know if Dan still uses the same comment system, but if he does you should go back to his piece which effectively doubled Mac market share without Apple selling a single extra machine, and find the bit where he refers to me as “a tool”. Live by the sword, die the sword.

  • http://www.nokiacreative.com James Burland

    Regardless of his style or honesty, he has been correct more times than I can recall. The guy just seems to have a uncanny grasp of future technological trends.

    Don’t believe me? Check out his posts since this article…

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ianbetteridge Ian Betteridge

    I’m sorry James, but I have to disagree. Daniel is more often wrong than right – take for example his post how the iPod ran Mac OS X (it didn’t), for which John Gruber took him to task. Then there was his nonsensical post on the rejection of Podcaster from the app store – again, Gruber took him to task.

    And of course his claim (in his “Prince McLean” guise) that MobileMe not having SSL didn’t matter, where he tried to school Jens Alfke about security. Jens is an engineer who worked for Apple for 17 years, and is currently at Google working on Google Sites – in other words, he’s a guy who really knows his stuff on this.

    Daniel’s strength, and his weakness, is his willingness to posit some really far-out technical explanations for things. His biggest weakness, though, is that when faced with facts which demonstrate he’s completely and utterly wrong, he’d rather wriggle around and try and dispute the facts rather than just say “oh yes, you’re right – cool”.

  • WIkinerd

    I beg to differ. “Juggling the numbers” has been a tactic that has been used throughout the industry and in other industries, as well as in politics, the Roughly Drafted article really is the norm for me. While it may be that it’s a bit extreme for you, it really depends on how you view it.

    Mind you, that article is already better in terms of accountability than what I can find in one of the “OS wars” flaming contests. PC users (or fanboys) who never used a Mac citing reasons such as “we have DX10”, “Macs can do nothing” and “compatibility” are the ones which I am really fed up of, and they are the ones who should be labeled as the “lunatic fringe”. Mac fanboys can be just as bad but I can assure you that Daniel is not one of them—being a recent subscriber to his Roughly Drafted website, all of the articles I have read so far have at least demonstrated better support for his arguments than others, i.e. people in the “lunatic fringe of Mac fandom”.

    As for the article referred to as your main basis for calling him to be on the “lunatic fringe” is a “persuasive essay” in which I was taught in elementary school. He is free to argue whatever he wants, as long as he can back it up with necessary evidence.

    I would agree that the “5x” article may not have the best evidence around, I do think that the evidence given is plausible, but slightly unrealistic. I, for one, would not use two services from two different companies for security, because of “incompatibilities”; I would purchase a “packaged” security service and “trust” the company. (I used to do that, with Synmantec’s services, until I found that even my home written C+ virus passes through the scans) However, I do know people who do really use quite a few products to do the same thing; thus raising the cost. This factor is mainly based upon how people are now “paranoid” because of the once-weak (and still weak) security of Microsoft Windows. (And thus makes his point of spending the large amount of money on security products feasible)

    As for the rest of the Total Cost of Ownership, I also knew a friend who had to spend another $300 on his desktop because HP did not provide any drivers for Windows XP. He had to downgrade from Vista because only the Home Edition (read:”limited”) was included and he’s not about to dump another fortune of money for more of the Ultimate irritations (called the UAC). He ended up spending quite a lot more money than he would have for a Mac with the same specs.

    Now, back to Roughly Drafted. As I said before, I am a recent subscriber to his website, and have only read a fraction of what he had written, most of which was written in the last few months. I must say I am impressed by how cleverly argued his articles were and how well researched they were (read:sometimes better than TUAW).

    That was all I have to say.

    PS sorry about the length of this poorly-structured mini-novel, but I will have trouble explaining should i have shortened it.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ianbetteridge Ian Betteridge

    No apologies required, Wikinerd – thank you for the thoughtful comment. I haven’t been to RD for some time, so can’t speak on Dan’s recent work of course. I’m glad you enjoy it.

  • WIkinerd

    Looking back, though, that article about 5x is a bit extreme and is not as carefully researched as other articles, such as “How Apple keyboards lost a logo and Windows PCs gained one”, where something as trivial can be researched to such depth.