Bobbie Johnson on “The Sticker Guy”

I’ve really avoided all comments on “The Sticker Guy” because the whole thing seemed, sneery, snobbish on the part of the Apple “cognoscenti” and generally irritating. Bobbie Johnson actually sums up my thoughts better than I could in his post “Internet grump #1: The Sticker Guy“:

“What nonsense that a guy gets dumped on for asking a question. It wasn’t even a rude question (’Steve Jobs, some people have said you are an asshole – what do you think?’) just one that didn’t want to hear the answer to – because they already a had a good idea what the answer was.

Therefore the very of asking a basic question at a press conference becomes tantamount to heresy. That’s pretty much the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

I’ve been to dozens of press conferences where questions that I thought were dumb elicited some very good – and occasionally very funny – answers.

But the other important thing to note is that these events involve a lot of different journalists, writing for a lot of different people – many of whom aren’t part of the cult of Apple, and who don’t know why a machine with an Intel processor doesn’t have the familiar “Intel Inside” sticker on it. Some of them – speak this quietly, for it is heresy – won’t know who Steve Jobs is, or give a toss about what a superb marketing man he is.

And, as Bobbie says, these events tend to be dominated by fawning members of the cult of Mac, who ask only the kind of questions which Jobs can answer with two words – and which, to be honest, obviously bore him.

“Unfortunately at events like that one, every journalist is following their own agenda (Bill says he is writing an article about Intel Inside) and so they don’t really take much notice . There are mainstream journalists, broadcasters, trade press, business mags, the whole gamut. And, this being Apple who – quite rightly – have many fans, there are too many softballs.

‘Stupid’ questions are part and parcel of the deal. We’re writing for audiences who don’t know everything (a fact usually ignored by snobbish specialist readers). We want to get quotes. We don’t get access to these guys every day (I was at a Jobs Q&A in London in April, but before that it was when I interviewed him a couple of years ago). Every so often a stupid question deals up a brilliant answer.”

Amen to that.

UPDATE: Charles Arthur sums it up extremely well:

“Before you go on, did you *know* what the answer was before the question was asked? That is, did you know *why* Apple was turning down the marketing benefits that accrue to companies which use the Intel Inside sticker – which are substantial? Pause, and answer honestly.

If you didn’t absolutely know why, you were wrong to pillory him. That means Gruber and Macuser, Macalope and others. You didn’t know. You assumed. You guessed. You presumed. That ain’t factual journalism. It’s jackass-y to take the piss out of someone who’s doing a better job than you. (In fact, I call on Gruber to recall his Jackass award. Investigation is never jackassery.)”

(Via bojo Feedburner.)

  • J L Smith

    Is there really a fuss about this? How very very odd. Not only are “stupid” questions vital to the

    process, the whole notion of asking your really good questions in a public forum is daft.

    Everybody else can hear the answer! (and if you’re working for a magazine like MacUser and everyone else is on an internet publication beat you to the story).

    As for the “stupidity” of the original question, well I dunno why Apple doesn’t stick an intel inside sticker on it and claim the cash. I can guess, but that’s not the same thing as knowing.

    And I don’t suppose anyone’s considered that it might not have been all that stupid a question.

    The intention might have been to get a mildly derogatory statement from Steve to get a reaction from Intel over. “Hey Steve says the Intel Inside logo looks like it was drawn by a 4 year old on acid and the Intel chimes give him hives, whaddaya say?” Hey prestissimo, instant controversy.

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

    Oh yes, there was a veritable blogstorm over it.

  • J L Smith

    I have to make the Nelson ‘ha ha’ noise to that. The Blogosphere is like a small village populated by particularly vindictive neighbourhood watch types…sort of like Hot Fuzz without the violence. or the laughs. Or the cornettos.

    I’ve also read the transcript now and can’t really see why the question about stickers is any more or less stupid than the one about AMD chips or the one about the Mac Mini (someone didn’t read their handout before asking).