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Is It Possible This Reuters Writer Can’t Read? Nah!

Published May 14th, 2006

While reading MacDailyNews this evening, I happened on a remarkable story entitled, “Another iPod+iTunes FUD article keeps the disinformation flowing.” With a sigh, I took a look to see what idiot could possibly not understand the iPod and/or iTunes after so many years and so many articles.

As it turned out, the depth of this writer’s ignorance is absolutely shocking. There’s no way he could honestly think this stuff is true. If he does, he has no business covering complicated (yeah, right!) technology topics like the iPod and iTunes, because clearly the product’s available options are far too difficult for him to grasp. Concluding instead that he’s probably a bright guy, I’m tempted to infer, as MacDailyNews did, that his piece in Reuters is a deliberate attempt to mislead consumers and smear Apple’s innovative and highly successful music service. The article appears as part of Yahoo’s Finance site with the innocuous-sounding title “Do you own songs bought online? Well, sort of“.

After reading just the first few paragraphs, I whipped out my fingers and dashed off a letter using the Yahoo site’s contact form, which says “Our editors are interested in your comments. Please send us your feedback on Reuters news or photos.” Not being a shy guy in a case like this, that was all the encouragement I needed.


A friend told me of an article on your website today… written by someone named Duncan Martell. This person should be fired for ignorant, irresponsible journalism. I didn’t bother to read the whole article, because there were so many patent untruths in the first few paragraphs.

To mention just two:

  1. “Apple’s FairPlay… prevents you from listening to those purchased songs on a music player from Dell, Creative, Sony, …” This is b*llsh*t. All you have to do is burn the songs to a CD, and you can then import them to whatever player you’d like to use them on. All the author of this article is doing is spreading malicious misinformation. Clearly, he has a beef of some kind against Apple or the iPod, and his bias is showing. By bias, I mean ignorant prejudice about something he doesn’t fully understand.
  2. “The same goes for songs you’ve imported to your computer from CDs you already own.” This is an absolute lie, no way to read it otherwise. You can import music from CDs into iTunes in a half a dozen different formats that are all industry standards with no Digital Rights Management attached to them at all. As I said, you should fire Mr. Martell, or make sure he never covers another technology topic, because this statement is outrageously false. When you put a CD into your computer, you can import into iTunes in the following totally open and freely transferrable formats: MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC (MP4). MP3 and AAC are industry standard, nonproprietary compressed audio formats, and you can freely convert back and forth between these in iTunes if you change your mind later. WAV and AIFF are industry standard non-compressed formats that are the formats used on CDs themselves.

The credibility of your organization’s news and technology coverage is severely compromised by writers like Duncan Martell, who, in trying to make a possibly legitimate point about DRM (which by the way applies to Microsoft’s DRM format as well), stretches the truth in one case and totally obliterates it in the other. Not bothering to read the rest of his “article,” I don’t know how many more factual errors he made.

I would also seriously recommend firing the editor in charge, who should have demanded fact checking before publishing this.

Leland Scott

Will ignorant press about the iPod/iTunes never cease? Frankly, not until Microsoft gives up in its effort to break into that market with its inferior Windows Media Player-based solution.

It’s difficult to think of another industry where unethical tactics like this are regularly employed. Can you imagine the president of GM saying something like, “Did you know that Ford makes engines that can only be used in other Ford vehicles? It’s true… Buy a Ford, and you’re stuck with it for life.” I mean, huh?

Ever since Microsoft began its run at monopoly in the early 1980’s, the computer industry has become accustomed to truth being a shade of grey, and product announcements being considered an opportunity to tell Really Big Lies about possible future products. Look at Vista, for god’s sake. They’ve been talking that one up since June 2001! If you think I’m exaggerating, check out “Mr. Microsoft’s” (Paul Thurrott) website, the Win Supersite, to check.

You know, one of the reasons the good guys always lose the first battle or two in movies and books is that, unlike the bad guys, they aren’t willing to lie or cheat in fighting the war. The bad guy, of course–it’s part of what makes him so bad–will do anything to win, and hesitates not to pull a dirty trick or three in that effort. Tactics like what Microsoft has been doing for 15 years–lying about its adversaries, exaggerating features of its software products, announcing products that don’t exist in order to ward off competition, to name a few of the least serious ones–are clearly “bad guy” tactics.

And I think we all know what happens to the bad guys at the end of the picture, don’t we? As the end of the picture approaches, and as the good guys are finally making headway against all odds, don’t be at all surprised to see the intensity of nastiness in the PC industry ratchet up a notch or two.

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