The Apple Fan Cycle

Marco Arment wrote recently about the business of writing inflammatory articles about Apple;

It’s booming partially because writing inflammatory Apple headlines gets a lot of clicks. Apple is popular and the dominant player in many industries, so anything that attacks it will attract attention. But it’s also booming because we all keep linking to the bullshit. We, Apple-and-related writers, link to it from our blogs or Twitter accounts. We point and laugh at the most humorously wrong sentence, or we rebut its points one by one. We think we’re taking them down, but we’re just taking the bait. And then all of our readers and followers take the bait, and we support the bullshit by sending pageviews.

Jim Dalyrymple responds, saying that ignoring it won't make it go away – but the average consumer may well believe it, so taking them down a peg or two may help.

Gruber makes the point that

…if it’s stupid and published on a high-traffic site, or it’s an expression of a widely-held misconception, it’s often worth addressing, bullshit or not. Or take a guy like Rob Enderle. He’s a troll and an idiot, but he’s often worth linking to because he’s so frequently quoted as a knowledgeable expert by mainstream media reporters. If none of us ever linked to him, there’d be no record showing just how spectacularly wrong he’s been over the years.

Of course, this still raises the question of how the 'average consumer' will ever come across that record, given that few publishers are going to link back to an article that claims that they are wrong.

But what you end up with, from a publishing perspective, is a surprisingly neat ecosystem. I'm sure that I must get at least as much fun out of a weekly Macalope article or an Angry Mac Bastards podcast as someone who hates Apple must get from something like a Dan Lyons article. But without the Dan Lyons or Rob Enderles, they wouldn't have much to talk about.

Meanwhile, Apple fans see the world through a particular lens – if you're following the Grubers, Arments and Dalrymples of the world, then you see how the mainstream media is 'wrong' about Apple. If you're following the mainstream media, then you just read about what is wrong with Apple.1


But, it works for the mainstream, who get to pull in the clicks and boost their page views. It works for Apple, who get to watch Apple bloggers strengthen their brand with their readers (as well as reinforce the old positioning of Apple as the 'outsider.') And it probably works for Apple's competitors – the Microsofts, Googles, Samsungs etc. who get to watch 'the media' take Apple down a peg or two.

  1. I guess John Siracusa sits somewhere in the middle… 


If none of us ever linked to him, there’d be no record showing just how spectacularly wrong he’s been over the years.

That's just not how it works... People don't search out back links. And Google doesn't distinguish between approval links and opprobrium links.