Tech press bias

Will Windows 10 Win Developers Back To Microsoft?

This is a relatively balanced article on the issues facing Microsoft in growing developer mindshare, containing many balanced points. But I’m going to use it as a bit of a punching bag because I’m frustrated with the poor reporting and almost unbelievable levels of bias in the tech media. Sorry PW – there are way worse articles out there, you’re just in the firing line today.

There’s a bit of confusion in this article between iOS and MacOS. Yes, Apple sells a ton of iDevices. No, there aren’t “so many people on Mac”. In the article, we see the supposedly disastrous Windows phone market share numbers (2.7% vs 18% for iPhone). Then we hear from a former .NET desktop developer bemoaning the flight of his audience to MacOS. I’m sorry, but MacOS marketshare in the desktop space is not even as high as that of Windows in the tablet space – and, despite tech-press rhetoric, desktops are still ahead of tablets in raw numbers (just), eyeball hours (by a bit more), and value as enablers (no contest).

This is the old switcheroo we’ve seen so many times in the last ten years. Apple (and now Google) has sold a bunch of phones to upgrade-happy consumers, and somehow that means Microsoft is in trouble. Except it’s not, we have to admit, when we really look at the numbers. But it could be. Soon. Maybe. Or maybe a bit later. Or maybe not. Anyway, that’s gotta be worth an article, right?

The work of the world today overwhelmingly takes place on desktop computers. And if Microsoft has “failed” in the mobile space (a thesis with which I disagree), then Apple, after 35 years of trying, has surely “failed” in the desktop space. Anyone beating up Google for lack of market share for ChromeOS? No, didn’t think so.

But mass market plays aren’t the only ones that matter. The last 30 years of desktop computing would have been vastly poorer without Apple. Today, in the tablet space, the boot is on the other foot – Apple is the marketing success story, Google has taken cheap and cheerful to the limit, and Microsoft occupies the quality niche. And with its strengths in productivity, Microsoft has a lot to bring to the mobile table. Each vendor gets appropriate credit for their respective role, right?

Wrong. The bias is almost laughable. When Apple was a niche purveyor to the graphics and music industries, design quality was what mattered. Then when Apple had a mass market success with the iPad and then iPhone, market share was what mattered. Then the iPhone got knocked off by Android, and now high-end market share is what matters. Guys, if I want to read Apple sales brochures I know where to find them.

So why do I care? I can just ignore the tech press after all. But the scary thing is this: investors don’t. Year after year of relentless bad press is going to take its toll. It won’t be poor engineering quality, or inappropriate pricing, or the old red herring of “app ecosystem”, or lack of developer mindshare, or lack of market share that kills off mobile Windows. All those things are either furphies or eminently fixable. It’ll be plain old bad reporting. And that’s a shame. Like the Mac in the 80’s and 90’s, Microsoft’s mobile offerings have a lot to teach the major players.