Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The Apple reality distortion field's fun-house mirror

March 3, 2013: 8:14 AM ET

When did Wall Street and the business press decide that Apple could do nothing right?

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The Macalope

FORTUNE -- I don't know for certain who writes The Macalope column for Macworld, but I think he put his finger on something interesting Saturday in A Fundamental Disconect, his round-up of the week's Apple (AAPL) news.

"Apparently," he writes, "some bit has switched somewhere—like a Manchurian candidate being triggered—and everyone is willfully ignoring the state of things in Cupertino."

The evidence he cites from last week's news:

  • Good Technologies released a report detailing how iOS devices continue to dominate the enterprise market (with iOS activations rising from 71% to 77%), and the Wall Street Journal's takeaway from it was "Android Tablets Gain on iPads in Business Market."
  • Forbes anticipated Fortune's World's Most Admired Company list by publishing eight reasons (from Personality Drain to Growing Ethical Costs) that Apple's corporate peers would finally vote the company off the top spot. Fortune's list came out three days later with Apple voted the World's Most Admired for the sixth year in a row without comment from Forbes.
  • The New Yorker's James Surowiecki wrote 480 lovely words rounding up the "deluge of forecasts stating that Apple is 'in big trouble,' 'losing its cool,' and just plain 'doomed'" before suggesting there might be less reason for panic than meets the eye. Apple, he concluded, "has always been the proverbial bumblebee: it shouldn't be able to fly but it does."
  • Investors refused to believe Tim Cook when he said Apple was working on new categories of products because, The Macalope writes, "a continuing series of carnival barkers, rabble-rousers, and dull-witted naysayers have repeatedly said that Apple is done innovating." Yet investors happily believed Doug "Easy Money" Kass when he tweeted a false rumor that Apple was about to announce a stock split.

What's going on? The Macalope reminds readers that Apple engineers used to say Steve Jobs was surrounded by a "reality distortion field" with which he persuaded people they could do the impossible. Could it be, the antlered one suggests, that Jobs' RDF has been turned inside out?

"There is a fundamental break from reality going on here," he writes, pointing readers to a recent column by Ben Bajarin:

"Since [Steve Jobs's] passing his reality distortion field still exists but it has moved from inside Apple to outside Apple. Mainly to the many on the street and the mainstream media (just looking for headlines) who have caught the reality distortion field syndrome and now ... believe in a reality that does not exist."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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