The Apple fansites are covering an article today with titles like “iPhone users suffering ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, analyst firm reckons”, and “iPhone Owners Plagued by Stockholm Syndrome, Analysts Say”.
It took a little bit of searching to find the original article, but Fierce Wireless has the source, with title “How will psychologists describe the iPhone syndrome in the future?”
Note the difference in headlines alone… the original essay describes the syndrome of aggressive overcompensation among a minority of owners, while the followups extrapolate this to all iPhone users and owners.
The article clearly focuses on the cognitive problems of a minority of Apple customers: “Apple has launched a beautiful phone with a fantastic user interface that has had a number of technological shortcomings that many [emphasis added] iPhone users have accepted and defended, despite those shortcomings resulting in limitations in iPhone users’ daily lives.” It goes on to list twenty complaints, as well as the typical defenses to those complaints raised in online discussion (“The phone cannot send MMS: There is no need to send MMSs, hardly anybody sends MMSs” etc.) This pattern of overcompensation is not addressed in the defending essays, shifting instead to (in broad stroke) “Hey! Those guys over there are saying all you iPhone owners are sickies!”, which was not the point of the original essay.
Rephrased, the defenses themselves exhibit the same problem the article describes — an inability to focus on the issues at hand, with deflections using strawmen to attack The Other, all in the defense of The Precious.
Remarkably, the iPhone’s major complaint of “Full Web (just no Flash)” is not mentioned, but the same dynamic of “oh who runs around with spare batteries anyway!?” and “oh the phone quality is the networks’ problem” is common to all these rebuttals.
The authors close with an evocative tangent: “In reality the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.” Apple gains consistent blogosphere hype on a remarkable basis, and there has long been suspicion that they seed false rumors into the blogosphere for buzz. It’s hard to know just how much back-channel manipulation there is, because few in the rumor mill cite their sources, and few are transparent about their private communications with the company. We can see the truth-bending, but we cannot yet see how this truth-bending comes about.
Bottom line, it’s no big deal… we’ve all seen these patterns of evasiveness in online conversation. But even when these are openly identified and discussed, there’s a scurry to distort and misrepresent the uncomfortable conversation. And Adobe sees Apple as a significant part of today’s computing ecology, and will continue to work to connect content creators with their audiences wherever they may be.
[The title? A wonderfully counterintuitive phrase from The Church of The Subgenius and its inspiration J.R. "BOB" Dobbs... as explained by Pope David Meyer: "BOB (once properly compensated) wants his minions to pull the wool over their own eyes. You see, all our lives we've been sold everyone else's wool. Our parents' wool, our church's wool, our teachers' wool. But when you pull the wool over your own eyes, when you relax in the safety of your own delusions, in five minutes you'll be so bored you'll do what BOB (once properly compensated) wants you to do: you'll start thinking for yourself! BOB is that rarest of gurus. BOB is a short-term personal savior!" Given that all we frail humans are fallible, it's better to take responsibility for our own beliefs than to just blindly Obey Alien Orders.]
[And comments are turned off on this blogpost, because I've no interest in publishing those who can't focus on the subject... easy enough to find the flamers elsewhere.]