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News Spins -- Revisited
How the press blames Apple for MacZones actions

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

TechWeb (Computer Retail Week), Nando Net says same thing

This article is about how Apple is at fault for loss of sales by a Mac Reseller (MacZone)

I have been hearing more and more complaints about this company from people who have purchased from them -- yet it is all Apples fault (according to them).

What is going on?

It seems that the press is so desperate to bash Apple that they are bashing Apple because one direct mail retailer reports that their sales are on the decline. How this is news is beyond me.

In a typical maneuver the CEO of the company starts defocusing on their customers (the Mac users) and then acts shocked that the customers respond by taking their business elsewhere --

"Since becoming CEO five months ago, I have focused on strategies for transitioning away from dependence on Apple sales and toward a PC business model," said John DeFeo, chief executive officer of Multiple Zones, in a release.

Like it is surprising that when a company starts "focusing" elsewhere (on PC's), that previous customers are often alienated and find other solutions. Can't the press and management put 2 + 2 together? They seem unable to in this report.

How hard is it to understand cause and effect? My company (and others) have done things like "start going into PC's more" -- which is usually a euphemism for supporting the Mac less. This alienates their current customers, who go elsewhere, then the companies act shocked when their Mac sales decline. Usually the same management that decided to "de-emphasize" the Mac, and cause the lost sales in the first place, uses the loss as validation for their own decisions -- when in reality it only reflects that their actions are often directly responsible for that loss. It is not surprising that many managers are good at pointing fingers and ducking responsibility -- that's often how they get to be managers. The surprise is that others don't see this, or chose not to report it.

The Mac customers are often perfectly happy going somewhere else, where they are more supported by companies that are not "transitioning away". This is supported by the facts that Mac sales have been growing each year (just sometimes not as much as the industry at large). Even if the Mac was going down in volume (which it isn't) -- there are many Software and support companies that gain market share for their products and services, and increase their own revenues, even in declining markets. The press is not saying that because some Mac-based companies are growing tremendously, that Apple is responsible -- it is only the blame they want to pin on Apple. So the failing of an individual company to achieve its sales goals (MacZone) is seldom the fault of an industry at large (Apple or the Macintosh) -- it is usually just a reflection of THAT company.

"The company anticipates Q2 sales to be at least 15 percent below the sequential Q1 level"

The report does not state how much of this was due to Apple, or how much Mac sales normally contribute to the company as a whole. I don't think they want us to really know what is going on -- as I imagine the facts do not support the conclusions (implications).

"Primarily due to the declining Apple sales, the company anticipates a non-cash charge to earnings in Q2 for certain domestic and international Mac-related inventory and other assets."

The company (MacZone) is taking charges against inventory, in a quarter when Apple had problems meeting demand. I find that interesting. What I imagine that means is that they over-purchased on older models, and have not been able to move them. Apple gives resellers warning as to when new models are coming out -- so the real issue would have to be bad forecasting on the part of MacZone -- or else MacZone would not be taking charges against inventory, but instead blaming Apple for a lack of supply. But that wouldn't be as sensational a story, or fit into the "Apple Bashing" agenda.

I wonder how many PC companies had declining sales this last quarter? I wonder why that was not reported as "News"?

I find it convenient that everyone and their brother can blame Apple for their problems. The second quarter is traditionally weak for Mac sales, and direct sales of Mac Compatibles by companies like Motorola and Power Computing are likely nibbling away at MacZone's market. Trade journals have all been telling users about hot machines that are going to be available "in the next few months", so many are likely waiting -- all while availability has not been great in the past few months, after having a GREAT first quarter. So we have a lot of users that just bought computers, a lot of users waiting, poor availability, a traditionally bad quarter and a CEO (and Company) that is already shifting away from Macs. He blames Apple and the press reports it as News -- when it is MacZone that did probably just did lousy forecasting and has been doing a poor job of meeting customers needs. All this spin makes me dizzy. I wonder why other companies had a great quarter with Mac products isn't news? Probably because it doesn't meet a certain agenda or spin things the right way. Not to sound paranoid -- but sometimes they really are out to get you.

I lost respect for Computer Retail Week quite a while ago because of their bias reporting and articles like this one -- reported as "News". They will just print anything -- some good, much of it really really bad. What editors seem to fail to realize is that printing two bad biased articles does not make one good one. For example, allowing the KKK to print an article about how "all blacks should die", is not balanced by allowing the Black Panthers to print an equally hostile article about whites. But many editors aren't even allowing for THAT kind of balance.

I know that MacZone lost my future business because of their idiocy, finger pointing, and poor customer support -- Of course I imagine they will blame that on Apple as well.

Addendum: Interestingly enough, soon after this article had run, I had an opportunity to help arrange a deal for about $100K-$300K/year in computer sales. Want to guess who didn't get the sale?

Created: 06/15/97
Updated: 11/09/02

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