Bilton's Folly

Nick Bilton over at The New York Times (who I criticized way before it was cool) was on the receiving end of some harsh words this week after his June 19th blog post, “Microsoft Surface Allows People to Create.”

The iPad, for all its glory, suffers from one very distinct flaw: It’s very difficult to use for creation. The keyboard on the screen, although pretty to look at, is abysmal for typing anything over 140 characters.

Apple bloggers, naturally, took Bilton to task. After all, his Apple slags came in the reflected praise he was heaping on Microsoft’s just-announced Surface tablet. At best, Bilton’s piece was a crock. Take his closing line:

Yet many budget-conscious consumers who pass on the iPad and go for a computer instead may now have a choice to buy a device that doubles as both.

Microsoft has kept mum on Surface’s pricing, so either he’s got a real source (in which case he should commit some journalism and report on it) or he’s just making shit up. I’ll put my money on the latter.

Yesterday he responded to the criticism in another post, “When Zealots Attack.”1 Here’s Nick’s defense of his iPad-isn’t-for-creation stance:

I absolutely love typing on my iPhone, where I can pummel my thumbs at the screen with the speed of Superman and the accuracy of an Olympic archer. But, for me, typing long form on the iPad is much more difficult. Maybe it’s a simple problem of the keyboard design on the iPad.

Others have pointed out in great detail how many people have used the iPad for creating artwork, music, books and so forth. But Nick doesn’t use his iPad for any of that, so it isn’t a creation device for him.

Which is all well and good, only that’s not what he said in his original post. Where does Bilton let us know that he is offering a personal opinion when he says things like “The keyboard…is abysmal” and “Apple doesn’t seem to want the iPad to be a creator”? He can’t have it both ways, wrapping opinions up as facts on a Tuesday and then explaining what he meant on a Friday.

So Bilton is trying on the “Apple Fanboys are mean” defense. Hell, he even tried an anti-corporate approach…to back up a piece he wrote about a Microsoft product:

But guys, these are products. They are products we buy, with our own money, from Apple — a company that makes a very hefty profit from those transactions.

He doesn’t get it. What he did this week was chip away not only at his own credibility but also at that of the publication he writes for. This wasn’t journalism, it was a cheap attempt at link-bait (which worked, twice), the kind of bullshit we’ve gotten used to over at Business Insider and The Huffington Post.

So Nick, I don’t think you’re an idiot, but you sure acted like one this week. Now do you have anything original to write for America’s paper of record, or are you just going to clack out the first idea that comes to you? That is, if there’s a Surface nearby.

  1. According to Jim Dalrymple over at The Loop, who offered the most boisterous criticism of Bilton this week, the headline originally read “When Apple Fanboys Attack.” ↩︎