iPhones, iPunditry and iPhoolishness OR Why Pundits Never Get It Right

Today I was part of the masses who attended Macworld at the Moscone Center, and I was part of the assembled group that was amazed by the brilliant design of Apple’s new iPhone. But once the effect of some very smartly organized presentations by Mr. Jobs and Co., and I thought about what I’d seen, I began to realize that most of what I’d seen had already been “reported” via various news sources, and debated and debacled by various industry “analysts” (the business equivalent of political pundits).
So why was I so impressed by what I’d heard?
After all, multiple outlets who cover Apple patents noted the application for a multi-touch display. Others kept talking about a possible widescreen iPod. There were several sourced reports that a Taiwanese firm had received the Big Order for an “iPhone” from App.e.
Endless discussion amongst industry analysts dissected rumors, reporting and more about Apple’s “chances” with a cell phone offering, with many dismissing it as a foolish idea. One analyst dismissed the idea, suggesting that people simply glue a cell phone to an iPod Nano to get the same effect.
Blah blah blah.
In the end, a good portion of the rumor mongering ended up being true. Apple did develop a cell phone, Apple did merge it with a widescreen iPod, and Apple included many of the elements previously discussed.
What the pundits, the analysts, the chat-board regulars, and the talkers did not get, however, was the synthesis of all these disparate items on a checklist, into something far better, and greater than the sum of its parts. A quick look at the faux mock ups of potential iPhones by fanboys and fangirls bears this out.
So in the end, we were wowed by not information we’d heard before, but rather by the synthesis of all these ideas into something new and unique. Something no one could have predicted using a checklist, making it impossible to truly gauge the potential impact on Apple, the cell phone business, et al.
It is a lot like political punditry, really. High and mighty journalists, talkers, politickers, consultants and the like are all great at making up dry, long, checkbox lists of why a candidate or a cause or an idea can or cannot win. We are told these people “know what’s best” and we’re told to listen and do as they say.
Problem is, they can talk you to death about these points and speak with some authority – after all they do talk for a living. And yet, in the end they are usually not much more successful at really knowing what will happen next than all the tech analysts who seemed to “know” about the upcoming iPhone – and still don’t’ get it why they’re gawking at the results just like the masses are.
The difference is that political folk are more adept at changing spots and denying they’d ever predicted otherwise. Perhaps Wall St. might learn a little bit from the politickers after all.

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