The more cynical online journalists know that there's always an easy way to get the hits up: diss Apple. It used to be Acorn -- laugh openly at the Archimedes, and watch that mailbox groan with closely argued missives from angry ARM fans saying "It's a far superior machine to anything IBM ever designed" -- and before that, you had to rip the mickey out of obscure languages like BCPL to trigger the avalanche. The early days of Linux were rich seams of instant dissent too.
However, the trouble with Apple is that every so often some reasonably critical, objective and contextually aware journalists get seduced. Sometimes, this is due to a particularly nasty experience with a Windows machine followed by five minutes on a Mac -- how lovely, they think, not realising that the bleeders go wrong in their own sweet way too. But by the time they find that out, they've sold their soul to Cupertino.
And sometimes, it's Apple playing a particularly clever trick on them. Take today: the company says that it simply can't build the iPod Mini fast enough to keep America happy, so all us foreigners will have to wait until mid-summer for our shipments instead of next month as previously promised. Normally, a company saying it's got production problems is a chance for the jackals to cluster and howl in delight--– even if selling more than you thought is a better class of problem, and even if the production bottleneck is probably in the Hitachi hard disk factory in Thailand.
Not this time. Journalistic opinion is heavily polarised by this announcement hereabouts: those who (like me) are loftily above the dictates of fashion and social flimflam can see the issue clearly and without rancour. And then there's the other lot, who are besides themselves with delight and openly profess their love for Apple: this flows not from detailed analysis of the situation and contemplation of its implications for the future, but because they had a pal who was over in America earlier this month and brought them back iPod Minis. Which none of their friends will be able to get, except by paying silly prices over the Net, for an extra three months. Or more.
Oh, joy! (It's going to be a long three months - Ed.)