Files under General | Jul 23rd


This little picture stands in my office, next to my desk.

It is very small and not very good, but it’s the only one that I have from one of my two meetings with the legendary editor of The New Yorker, Mr. William Shawn.

And I say “Mr. Shawn” because that’s what everybody called him.

Mr. Shawn had a very small corner office in the old headquarters of the magazine founded by Harold Ross.

On his desk there was a pencil holder, full of sharpened lead pencils.

And dozens of article proofs waiting for his fierce editing.

Facts, facts, facts, he insisted. We are a factual magazine.

And to explain the idea, Mr. Shawn told me a great, great story in his office that afternoon.

One day, Harold Ross comes to the newsroom (separate elevators for journalists and managers) and grabs a young reporter in the hall and says:

Oh boy, parking in Manhattan is worse than ever.

We need to do something!

Go to the streets around the building and check how many cars are parked, how many spaces are available, and how much time the cars stay parked.

Marching orders.

Of course, the young reporter went to the streets and nobody knows how, but he delivered what he was asked to do.

Mr. Shawn smiled to me and said:

Well, Mr. Giner, this is the tradition in this house: first the facts, at any cost.

I remembered this lesson today reading recent stories about iPhone sales.

It’s amazing that so many “financial analysts” and other “experts” are giving numbers with no explanation about the sources.

Just a few examples:

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster released a report Sunday night estimating that the iPhone sales would reach 500,000 through the close of business Sunday. He had previously forecast first weekend sales of 200,000

Despite a wide range of claims from analysts about the iPhone’s sales on opening weekend, the most official word comes from AT&T’s spokesman Mark Siegel who indicates that the iPhone sales on opening weekend were more than they’d sold in the first month of any other wireless device in AT&T’s history.

Shaw Wu claims that 250,000 units sold over two days, while Gene Munster estimates 500,000 and Trip Chowdhry says 525,000 for the weekend.

Analyst estimates for iPhone sales in its first weekend run as high as 700,000 units, beating many investors’ expectations, and some now expect the momentum to continue. The device went on sale last Friday.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster recently raised his target price for Apple’s stock from US$160 up to $205. 24/7 Wall St.’s Douglas A. McIntyre, however, thinks he’s way off base, and even went so far as to call the prediction “nutty.”

Mr. Munster’s model for Apple assumes the company will sell 45 million iPhones in 2009.

David Bailey said in a research note earlier this week the he expected iPhone sales during its first weekend would be around 350,000 units, but thinks actual sales may have been double that.

Shoppers may have bought as many as 700,000 iPhones over the weekend, Goldman Sachs Inc. analyst David Bailey said, twice his projection of 350,000. Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster pegged sales at 500,000, more than twice his original 200,000 estimate. On the lower end of the estimates, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.’s Bill Shope said sales may have reached 312,000 in the days after the device’s Friday debut. American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu, who called his initial 50,000 estimate conservative, wrote in a note Monday that Apple may have sold five times as many.

The problem with all these figures, as Reuters says today, is that Apple is expected to show a 35-percent surge in quarterly profit this Wednesday, but the focus will be on just two days: the last 48 hours of June when its highly anticipated iPhone went on sale.

The iPhone contributed virtually none of the $637 million Apple is forecast to have earned, but investors are eager for the first official word on how many of the combination phone, Web browser, media player devices were sold at launch.

And this explains why Apple selected that date for the launch: the last two days of the quarter, in order to show big numbers and impress these second-class, fly-by-night, hole-in-the-wall reporters who are so-called “financial analysts” and “experts.”

During my vacation, I read a very good piece from The New York Times about the sophisticated Apple spin.

Joe Nocera is right.

There is only spin!

I have my own iPhone.

It works better than any other cellular phone in the world.

I am very happy with that.

But I am really worried about Apple’s media manipulation.

And about these miserable “financial analysts” and “experts.”

So… The New York Times’s of the world need editors like Harold Ross and William Shawn.

Sending the troops to the Apple and AT&T stores to get the facts.

If needed, doing exit polls, like in the elections.


First the facts, at any cost.


  1. [...] Link to Article apple iphone THE APPLE IPHONE AND A LESSON FROM WILLIAM SHAW » Posted at [...]

  2. adamdigital says:

    William Shawn. He would have minded about this! Good to have your memory of him.

  3. vascoferreira says:

    Thanks for the great Harold Ross story. He would be the one to cast a suspicious eye at all the iphone hype (and to embrace the thing itself).

  4. [...] as I wrote here during the launch of the iPhone, the Apple spin rules [...]

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