Wrong? Dvorak blames his 'getting screwed over' by Apple

Longtime tech pundit also acknowledges that he 'blew it'


With Friday being the 5th anniversary of the public release of the iPhone, I contacted a number of pundits who prior to that event had predicted that Apple's new gadget would be a failure, a flop, or at least hugely disappointing. Their 2007 predictions and their replies to my question - "What do you have to say for yourself?" -- are featured in this slideshow:

(They predicted 'The iPhone Will Fail')

However, a number of the replies would not fit the slideshow format, so I thought it only fair to give them room enough to breathe here. This one is from MarketWatch columnist John Dvorak and addresses a 2007 piece of his headlined: "Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone ... Company risks its reputation in competitive business." Dvorak responds:

Getting it Wrong About the iPhone

By John C. Dvorak

Columnist Marketwatch

Back before the iPhone was shown publicly I was asked to be on CNBC as the "con" guest regarding Apple's entry into the smart phone business. Most of these shows are booked with guests who they hope will argue the pros and cons on any subject. This triggered at least two columns and probably three appearances on two different CNBC shows.

While this didn't seem like much of a risk to do this since nobody had come close to knocking the doors off the place with a new phone for the last decade. And people have to note that the phone was a rumor and this was all written and discussed as speculation.

And while Apple was doing well with Jobs at the helm, the only killer new idea the company had was the iPod and it was just a music player. I had heard that some very select writers and analysts were shown the phone in advance; I wasn't.

Apple had a policy - and still does, NOT to even talk to anyone who has annoyed Steve Jobs in the past or present. They are blackballed. Other writers who are careful never to be more than only critical in an Apple approved way get full access as long as they tow the line. Everyone in the business knows who is blackballed and who isn't. The ones who aren't may as well work for Apple.

So I was genuinely caught off guard with these columns where I really didn't know anything except the miserable history of the smart phone, and I was kept in the dark by people who did know and who had all signed rigid non-disclosures. These documents should never be signed by reporters but many do it for the edge they get. So even if Apple were to show me the device I would not have been able to say or do anything except to say it was remarkable.

Avoiding these corrupt practices such as non-disclosures leaves me vulnerable when I'm trying to predict the outcome of a strategy with a product that is sight unseen. It is all theory at that point and it did not work out this time, to say the least. This column is a constant reminder. Since I've written over 4,500 articles over the last 30 years I would hope that people look at the track record. I blew it about six times in a major way like this. I do not consider that bad.

Of course when I actually got to see the phone I was enthralled like everyone else and regretted getting screwed over by the Apple "machine." But it was an entertaining exercise and a lot of Apple fans think it's hilarious that I could be so wrong. But these people never liked me in the first place. And as for my prediction that this phone would be a bad idea for Apple to pursue, anything can still happen. Time is a cruel mistress.

If you came to this post from out of the blue and would like to see how the other writers explain their iPhone follies, the slideshow begins here.

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.