Walter S. Mossberg’s ‘Personal Technology’ column, “which anchors the front of the Wall Street Journal’s Thursday Marketplace section, is particularly powerful when it comes to judging innovation intended for the consumer market. The opening sentence of his inaugural column, sixteen years ago, was “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it’s not your fault,” a sentence that Mossberg has since described as his ‘mission statement,'” Ken Auletta reports for The New Yorker. “Mossberg’s influence was felt almost at once.”
“Mossberg’s current contract—the second he has signed since 1997—covers the ‘Personal Technology’ column, on Thursday, and an accompanying video blog; ‘Mossberg’s Mailbox,’ also on Thursday, in which he answers readers’ questions; ‘Mossberg Solution,’ a Wednesday column that he edits but that is now written by Katherine Boehret (a reporter who also works as his assistant); appearances on CNBC to talk about his column; an annual conference, D: All Things Digital, which he and the Journal reporter Kara Swisher started in 2003; and a new D Web site, allthingsd.com, that he and Swisher launched in late April,” Auletta reports.
Auletta reports, “For the fifth annual D conference, at the end of May, Mossberg persuaded Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to appear together to answer questions. Jerry Yang, one of the co-founders of Yahoo!, guesses that Gates and Jobs have agreed to participate because in some ways Mossberg is a peer. ‘He has so much history with so many of us who’ve been around that you really can talk to him about what’s happened in the last ten years,’ Yang says. ‘You feel you’re talking to someone who knows what he’s talking about. And you really have to know what you’re talking about to be able to hang with him.'”
“He has usually favored Apple products… because he believes that they are designed for average users. When the iMac G5 desktop was introduced, in 2004, he said in his column, ‘I am writing these words on the most elegant desktop computer I’ve ever used, a computer that is not only uncommonly beautiful but fast and powerful, virus-free, and surprisingly affordable.’ He was just as enthusiastic, six years ago, about the iPod. In January, when he wrote about the ‘radical and gorgeous’ iPhone, he described its ‘brilliant new user interface; the handsomest email program and Web browser I’ve ever seen on a phone; a full-blown iPod music and video player built in; and even a cool new voicemail system.’ But he also took care to say that he had had ‘too brief an encounter’ with it ‘to write a proper review,’ and pointed out that it lacked a physical keyboard, ‘which may put off heavy email users,’ that it runs on ‘the relatively slow EDGE cellular data network,’ and that, at $499, it will be expensive,” Auletta reports.
Much, much more in the full article here.