BusinessWeek’s Hesseldahl takes umbrage over criticism of his flawed Multi-Touch article

“I’ve been getting lots and lots of email from irate readers who can’t stand what I wrote today about HP’s Touchsmart tx2 notebook,” Arik Hesseldahl blogs for BusinessWeek.

MacDailyNews Take: We bet you have. (See: BusinessWeek blows it: reports Apple has no Multi-Touch notebooks, ‘beaten’ by HP – November 19, 2008)

Hesseldahl continues, “My point in this column was pretty straightforward, and nearly all of the people responding to it are in fact responding not to what I wrote, but to a rather slanted summary by the proprietor of a particular Apple enthusiast site. This writer, who doesn’t make their name or contact information readily available would have you believe that I’m willfully ignorant of the fact that the MacBook line sports a multi-touch trackpad. Actually I’m intimately aware of the multi-touch trackpad.”

MacDailyNews Take: If Mr. Hesseldahl is referring to MacDailyNews, our contact information is readily available by clicking – *gasp* – the link labeled “contact” above and also below each and every one of our 19,164 articles, in bold, where it says “Send us links! Email: .” It is our prerogative to remain anonymous for various reasons ranging from tradition (how we started) to maintaining our ability to gather information from industry sources. For example, certain industry ties we have would likely be hampered if our faces were also the faces of MacDailyNews.

Furthermore, we stand behind our critique of Hesseldahl’s earlier piece 100%. In that piece, Hesseldahl basically invented a race that Apple has either decided not to enter or has already won, depending upon which of his conflicting definitions you decide to use, and then ignored any semblance of logic in order to declare HP the “winner” of his trumped up contest.

For clarity’s sake: With iPhone, Apple won “Hesseldahl’s Big Imaginary Multi-Touch Touchscreen Race” – a ruse he invented to serve as the unsound foundation of his earlier piece – by beating HP’s latest mess to market by nearly a year and, with their MacBooks, Apple has obviously decided not to employ existing technology that they already have in shipping products and instead chosen to place Multi-Touch™ on the trackpad which, unlike the screen, is actually designed for touching. Apple has done so for nearly four years, ever since PowerBooks that employed two-finger (multi-touch) swiping for scrolling and panning debuted on January 31, 2005. Hesseldahl’s assertion that HP “beat” Apple is laughable. HP only “beat” Apple to an implementation that Apple has obviously decided is not worth deploying. It’s like saying that Sony “beat” Apple to the “bean” form factor in MP3 players. Congrats, Sony.

Related article: More blood on Apple iPod’s Click Wheel: Sony’s Walkman Bean is cooked – February 13, 2006

Just because Arik Hesseldahl — tech writer for that titanic tome of technology, BusinessWeek.com — wants Apple to do touchscreen MacBooks doesn’t mean they should.

Hesseldahl continues, “What’s stopping Apple from making both the trackpad and the screen multi-touch capable and allowing the user to figure out what works best for them?”

MacDailyNews Take: Apple is stopping Apple. Obviously, they have the technology, so perhaps they’ve decided that when a trackpad input area is available, then that is exactly what should be used for Multi-Touch™ instead of greasing up the screen with fingerprints? Perhaps they have actually done usability testing with prototypes? Testing that’s even beyond that which is available to a BusinessWeek.com hack?

Hesseldahl continues, “Who better to figure out how to solve these problems then [sic] Apple?”

MacDailyNews Take: For some reason, Hesseldahl is assuming that Apple hasn’t already figured it out even though they’ve been shipping multi-touch-capable Mac notebooks for nearly four years (vs. HP’s nearly four minutes). Some tech writers have very high opinions of themselves. Sometimes they even think they know more about usability than the people who brought the world the GUI and the Multi-Touch™ UI. Less conceited observers might surmise that Apple has already long ago figured out these problems and decided that making touchscreen convertibles pales in usability to MacBooks with large Multi-Touch™ trackpads.

We’ve experimented with them, but they don’t make a lot of sense to us. – Apple CEO Steve Jobs on touchscreen MacBooks, October 14, 2008

Now a larger than iPhone, slab-like “MacBook touch” is another thing entirely and we have heard (and helped spread) unconfirmed rumors of just such a device:
• RUMOR: Apple’s unreleased ‘MacBook touch’ spotted in online logs – October 22, 2008
• Apple patent application describes ‘MacBook touch’ – August 28, 2008
• RUMOR: Apple’s secret product is ‘MacBook touch’ – July 22, 2008

To us longtime Apple watchers, Cupertino seems to be saying, “Multi-Touch on the screen only when trackpads are not part of the device.”

Now, we already know that Hesseldahl has problems with the “vision-thing” as evidenced here:
BusinessWeek’s Hesseldahl can’t imagine where Apple goes from here – October 02, 2008

So, Arik, why don’t you just stick to reporting and leave the imagining to those who are better suited to the task?

Hesseldahl’s full article, with a convenient and condescending* photo of an Apple trackpad juxtaposed with the headline “Ceci N’est Pas Un Ecran (This is not a display),” is here.

*By the way, did you know that Arik is “Ivy-League educated?” He likes to inform readers who email him criticisms of his work of that salient fact whether they ask about his educational background or not. He also knows some French.

MacDailyNews Note: We’d be remiss if we failed to mention that Arik loves email: . Interested readers can also contact BusinessWeek Editors here.

55 Comments

  1. AHH and I actually got into an email battle over this. (Read up)

    On Nov 19, 2008 at 10:52 AM, <JHH> wrote:

    Whenever I touch my screen, I then need to clean of the fingerprints. Touching a screen is a bad idea for those devices that have a keyboard and trackpad. It is inefficient and makes the screen unsightly.
    JHH

    On Nov 19, 2008, at 10:09 AM, Arik Hesseldahl wrote:

    You’re splitting hairs. Can you touch the screen on a Mac? Negative. AAH

    On 11/19/08 10:08 AM, “<JHH> wrote:

    That is not what your article states: “But as of Nov. 19, Hewlett-Packard) has beaten Apple (AAPL to the punch, announcing the first multitouch-enabled notebook PC, the tx2. I can’t help but wonder whether Apple just lost an important race.”

    Apple has had the “first multitouch-enabled notebook” for almost a year and a half. The “tx2” is NOT the “first multitouch-enabled notebook.” Your article is rampantly misleading.
    JHH

    On Nov 19, 2008, at 9:58 AM, Arik Hesseldahl wrote:

    No retraction necessary. It’s correct. Apple has no touch-screen notebooks. Thanks for writing. AAH

    On 11/19/08 9:22 AM, <JHH> wrote:

    I think the MacDailyNews site says it all regarding your recent article. When do you print the retraction?
    JHH

  2. I know there are problems but personally, I’d like to see a charging cable that doubles as a monitor cable for my iPhone, use a bluetooth keyboard and use the iPhone as a track pad. Is it super powerful, no, but it would be good enough for a lot of people out there.

  3. Seems that Arik (or his publisher) don’t even know that in French, you don’t put uppercase in front of every word. This is so an English way of writing.

    When MDN say “He also knows some French.”, MDN is right. Arik know some but that’s it. In fact, he may need more French courses to prentend writing in French.

  4. Hesseldahl continues, “Who better to figure out how to solve these problems then Apple?”

    Mr. Hesseldahl, you are being issued a warning for improperly using “then” where you should have used “than.” This is a common error among the internet masses, but a journalist should know better. “Then” is a timeline word meaning “next,” as in “We went to the store, then the theater.” “Than” is a comparison word, as in “greater than, less than, better than, worse than.”

    Your next offense will result in a citation. That is all.

  5. From Hesseldahl’s defence:
    “What’s stopping Apple from making both the trackpad and the screen multi-touch capable and allowing the user to figure out what works best for them?”

    From Hesseldahl’s original article:
    “Given the current physical attributes of desktops and notebooks, a touch interface would be awkward. Sitting here in front of my desktop and notebook displays, I imagine that repeatedly reaching up to touch the screen a few thousand times a day would make my arms and shoulders tired. Ideally, touch-based computers would be built into the surfaces we sit at.”

    By his own words Hesseldahl agrees with Apple engineers that the horizontal trackpad is better suited as a touch interface than a vertical screen.

    From Hesseldahl’s defence:
    “This writer, who doesn’t make their name or contact information readily available would have you believe that I’m willfully ignorant of the fact that the MacBook line sports a multi-touch trackpad. Actually I’m intimately aware of the multi-touch trackpad.”

    From Hesseldahl’s original article:
    “Hewlett-Packard has beaten Apple to the punch, announcing the first multitouch-enabled notebook PC.”

    Hesseldahl did not write “multitouch screen equipped notebook PC.” He wrote “multitouch-enabled notebook PC.” “Multitouch-enabled” and “multitouch screen” are not the same thing. A multitouch trackpad certainly fulfills the grammatical requirements of the phrase “multitouch enabled”. For everyone claiming he meant “multitouch screen,” that could very well be what he meant but it’s not what he wrote.

    Hesseldahl can neither reason or write. I hope he’s not truly Ivy-league educated, because that would be pathetic. Though not much more so than his being a professional columnist.

  6. MDN ought to take over BusinessWeek’s “Byte of the Apple” column.

    It’d be way more accurate, edgy, and they wouldn’t have to concoct ludicrous competitions and imaginary theories in order to generate columns.

    They’d also get more hits.

  7. Hi Passerby. Good points. Hesseldahl called this “splitting hairs” when I pointed out that he had not limited the “multi-touch” accolades to the screen. In fact, it is sloppy journalism. He got caught. Instead of admitting it, he splits hairs.

    JHH

  8. There was a very simple solution to the problem. After the piece had been published with the unclear phrase “multitouch-enabled notebook PC”—and it is unclear because in the original article Hesseldahl not only acknowledges the existence of non-screen touch interfaces but muses they may be preferable—he could have responded to the kerfuffle with a simple statement thus; “I was unclear in my original article on this subject. What I meant to write was that HP has beaten Apple to market with a touchscreen notebook PC.”

    Instead he’s holding his breath, stamping his feet, and whinging that all the cool kids are picking on him. If they don’t stop he’s going to take his toys and go home.

    Please do.

  9. HP actually introduced a touch screen PC back in 1983!

    See http://hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=43

    I remember our HP sales rep loaning us one for a couple of weeks. The novelty soon wore off as stretching out one’s arms to reach the screen got tiresome in very short order.

    The machine did not last very long in the market because it wasn’t fully IBM PC compatible – remember when that used to be important?

  10. Does he really think anyone cares what weeds grew on his campus? And speaking French? That’s spectacular! That puts him on par with most 7th graders in Canada. It’s pathetic to throw your education around to justify ignorance.

    P.S. I finished my engineering schooling this year with a 4.0 GPA, and I’m fluent in pig-latin…therefore take my opinion as written law. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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