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, — 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 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.


  1. Additional confusion may come from Apple, suggesting that ‘Multi-Touch™’ should be described with the generic term ‘touchscreen interface’.

    “The list also includes one or more suggested generic terms for each trademark. For all publications, include an appropriate generic term after the trademark the first time it appears. Thereafter, the generic term should appear frequently with the trademark.”

  2. I hate fingerprint smudges on my screen and I can’t imagine wanting a computer with all that glop covering it. And what about situations where you share a computer with another person? I’d go nuts if I had to clean off the greasy finger swipes off my workstation screen every day from the person on the shift before mine. And what if they don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom? Horrors. HP is losin’ it.

    /that BW guy is a tool.

  3. This seems familiar. Hasn’t Hesseldahl pulled this crap on multiple occasions before? You know, spout BS about Apple, deliberately provoking angry reactions from Apple fans, then writing a followup bitching about all the email he gets?


  4. Hesseldahl is one of the better writers out there that covers Apple, he has a brain and a real hands on understanding and admiration of Apple and Jobs. That does not mean he’s not entitled to a subjective point of view. it does not mean that MDN needs to get stupidly and overly rabid over a technicality that is perfectly clarifying and self explanatory in the context of the complete article.

    Hess specifically in the first paprgraph , makes iit clear that he’s talking about a multitouch-enabled screen but macdailynews is so rearing to go and chomping at the bit that it seems they are not only making themselves look dumb to anyone who bothers to actually read the article and see for themselves, but also they are just dumping on a good long time Apple writer, who has always brought refreshing thought, perspective and responsible commentary that is usually more than casually researched.

    macdailynews is a really good Apple news site and do a great job , but when they go on a tantrum sometimes they miss their own goal and also don’t quite do themselves a good service by making a mountain out of a moehill…

    Chill out macdailynews and all the blind followers – read the article and see that it’s not justifying of all the vitriol the. Don’t lump Hesseldahl in the same bag as the slime balls that deliberately write FUD on Apple to hurt them – Know the enemy – Hesseldahl is a true fan and a refreshing article writer. Jobs himself has sung his praise in the past.

  5. I STILL don’t understand how HP can come out with multi-touch laptops if Apple has “over 200 patents” in the iPhone which, presumable, cover multi-touch. Or do they? DOES Apple have a patent on Multi-touch or not? Interested minds want to know… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  6. Please don’t pick on Arik. He is a valuable source for me. When I have exhausted every possible idea for a post, and I need something to make fun of, a quick “ARIK” into Google always gets me something pompous to snicker at.

    He knows less about business than he does about tech, which makes it even funnier when he tries to combine the two into a single post.

  7. Apple, can’t just slap a multitouch screen on a laptop and release it in the wild. It requires a whole new interaction paradigm to be invented or it would just become a gimmic – a fancy way to launch your applications and scroll in the browser…

    No, take your time Apple and get it right…

  8. Hesseldahl
    “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?”

    Conversely …

    What is stopping HP from making both the trackpad and the screen multi-touch capable and allowing the user to figure out what works best for them?

    MDN = 31337
    Hesseldahl = n00b

  9. @ breeze

    Any way you could point out some of the articles besides this one that you’ve read by him that were good ones and not bias against Apple and worth reading?

    Either links or at least examples would be nice.

    I think his point about HP is flawed but I’m not sure I’d jump all over him over it.

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