Forbes commentator: America picks style over substance; Obama looks like the iPhone president

“Yes, I’d love to have the function that identifies songs that are playing, and the photo storage is cool and good-looking. But from what I’ve heard, it just doesn’t work. Lately, every time I’ve walked up those silly transparent steps to the Moronbar at my local Apple Store with one of my two lemon MacBooks, I’ve watched the line of hipsters waiting to drop their iPhones off for repair–and recoiled,” Ann Marlowe writes for Forbes.

“Then my visiting friend from Los Angeles, Rachel, told me she needed to use my landline for a radio interview because her iPhone was unreliable. I knew I’d made the right choice. I don’t need another product that doesn’t work,” Marlowe writes.

MacDailyNews Note: Marlowe provides no actual evidence beyond her extremely limited anecdotes. Contrast her stories with actual studies and you find that her view of the iPhone is diametrically opposed to reality:
ChangeWave: Apple iPhone’s ‘very satisfied’ rating more than double that of RIM’s BlackBerry Storm – December 22, 2008
J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in business wireless smartphone customer satisfaction – November 06, 2008
Survey shows Apple iPhone making business inroads; RIM, Palm drop in satisfaction ratings – February 29, 2008
ChangeWave: Apple iPhone maintains big lead in customer satisfaction; top choice among likely buyers – February 07, 2008
ChangeWave: Apple’s iPhone races to huge lead in customer satisfaction – October 18, 2007
Survey: Apple iPhone nabs unprecedented 92% satisfaction rating (plus likes and dislikes) – August 16, 2007
Study: Apple iPhone owners ‘off the charts’ satisfied with device – July 13, 2007

Marlowe continues, “But as I’ve been hearing complaints about iPhones from friends–fragile, you can’t type on it, you can’t cut and paste text on it–the germ of a theory has been growing… More and more, Obama looks like the iPhone President, and the U.S. is now paying a ‘style penalty’ for having him at the helm. (Obama himself, of course, uses a BlackBerry. He may be in love with himself, but he’s no dope.)”

MacDailyNews Take: “From friends.” As iPhone users know, you actually can type on an iPhone and type very well indeed. And, cut, copy, and paste will arrive very soon to all iPhone users with the release of iPhone OS 3.0.

Marlowe continues, “You want to have a handsome, cool, politically correct president who forever gives the lie to the charge that Americans are racists, provincial, uncouth, you name it? So he doesn’t really know much about government or economics. Fine–no problem. But your economy and stock market will pay a price.”

“Thus far, the true believers don’t seem to mind. This isn’t necessarily irrational, so long as you care more about the image of your president than how your 401(k) is doing or how many of your fellow citizens are unemployed. Everything has a price, and apparently Obama’s style value is so high for his supporters that it outweighs dollars and cents losses,” Marlowe writes.

“The new willingness among a large number of Americans to pay a style premium strikes me as very … European. It’s like the uncomfortably tight clothes favored by fashionable Italian men even in their leisure hours, or the taboo against eating anything other than ice cream in the street in France and Italy,” Marlowe writes. “Each practice costs something in ease or convenience, but is part of maintaining one’s image. We Americans have instead favored baggy athletic clothes and Brooks Brothers suits, and we will eat almost anything in public. We’ve rationalized this by saying that comfort and substance are what really matter,.”

“Maybe, though, things are changing. A fair number of overweight people who wear sweats and scarf burritos in public must have voted for Obama. A cynical interpretation is that this is a low-cost way of throwing in your lot with the svelte, knowing young people bopping to their iPods and iPhones without dieting, exercising or getting better manners,” Marlowe writes. “Voting in the 2008 election wasn’t about old fashioned class, but about cool, or how cool increasingly makes class irrelevant. The campaign of Sarah Palin was a valiant attempt to re-position blue collar signifiers as cool–remember the speech about Carhart jackets?”

MacDailyNews Take: Listening to music on an iPod or an iPhone is not exclusive to people exercising, dieting, and/or “getting better manners.”

Marlowe continues, “The chickens may be coming home to roost in the White House now. After the debacle over Obama’s gifts to Gordon Brown, it occurred to me that one basic fact had been lost in the deconstruction of the meaning of the 25 DVDs of American movies, which could not be played on European players… Gifting Psycho may not be classy, but it aspires to be cool.”

Marlowe writes, “I feel the appeal of cool, and there are ways it’s good for us, as long as style doesn’t distract from substance. But I’m worried that even a candidate with Obama’s exact positions on the issues couldn’t have been elected if that candidate were, say, a short, dumpy 60-year-old white guy, or a 47-year-old mixed race woman who didn’t happen to be particularly attractive. I suspect it means not that race doesn’t matter anymore in American politics, but that the choice is skin deep.”

The full article, along with the opportunity to comment on the article for those who register for free with Forbes, is here.

MacDailyNews Take: The iPhone (and iPod) are not style over substance. They are highly substantive while being stylish. As the studies we’ve listed above show, Apple’s iPhone routinely ranks the highest of all smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple iPhones work very well, indeed. Furthermore, of the many we’ve met, the people working at Apple’s “Genius Bars” are smart, capable people who would probably, as we certainly do, take exception to Marlowe’s derogative and snide “Moronbars” characterization. Finally, there is no “style penalty” whatsoever for using Macs, iPods, and/or iPhones. All of that extra Apple style is just icing on the cake.

MacDailyNews Note: To send a comment to the Forbes.com editors, email .

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Judge Bork” and “Kevin P.” for the heads up.]

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