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Apple's Web Worms

Bloggers worm their way into Apple and reveal company secrets. (iStockphoto.com) hide caption

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(iStockphoto.com)

I was talking with my brother, Colin, the other day about what kind of news he reads. He's 20 and in his second year of design school at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He's also a real smarty-pants and, in my opinion, the arbiter of all things cool and of the future.

He pointed me to one of his favorite Web sites, Daring Fireball. It's devoted almost exclusively to Apple industry news. The site is run by John Gruber, who is, according to Colin, one of the most accomplished bloggers on the topic of Apple. I was surprised that one company could sustain a daily blog. As it happens, Daringfireball.net isn't alone. There are several Apple-devoted sites. Some of them employ whole teams of people who spend their days reporting on the company. And, when I say reporting, I mean impressive investigative journalism. More on that in my story I'm working on for All Things Considered.

At the moment, these Apple-devoted bloggers are focused largely on one product: the Apple Tablet, a device supposedly meant to compete with the Kindle. Over at the Boy Genius Report (aka BGR), a site devoted to mobile devices, the much-rumored tablet has been compared to a religious icon.

The tablet is the holy grail right now. We know everything and we know nothing. It could be anything from a six-inch device to a 10-inch device. It could be an actual computer, it could be a large iPod. The whole thing is just misunderstood at this point. And that's what Apple wants

.

Apple is known for being secretive, and they've no doubt been irritated by past industry leaks to blogs. On the other hand, the speculation and anticipation that these blogs generate is ultimately good press for the company.

The other thing I've been thinking about while reporting this story is how these blogs reflect the changing craft of journalism. There's been a lot of talk about journalism becoming "hyper-local," meaning mainstream media organizations will die and small, local organizations will thrive. But, as my editor Marilyn Geewax said today, "niche is the new local." News consumers of the future might spend equal amounts of time checking NYTimes.com for the latest on President Obama's trip to China and Mac Rumors to see if iTunes media synchronization is still missing its latest updates. In fact, I'm pretty sure Colin's already doing that.