Mainstream media fixated on Apple

Technology journalists stumble over each other to praise Apple, while Microsoft goes neglected

With its seemingly endless parade of shiny new consumer electronic devices, Apple gets more coverage in the mainstream media than any other technology company, more even than larger rivals such as Google and Microsoft, a study released on Sunday by the Pew Research Center states.

And the coverage is largely positive. About 69 per cent of the coverage either lauded Apple as innovative or superior, or praised the company's fan base, while only about 17 per cent of the coverage focused on the shortcomings of Apple products.

The researchers studied 437 technology related stories across 52 news outlets, including newspapers, television networks, radio programs and news websites. The samples were taken between June 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010. Trade publications and news sites, such as those offered by IDG, were not examined.

Overall, 15.1 per cent of all technology stories on these outlets focused primarily on Apple. About 11.4 per cent focused on Google, 7.1 per cent on Twitter, and 4.8 per cent on Facebook.

Trailing the pack is Microsoft, which despite its launch of Windows 7 and Office 2010 during this time period, garnered only 3 per cent of the coverage.

The disparity of coverage is telling, given that during approximately this time period, Microsoft still generated slightly more sales than Apple. In its last fiscal quarter, ending in June, Microsoft reported taking in $16.04 billion in revenue, while Apple reported $15.7 billion for its own fiscal quarter, also ending in June.

"After being arguably the most important technology company, even as recently as five years ago, run by the richest man in the world and the world's most powerful monopoly, Microsoft has, at least for now, fallen off the mainstream media's radar," the report stated.

The entirety of Microsoft coverage for the year was exceeded by both the releases of the Apple iPhone 4 -- which garnered 6.4 per cent of all technology coverage -- and the iPad, which garnered 4.7 per cent of all the technology coverage.

The iPhone 4 release was, in fact the second largest technology story for the year for the mainstream media. The largest technology story, one attracting nearly 10 per cent of all news coverage, was on the hazards of texting while driving. This topic garnered more than five times the coverage than other pertinent technology topics, such as net neutrality or the U.S. government's efforts at expanding broadband access, the report noted.

Overall, mainstream media has not been obsessed with technology news; technology coverage accounted for less than 1.6 per cent of the total news coverage during the time, falling far below the coverage given to, say, crime (4.6 per cent). Much of the coverage was positive however: About 23 per cent of all the stories were about how technology could make users' lives easier.

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Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
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