Faulty Arguments

I've been following the running commentary on Apple's decision to remove firewire from the MacBook. The latest article comes from Ars Technica, who responds to the "Steve Jobs" quote:

"Actually, all of the new HD camcorders of the past few years use USB 2."

The Ars writer chimes in, chastising people who want firewire by, essentially, telling them there's no demand. But see, what we're trying to tell you is that there is demand. We still want firewire at the consumer level. Making the argument that no one wants it won't really work on folks who do want it.

Ars and others are also equating this to Apple's ahead-of-the-pack decision to lose the floppy drive on the original iMac, when clearly this is different: Apple is now following the pack, not leading it, by Ars' own assessment:

"The truth is, FireWire—and in particular the FW400 variety—has been slowing [sic] disappearing for the last few years. Apple eliminated FireWire from iPods several years ago, since it allowed slimming down of iPods and made the nano and shuffle possible. Even external hard drives rarely have a FW400 port; FW800 and/or eSATA are the ports that are usually offered if there is anything other than USB 2. And, as Jobs says, most if not all of the consumer HD cams on the market now use USB 2."

Oddly, firewire's lack of ubiquity didn't stop Apple from supporting in the first place.

And finally, Ars backs up "Steve Jobs'" idiotic and patently false claim, stating:

"And, as Jobs says, most if not all of the consumer HD cams on the market now use USB 2."

Well, first off, that's not what Jobs said. He said "all," not "most, if not all." He said "HD camcorders" not "consumer HD camcorders." And he said "HD camcorders of the past few years," which is just wrong. In fact, the dominant consumer-level HD format for the past several years has been HDV, which is transferred over firewire. HDV cameras are still plentiful in the market, and will probably remain popular for at least another year or two. It's only been in the last year or two that AVCHD — an MPEG-4 variant with much lower bitrate requirements capable of transferring over USB — has gotten good enough to be taken seriously by anyone who knows anything about video.

Ars even makes the argument that editing video on a MacBook is no fun:

"I can also say from personal experience that trying to edit HD video on a MacBook is pretty much the worst experience ever, and I would never wish it on my worst enemy."

Fine, and I tend to agree. But the fact is, I know plenty of people who do want to continue editing video on a MacBook. They've been doing it for years, and are quite happy with it. This article seems to be addressed to people with no MacBook video experience. But those are the people who are complaining, the people who are currently doing video on their MacBooks. Telling them that they don't really want to be doing that, and if they do, to go buy a MacBook is condescending and insulting.

I'm generally a fan of the reporting that goes on at Ars. But this article has me incensed. It bothers me when big sites like Ars Technica try to tell people that their desires are unresonable, but it's a hundred times worse when their logic is faulty and their facts are just plain wrong.