Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apple Dictionary Causes Friction: What Does Gay Mean?

Apple Inc. has been in the limelight for several days now regarding its dictionary app. It appears that the app contains some definitions that people may find offensive. The word “gay” is defined by the Apple dictionary in iOS 6 with several different descriptions. One of the descriptions is “foolish; stupid,” and this description is the one that has at least one Apple customer riled up.

Who Wants A Bite Of Apple?

15 year old Becca Gorman is a tenth-grade student in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Gorman is the daughter of lesbian parents, and because of this is sensitive to slurs and discrimination based on sexual preferences.  She looked up the word “gay” in her MacBook Pro, which has the dictionary app built in from the factory. The definitions she found triggered an instant response of disgust.

The definition upset her so much that she wrote a letter to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, who is openly gay. In the letter, she asked why Apple allowed such a definition in its dictionary, when the company takes such a strong stand on gay rights and equal treatment.

Part of the letter is included here:

I assume that you are a pro-gay company, and would never intend for any one of your products to be as offensive as this definition was. Even with your addition of the word informal, this definition normalizes the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word “gay”. ... When I look at this definition it makes this hatred filled use of the term as something as okay as “dude”.

I am asking for you to remove this definition from the Dictionary you are promoting, or to make a significant change to it. I also think it would be a good idea to apologize to the gay community, a good amount of your customers. Thank you for your cooperation, I love your products.

Is Apple To Blame?

I think the real question to ponder here is not whether Apple should remove the definition, as it is a very common usage of the word; but rather, why is this worth making a big stink over in the first place? I understand that no one should be picked on for their race, sexual preference, or religious preferences, but is this really bigotry in action?

First of all, Apple did not write the dictionary, so asking them to alter someone else’s work makes no sense whatsoever. To ask a company that distributes a book (or e-Book) to alter that book just because you disagree with something it says is asking them to change something they have no right to change. Just because you may not agree with something does not make it wrong. However, if you’re dead set that you must have your satisfaction in this matter, then the company that wrote the dictionary should be your point of contact, not the middle man who distributes it.

I understand that the young lady who wrote the letter to Apple believes she is standing up for her moms’ rights as lesbians. I am in no way tearing down her efforts to protect her family and friends. I do however, believe the battles should be chosen a little more carefully, as this one is simply disagreeing with fact. 

Fact 1: People do use the word “gay” in the sense mentioned in the dictionary app. Fact 2: Removing it from the app will not make people use it any less – it simply hides the truth from others who might read the definitions. Fact 3: Depriving people of truthful information regarding the use of a word, even if that usage offends you, does not do anyone in the world a service.

Look up any curse word you want in the dictionary app, and note that its original usage is no longer what it is used for in common conversation. However, if I write to Apple, Google, or even Webster’s and ask them to remove the slang definitions I consider to be offensive, I would be laughed at and publicly humiliated. Before we start asking people to change definitions because they offend us, let’s ask instead that we not be so easily offended by the truth.

Apple Maps Is Navigating Its Way To A Brighter Future

Remember when Apple Inc. released its Apple Maps app last year? It didn’t exactly perform well – in fact it was a total flop. The idea was to push Google out of iOS, by displacing Google Maps with Apple’s own navigation system. Instead, Apple and Tom-Tom, which is the company Apple used to get the mapping data for the app, were both made to look foolish.

Entire cities were in the wrong locations on the app. Airports completely disappeared, and bridges fell into dark canyons in the 3-D rendering mode. The whole incident resulted in Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, making a public apology to customers, and then recommending that Apple iPhone users utilize Google Maps until the problems were solved.

Apple May Be Finding Its Way Back

Google Inc. was no doubt satisfied to see Apple struggle and fall on its face, after the Cupertino company rushed to get its mapping application built and into the hands of users. However, new data suggests that Apple may get the last laugh in this particular joke fest.

According to comScore data, Google Maps had approximately 81 million users in the U.S.  a year ago. These users were comprised of both Android and iOS users. Now, that number has taken a dive to just 59 million. This is a drop of 22 million users in a single year. Meanwhile, Apple Maps now has an estimated 35 million users, many of which are undoubtedly making the swap from Google Maps.

These numbers indicate that Apple Maps could be growing in popularity among iOS users, which could actually bring about what Apple has been wanting for several years – a complete break from Google Maps. This severing of ties, if it happens, could be the start of the late Steve Jobs’ passion in life of putting Google out of business. While simply losing the Maps users will not be enough to cripple the search engine giant, it will make a definite point that Apple is more than a rival. It will prove that Apple is now a force to be reckoned with in every area of Google’s business, except search.

Watch the video below for a discussion between Erin Kennedy and Evan Niu about Apple Maps’ success and what it means for the company. The segment regarding Maps begins at 4:35.

Is The Deck Stacked Against Apple’s iPad?

We published a report yesterday explaining that iPad had finally been topped in terms of revenue in the tablet market by devices that are Android based. Today, while researching the topic further, I was pointed to an article published early this morning by Apple Insider. The article is titled “The curious case of IDC, Gartner & Strategy Analytics’ PC, phone & tablet data on Apple.”

Daniel Dilger, the author of this piece points out that market research firms have been biased against Apple Inc. for several years. He goes back as far as 2004 in his research to quote articles claiming doom and gloom for the Mac brand as Apple’s market share dropped to less than 2 percent in the global PC market.
Dilger is however, careful to point out that none of the people who thought that Apple was a dying company could see the value of the soon to be launched iPhone, nor did they realize that powerful device would carry Apple to the top of the smartphone market. These people also failed to see the coming of the iPad, a powerful mini-computer that offered everything a Mac offered – on the go.

He claims that research firms have been altering the way they gather data in order to skew public opinion of Apple Inc. By making the terms used to define tablet computers very broad, they can include devices that have no direct bearing on iPad sales. These devices are actually the furthest thing from being competition to Apple’s top notch tablets.

Check out the full article here.