Why are David Pogue and Walt Mossberg such Apple Fanboiz?

  4 m, 48 s
We get 2 papers here at my house, courtesy of my news-hound wife: the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (Of course, neither has a comics section, which basically ruins the newspaper experience for me, but that’s neither here nor there.) After glancing through the NYT Personal Technology section, I decided that I wanted to see how David Pogue (NYT tech columnist) compared to Walt Mossberg (WSJ tech columnist). And by “compare”, I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, more just curious… So, I used Mozenda’s (www.mozenda.com) excellent screen scraping solution and snagged all of the URLs for as many posts as they had in their archives, (This took about 20 minutes total, because I’m not terribly familiar with the screenscraper.) I then fed the URLs to PRScope as a list of URL in the “add text” section (and checking the “URLs only” checkbox). A section that could probably use a different name, because, yes while you can add text to it, you can (very importantly) add a block of text that’s just a list of URLs. But, again, I digress. So, for Mossberg, that ended up being 242 articles, and for Pogue it was 660 articles. Both stretched back somewhere into 2005 or 6. I wasn’t really concerned about time-series analysis for this, more just the “big-picture” what are they writing about… Granted, this is a mismash of blog posts and real columns, but I figured it would give a good sense of what they saw to be important. Apple, apparently. (Even with all the obvious crap in there — “previous post”, etc, Apple stands out). Let’s take a look at the map with just the two main people (Walt and David Pogue) without the themes. 226 articles out of 902 (25%) mention Apple at least once. 162 (18%) mention Apple at least twice. Is it just one of them with the Apple fascination? Nope. Mossberg has 75 out of 242 (31%) and Pogue has 151/660 (23%). Microsoft only has 130 articles between the two of them. It’s in the same basic “bucket” of size as Apple (relative to Dell, and Intel) – which is why the icons are the same size. When I turn off people (the large “David Pogue” block is somewhat compressing things), I see this: Which gives a better feel for the scope. It’s also interesting to note the fact that Apple has an overall positive view in their minds, as opposed to the basically neutral view of the other companies. Showing the companies sentiment as pie charts gives me a connection map as so: So, the difference isn’t huge, but enough to tilt Apple towards the positive. I suppose that this isn’t surprising, given the overall perception of the two companies. Perhaps it’s more surprising that Microsoft has so much green, eh? The top 10 companies, with their sentiment scores, from Mossberg:

  Negative Neutral Positive Articles
Apple 7 24 44 75
Microsoft Corporation 3 21 30 54
Dell Inc. 6 13 12 31
Google Inc. 1 9 13 23
Intel Corporation 1 10 11 22
Sony Corporation 3 5 13 21
Yahoo! Inc. 1 5 7 13
Sprint 2 4 5 11
Lenovo 5 2 3 10
Samsung 1 5 4 10

The top 10 companies, with the sentiment scores, from Pogue:

  Negative Neutral Positive Articles
Apple 19 65 67 151
Microsoft Corporation 14 35 27 76
Google Inc. 3 37 17 57
Verizon 15 21 14 50
Canon Inc. 2 14 8 24
Amazon Com Inc 2 10 9 21
Sprint 4 14 3 21
Dell Inc. 4 7 7 18
Sony Corporation 4 9 3 16
Cingular 2 8 5 15

Somebody doesn’t like Verizon, eh? This begs the question of what are the companies that they tend to talk about the most… Here it is, the top 20: None of these come as a surprise, in fact none of the top 50 really come as a surprise. Verizon has by far the highest percentage of negative commentary out of all of the companies mentioned. Enough of that. Just what sorts of things are they discussing in the blogs? By turning off companies and looking at a list of top themes, we get the following… The top 10 themes (aggregated) are:  Let’s see how they differ by journalist: Mossberg’s themes (stacked sentiment): Clearly, he’s happy about the direction that storage is taking. Pogue’s themes (stacked sentiment): No strong sentiment with any of his themes, but the man believes in the power of the phone. In the last bit of this analysis, let’s take a look at the themes that are associated with Apple (for both journalists). You can see that the connections are strongest between the concepts of “phone”, “software”, and “screen” (and, oh boy doesn’t Apple always have nice screens on their stuff?) For Mossberg, the picture changes slightly: There’s still a tight connection to software, but, the connection to phone is less (not surprising). But what’s interesting is the fact that he seems to be writing a lot about the connection between Apple and music (hence the tight connection to the theme of “music”). And there’s that storage thing again (”hard disk”). And here’s Pogue’s: In Pogue’s connection map with Apple, you can see the prevalence of phone and phone-related themes (cellphone, phone call, cell), and an almost complete absence of things related to music. One interesting thing to note is that the theme “music play” – probably “music player” – has a lot of negative in both maps, indicating some issues there. So, why are they Fanboiz of Apple’s? I don’t know. I do know that I’m sitting here writing this on an 8-core Mac Pro & 30? studio monitor, with a 17? MacBook Pro open next to me, so I don’t have a lot of room to make fun of anybody. I do wonder if Apple is really such an important force in personal technology that they deserved mention in 25% of their articles, tho. I will probably look at some geekier (and I mean that with all the love in my heart) tech sites like Engadget and Gizmodo next, and we’ll see if a similar proportion occurs there.

Categories: Natural Language Processing, Sentiment Analysis