It was only a matter of time: Why Mac users tend to ignore the advice of PC Pundits.

It’s being reported that over 600,000 Macs are now infected by the Flashback trojan, a “drive by” piece of Malware that doesn’t need administrator privileges or even a password prompt to successfully latch on.

The PC pundits couldn’t be more excited. Finally, they say, the inevitable has happened and smug Mac users are finding out what it’s like to be a PC user.

"It was only a matter of time."

It’s true. Many of these PC pundits — the Rob Enderles, the Ed Botts, the Paul Thurrotts — have been telling us for years and years that it was only a matter of time before we’d finally see a successful attack, and that we’d come to rue the day that we ignored their advice.

Let’s take a step back.

I’d like to describe what it’s been like to be a Mac user, over the years:

There’s the wilderness years — the time between Steve Jobs’s ouster in the mid 80s and his prodigal return in the late 90s — in which you’d head off to a local retailer fully expecting to be lied to about whatever it was you wanted to buy.

As often as not, you’d find yourself pulling an interested consumer aside to tell them the truth about the Apple products they were interested in, but only after listening to a salesperson feed them misinformation rooted in ignorance/disinterest at best, outright lies at worst. 

Most of the Mac hardware you’d find at Best Buy or CompUSA was relegated to a single shelf. Somewhere in the back of the store. Flickering lights. If you were lucky, the devices were in working condition and/or plugged in. If you were even luckier, a “Mac guy” (we’ll call him Soul Patch) was hired to look after the merchandise and answer questions. I think he had his own drinking fountain.

In the end, we learned to answer our own questions. We learned to troubleshoot our own problems. We learned to spot bullshit a mile away.

We bought what we knew we needed because the guy trying to sell us something else probably didn’t know what he was talking about. They rolled their eyes, and we left the store.

According to the PC Pundits, Apple was doomed.

It was only a matter of time.

Miracle of miracles, Steve Jobs returned, the retail situation eventually improved, and at some point we found that we could now go to an official “Apple Store” to ask our questions. Even better, we’d (usually) get good answers, by people who were as interested in the products as we were!

The PC Pundits branded this behavior “smug” and “cult-like” but we pressed on because we’d never seen so many Macs plugged-in and booted-up. No matter, Apple’s retail strategy would fold in on itself. Dell couldn’t make it work. HP couldn’t make it work.

It was the late 90s / early 2000s, and it was only a matter of time.

We bought iPods and we foolishly locked ourselves in to Apple’s ecosystem — according to the PC Pundits — because we were buying music in a format that would never catch on for a device that was destined to fail. 

It was only a matter of time.

We bought Macs. Then, our Moms and Dads and Grandmas bought Macs, too. At some point, that guy who thought he’d never buy a Mac bought a Mac. The iPod didn’t fail, despite its destiny, and it led millions and millions of new customers to Apple, eager to see if they might want to try something new.

"Uh, oh," thought the PC Pundits: "Apple is starting to get popular." Snicker. ”Popularity breeds scrutiny. So much for security through obscurity.” Then they’d high five and take apart their PC and blow some canned air through it while cataloguing its parts.

We didn’t know what we were missing.

It was the mid 2000s, and it was only a matter of time. 

We bought iPhones, and then iPads. We started to see the term “Post PC” applied to mobile computing. Apple was leading the way. This would never happen, according to the PC Pundits. Netbooks would catch on in an big way and the tablet fad would die off as quickly as it caught on.

It was only a matter of time. 

We — and millions upon millions of people who were new to Apple’s growing platform — had turned Apple into a massive success. The stock was way up. Apple flirted with being the most valuable company in the world. This could never last, argued the PC Pundits. The new iPhone wasn’t good enough, the latest iPad was barely better than the last iPad. One flop, and that would be that. 

It was only a matter of time.

It’s 2012, and Apple has 100 billion dollars of cash on hand. It’s just sitting there! The PC Pundits are demanding to know how Apple will spend that cash. (After all, the party can’t last forever.)

Even worse, the only reason Apple had been able to amass that $100,000,000,000 was because they’d earned it on the backs of Chinese laborers. Not just any Chinese laborers, though: Underage Chinese laborers. The problem was widespread, and Apple had to know about it. Of course they knew. They just didn’t care. Armed guards patrolled the factory gates at Apple’s suppliers. Workers suffered carpal tunnel on a scale so massive that they forever lost the use of their hands! Chairs with no backs!

Oh, there’d be a day of reckoning … if the PC Pundits had anything to say about it. We could trust them, because they were in China while all this was happening, and they’d never lie to us. Don’t worry about the fact that virtually every company in the world had also outsourced its manufacturing to China.


It was only a matter of time. 

Finally, in 2012, our undeniable hubris resulted in 600,000 infected machines.

The PC Pundits had been predicting this day for over a decade and it was finally here. Because we weren’t constantly looking over our shoulder, because we didn’t take viruses seriously enough, we were infected by a trojan that, well, didn’t seem to be detectable through vigilance.

The anti-virus software didn’t catch it. We couldn’t even avoid it by refusing to install it.

Perhaps if we’d have just been a bit more humble!

The PC Pundits finally get one right. Decades of dire warnings later. Millions of words, thousands of articles, hundreds of empty threats later, they can finally say they were right all along.

Much like a stopped clock, it was only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, as the fear, uncertainty, and doubt percolates on the twitter accounts and websites of various PC Pundits, those of us wanting the best, most rational take on the Flashback trojan can seek it out where we’ve always found such information:

Amongst friends. 

The past is prologue.

"Post PC" is now a reality. In many respects, there’s a two-way race between the walled-garden approach of Apple’s iOS and the "open" nature of Google’s Android OS. Android leads the market for smartphones (though, iOS commands a significant share as well) and when it comes to tablets, there’s not really a market other than the iPad market. 

Malicious hackers are taking note:

Malware on Android devices is at an all time high and growing fast, thanks in large part to Google’s open strategy, whereas Apple’s iOS is virtually free of such exploits, thanks in large part to Apple’s walled-garden approach to app curation — an approach that has been widely ridiculed by the PC Pundits.

In fact, that very strategy is going to be Apple’s undoing. No one wants to be told what to do and consumers will eventually wise up and switch away from their iPhones and iPads.

It’s only a matter of time.

And, if not, well: Malware will eventually make its way to the platform.

Seriously. (Give it a decade or two.)

4 notes


  1. brianericford posted this

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