Article Autopsy - Episode One
About Adam Hartung –

A brief look-up on any search engine would lead you to impressive essays about the aforestated. I zeroed-in on one that seemed to be one of the popular results.
It was really heartening to know that someone had achieved so much in a span of two decades and remained rather unknown to most circles. One of his most impressive lines read having been the leader of the team that introduced the concept of home delivery at Pizza Hut – all the more impressive when you know that pizzas have been home delivered for over a century now and Domino’s started out with this as their mainstay in the 1960s!
So much about the author though – and if it helps, well he has an MBA with distinction from Harvard and also a stint at Boston Consulting Group.

About Forbes –

Forbes has been a synonym for listing the Czars of Capitalism. However, the organization as such is not in the best shape so to speak – by the COO’s own admission, “On many occasions, we’ve been materially out of sync with the prevailing wisdom of the moment and where the world was,” Tim Forbes continues, “The tide seemed to be going the other way, but we don’t change our fundamental view.”
As for its digital version, Times had this to say in their 2009 report – “one of the top five financial sites by traffic [throwing] off an estimated $70 million to $80 million a year in revenue, [it] never yielded the hoped-for public offering.”

About ‘The Article’ –

We now go through the article that all this background leads us to.
Before I begin, I find it sufficient to state that I am an ex-employee of Microsoft but none of this holds any relation with residual affinities of any sort. Quite simply put, it’s a take on quite a punctured hypothesis – if I can so put it.

The article basically takes you through a classic story-telling weave (which I term ‘S.E.E.’) –

1. A carefully chosen Hard Fact that prevails today (STATEMENT)
2. Statistics; again carefully chosen, transformed & interpreted to justify the hard fact (EVIDENCE)
3. Offer a prospective vision with conscious attempts to sound impartial, yet append bottom-lines that defy it. (EXTRAPOLATION)

This is akin to the most basic form of argument skills. From Judith Glaser to a host of other people, anyone having a brief insight on the structure of story-telling would be able to differentiate between a discussion and a hypothesis.

Let us look at each of the SEE elements in isolation –

1. The statement is based on the fact that Apple has overtaken Microsoft by quite a significant margin when it comes to Market Capitalisation – quite an achievement, but Microsoft has always been a company operating in a steady ‘top five’ band and it last lead the technology market-cap space in 2003. In a similar comparison, one could take the pretext of overall revenues and suggest Apple needs a lot of catching up to do; however, in essence, we acknowledge the fact that Apple has done well over the last one year (finally, after having been around for close to Microsoft’s agile & impressive lifetime!)

2. With a valid statement, the general idea is to select graphs & figures that drive home a message, in this article for instance, we make the following observations –

• Microsoft invests more than one-and-a-half times its nearest R&D rivals towards its own research and development – something, that the author uses as a tool to show where Microsoft is leaking money. What makes it more interesting is that he had to use MS-Office to generate that graph with the default Calibri font in place and still a convenient yet muddled remark for Office 2010.
• He then goes on to compare Smartphone market shares, whilst conveniently not choosing to cite projections from credible sources for Android, Windows Phone 7 and iPhone in the coming couple of quarters.
• The third graph probably gives away the bias in flashlights – with an app-pool comparison being a top-tier metric.
• He then meanders around Jack & Jill before concluding why Apple is the future.

3. The extrapolations, as we look at them, are pretty optimistic about Apple’s performance in the days to come while being equally critical of Microsoft’s strategy – why not, if you have as high an awareness level to leave out the fastest selling gadget of all time (Xbox Kinect), you can be pardoned to at least question Microsoft’s strategy.

I am assuming here that awareness is a precursor to strategy – something that we thought was the author’s true forte.

One comment on “Article Autopsy

  1. Rather than solving my SQL server issue, you spent time in doing research for this blog….but i must say….what a research and well written post. I should keep giving you SQL issues so you write such quality posts to run away from my issues 😛

    good work..!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *