I read the Bits section of the New York Times every day. I like that they lag behind the minute-by-minute tech news, and take the time to write what are generally “big picture” articles toward the end of a news day. However, I’m seeing more and more sloppy copy editing and generally bad journalism over there. I have to think it’s because Bits is technically a “blog” from the Times, but come on. You’re still the New York Times, and I expect a certain level of writing proficiency.

This recent article really got me going. It’s a fluff piece to begin with; oh boy, there goes that crazy Steve Jobs shooting his mouth off again. But what’s worse is the middle school-level writing. To that end (paying respectful homage to The Detritus Review) let’s read Miguel Helft’s gem together. Blue is the article, red is me.

Update: The article has been updated since I first posted this. The most egregious English errors have been corrected. Notably, “dissed” has also been replaced. This all seems to suggest that The New York Times has a “post now, edit later” policy, which still disturbs me. It disturbs me more that they hire writers who don’t know the difference between “too” and “to.”

Steve Jobs: Our Approach is Better Than Google’s

On Monday, I wrote an article about the competition between Apple’s iPhone and smartphones running Google’s Android. The article discussed some of the advantages and disadvantages of Apple’s vertically-integrated and closed approach and Android’s more open strategy.

A little biased, a few too many strung-together clauses, but I get where you’re going with this, I think.

It concluded by quoting experts and analysts saying that while Android, and perhaps other systems, are likely to do well, Apple has little reason to worry.

Apple declined to comment for the story. But on Monday, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, took time to address the issue during the company’s fourth quarter earnings conference call.

Ah, so this is an I-told-you-so. I see what you did there! You get a pat on the back for that one, Miguel!

This was unusual, as Mr. Jobs doesn’t typically participate in the company’s earnings calls. But Mr. Jobs said he couldn’t pass the opportunity to drop in for Apple’s first $20 billion quarter.

Mr. Jobs stared by pointing out that Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones during the quarter, a 91 percent surge from a year earlier. Apple sold those smartphones at an even faster pace than the overall market for smartphones.

The “even” in this sentence implies that this is unexpected. I fail to see how this is remarkable, since you’d expect any company beating its competition to fall into this category.

Then he made an impassioned attack on Android and forceful defense of Apple.

“In reality, we think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try to hide the real issue, which is what’s best for the customer: Fragmented versus integrated,” Mr. Jobs said. “We think Android is very, very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day.”

Mr. Jobs noted that major Android manufacturers like HTC and Motorola put their own user interfaces on their devices and that different versions of the operating system with different capabilities are built into different devices, causing headaches for both consumers and application developers. Mr. Jobs said that Android sometimes left users to be the “system integrators.”

Interesting, provocative quotation. I assume you’re going to clarify what Mr. Jobs means by that, right?

“We think this is a huge strength of our approach compared to Google’s,” Mr. Jobs said. “When selling to users who want their devices to just work, we believe integrated will trump fragmented every time.”

Oh, guess not. The “system integrators” part did sound very official and intimidating though. That must be bad for consumers.

Then he added: “We are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as closed,” he said. “We are confident that it will triumph over Google’s fragmented approach ,[sic] no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as open.”

Mr. Jobs wasn’t just dissing Google.

The New York Times is now accepting “dissing?”

With a bit less passion, and perhaps a touch of disdain…

So, less passionate, but more disdainful. I’m with you. I think.

With a bit less passion, and perhaps a touch of disdain, he also dismissed Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry.

Oh! That’s what “dissed” means! I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never seen that word printed in the New York Times!

Mr. Jobs noted that the iPhone had beat the BlackBerry…

Clearly no need for a participle there.

Mr. Jobs noted that the iPhone had beat the BlackBerry, which sold 12.1 million handsets in the most recent quarter. “We now passed RIM and I don’t don’t’[sic]see them catching us in the foreseeable future,” he said.

Actually, he didn’t say that. Close, though.

Mr. Jobs said that RIM was now forced to move beyond its comfort zone and attempt to become a software platform.

Right, it’s not like they have their own mobile OS or anything. Sillies!

“RIM has a high mountain a head of them to climb,” he said.

The New York Times: illiterate, or sloppily using text-to-speech software to write blog posts?

Mr. Jobs also had a word about those who want to compete with the iPad in tablets.

As opposed to competing with the iPad in, say, a vat of Jell-O.

He said that while many in the media have said that…

Whoa, did you just say that they just said that some reporters just said–oh, forget it. Someone said whatever you’re about to say.

He said that while many in the media have said that an “avalanche” of tablets are [sic]expected to compete with the iPad soon, he believes only a handful of tablets will be released this year.

Maybe this is splitting hairs, but competing with the iPad and simply being released aren’t really the same thing. But I guess we’ll table that for next week and focus on basic grammar and syntax for now.

He said all are Android-based tablets and are only 7 inches,

Me talk good when talk about tablet and are good with the words.

He said all are Android-based tablets and are only 7 inches, far smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inch size.

(But really, it’s what you do with it that counts.)

A 7-inch screen, he said, is only 45 percent as big as a 9.7-inch screen, and Apple’s user testing has shown that is too small for a usable tablet.

Uh… huh. You mean it has only 45 percent the area of a 9.7-inch screen, right? Because 7 is 72 percent of 9.7.

“The 7 inch tables are tweeners…

The tables are tweeners? Where did the tables come from? And what’s a tweener?

…to big to compete…

Probably a simple typo. We all do it.

…to big to compete with a smartphone and to small to compete with an iPad,”…

Never mind, must be idiocy after all.

…Mr. Jobs said. Lest there be any doubts about his confidence, he added: “The current crop of 7-inch tablets will be D.O.A.: Dead on arrival.”

And so was the editor, apparently.