First of all, yes, asking questions of Apple executives is complicated, and it takes a while to learn the rules, the biggest one being, "Don't ask about the future." You won't get an answer you like. If you get an answer at all that is. HOWever, there is no excuse for just asking stupid shit, and there were some good questions asked. About five. "How will the iMac evolve in the face of mobility?" That's a good question, because Apple is pushing mobility hard, and laptops are where you see the lion's share of Apple's growth in computer sales. So it was a good question to ask, and it stayed on point. The question about how Apple will market this stuff, less so, but still reasonable. Someone asked about supporting HD uploads. Look, another good question that tied into both iMovie and .Mac, two products that Steve talked about, and it got...a good answer. Don't take my word for it, here, look for yourself:
Q: With someone editing movies and going to publish, why not support HD uploads?
A: Steve: "We do. Turns out that HD camcorders don't have sensors that are full HD, so they produce images that are slightly lower than HD, but are still stellar. We use that res, which is close, but not quite HD. Best you can do under $10k"
Jason Snell from Macworld asked about Excel macro support in Numbers. Great question, because it's something that is important to anyone who would want to round-trip files between Excel and Numbers. It got a good answer. Short, and it was a "No", but still, a good, solid answer.
So yes, it can be tricky to figure out a good question to ask of Apple execs, but it's not rocket science. Stay on point, don't ask about the future, and voila! You get a good answer. Ask vague questions that can't really be answered anyway, and you get a vague answer. Ask about the future, and you get shut down. I have no sympathy for the job of asking good questions, as it's what a reporter, in theory, bloody gets paid for. Asking good questions.
"Why are you not participating in Intel Inside program and not putting stickers on your Macs?", is not a good question. It shows a complete ignorance of your target, and it's just ignorant. Cooke is not a n00b here. He's been in the newspaper business for what looks to be close to 20 years, and reporting/editing in the tech sector for what appears to be ten years. I do not think it was too hard/beyond his capabilities to have either done some research on his own, or asked some people what goes on at one of these things. If he wants to be ignorant about a subject, that's his choice, but expect no rewards for asking stupid questions.
Macjournals tries to point out what the question really said. That it was more related to an earlier announcement during a quarterly results conference call, wherein Apple pointed out their margins were going to probably drop from the 36.9% they had achieved in the previous quarter to about 29.5%. A big drop, but hardly precipitous or calamitous. They say that what Keefe was really asking:
Q: If your margins are going to drop so much this quarter, why don't you take the free money from Intel like everyone else does and place the sticker on your computer? You've made a big deal about using Intel chips, so it's not like you'd be surprising anyone.
A: Because they're ugly, and we don't need the money so badly that we can't afford to make the beautiful products that our customers want. We like the chips, but our products are different than everyone else's and we're going to act like it.
Well, those aren't the words that came out of Keefe's mouth. In fact, had he asked it like that, it still would have been stupid, just not as stupid. If he had pointed out that he was referencing the earlier quarterly results call, it still would have been a stupid question, just mildly stupid, not amazingly so. For one, it's not the rest of the world's job to read anyone's mind. If Bob Keefe wants to ask a question that relates potential margin drops to a program that is nothing but free money, then he needs to actually use his words and ask that question. Steve can seem like a mind reader, but he's not. Really. Nor is anyone else. That's a basic rule of getting an answer, ask the right question. Bob Keefe completely failed at asking the right question, and considering he's not even close to a n00b, he's getting the ridicule his question earned.
Secondly, what the fuck was up with that question anyway. That was almost Connie Chung/Dateline NBC sneak attack shit. I'm sorry to be such an ignorant prole here, but would it have killed anyone to ask about system requirements for iLife/iWork? A great follow - on would have been why the decision to only support G5/Intel chips with the new iMovie. (Note, a good question is not defined by "getting an answer you like".) Both of those are answerable, even by Apple. Garageband gained some impressive features, so how do you differentiate it from Logic Express? With the .Mac upgrades, it's now something that you could use to back more professional web sites, are you going to offer more professional options, such as uptime agreements/SLAs?
You look at the products announced at that event, then re-read Cooke's "read my mind" question, and tell me it wasn't just mind-numbingly stupid, and say it with a straight face. You can't, and we all know it. It was, is, and always shall be a stupid question. Admit it, learn from it, and move on.