The Greatest Detective Is In The Apple Urban Dictionary

Sherlock Holmes the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, hero of such crime novels as The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of Four and my personal favourite, the original A Study in Scarlett, now has the privilege of being part of the tech urban dictionary.

Coming across this article in Gizmodo Australia ‘Did Apple Sherlock BlackBerry In iOS 8’, we find this curious definition.

Sherlocking refers to when developers on other platforms or apps ship with a particular functionality, only to find that Apple is including it for free in its latest system update.

What strikes me as odd about this terminology is that we would normally define this as ripping off or at the very least copying.  We have seen previously that much of the hype around iOS 8 is about the features which it is now inserting into its OS which we have had on BlackBerry since BB10 debuted (see the article iOS 8 Users Really Want  a BlackBerry ) rather than its innovation.  Why I am writing this article is because it seems that when others are laughed offstage for including features which seem to be a no-brainer in their native ecosystems and announcing them as great new features, Apple in turn has a new tech buzzword dedicated to them at the expense of one of literature’s greatest heroes.

While I could rant about Apple’s side of the argument and why this ‘Sherlocking’ is such a stupid idea, let’s look at the crime of defaming this great detective.  Holmes himself is described as a bohemian who seems to be somewhat obsessive compulsive.  What we find however is that he has a keen eye for detail and a habit of hoarding every piece of correspondence as useful information.  Thus when Conan Doyle was writing his lengthy summation speeches, you are always enthralled by the details which have been missed by the casual observer and often details which the reader themselves have dismissed as unimportant.  This type of detail has recently been epitomized to me in Arnold Ridley’s play the Ghost Train when the Secret Service Agent reveals that one of the villains is in fact not a Doctor because he used his thumb to take someone’s pulse. The type of detail which Apple seems to lack.

While ‘Sherlocking’ is not new, (to be precise at Urban Dictionary, the application to Apple is the oldest entry from 2010) it is certainly something which the average mobile tech user should be aware of.  It is nothing short of Apple’s attempt to distance itself from it’s inability to innovate without being called for simply ripping off other ideas.  Steve Jobs quoted Picasso when he said “good artists copy, great artists steal” which meant (quite like Gordon Grecko in Wall Street when he said ‘Greed is Good’ ) that to give credit where credit is due is the stupidest idea known to man, unless it is applied to Apple.

Of all the people who lose out when iOS8 is finally released, Sherlock Holmes is the silent victim.

I am calling upon all Smartphone users to save our beloved Detective.  Don’t allow Apple to use him as a shield from public criticism, don’t allow them to avoid giving credit where credit is due.  Force them to stand up and face the music.  Buy BlackBerry and show your support for Sherlock Holmes.  BB10 is an OS which has an eye for detail.  Just like our beloved detective.

May this slander in urban dictionaries be forever removed!


Chap has been a BlackBerry user since 2009 when he picked up his trusty new Torch 9800. Since then he has been about all things BlackBerry keeping tabs on the Australian market. As a hobby he also supports an Australian Aged Care organisation as their in-house spiritual practitioner.

  • newcollector

    A rip-off is a rip-off. Stealing is stealing and no urban dictionary alters that fact. I love Sherlock Holmes so I buy BlackBerry!

    Not sure that would stand up to the scrutiny of the one and only Holmes, but that’s my my story and I am sticking to it!

  • Good rant Chaplain! Calling what Apple is doing, “Sherlocking” is reminiscent to me of the verbal wrangling going on the the U.S. between the two major political parties or the propaganda campaigns China and North Korea employ to try and re-frame what they’re doing and make themselves look good.

    Great article and great catch. Unfortunately, we will likely be subject to this type of offense until Chen decides it’s time for BB to begin some aggressive marketing campaigns in the developed markets. In the meantime, we have you and the UTB contributors to help keep Apple honest as best we can.


  • Omnitech

    I agree it’s a dumb term. Even more strangely, the following sentence doesn’t even make sense to me:

    Sherlocking refers to when developers on other platforms or apps ship with a particular functionality, only to find that Apple is including it for free in its latest system update.

    “Ship with a particular functionality” implies “comes for free with the OS”.

    Which is identical to “Apple including it for free”.

    So I guess it’s just a very cumbersome way of stating “Doing the same thing their competitors are doing, just later.”

    I have some better terms for this behaviour. No need to malign Mr. Holmes, either:

    No new ideas.
    Late to the party.

    I particularly like the last one, since it seems like Apple is one of the bigger abusers of the stupid term I derived that from.