Thanks for all your comments and the pointers.
My take on the piece was a little different. Of course he was tweaking people to get more hits to try to have more sales. That's fine.
I think he explicitly said in the comments that his audience for that piece was people who want to get noticed on Facebook. That means pictures of people, and portraits like blurred backgrounds. If all else is equal, that means reasonably large sensor size and reasonably large apertures - things you can't get on most cell phone cameras. (A more accurate explanation is here - http://www.vanityfai...ol-mirrors-lenses )
Of course, the hardware doesn't matter as much as understanding what you're doing. People have taken fabulous pictures with pinhole cameras - http://www.lowtechma...mera-obscura.html - but they're not too good for candid portraits. ;-)
( Apparently someone proved recently that Vermeer used a camera obscura for his paintings - http://www.vanityfai...ol-mirrors-lenses though the subject has been controversial for a while - http://www.essential...scura/co_one.html )
Anyway, his audience seems to be people who are willing to spend some money, but not much time, and want to take better candid portraits. "Do this, this, this and you're done. Your pictures will be much better than what you get with a P&S or most cell phone cameras." If some of those people want to learn more, great. If not, he's made $20. ;-)