The Macalope Weekly: With competitors like these, who needs friends?

It’s hard knocks out there if you’re competing with Apple. If Microsoft and Sony can’t cut it, can Amazon? And is it really competing when Apple doesn’t even make an e-book reader? Isn't that more like being in completely separate markets?

Oh, please, oh, please, oh, PLEASE!

The Macalope’s savvy and sassy readers may remember how, back in December, his hopes for a Zune phone were dashed.

Well, hold on to your Zune jokes, dear readers, because reports of the Zune phone’s death may have been premature. So may-have-been-premature that ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley is already patting herself on the back.

A year ago I speculated that Microsoft officials were carefully choosing their words about the existence of Zune phones. Looks like I was right. There will be Zune phones.

Mary Jo’s end-zone dance is sponsored by “people familiar with the company’s mobile plans with whom [she’s] spoken.”

Hey, wait a minute! That’s the law of Mac rumor site infallibility! You know, the one where they can have all the details of a device—features, price, timing—100% wrong but still be “right” when something roughly similar gets announced years later.

She can’t steal their patented rumor-validation intellectual property!

But why is the Macalope thrilled by this news? He is thrilled because a Zune phone must, by the comic laws that govern our universe, be simply hysterical. And the Macalope’s not going to let Michael Gartenberg’s staid, reasonable analysis stand in the way of his dream of one day being able to point at a Zune phone and summon his inner Nelson Muntz.

Ha. Ha.

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Dun-dun-dun. Another one bites the dust.

Remember the middle part of this decade when supposed “iTunes killers” were popping up like summer wheat? Alas for these upstarts, so many of them have been felled in the autumn of the decade by the twin sickles of catalog size and iPod compatibility. As well as the lawn mower of convenience.

Case in point, Total Music (tip o’ the antlers to the Apple Blog). The brainchild of Sony and Universal, Total Music was born of nothing more than iTunes fear, and we all know what fear leads to.

Apparently the progression is fear, anger, hate, suffering, and, finally, going out of business.

While it’s fun to laugh at music companies because they’re jerks, let us not fail to laugh at the analysts who predicted that these services would surely trounce iTunes. They are the dandelions of stupidity, if you’re still working the field metaphor above.

Reading too much into it

But why does every product Apple produces have to have a foil? Can’t some of these devices coexist in peace and harmony?

This week PCWorld did the old “Point/Counter-Point” gag in two pieces titled “Five reasons the iPhone trumps the Kindle” and “Will the iPhone Kill the Kindle? No Way.”

The Macalope’s got no beef against the now significantly less butt-ugly Kindle. It’s his personal belief that if people pick up one device before they walk out the door, they’re going to pick up their phone, not their e-book reader. And he wonders: now that they’ve already got their phone in their pocket, do they really need another device simply because it’s somewhat more suited to its task?

But more to the point, Apple hasn’t even tried making the iPhone into an e-book reader. Sure, you can buy e-book reader apps from the App Store, but it’s not like Apple has publicly pointed two fingers at its eyes and then at Amazon’s over this.

Is this the extent of Apple’s presence, that it’s even competing against things that it’s not actively trying to compete against? Because that’s pretty impressive when you think about it.

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