The Macalope Weekly: WWDC fallout

Apple delivers a blockbuster WWDC full of fabulous hardware and software announcements, so everyone’s happy, right?!

No! What are you, new around here?!

Also, say goodbye to the PowerPC and, while you’re at it, any remaining shreds of dignity Rob Enderle might have had.

Yes, again.

These games end in tears

It’s possible that you’re the type who doesn’t follow technology industry kerfuffles with bated breath and therefore don’t know about the big to-do over AT&T asking people who haven’t owned their iPhones for more than 18 months to pay an extra $200 to upgrade to an 3G S.

If so, you’re better off. Skip to the next bit.

Still here? God help you.

Anyway, lots of people are kind of upset about just figuring out they have to pay to upgrade because they didn’t spend eight days reading their cell phone contract like they should have. And other people are calling them names. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

Here’s the problem with this debate (other than the whining and the name-calling). Both sides are getting it wrong. And the reason they’re getting it wrong is they’re both calling it the wrong thing. In a standard telecommunications industry shell game, AT&T fronts part of the hardware cost to Apple to make the phone look cheaper to get you in the door.

That isn’t a “subsidy” by the traditional definition. It’s a loan. AT&T is loaning you the money to buy an iPhone and you’re signing a contract to pay it off over the next 18 months. If you decide you want out of your loan, you have to pay a buyout.

If you don’t want to sign a contract, you can buy a no-commitment phone, but they start at $599 for an iPhone 3G S. See, AT&T gets its money one way or the other. Nobody’s “subsidizing” anything.

The Macalope hates this crap for the same reason he hates car shopping. Why can’t he just buy the damned thing instead of having to engage in some Mamet-esque battle of wits to figure out who’s smarter or simply relentless enough to come out on top?

Should people take responsibility for understanding the things they’re signing? Absolutely. But let’s not pretend that this deal is being conducted without any psychological incentives that don’t necessarily have the customer’s best interests at heart.

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In lieu of flowers, just buy an Intel machine already

“Alas, poor PowerPC. I knew him, Horatio. A processor of infinite delays.” - William Shakespeare

Let’s be honest. We all know we did it. We went from rightly claiming that the PowerPC was simply faster, to plausibly claiming it was faster because you couldn’t compare megahertz to megahertz, to scoffing that, even if it wasn’t as fast, it was an inherently better architecture, to saying oh, yeah, well processor speed doesn’t tell the whole speed story! So just shut up, shut up, shut up!

Well, come September, your PowerPC will hit the end of its upgrade cycle and you can leave all those uncomfortable memories behind—because Snow Leopard is Intel-only. Which, given it’s half the footprint of Leopard, is kind of ironic since it’s the PowerPC machines that are disk-constrained.

So, PowerPC-istas, it’s time to brush off that “Let’s kick Intel’s ass!” picture one last time, put on a slow song, take ol’ Belle for a final tour around all those old familiar Web sites.

Then take her out back by the shed and shoot her.

Sad. Soooooo sad.

The prediction fail heard ‘round the world wide developers conference

You kids remember Rob Enderle, don’t you? The guy who gets pretty much everything about Apple wrong? So much so that he’s earned himself the nickname “the mustache of misunderstanding”?

Sure you do. Well, this week he victimized yet another lazy journalist looking for a quote machine.

“The question is whether they will use it for product launches,” said Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Analyst Group. “It appears the answer is no since they are signaling that not only will Jobs not be there, neither will the new phones.” From the standpoint of consumers and even investors, he said, the developers conference isn’t nearly as important as Macworld.

No product launches, no iPhones, and Macworld is more important than WWDC. Wow. It’s hard to pack so much wrong into one paragraph. The Macalope tilts his antlers in your direction, Rob. You’re a master.

In fairness to Enderle, though, this is really just the most obvious example of a number of stories that were floating around since Thursday that were dialing back the fevered expectations. And he wasn’t the only one who failed in that same article. Tim Bajarin said:

“If people are expecting new hardware, there will be a letdown,” he said. “WWDC is about software and writing great applications for the Mac-based platforms.”

Last week Gene Munster was clearly also concerned that a new iPhone might not be announced, so it wasn’t just always-wrong Rob. What gives?

Two things. First of all, lots of people were pointing to the paucity of hardware announcements at past WWDC keynotes. But history was a poor guide in this case, since Apple brought little to the table at the most recent Macworld Expo and WWDC has now become the company’s premier annual showcase. Second, the horny one’s personal speculation is that as people realized that Steve Jobs was not going to come back early, they started speculating that he might want to intro the new iPhone himself and have the unveiling held for his triumphant return (which would also include trumpets, a parade, clowns, and free pony rides for the kids).

That was technically possible based on what we knew last week, but would ultimately have been really, really stupid. For starters, people hate clowns. But also, it would have made the schedule all about Jobs at a time when he seems to be reducing his responsibilities. The message from Apple has been pretty clear: Jobs is coming back, but get used to seeing less of him. These other guys are capable, ready to lead, and doggone it, people like them.

Call France. Let’s get that Bertrand Serlet for Jerry Lewis trade done while we still can.

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