The Macalope Weekly: Business 101

Looks like there some people out there could use some schoolin’ on how to do business. A rather surprising admission from a Microsoft exec gets us kicked off this week but, as silly as Microsoft is, the App Store takes the cake yet again. And last, a well-reasoned, polite discussion about Apple’s strategy, featuring the Macalope and two knuckleheads.

Off-message

Does anyone know when Microsoft hands out bonuses? For the sake of Microsoft’s Simon Aldous, the Macalope hopes it’s not this week because it’d be a bad time to have “admitted we were just trying to copy the Mac when we made Windows 7” on your list of accomplishments for the year.

One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it’s very graphical and easy to use. What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 - whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format - is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics.

Oops. The Macalope suspects Aldous’s Windows Mobile device was literally smoking from the flood of angry texts he got after that. Or, possibly, it was just smoking because Windows Mobile sucks.

Microsoft communication manager Brandon LeBlanc tried to walk Aldous’s comments back (tip o’ the antlers to Adrian Kingsley-Hughes) saying that he was both misquoted and wrong. Which is…interesting. You’d think, by the laws of logic that govern this universe, it could only be one or the other, but OK. LeBlanc stopped just shy of saying that it wasn’t even Aldous at all, but some kind of reptilian alien wearing his skin.

LeBlanc then set the record straight by saying no one at Microsoft has ever even seen these “Macs” everyone keeps talking about and that the Windows 7 was developed solely based on a dream a developer had in which the interface was unveiled to him by a host of angels and unicorns.

OK, the Macalope made that up. But, hey, if LeBlanc can invent a reality in which someone can be both misquoted and wrong…

Of course this kind of thing doesn’t happen at Apple. As any employee knows, Steve Jobs would be perfectly willing to set his vegetarianism aside for a minute so he could rip your heart out and devour its still-beating flesh in front of you if you screwed up this big.

Now, Aldous is not an engineer on the Windows 7 team. He’s a “partner group manager” which, if it sounds like someone who sets up weekends for swingers, is probably not too far off the mark. So who knows how many Don Draper drinks he had in him before he blurted this out? Even the horny one doesn’t think Microsoft is specifically trying to “create a Mac look and feel.”

But it sure is funny to hear a Microsoft employee say it is.

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The App Store called, they’re all out of you

If the App Store were a person, it’d be a dude in a pink Izod with a popped collar. Popular, but what a jerk.

The list of people who’ve been burned by this jerk continues to grow. Joe Hewitt, the developer of the Facebook app and Rogue Amoeba both left the App Store this week (disclosure: Rogue Amoeba was a long-time advertiser on the Macalope’s web site).

Despite Phil Schiller’s entreaties for patience back in August, things just aren’t getting any better. Yes, Apple has added minimal approval status notification, but the Macalope’s looking and he doesn’t see “Denied for using published APIs” as one of the status messages. Apparently you still need an e-mail for that.

The Macalope stated a while back that the only thing that could really hurt the App Store and Apple is if developers left it in droves. Well, little by little, the good ones seem to be doing exactly that. Unfortunately for the reform-minded, big development shops still seem to be enjoying the water in the App Store fine—it’s the indies who’re tired of constantly being chastised by the lifeguards for no good reason. It might seem easy to say “Who cares as long as I get my Super Monkey Ball?” but there’s a lot of cool stuff these people make. You’re gonna miss them when they’re gone.

What is best in life?

The great thing about being the Macalope is you never lack for someone writing something dumb about Apple.

This week brings us a two-fer. First, John Dodge on the inappropriately-named SmartPlanet says Apple should cut Mac prices 25 percent in order to gain market share (tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King). But, oh, no! Jim Jubak on MSN Money wonders if Apple has already blown its big chance to cut prices and gain market share!

How willfully blind to Apple’s business do you have to be before an editor says “You know, you probably shouldn’t be writing about this. Is there a cat stuck in a tree somewhere? Maybe you could write about that.”

Both of these pieces go to great lengths to describe how cutting prices would allow Apple to take market share, but neither explains how that will improve Apple’s bottom line. Jubak says:

The opportunity was there, and Apple didn’t exploit it as ruthlessly or as relentlessly as it needed to. … Here’s my basic problem with Apple’s strategy and execution: The company had ‘em down and didn’t kick ‘em hard enough.

Ha-ha! Yes! Be ruthless! Relentless! Kick your enemies! Crush them! See them driven before you! Hear the lamentation of their women!

So, Jubak and Dodge are apparently of the Cimmerian school of business strategy, which is fine—it’s just that that’s not Apple’s strategy.

You guys remember profit, right? Market share is actually only useful in terms of how it will get you profit (see: Twitter, YouTube). The Macalope would love to hear Jubak and Dodge respond to this piece on TechCrunch by MG Siegler (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball):

According to the report, Apple made $1.6 billion in operating profit off of the iPhone in Q3. Nokia, meanwhile, made $1.1 billion. Let’s put this in perspective. Recent numbers suggest Nokia controls roughly 35% of the worldwide handset market. Apple? About 2.5%.

Not 25%. Two point five percent.

Keep your market share. The Macalope will take profits any day.

(Disclosure: the Macalope holds an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

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