The Macalope Weekly: Bad movies

Sometimes reading coverage of Apple is like watching a bad movie. The writing is terrible, nothing makes sense and it leaves you wondering why you’re devoting your precious time to this. Where’s it going? Who’s the guy with the banana? Did the boom drop into the shot there? This week, three different surveys cause people to write things that give the horny one a bigger headache than he’s had since seeing Catwoman . And that’s saying a lot.

The “Star Trek V” of analysis

Another week, another stupid survey.

Reporting for PC World, Tony Bradley says Android rulz while iOS droolz. The Macalope’s paraphrasing, of course, but that’s pretty much Bradley’s take-away from a a report from Appcelerator (PDF) that says 58.6 percent of of developers surveyed think Android has a better long-term outlook while just 34.9 percent chose iOS.

Ouch, right?

Yeah. Let’s back up a step.

Ever see “Star Trek V”? It’s a horrible, horrible movie, but the Macalope’s always found the scene where Captain Kirk asks “Why does God need a starship?” to be a guilty pleasure. Probably because he feels like he’s also often the only one who asks the obvious questions to talking heads.

Like “Who were the ‘developers surveyed’?”

Appcelerator and IDC surveyed 2,363 of over 70,000 developers who use Appcelerator’s Titanium application development platform on their plans, interests and perceptions of the major mobile and tablet OS providers.

The developers in this survey were those who use a cross-platform development tool that went over like a lead balloon being piloted by a sweating Steve Ballmer at the last C4 conference. Why? Because developers who are serious about delivering a good product tailored to the iOS platform—the kind of developers who used to attend C4—don’t use cross-platform development tools. They use a little thing called Xcode.

The Macalope asks this every time one of these surveys appears: is that representative of the whole? Of course not. It’s representative of the fact that Appcelerator wants to drive traffic to its site by publishing some incendiary survey results. This survey most likely specifically excludes those who’ve been developing for the Mac for years and are nominally more likely to be Apple enthusiasts.

Bradley’s happy to play along and neglects to mention the sample is restricted to a particular slice of the developer community.

Just as the Apple business model has limited the potential for Mac OS X, the restrictive nature of iOS virtually guarantees that Android will surpass it as the dominant mobile platform.

Because the same thing happened with the iPod.

Oh, wait…

Look, the reason Android is popular despite the fact that it’s the second-best looking operating system is because it puts out for the carriers. It lets them have their way with it. It’s cheap.

Actually, it’s worse than cheap. It’s free. They don’t even have to take it to dinner.

That said, just as Apple continues to have a dedicated following for its PCs despite having a trivial five percent market share, it will most likely continue to have a loyal following for its iPhone and iPad, and continue to generate substantial revenue and profit despite eventually losing the market share war.

For “substantial” read “more than everyone else combined”.

None of this is to say the developers surveyed by Appcelerator might not be right. They might! But the horny one found it odd that while Appcelerator and Bradley and CNet all trumpeted Android’s lead in long-term outlook, the survey results also show that iOS increased its lead (albeit incrementally) over Android in the number of developers who said they were “very interested” in developing for the platform.

That’s right. Despite the fact that they think the outlook is better on Android, they are still more enthusiastic about developing for iOS.

Maybe it has something to do with this survey, which says iPhone coders are happier and richer than Android developers.

For the record, though, the Macalope hasn’t checked the sample on that one.

The “Phantom Menace” of careers

There’s something about surveys that drives people bonkers. Like PC World’s Barbara Hernandez.

It seems as if every mobile phone user satisfaction poll ranks the iPhone as having the highest level of customer satisfaction.

Yeah! What is up with that?! It’s almost like people like the phone or something. Weird!

Because the surveys rely on self-reporting, you can take that one of several ways: that owners of the iPhone put a lot of money into the smartphone and don’t want to seem stupid for doing so; that it’s a superior product; or that they’re all fanboys.

Self-selection is a problem. But if it’s a problem for the iPhone-owning respondents it’s also a problem for the other respondents to the survey. Unless Hernandez thinks users of other platforms are holy, inviolable creatures that are responding solely from the desire to benefit science. Sadly, most researchers don’t think to ask that.

What’s of note is that iPhone satisfaction went down from a score of 811 from last year, which could be blowback from the iPhone 4’s faulty antenna. However, according to JD Power, it had more to do with dissatisfaction about the iPhone’s relatively short battery life.

Uh, so, then, it couldn’t be blowback from the iPhone 4’s faulty antenna. At least not mostly. Although, to be fair, Hernandez seems to believe that iPhone-using respondents may simply be liars, so maybe it does make sense.

Hernandez also keyed a piece the same day about Target starting to sell the iPad, opining:

How else could Apple push 3 million units a month during the holiday season?

Maybe by actually satisfying the pent-up demand for the device, which people had to wait weeks for over the summer? Maybe because sales of Apple products actually tend to go up during the holiday season? Maybe by opening more Apple Stores? Besides, who said they had to sell 3 million units a month, Babs?

Apple had to go mainstream to get to the masses.

As opposed to the masses at the mall?

Until this week the Macalope had been unaware of Ms. Hernandez’s work. As Palpatine said in “The Phantom Menace”, “We will be watching your career with great interest!”

And then Jar-Jar danced around like an idiot.

Okay, Hernandez seems nice, and might simply be trying to make too much out of nothing (like casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker) rather than deliberately trolling for page views. Let’s hope her career turns out a little better than that Skywalker kid’s did.

The “Plan 9 From Outer Space” of comments

The Motley Fool calls Apple the Lindsay Lohan of technology for garnering the highest share of attention by the technology press according to the Pew Research Center. The Fool is simply being playful by equating Apple with someone who’s been in and out of jail and that’s fine. What’s really funny, though, is the comments.

Yes, complaining about comments on the web is an exercise not only in futility but also in abject masochism, but every once in a while there’s a comment that is so unbelievably bad you just have to share it.

Here goes.

That makes sense. Lindsay Lohan is on a downward spiral. And with the new offerings from RIM, so is Apple. Excellent analogy!! Apple = Loser Lindsay Lohan. I like it!!

No, seriously, someone really wrote that. Like “Plan 9”, it almost seems like a farce but it’s not. The Macalope’s only regret is that Tor Johnson isn’t still alive to do a dramatic reading of it.

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