The Macalope Weekly: The device that dare not speak its name

[Editors' Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week's coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

This week we isolate a new virus that affects technology industry analysts: the inability to say the word “iPad!” Won’t you please donate generously to find a cure for analysts who say “media tablet” when they mean “iPad?” And what are they teaching in college journalism schools these days?

Is that what the kids are calling it now?

How is it that the Macalope is only now becoming aware of the term “media tablet?”

Credit Horace Dediu (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball) for alerting him in his post about this Gartner report on Mac market share, which says:

“Media tablet hype around devices such as the iPad has also affected consumer notebook growth by delaying some PC purchases, especially in the U.S. consumer market. Media tablets don’t replace primary PCs, but they affect PC purchases in many ways,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to buying a new device.”

Dediu wryly notes:

Fascinating. I’d love to hear more about the non-iPad “media tablets” that delayed PC purchases last quarter. Maybe I don’t get out enough.

Dediu provides some numbers that show that Apple’s “PC” market share would be 10 percent if you included iPads, which is pretty astounding. Gartner, of course, doesn’t do that and doesn’t yet supply an analysis of the market for “media tablets.” Probably because a pie chart that’s all one color and has the word “iPad” next to it isn’t very interesting.

The horny one loves to trot this out every time Gartner opens its mouth about Apple because it’s just so darned funny, but four years ago almost to the day the company famously suggested Apple should get out of the hardware business and have Dell make Macs instead. Since then, Mac sales have increased 116 percent, from 1.6 million to 3.5 million.

So it’s not like the people at Gartner have been prescient, or even a good judge of history. The fact that they don’t include the iPad in PC market share while insisting on referring to some fictitious market full of “media tablets” might be annoying if the opinions of Gartner researchers were really worth anything.

Mythical markets

In fairness to Gartner, they’re not the only one’s being dismissive. ABI Research’s Jeff Orr believes a “reality check” is needed to cool the hype around the iPad because Apple hasn’t been able to single-handedly match the first year of sales from all netbook vendors combined.

A new report from ABI Research estimates that over 11 million tablets—mostly iPads—will ship this year but also argues for a reality check on the iPad’s popularity in the context of Netbook shipments.

Oh, really? Does anyone remember netbooks selling out? The Macalope doesn’t, but maybe he didn’t hear about it. Who cares if Brand Z Computers misestimates demand when you can buy something just as crappy from Brand X Computers? Can’t get an iPad, though, now you’ve got a problem.

Like most analysts, Orr’s already had to up his May estimate of 8 million tablets for the year because people keep buying so many darned iPads media tablets! Even then he was using the term “media tablets” as if there was some multi-player market that existed when, in reality, he was talking about the iPad.

By July when the iPad was so popular people were waiting weeks to get one and no one else was shipping anything in the ballpark, Orr still seemed to think there was some “media player market.”

In developed telecommunications markets, there is interest from consumers to have a companion device alongside home computers – something that can reside in the living room or kitchen for quick information look-ups – glance at the personal email inbox, decide where to have dinner tonight based on reviews, or determine what is happening on a social network.

You mean an iPad. You’re describing an iPad but you’re saying “device” to make it look like analysis. Stop that.

Prior to the iPad, the only real market for tablets was on shop room floors and other industrial scenarios. Sure, there might have been a smattering of masochistic Microsoft mavens using Windows on a tablet at home, but a few people with bizarre fetishes do not a market make.

The media tablet, based on a touch screen interface, is primarily being used for entertainment and the general consumption of web content.

You’re talking about the iPad. Remember, this is back in July. Who the heck else was doing this other than iPad owners? NO ONE. Jeff, just say “iPad” if that’s what you mean.

Alternatively, more costly media tablets are available that include a modem that connects to a cellular data network plus the monthly costs for access similar to a handset.

Stop that! Stop saying “media tablets” when you mean “3G iPad!”

Orr, like Gartner, really doesn’t seem to like that fact that this is currently a one-horse race, which isn’t where he predicted we’d be in July.

ABI Research expects most of the leading PC and mobile device OEMs to have media tablet products commercially available during the second half of 2010.

Well, they still have two and a half months left.

Journalism!

Remember the college student Steve Jobs told to “leave us alone?”

Well, she’s back in the news.

Isaacs just happened to be among eight students who won a contest run by Microsoft to win a trip to cover the launch of Windows Phone 7.

Shocking coincidence!

Microsoft picked up the travel expenses, but Isaacs said the group’s adviser told them to be tough and hold Microsoft’s feet to the fire while meeting with various company executives and learning about the company’s products.

Well, then! That’s good enough for the Macalope!

“It’s been a really great challenge and exercise for me to just stay totally in the middle and not be totally biased toward Microsoft because I hate Apple, but I don’t hate Apple,” she said “I just had one bad experience… It’s one person at the company and I still appreciate their products and am still going to look at things objectively.”

Oh, for sure. You sound so totally objective and stuff. Except for that part where you said you “hate Apple.” Other than that, totally objective.

“I have very strict values,” she said. “I really felt that was unethical and I wouldn’t be comfortable giving a dime. If that’s the way you treat consumers, that’s not right.”

Allow the Macalope to quote the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics (emphasis the Macalope’s):

Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.

So far the Macalope can’t say he’s impressed with Long Island University’s Journalism program. But maybe Chelsea hasn’t taken “How To Avoid Being Used By Giant Corporations For PR Purposes 101” yet.

“I have always loved technology, but I’m not a tech-obsessed person,” she said. “I appreciate it and I use it every day. I’ve never been the kind of person who is the first (in) line for the new device…But after all this I’m getting much more into technology.”

“Hates Apple” and is happy to be a useful tool of Microsoft? You’ll fit right in in technology journalism, Chelsea.

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