The Macalope Weekly: The curation of all fears

[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.]

A big name leaves Microsoft and the folks there are sure gonna miss his butt keeping that seat warm. And did you know Apple had a few announcements this week? Well, it did. Apparently it’s doing a pretty good job selling stuff and also has some ideas on how to sell stuff in the future. Interesting! One idea, though, rubs this mythical beast’s hide the wrong way. Keep your Mac App Store out of the Macalope’s head, Steve Jobs!

So long, whoever you are

After a lackluster five years with Microsoft, Ray Ozzie announced that he was leaving the company, presumably to spend more time with his money. As is often the case with potential points of embarrassment for Microsoft, the Macalope called up his old friend the Winotaur to get the inside scoop.

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MACALOPE: Hey, bull breath, what’s shaking?

WINOTAUR: Oh, nothing, just taking this call on my Windows Phone 7, beeeotch!

MACALOPE: Aw, how cute. The Macalope will try not to ask you to do anything that requires multitasking.

WINOTAUR: WHAT’S THAT? YOUR AT&T SERVICE CUT OUT FOR A SECOND.

MACALOPE: Touché. Anyway, that’s not why the Macalope called you. He just wanted to say he was sorry to hear Ray Ozzie’s leaving Microsoft.

WINOTAUR: Ray who?

MACALOPE: Ray Ozzie. You know. Microsoft’s chief software architect.

WINOTAUR: Never heard of him.

MACALOPE: What?!

WINOTAUR: I think you must be thinking of some other company. Like Lotus or something.

MACALOPE: Yeah, well, no. Wait, look…

WINOTAUR: Oh, come on, let me lay this out for you, squarehead. Have you heard of anything he’s accomplished at Microsoft?

MACALOPE: Uh…

WINOTAUR: I rest my case.

MACALOPE: Huh. Wow. The Macalope has no real comeback for that.

WINOTAUR: Hey, I’m not really going into a tunnel but I’m going to make a static-y noise and hang up now, nnkay?

MACALOPE: Fine.

WINOTAUR: SKKKXXXZZZZRRRRRRZZZZZ [click]

The Macalope hates it when he wins.

Head I win, tails you lose

This week Apple again announced phenomenal quarterly results and you know what that means: some Wall Street analysts didn’t get it (tip o’ the antlers to RTH PJM via email).

While Apple’s profit climbed to a record last quarter, competition from Google Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. threatens to squeeze margins.

Really. RIM. This RIM?

It’s true that competition is squeezing Apple’s margins but RIM’s not really the problem. And this is the catch-22 that Apple’s in. If Apple retains small market share and high margins, Wall Street analysts complain about market share. If Apple reduces margin to get higher market share, they complain about margin.

The iPad tablet, released this year, also didn’t sell as well as analysts had estimated.

“Everyone is closing in and it’s a huge question of how they are going to respond,” said Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer of First Empire Asset Management, which holds Apple shares. “I’m really worried about Apple; I’m not convinced that I’m going to hold Apple two years from now.”

So, let’s get this straight. After Apple announced a monster quarter for a device locked in a struggle with Android and a solid quarter for a device that has no peer, Obuchowski describes the situations as “everyone closing in”?

You know, New York is pretty old. Has anyone checked the water pipes that feed into Wall Street to make sure they’re not lead?

The thought police

You may also have heard that Apple also hosted a special event this week (unless your religious precepts forbid receiving information transmitted by electrons, paper, voice, or telepathy), featuring a new version of iLife, new MacBooks Air (sic), and a preview of Mac OS X Lion. Most of the reaction to Lion has centered around the Mac App Store and has been, shall we say, mixed.

The Omni Group’s Ken Case is one of those looking forward to the Mac App Store. Omni went full-bore into the iPad app business earlier this year and it seems to have paid off for them, so you can see why he might be inclined to drink the Kool-Aid when it comes with a wad of hundreds.

On the other side of the tracks is Rogue Amoeba’s Paul Kafasis, who has some serious reservations about the Mac App Store—particularly around the 70/30 revenue split and the restrictions on the kind of apps allowed. As far as the App Store is concerned, Rogue Amoeba’s applications would be persona non grata since they use some low-level sleight of hand to get the job done.

So you can see how these two long-time, highly respected Mac developers might have different perspectives on the Mac App Store.

The merits the of 70/30 deal and the selection criteria are one thing, but the $44,800 question (it was a $64,000 question, but then Apple took 30 percent) that’s on everyone’s minds is “Will Apple ever make the Mac App Store the only way to get applications on your Mac?”

This is a particularly salient question for a beast with a head that’s a classic Mac. The horny one doesn’t want to wake up one day and find he has to get Steve Jobs’s approval every time he has a thought. To be clear, Jobs was careful to point out that you can still install applications the old fashioned way in Lion, but you’ve got to imagine the idea of reaping 30 percent of all third-party Mac software sales has him doing that evil villain thing where he turns away and laughs to himself and somehow no one sees it.

Regrettably, that’s where the Macalope sees this heading. Not immediately, but a few years down the road. You have to admire the audacity of Apple’s vision, even if you don’t know whether you want to live in its version of the future. It was one thing when Apple invented the iOS app world, but it’s another to tear down a house we’ve been living in for years and construct something entirely new. Not that Steve would ever do that, but some of us like the fact that we can slip out our bedroom windows, slide down the drain pipe, steal across the lawn, and go hang out at the Gas-N-Sip all night.

Hopefully the brown and furry one is just being paranoid. He would hate to have to jailbreak his own head. How humiliating.

(Disclosure: the Macalope has had prior business dealings with both Rogue Amoeba and the Omni Group.)

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