The Macalope Weekly: Keeping the party rolling

[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.]

Most of what makes a good party is who’s there. Sometimes a party’s better without certain people, just like you’ve got to make sure your marquee attendees don’t leave early. Finally, when the jerks show up, you throw them out.

You think it’s easy thinking up a metaphor that ties three Apple stories together? It’s not.

If wishes were horses

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen sent a decidedly mixed message in his interview at D9 last week. Out of one side of his mouth, Narayen said his company’s feud with Apple was sooo 2010, while out of the other he reiterated the argument and said that the iPad would lose to Android-based tablets. This feud may not be as hot as a laptop running Flash, but it’s not over yet, either.

Narayen tried to say it was “fairly clear” that the reason Flash wasn’t on iOS was not because of the technology, but because of Apple’s App Store business model.

Sure, dude.

Read more…

Of course, what’s he supposed to say? The truth? “Steve Jobs was right! Flash is an anachronistic, bug-ridden battery hog and the only platform I’d even remotely consider running it on is Windows, and only then because Microsoft let us do a bunch of weird stuff that makes it run better and also because the tackiness of your average Flash app seems more at home on Windows.”

See, the truth doesn’t sound very good.

The Macalope found it ironic that he had to keep turning up the volume on his MacBook Pro so he could hear Narayen explaining, over the sound of the fan kicking up to handle the Flash video, how Flash has no technology problems. Kudos to Walt Mossberg, however, for not letting Narayen get away with claiming Flash on Android is just peachy: “I have yet to test a single one where Flash works really well.”

Oooh. Sick burn. Walt should give out some ointment with a burn like that. Walt should smother a guy in industrial fire-fighting foam when delivering a such a third-degree burn.

But, remember, it’s not a technology issue! It’s just a business model issue.

Of course, it’s true that it’s partly a business model issue. But, then, the App Store isn’t the only business model in this equation. Flash itself is a business model. Narayen only wants to talk about how liberating using Flash is, but it’s also designed to lock developers into continuing to buy tools from Adobe, and only Adobe. Adobe has a vested interest in making developers think it’s the gateway to the Web.

“The value proposition Flash has is that we allow people to author programs once and get them to as many devices as possible.”

Which is great, because the touch interface is exactly the same as the mouse and keyboard interface.

Anyway, forget the iPad, Narayen says. Android tablets are going to take over because some of them—try to contain yourselves—have a stylus.

“The excitement around the Android tablets, I think, is incredible.”

Are we talking about the same tablets?

A report released on Thursday by J.P. Morgan Chase says that demand is not what Apple’s competitors had hoped for. In fact, production of tablets has dropped by about 10 percent, according to NYTimes.

In comparison, Apple has had a hard time keeping up with demand for the iPad since it was released.

Narayen’s outlook for the success of Flash-inflicted tablets seems somewhat premature. It’s possible that it could happen at some point, the Macalope supposes, but Flash’s role on mobile platforms seems like it’ll continue to be that of the oafish compatibility layer. Probably best to start thinking up your next business model rather than complaining about someone else who’s already got a pretty good one.

Blink

Hey, kids, remember all the way back in February when you were reading about Apple’s new subscription rules and just about choked on those heart-shaped Valentine candies you’d bought for yourself, but pretended came from your secret admirer? “Whaff abouff dah Kindle?!” you blurted, spitting sugar laced with carcinogenic dyes at the screen of your Mac. Well, the other shoe has dropped.

Yes, it’s time to clean off that sugary/chalky substance you left on your screen in protest of Apple’s draconian rules and learn to love again. Sanity, or at least market reality, has prevailed.

Apple has dropped several restrictions, including the “our way or the Web app highway” restriction that would have affected Kindle purchases. The new proviso reads:

11.14 Apps can read or play approved content (specifically magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video) that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content. Apple will not receive any portion of the revenues for approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app

You can’t fault a girl for trying, but you can imagine how that conversation with Amazon went.

APPLE: Hey! We’d like 30 percent of all Kindle sales!

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: Please?

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: Come on.

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: Pleeeeeeeeeaze?

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: Yes.

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: Do it.

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: DO. IT.

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: DOOOOOOOO IIIIIIIIIT!

AMAZON: No.

APPLE: ARRGH.

Repeat for four months.

Amazon would still need to remove the Kindle Store button in order to comply with the agreement and it’s possible the company may decide that it doesn’t like that either. But even if you love iBooks, Apple needs the Kindle app. Of course, Amazon needs the iPad, too, although probably slightly less. The Macalope’s pretty sure they’ll work this out, though.

There’s a difference between thinking something makes sense for Apple and thinking it makes sense for Apple customers and developers. This was clearly a case of the former.

So, thanks, Amazon. Really. Because maybe this gives some smaller app makers more flexibility in making their businesses work. Plus, Apple shouldn’t get away with everything.

No penalties for double teaming

Seems we’re not going to get through a week without mentioning the little firm that could (sue). Good news this week, though, as Lodsys took a one-two punch that we can only hope will provide a richly deserved knockout and an early end to its fighting career. Then it can get started on its long downslide of painkillers, booze, and failed personal relationships.

That’s just a joke. For all the Macalope knows, Lodsys’s already well into painkillers, booze and failed personal relationships. It’s certainly not making any friends in the mobile application development community.

First ForeSee Results filed to invalidate Lodsys’s patents and now Apple has filed a motion to intervene, which would let Apple intercede in Lodsys’s fight with the small developers it’s picking on. Florian Mueller states:

While I don’t have any confirmation from anyone that Apple has agreed to cover those defendants’ costs and potential risks, it’s hard to imagine how else this could work. In its motion, Apple states explicitly that the sued app developers are “are individuals or small entities with far fewer resources than Apple and […] lack the technical information, ability, and incentive to adequately protect Apple’s rights under its license agreement.”

In other words, looks like the cavalry just arrived. So, take a trip to the proverbial snack bar to purchase some proverbial popcorn to enjoy the proverbial show. The Macalope’s buying.

Unless you want real popcorn. Then you’re on your own. Apple might be made of money but the Macalope isn’t.

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