The Macalope Weekly: Comfort food

In these difficult times of change it’s a comfort to have familiar things to fall back on. You know how when you’re sick it feels good to eat mac-n-cheese, or pot pies, or alfalfa? Likewise, we can turn to the fact that technology pundits will always say stupid things about Apple. No matter who’s in charge.

Après Jobs, le déluge…

…de stupide.

So. There goes the other shoe. Try not to freak.

Look, if anyone gives you grief about this on the playground, just calmly note that Apple’s new CEO can still beat up their CEO, so there. It’s not like Tim Cook’s some sweaty meat sack.

We don’t need to sort it all out now. There will be plenty of time to talk about this over the next millenium. Sadly, many a silly pundit will rush to tell you what it means. For the most part, and the Macalope can’t stress this enough, they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Don’t worry about Apple. Worry about Steve Jobs if you want to worry about something. The Macalope’s pleased to see he’s still on the board of Disney, he’s chairman of Apple’s board, and he’s still an Apple employee. (Although the Macalope hopes the latter doesn’t mean much because Steve Wozniak is still an Apple employee, too, and that guy’s goofy.)

Jobs commits his tenure as head of Apple to posterity as perhaps the most remarkable turnaround of all time. For those of us who are long-time Apple fans, we owe him a debt of gratitude. For those of us who work in an Apple-related industry, we owe him our livelihood. From the rudderless hull of the company he helped create, Steve Jobs built an unprecedented organization that makes devices that delight customers and drive competitors (and pundits) to fits.

Few people can make such an amazing contribution to the business world once in their lifetime. He did it twice.

Thanks, Steve. Be well.

Now, if you’ll excuse him, the Macalope’s still got a job to do.

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Because, true to form, pundits wasted no time in getting right into the stupid.

Charles Golvin, an analyst specializing in mobile technology at Forrester Research, said in an email message… “I think the key question is whether the Apple team will continue to work as effectively as a collaborative without the single person to rely on for the final decision.”

Apparently Forrester has been informed that Tim Cook was not named CEO and Apple is now run by committee. That is troubling. Next thing you know, they’ll be telling us about the disturbing message Jonathan Ive’s frown sends about Apple executive rivalries.

But Golvin’s not the worst. No, we’re just getting started. Buckle up, this is gonna get ugly.

From zero to classless in 3.5 seconds

Enter TechEye.net’s Nick Farrell, who wants everyone to know how terrible it is that Steve Jobs did cancer wrong (tip o’ the antlers to markbyrn on Twitter).

The messiah of the Apple cargo cult has walked away from his role as Apple’s CEO after suffering from a bad case of perspective, as we reported at midnight.

Yes, you read that right. Farrell is chastising a cancer sufferer for failing to have had perspective.

[golf clap]

Bra-vo.

Steve Jobs is probably the first person in Apple’s history to suddenly wake up one morning and realise that there are better things in life than shiny toys.

The Macalope’s not sure if Farrell is limiting his holier-than-thou judgement to Apple employees or if he means that all of Apple’s customers are soulless monsters who are only interested in gadgets and place no value on interpersonal relationships.

Either way, zing! Good one. You really reduced us all to a sleazy, cartoonish stereotype there.

It must be reassuring to Jobs that there are hacks like Farrell looking out for him, sitting on the sidelines and telling him he’s lost perspective by continuing to do what he loves in the face of adversity. Surely Farrell is in a better position to be judging how Jobs should have dealt with this sad, personal tragedy.

Lecture on.

A long time ago we warned Jobs that creating fantasies for fanboys was a largely pointless exercise when your health was on the rocks.

Did you, now. Well, goody for you. So, when you get cancer, you’ll do it right, not like Jobs did. Give yourself a big clap on the back and, oh, you already are. Never mind.

He was drafted back in and shifted the company away from its traditional nice looking PC model, to gizmos and toys such as the iPod.

Because, as everyone knows, Apple stopped making Macs. Also, “drafted”? He chose to sell his company to Apple and then conducted a boardroom coup to take over.

Are you trying to seem like an insensitive ass who’s careless with basic facts? Because you’re doing a bang-up job of it.

But Jobs’ masterstroke was to move into the mobile arena first with the smartphone. Smartphones had been around but they had never had Apple’s design applied to them. That, coupled with a fanatical base and a sympathetic press, enabled Jobs to create a mobile hysteria around smartphones.

Apart from the use of tired clichés, this isn’t even good writing. “Mobile hysteria”? The hysteria was portable?

It was dubbed Jobs’ ‘reality distortion field’ where whatever the man said was considered to be absolutely true. It resulted in a company which was less about viable technology and more of a shallow 21st century cult where products were a replacement for religious satisfaction.

The man is stepping down from his position because of health reasons and you’re calling him a snake-oil salesman. That’s class.

Just as interest in the iPod started to die off, Jobs came up with the iPad which successfully dusted off the tablet idea which Microsoft and indeed he had failed to convince the world was viable.

Nicely worded. The Macalope doesn’t usually jab people for simple typos, but in your case he’ll make an exception.

In doing so, Jobs created the “mobile boom” which lead to the development of more mobile consumer gadgets. This boom caught the industry on the hop and it has been slow to find an answer. This is mostly because rivals lacked the slick marketing and the fanatical Apple fanboy base and Tame Apple Press which Apple cultivated.

Uh-huh. The same press that declared a new iPhone killer every week? The same press that continues to declare a new iPad killer every week? The same press that said Apple was doomed because it didn’t introduce a crappy netbook? The same “fanatical Apple fanboy base” that’s probably now mostly made up of people who were using Windows just a few years ago? Clearly, it couldn’t be the fact that Apple’s products are just better than everyone else’s.

They couldn’t be! The Xoom is 4G-ready!

So far no one has managed to replicate Jobs’ success at this and it is not for a lack of technology.

No. It’s not. It’s because Jobs and Apple are simply better than their competitors are at design and execution.

All this success came at a price.

Dude, did you really just say his success caused his cancer? You gigantic, pompous prig?

In a normal universe, Jobs would have quit and spent loads of money getting better. However the cult of personality which had developed around Apple had forbidden that.

The Macalope doesn’t know about you, but he cannot conceive of an instance where he would suggest to someone with pancreatic cancer that if only he had spent more money, he might have cured himself. But, then, he’s not a jackass of Farrell’s caliber.

Nevertheless the Apple cult of personality insisted that Jobs had got better and the operation was widely reported to have worked right until this year when Jobs again took time off.

Throughout this idiotic waxing, Farrell does not provide one single solitary link to back up his assertion that Jobs wasn’t actually better and then faced a setback, as happens all the time to cancer sufferers. Because he can’t, of course. Inconvenient facts are apparently not enough to stop him from being a overbearing, monstrous scold.

However the real danger for Apple is that the reality distortion field around its products will crumble over time.

Sure, sure, because it’s all smoke and mirrors. WE GOT IT ALREADY.

Those who have come to believe that Steve Jobs is their personal saviour, might have difficulty accepting Tim Cook in the same role.

True. Fortunately, no one on the planet outside the imaginary Apple-loving demons that live in your head thinks that.

It is easy to buy a pile of tat from a man who you think is Jesus, however Tim has an uphill battle convincing anyone that Elijah’s mantel has fallen to him.

The Macalope may not be able to parse all of your ham-fisted religious metaphors, but if you’re saying Apple’s sales will fall like a rock under Cook’s tenure, he’ll take that bet.

Needless to say we expect Apple’s shareprice to suddenly become more realistic today.

The day after the announcement, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.51 percent, Apple dropped 0.65 percent. As of this writing, it’s up almost 10 points. The Macalope’s going to assume that wasn’t exactly the adjustment you had in mind, or you wouldn’t have brought it up. Looks like your stock predictions are about as good as your sense of decency.

Saturday Special: Palate cleanser

After that, we need one.

Steve’s retirement isn’t just an opportunity to be an incredible jerk, like Farrell, it’s also an opportunity to grind your personal axe, like Katherine Noyes.

After some words of respect for Jobs, Noyes gets to the meat of her argument: open!

Wow! No! Way!

Apple will obviously never become an open source company, of course—I’m not suggesting it should.

Well, other than the fact that it uses a mess of open-source, which you never seem to want to mention.

What I do think the company needs to do, though…

Oh, God, this is going to be so good, the Macalope can just feel it.

…is to recognize the openness that is increasingly changing the world we live in.

BOOM! Take that Apple! You thought your history over the last decade was one of fantastic, unprecedented success in bad economic conditions?! Well, what about your failure to recognize the openness that is increasingly changing the world?! Huh?! In your face!

The link is, of course, to another piece by Noyes about how awesome open is. Reading Katherine’s work is often like peeling an onion—a dull, pedantic, smelly, open-source onion.

Transparency and accountability, for instance, are now expected by consumers and citizens of the corporations and governments that exist to serve them; just look at Wikileaks for proof.

Right. Because Wikileaks has revolutionized the world, and governments and corporations are finally being completely transparent and accountable.

Hahahahahahaha! If anything, the Macalope would argue that the hallmark of the current economic and political climate in the first world has been the utter lack of accountability.

On the corporate side, consumers are now demanding that companies open up about everything from product quality to pricing.

Katherine is fond of saying things that she wishes were true as if they were, in fact, true. But, as the Macalope is fond of saying in response, she is not the Lathe of Heaven. Her dreams do not create reality. Hey, the Macalope’s all for openness and accountability. But to argue that it’s here is just laughable. Which would probably explain why the Macalope is laughing.

Apple’s long-standing paternalistic and often arrogant approach flies in the face of this new “transparency tyranny (PDF),” as it’s been called. The company’s longtime reliance on secrecy and its “we know what’s best for you” attitude isn’t going to be a sustainable one over the years.

Really?! Wow! Over which years? Apparently not the 14 years since Jobs returned.

Unlike Farrell’s disgusting diatribe, Noyes’s piece is genuinely funny in its complete obliviousness. It’s like a delightful mint after a horrible dinner.

Same goes for the inner workings of Apple’s technology, which has traditionally been presented to consumers from on high as a “black box” to be used but not understood.

That’s had significant security implications, as we saw with the arrival of MacDefender, which made it clear once and for all that the company’s “security through obscurity” strategy just doesn’t work.

She’s still beating this drum. It’s unbelievable. Despite the fact that malware on her beloved “open-source” Android is skyrocketing while it’s practically unknown on iOS, Noyes still has no compunctions about lecturing Apple on security. That’s chutzpah.

Apple’s “black box” strategy also flies in the face of the crowdsourcing trend that’s increasingly being used by companies and organizations to elicit consumers’ participation in key decisions and the early stages of product design.

Crowdsourcing, in turn, flies in the face of the “auteur” trend that is increasingly being seen as a way not to produce a tremendous load of crap.

OK, look, the Macalope has nothing against crowdsourcing, per se, but both methods can be valuable. Auteurism is Apple’s shtick, and the company uses it to great success. Denying that is simply sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA OPEN SOURCE LA-LA-LA-LA-LA CROWDSOURCING!” Which, of course, is Noyes’s shtick.

Patents have apparently become a central part of Apple’s strategy, costing the company—and its customers—vast sums of money and inevitably delivering a blow to innovation.

As opposed to Google, maker of Android, which just dumped two years worth of profit on some patents. Keep digging for that pony, Katherine! You know it’s somewhere under that pile of manure!

The bottom line here is that no organization can be an island anymore. Apple may still enjoy a religiously devoted fan base…

Katherine. Katherine. Katherine. If we’re defining “religiously devoted” as “blindly, unquestioningly following a doctrine and denying all arguments that contradict it,” your devotion to open source takes the cake. A dry and dull cake that you have to compile from scratch.

[Editors’ Note: 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.]

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