The Macalope Weekly: Like a hurricane

It’s more than a week later and we’re still cleaning up the mess of the storm that raged through our community. No, not hurricane Irene, hurricane Steve Jobs Steps Down (which, like Irene, would make a really pretty name for a girl). One pundit has been swept from the ranks of Mac users while another chose to rage against the storm. Finally, Paul Thurrott has been lying to you! Can you imagine?

Breaking up isn’t always hard to do

Congratulations, Joe Wilcox! You’re the first person to write a “I didn’t leave Apple, Apple left me!” post since Jobs stepped down as CEO!

The previous one was a week before. They come out every week.

Earlier this month I sold my 11.6-inch MacBook Air (using Samsung Series 5 Chromebook now) and iPhone 4 (switched back to Google Nexus S).

Bon. Voyage.

This explains something the Macalope was wondering about. Apparently Wilcox was the “player to be named later” in the dubious Mike Elgan trade. Frankly, the Macalope doesn’t fully understand a trade where you’re just swapping one guy who hacks at the ball for another. Maybe we got some salary or something.

I don’t miss either Apple product.

That’s interesting, because the Macalope spoke with the MacBook Air and iPhone earlier, Joe, and they said the feeling was mutual.

In reflecting, I realize that the spell is broken. Without Apple Chairman Steve Jobs driving innovation or inspiring passion—the oft-called “reality distortion field”—my Apple enthusiasm is gone. Perhaps it’s return to sanity.

Or maybe you’re still insane and your insanity is just further manifesting itself. Did you consider that?

Read more…

The Macalope seems to remember you challenging Jobs to return to work full time. Is this your new defense? Insanity plea? It does have a certain charm to it.

But on reflection, I now see how much simplicity, one of Apple products’ best attributes, is giving way to complication creep. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iTunes 9 and 10 are glaring examples of increased complexity, as are iOS 4 (and soon v5), Safari 5.1, iLife `11 and most other Apple software.

Uh, really? iLife is complicated? Did you take a blow to the head recently?

Wilcox’s contention about Lion also flies in the face of the complaints of most long-time Mac users. If anything, the complaints the Macalope has seen are that things like Launchpad and Versions are an oversimplification. But there’s a reason Joe’s forcing this idea: He’s building to a wicked boss Star Trek simile.

Jobs and Cook couldn’t be more different leaders.

Well, they’re both extremely talented. That’s something they share that sets them apart from their competitors.

Like James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock from “Star Trek”. Kirk is the leader, the charismatic one. Spock is the empowering sidekick but not as effective leader. That’s how I see Jobs and Cook.

Well, no one would accuse you of complication creep, Joe.

Cook’s been on the job for about a week and Wilcox has somehow divined what his leadership style is like. Wilcox argues that you can see Cook’s Vulcan death grip in Apple’s moves over the past two plus years, but if that’s true it sure hasn’t shown in the company’s sales. Or its financials. Or its stock price.

And it’s not like Joe’s been particularly prescient. Ever.

Apple won’t find feature compromises—the kind good for keeping them in balance—as easy in the post-Jobs-CEO world, either. Response to Final Cut Pro X is one example of that.

Wait, wait, wait. Final Cut Pro was a perfect example of Apple simplifying something, not making it more complex. And you were just telling us the Cook era is all about over-complicating things. Your arguments have no logical consistency.

Jobs had a knack for making people believe in his company’s products…

Jobs gives a terrific presentation, there’s no doubt about it. But people could still tell when he was trying to feed them a sandwich full of something you should never, ever make a sandwich with. Like when he said in 2007 that Apple’s slick solution for developing for the iPhone was Web apps. Nobody bought that.

Well, maybe you did, since you’re using a Chromebook.

Apple feels quite different to me now in 2011 than it did in 2008. It’s all corporate now. Just dollars and cents on a ledger. What Jobs imbued already is gone, at least for me.

Come on. It’s not like your heart was ever really in it in the first place. You’ve been trying (and failing) to second guess Apple for years. Speaking of insanity, you know how some people say the definition of it is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Probably not.

I predict it will fade for many technophiles.

Well, that’s certainly damning, Joe, as your analysis is always so spot on.

Cough.

A close second

Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Julian Lee doesn’t quite come up to Nick Farrell’s epic level of jackassery, but he sure gave it a try.

No sooner had Steve Jobs resigned than the process of his canonisation began.

GET IT? IT’S A RELIGION. BET YOU NEVER SAW THAT COMING. BOOM. IN YOUR FACE APPLE FANS. YOU JUST GOT SCHOOLED. SUNDAY SCHOOLED.

Genius, visionary, even revolutionary were some of the epithets used to describe the man who took Apple from the brink to the world’s most valuable company.

Yet, once the hyperbole is stripped away, it may be that he was merely the man who made us fall in love with pretty gadgets, and made Apple shareholders immensely rich in the process.

Wait. It can’t be both?

Jobs made computing sexy and packaged music players, phones and portable screens to make them the must-have item for millions. But he is guilty, among other things, of bequeathing to us a worldwide cult of technological onanism from which we are unlikely to recover any time soon.

Onanism? Well, looks like someone got a word-of-the-day calendar for his birthday.

There are two ways of looking at this: You can either recognize that people get excited by technology because it enables them to do things they could never do before, or you can just think they’re worshipping false idols. Lee has picked the latter and decided to blame it all on Steve Jobs. Who, by the way, is stepping down because he has cancer. Just for context about the comity of the timing.

Carry on, douche from down under!

You can’t flirt with someone on a train if they are plugged into a two-hour shuffle of easy listening.

Is that what this is about? You bugging people on the train? Maybe those people never wanted to be bugged by you in the first place and are just using their iPods as an excuse. Did you ever think of that?

This is the same “Technology is disconnecting us!” lament that Luddites like Lee have been laying on us since at least the invention of television, if not longer. There was probably some Greek scold who warned that writing things on scrolls was going to end civilization as they knew it by making it harder for him to hit on girls at the Parthenon.

The Macalope can’t tell you how many real, flesh-and-blood friends he’s made through Twitter. He knows any number of couples who met on Twitter.

Even the TV screen has been shrunk to a neat little portable device - the iPad - that enables you to slink off into a corner and watch it on your own.

Lee apparently doesn’t have any children, so he doesn’t know the delight of having them come find you under a sink, trying to operate a wrench with hooves, and having them shove an iPad in your face because you totally have to see this part of the Road Runner right now because it’s hysterical. There are so many ridiculous ways Lee is wrong that it’s not even worth going into.

By and large, what Apple makes, we buy - unquestioningly.

Really? Really?! We never think about the other options when we buy Apple products? Even the Macalope does that! The thing is, Julian, the thing you don’t want to admit for some weird reason, is that their products are, by and large, just better.

But there is nothing very cool about the culture of the company… Its “my way or the highway” approach to business has earned it few friends.

It has, however, earned a lot of its partners (AT&T for example) a crap-ton of money. Maybe the CEOs of these companies can soothe their hurt feelings by buying themselves some yachts.

Apple is one of the few technology companies in the world that has succeeded despite having a closed ecosystem that does not work with any other technology.

Wow! Is that right? Not any other technology? Not Netflix or USB mice or Wi-Fi or Google Docs or Bluetooth headsets or freaking X11 or the Internet where the Macalope has to read idiotic prattle like yours? None of that?

Apple’s environmental record of managing the toxic fallout from its products is less than exemplary and the pricing for its products and services is based on what it can get away with rather than what is fair.

The Macalope hates to be the one to tell you this, Julian, but business, much like life, is not fair.

Australian consumers still pay $1.69 a track on its iTunes store compared to the US69¢ Americans pay, despite the strength of the Aussie dollar.

Hey, Julian, how much do you pay for Fosters? Or Uggs? Or, more to the point, how much do other digital music vendors in Australia charge?

This was the same argument the Macalope remembers people floating when tethering was introduced. “AT&T’s prices are unfair! Rogers charges less!” Uh, yeah. Rogers is in Canada. They’re different markets. AT&T charged more because it could get away with charging more. Are you people brand new to capitalism or something?

Despite its size, the myth pervades that Apple’s values today are much the same as those forged 36 years ago by two hirsute college drop-outs in a garage in Silicon Valley.

The value of reinventing difficult technologies into easier ones has consistently been Apple’s core value.

In spite of all the facts - that Apple is a ruthless corporate machine that exploits consumers at will…

Lee seems more upset with capitalism than Apple specifically. Yes. Apple is a corporation. Congratulations. You really nailed it.

…and gives little back (it doesn’t even pay its shareholders a dividend)…

Poor Apple shareholders! It’s like they’re getting nothing for their investment!

…we love this brand and the avuncular evangelist Jobs who is slowly but surely being raised to the pantheon of “greats” alongside Nobel prize winners, mighty philanthropists and, dare I say it, even religious leaders.

The Macalope would really prefer it if you didn’t dare to say it. What Lee doesn’t mention is the great business leaders which is, you know, what people are really lauding him as.

In the end I suspect Jobs will be remembered chiefly as one of, if not the, best marketers the world has ever known.

Finally, at the last sentence, we’ve reached a nice word about Jobs. And it’s in the form of a backhanded compliment.

Classy.

Saturday Special: Matter/antimatter reaction

We could spend more time going over the asinine things certain people have said about Steve Jobs stepping down—believe the Macalope when he says there are many other contenders in the race to be the biggest jerk on the Internet—but enough of that. Because Paul Thurrott wants you Apple goons to stop emailing him about market share.

Market Share Matters (Tip o’ the antlers to Nathan D. Huening.)

I’ve been lying to you.

Oh, Paul. Lying? In addition to your other crimes against humanity? What will we tell the children?

But I’m tired of it. And now I’m just going to tell you what I should have told you all along. And that’s this: When it comes to PCs, tablets, smart phones, whatever; market share matters. In fact, it matters more than any other metric you care to name.

Actually, it doesn’t. Depending on what you’re talking about.

But Paul’s upset because people keep sending him “Yeah, but…” emails and he doesn’t want to think about your annoying counter-arguments anymore! He just wants to use market share because it’s easier, OK? He’s tired of all the complaints!

Complaints from Apple fanatics that seek to undercut the importance of market share—because, again, they don’t like what it says about their favorite company and/or platform—and change the discussion.

The Macalope doesn’t doubt that some people who email him are bugged by this, but the horny one really doesn’t care. There are many reasons Windows has a larger market share and they’re not because it’s somehow better.

But I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve been too timid about this topic. And I’m here today to correct that. Market share matters. Period. And if your concerns are non-partisan and true, as I believe mine are…

[eye roll]

…you’ll agree that it’s the thing that matters most.

The reason market share matters is that market share measures where the bodies are.

OK, Paul’s not completely wrong here: 90-plus percent of computers bought run Windows. That matters. But he’s talking about something other than what the Macalope and many Apple fans have been complaining about in the over-emphasis on market share. What we’ve been complaining about is using it as the only barometer for the health of an ecosystem.

From the perspective of a user, as long as your platform has a healthy development life cycle, a mess of software, and robust peripheral options, who cares what the market share is? This has been the case with both the Mac and iOS for years and yet people keep screaming about market share like it has anything to do with our user experience. It just doesn’t. In fact, it might even keep malware away.

From the perspective of an investor, what matters is growth and profit (both areas where Apple is highly successful), not market share. The last thing you want to do is buy stock in a company with high market share and watch it trickle away. Would Paul have bought RIM stock two years ago? Because, if he’s arguing for that, he should have his head examined.

Which he should probably do anyway, because something ain’t right.

…I write about mainstream technologies, and I write for the people who use those products. Not for the wishful thinkers. And not for the misguided souls that seek to prop up a gigantic corporation that does not give a crap about them at all.

The mean and tiresome Apple fans who keep sending those “Yeah, but…” emails to Paul are just trying to prop up a giant corporation that doesn’t give a crap about them. Paul, on the other hand, is gallantly trying to support the users of the products of a giant corporation that doesn’t give a crap about them. See the difference, zealots?

If market share matters to you, Paul, well, good for you. But don’t try to tell us it matters to us. Because it doesn’t.

[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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