The Macalope Weekly: Executive summary

This week we look at executives and the pundits who love and hate them! Is Tim Cook overpaid? Depends on what you compare it to. Then, inquiring minds want to know: Did Google’s Andy Rubin get all his ideas from Apple? The Macalope divulges his secret story! Finally, it’s once more into the breach, dear friends, as Forbes gets in a late hit piece on Steve Jobs.

Are you ready for tame?!

Because check it out, soft rockah! Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster’s got the low-down on the next couple of years for Apple and, if these numbers don’t lie, they are going to softly jostle your sawks!

Among Munster’s predictions:

Revenue growth slowing from 82% the June 2011 quarter to 20% in 2013.

The consensus among investors he polled was that growth would slow even more dramatically in 2013, to 10%.

Whoa. Really? Because as Philip Elmer-Dewitt points out, it’s been kind of a while since it’s been that low. Are investors thinking that because of the economy; or because Tim Cook doesn’t look as good in a mock turtleneck, jeans, and Nikes; or because they’re just angry about something completely unrelated?

If it’s a vote of meh-confidence in Tim Cook, it’s one that’s not shared by Apple’s board, which voted to give the guy a million shares rated “R” for “restricted.” This has caused a bit of a furor in certain circles. Specifically, the circles of armchair boards of directors.

It was the 2nd largest grant in US corporate history according to Equilar. Second only to one received by Jobs 11 years ago worth $600 million.

Aaron Boyd of Equilar said: “Apple has done quite well recently with Cook in charge, but you’d still be surprised no matter who was getting it.”

That seems like a lot. Except, it’s all relative really. Over the last 14 years, Jobs was arguably the best CEO in the U.S. (if not the world) in terms of providing shareholder value—Cook is arguably the second best.

Read more…

Nell Minow, a board member of Governance Metrics International, said: “The Apple board has a consistent record of making bad choices with regard to incentive compensation.” She went on to say the problem with the award is not its size so much as its form, because it only has upside and no downside.

It would be more correct to say that the Apple board has a history of making market-competitive choices with regards to incentive compensation. The Macalope was critical of Apple’s handling of the Steve Jobs’s stock options mess back in the day. (Is 2006 long ago enough to be considered “back in the day”? What’s the statute of limitations on that?) But it wasn’t illegal or uncommon to backdate options. The problem was the failure to disclose the backdating.

The shares Cook has been granted are not options, though. The company’s just giving them to him when they vest. Options are a better way of tying performance to compensation, but he does still have the incentive of trying to make the stock go up over the long haul, since the vesting dates are five and ten years out.

“That’s a nice, big, fat round number,” [Scott Adams, coordinator of the public pension program at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees] said. “It’s a lot of money, and we don’t know if he’s worth it or not.”

It’s also a big, fat opportunity cost. Having helped turn Apple into the largest and most successful company in America, Cook could pretty much be running any company he wants. Apple paid him to keep him. Realistically, you couldn’t put just any yahoo—like, say, the CEO of Yahoo—in charge of Apple. We played this game six weeks ago and it wasn’t very much fun.

The Macalope’s not a fan of out-of-whack executive compensation, so he’s not going to defend the overall number, but he will defend the number relative to other executives. Doesn’t it seem like there’s a bigger problem than rewarding a star like Cook—such as executives who get paid generously despite completely screwing up a company?

If Apple’s growth crashes to a mere 10 percent, then the detractors might be right. The Macalope doesn’t see that happening, though.

Fly, my pretties!

Fresh from complaining about how unseemly this whole “patent” thing is, Google has unleashed its Android OEM flying monkeys!

HTC Corp. (2498), Asia’s second-biggest smartphone maker, is using nine patents bought from Google Inc. (GOOG) last week to pursue new infringement claims against Apple Inc.

See? That, Google, is how you play ball, unfortunately.

Unlike some other commentators, the Macalope’s not going to give Google a hard time for suing with patents that it bought fourth- and even fifth-hand instead of, like Apple, ones that it was awarded for things it actually invented. Business is business. The Macalope just better not hear any more holier-than-thou proclamations about how noble Google has never sued anyone over patent infringement. Suing by proxy is still suing.

Besides, this may all be just a lead-up to the main bout: Apple vs. Google. What a media circus that would be.

The first punches are already being thrown. As Florian Mueller noticed last week, Apple is charging that Andy Rubin’s mobile expertise all traces back to his time at Apple in the early 1990s. Hey, looks like Apple did make something lasting from that period! Maybe we owe John Sculley and Michael Spindler an apology.

(Haha, just kidding.)

But big deal. So what? Who cares? So Rubin is a replicant hatched from an egg incubated in a misbegotten Apple skunkworks project. Who gives a rip?

Well…

Should Apple at some point sue Google directly over this patent, this background could, however, have serious ramifications: Google (or a Google subsidiary like MMI) would almost certainly be found to infringe the relevant patent intentionally, and willful infringement would greatly increase Apple’s chances of obtaining an injunction as well as triple damages.

Triple damage! That’s some serious hit points! No way Google makes a saving throw against that!

While HTC is fighting Apple, two other companies have capitulated to Microsoft’s demands that they need to license the company’s technology for their Android handsets.

So, are you getting this whole series of events? Let’s run though them.

Somehow, in the early 1990s Apple bred a mobile technology killer robot. Cyborg.

No, wait… android. Andy Rubin.

Andyroid.

We’re through the looking glass here, people. It was staring us right in the face the whole time. All the pieces are starting to fall into place.

OK, so Apple makes this Andyroid and, through the mismanagement endemic to the company at the time, it’s released into the wild. Years later, the Andyroid is caught by Microsoft, which reprogrammed and re-released it into the wild—but deliberately. It then gets hired by Google and acts as a Manchurian candidate within the company to funnel millions of dollars to Microsoft for doing jack squat.

Ingenious. The Macalope tips his antlers toward Redmond.

Well, OK, maybe that’s not what happened. But it pretty much worked out that way anyway.

Saturday Special: Wait, you’re saying Apple is a religion? Fascinating!

The Macalope knows we’ve pretty much had our fill of idiotic pieces about Steve Jobs and he’s happy to report that this cottage industry appears to be dying out. But let’s take a whiff of this stinky piece of cheese from Forbes, because it’s amazing.

Is Steve Jobs A Creative Genius, Or A Tyrant?

Again, the Macalope asks, can’t it be both?

As the Steve Jobs era ends, it turns out that the famous Apple “1984” ad was more prescient than anyone suspected at the time. Except Steve Jobs wasn’t the woman throwing the hammer. He was Big Brother…

The Macalope wonders how hard Kyle Smith clapped himself on the back for that brilliant piece of keyboarding, one we’ve only seen from about 9000 other jerkbags in the last 10 years. “Apple has turned into the Big Brother it mocked! I AM A FRICKING GENIUS!”

And like Big Brother he was a spooky, weird control freak who cultivated not so much fans as thought-slaves.

As opposed to, say, those who are thought-slaves to lazy Apple tropes that absolve them from any obligation to think why someone might believe that Apple products are simply the better choice. No, it’s just blind obedience to a cult.

It’s astounding they keep writing this crap. You expect it from windowsluvrrr46@hotmail.com, but Forbes?

(Daimler makes some nifty products too—quick, picture its CEO. But you don’t have an image of Jurgen Klummsdorf or Hans Sitzkrieg in your mind, do you? You don’t even know the guy’s name.)

Uh, yeah, we also don’t own a freaking Benz, you twit.

Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPod. And what is the iPhone except an iPod Touch that’s been wired up? What’s an iPad but a really big iPhone?

What’s a Benz if not a fancy Kia? What’s a shoe if not a glorified sock? What’s Edward R. Murrow if not Kyle Smith with integrity and talent?

A few months ago I walked by my local Apple store—a gleaming transparent palace that looks like a drop of sweat from the gods frozen into a perfect ice cube as it fell to earth…

Seriously, what is the matter with you?

…and encountered a long line of what (in an only slightly different context) George Harrison termed the “Apple Scruffs.”

Blah, blah, lining up for something they don’t need, blah, blah, blah.

Across the street, where Best Buy would be selling exactly the same item at exactly the same price at exactly the same time, there was no cult, no fever, hence no line (and no wasted productivity). That’s right: Fanatics would rather waste 24 hours advertising their zeal at an Apple store than simply walk into a Best Buy.

The people in that line should sue Smith for defamation of character.

Not to ruin your exercise in extreme obtuseness, Kyle, but the reason there was no line at the Best Buy is that the Best Buy was probably going to get about 10 iPad 2s while the Apple Store was going to get about 10,000. So every person in that line was better informed than you.

Five hundred years ago, the Apple Scruffs would have been mortifying their flesh as a Jobs-like cleric urged them on.

The Macalope has to type “GET IT? IT’S A CULT!” so many times that he really should set up a keyboard shortcut.

God forbid a company make well-designed devices and God forbid people enjoy using them.

Ugh, Smith’s piece just goes on and on and on. And we’re only on page one, as Forbes needs to maximize those page views and ad impressions.

We’re talking about a company that forbids use of Adobe Flash on the iPad—Jobs claimed, ludicrously, that the software used by tens of millions of Americans every day didn’t work—because that would allow competition to the media sold in the iTunes store.

Translation: I have no interest in investigating how lousy Flash is on other mobile devices because Forbes doesn’t care if this piece is accurate. They paid for a screed and a screed they shall have!

Bill Gates may have been the satiric target of the “1984” commercial, but did he ever push his monopoly power as far?

And now we’re into the “getting basic facts wrong” part of the piece. Bill Gates was not the target of the ad; it was IBM. Nobody knew who the heck Microsoft was in 1984.

As Jobs steps down, the communicants of the Holy Church of Steve—these supposed rationalists and science lovers—mumble pardons and shrug their shoulders at all of his sinister doings.

“Sinister doings”? Dude, your complaints about the company amount to “they put young people in their ads and people like their products.” Seriously, what is with these scolds who feel the need to lecture people about how that popular thing they like is really terrible and, mark their words, it’ll come to no good!?

This piece is stuffed with so many religion metaphors it probably qualifies for tax exemption. If Steve Jobs is “Mr. Burns in a turtleneck” as Smith proclaims, Smith is Grandpa Simpson yelling at a cloud.

(Disclosure: the Macalope hold an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

[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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