The Macalope Weekly: Busted businesses

Want to know why Microsoft just bolted the Metro UI onto the Windows desktop? To protect its business model. eWeek, meanwhile, needs an intervention on its ad-impression-maximizing business model, because these top-ten slideshows aren't a healthy lifestyle choice. Finally, can we talk about HP? Because, whoo, boy.

Less money, more problems

It’s now more than a week since the introduction of Windows 8 and, despite being told how awesome it is by everyone, the people who aren’t going to use it are still not convinced.

Yeah, let’s be honest. While he supports choice and competition, there’s very little chance the Macalope’s going to choose to use Windows 8 of his own free will. Any likely scenario involving him using Windows 8 probably involves a Turkish prison. So his critiques of it should probably be taken with a salt-lick-sized grain of salt, which the horny one happens to have on hand, if anyone forgot to bring theirs.

So enough of the critiques of the jarring user experience between Metro and the Windows desktop. Enough jokes about fans. Let us instead turn to the business of Windows 8, which is caught between Steve Ballmer’s head and another hard place that’s not Steve Ballmer’s head. Possibly an anvil, or something else very dense. Like a neutron star.

When Lion was announced, the Macalope noticed how Apple has been squeezing Microsoft on price. $30 a pop? How’s a company supposed to pay for huge developer conferences and lobbying the government? Apple figured out how you hobble a software giant: You drive down the price of software.

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Horace Dediu pointed out Microsoft’s price problem on the latest edition of The Critical Path (which, if you are interested in Apple from a business perspective, you really should listen to).

You can see now how Apple positioned iWork components at $20 a piece… and these are analogous to the Office suite. … How are you going to price Office for the [tablet] device?

While John Gruber made a pretty compelling argument for why Microsoft should go Metro-only on ARM-based devices from a technology and marketing perspective, Dediu notes the real reason the company can’t cut the cord with Windows on its tablet OS:

I argue that they put it together like this because of the economics. Because they have to be able to charge $40 [for Windows] and they’re going to say to the OEMs “Look, this is a PC. It’s just a different form factor.”

That’s $40 for an installed copy of Windows 8. What happens when it’s time to upgrade?

CNet’s Josh Lowensohn notes:

…one of the potential problems Microsoft’s strategy creates is the difference in update cycles that users have come to expect. Tablet users on Apple’s and Google’s platforms have become accustomed to frequent updates that add features free of charge.

Indeed they have. How exactly is Microsoft going to survive if it does that? Make it up on volume? Microsoft will make money on app sales, and with its huge installed base that could really add up, if users turn to it like they have on Apple’s platforms.

Whatever the case, Apple’s being what the business kids call “disruptive.” The rest of us just call it “messing with them.”

Time for an intervention

Oh, eWeek. We have to talk. Because these top-10 slideshows? Honey, this is no good.

The Macalope has seen this kind of self-destructive behavior before, and it only ends in one place: face-down in a dumpster outside Reno, hopped up on cough syrup and Red Bull, and wearing a homemade Philly Phanatic costume.

It’s time to admit you have a problem.

Oh, sure, the slideshows might have seemed cute when you started. They’re easy to write and generate 10 times as many ad impressions, but now they’ve reached the stage where they’re more a call for help than anything else. Like the latest from Don Reisinger.

Apple iPad 3 Might Face Trouble at Launch: 10 Reasons Why

Here we go. There are 10 points and we’re gonna do them all!

1. The Android Juggernaut

Although it has taken longer than Google would have liked, Android is now starting to catch on in the tablet space.

It is? According to who? Gosh, it seems like just last week the Macalope was pointing to a piece that said iPad market share was up while Android tablets’ share was actually down and OH YEAH, IT WAS JUST LAST WEEK.

Consumers are increasingly finding that Android-based platforms are worth trying out, and the iPad, in turn, is being negatively affected. Luckily for Apple, that negative impact has been relatively slight so far.

A negative impact so slight that it’s actually positive.

But if the iPad 3 launches next year, the Android effect on sales could be bigger than some folks want to admit.

Folks who don’t live the rich fantasy life of Don Reisinger, where negative numbers are positive ones.

2. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Is a Nice Alternative

“Android Tablets: Not That Bad!”

3. How Different Can Its Components Be?

Over the past year, such similarity hasn’t really hurt Apple. But will it next year when Android is more popular and it’s facing many more worthwhile competitors?

“Android Tablets: Just Wait ‘Til Next Year!”

It’s as if we’re all in a car that Don is driving down Speculation Lane like a reckless drunk, careening over the curbs of fact and knocking over the mailboxes of believability.

4. Do Customers Really Need a New iPad Each Year?

Does everyone buy a new Mac every year? No. Do Macs still sell well every year? Yes. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!

5. The iPhone 5 Could Hurt It

After all, if one group of rumors, which suggests the iPad 3 will launch in October, is true, how can Apple get people to buy both of its mobile devices?

According to this one rumor, time has lost its linear nature! All things are happening at once! Apple cannot control this quantum conundrum!

(You know, sometimes the Macalope really loves his job.)

6. Consumers Are Looking for Bigger Displays

This may be the Macalope’s favorite. But it’s admittedly hard to pick.

Don says consumers want bigger displays not once, but three times. Three times in a 91-word list item. Yet, he provides no links to back up that assertion. It’s just obvious, right?! Duh! Consumers want to lug around larger screens! They’d love to lug around gigantic 42-inch screens, but Apple doesn’t offer the breadth of options that other OEMs do! Dur-hey! So obvious! Dur-hickey!

Once again, the iPad 3 could be trumped by devices featuring 10.1-inch screens.

The screen on the iPad is 9.7 inches. The Macalope defies Don to find a meaningful collection of consumers who would buy an Android tablet over an iPad because of a 0.4-inch difference in the screen size.

7. Apple Has Made No Commitment to 4G

Neither have consumers. Sure, 4G is the wave of the future and Apple’s got to get on it some time in the near future but, just between the two of us, Don, it doesn’t seem to have hurt them much yet.

8. Price Crunch?

Oh, God, no, wait, maybe this one’s the Macalope’s favorite.

When the HP TouchPad was discontinued, the company decided to get rid of its inventory by cutting the price of the cheapest version of the device down to $99. Soon after, a sales bonanza commenced, causing the device to sell out and HP to promise another run of the devices.

Are you ready for this? The Macalope’s not sure you’re ready for this. You might want to do some deep knee bends and some breathing exercises first so you don’t cramp up from all the laughing.

OK, now? Here we go.

That success has prompted some in the tablet community to speculate that better pricing against the iPad could be the ticket to success.

Only Don Reisinger could try to spin a going-out-of-business firesale as a “success.” Bra-vo.

So, Android OEMs, all you’ve got to do to beat the iPad is lower prices! So low you go out of business! It’s easy!

9. Who Knows What the Patent Picture Will Look Like?

Hey, sure! Other future things we don’t know about that may spell doom for the iPad: the economy, global warming, the possibility of an asteroid colliding with the Earth, a Hollywood movie remake of “What’s Happening!!” featuring an all-CGI-baby cast and, of course, the ever-present potential for an invasion by space aliens that lies like a cloud over our daily lives.

10. The Google-Motorola Threat

…by the beginning of next year when the iPad 3 could launch, expect the device to be facing off with a serious Motorola (and Google) competitor.

That killer Android tablet is always just over the horizon.

It’s amazing that he got through that whole thing without mentioning the one game-changer that may actually be coming: the Amazon tablet. Depending on where the device’s price point is, the rumored Amazon tablet might not even be designed to compete against the iPad, but it’s still more likely to be a threat to Apple’s tablet than the iPhone 5.

eWeek, eWeek, eWeek. Is this how you want to go through life? Is this where you saw yourself when you decided to get into technology journalism? Get help.

Or, you know what? Don’t. Because it’s actually really, really funny.

Saturday Special: HP

What's left to say about HP? You can't shake the free TouchPad you got with your bowl of soup without hitting someone laughing at the company for firing Leo Apotheker, who'd been on the job for all of 11 months, and hiring of ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

Don't worry about Apotheker. He's taking home a cool $25 million for his troubles. The Macalope says "cool," because it was practically theft.

Weren't we just talking about this two weeks ago? Yeah, see, right here! You guys remember, you were there. It was a Saturday morning and you were wearing your jammies and sipping coffee and the Macalope was wearing a suit and on the Internet.

People were actually complaining about giving Tim Cook $384 million over ten years. If you work it out to a monthly basis, Apotheker got paid 70 percent of what Cook's getting. And the guy conducted what amounts to a rockstar-style hotel-room trashing of HP, promising to sell HP's profitable hardware business and kill a promising technology, webOS, that it had only recently paid a boatload of money for. All in order to turn the company into a software and services business like the one he failed to run at SAP.

See, this is what's wrong with executive compensation. Before they do anything else, the HP board should stop and vote on a resolution to halt the practice of serving liquor at the meetings where they pick new CEOs and decide on their compensation packages.

"Shore! Dis Leo sheems like a nishe guy! Haven't met him, but what the hell?! Couldn't be worsh than our lasht guy, right?! HAHAHA! ... What the hell kind of name ish 'Apotheker', anyway?"

Since HP's is apparently three sheets to the wind, here's a clue to the boards of other companies: Stop hiring carpetbaggers and develop talent from within.

HP instead chose to bring in an outsider with questionable ethics who saw eBay through an Internet boom. Big whoop. That she might actually be a slight improvement over Apotheker does not give the Macalope much confidence she can turn the Titanic on a dime.

[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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