The Macalope Weekly: Respect

The Macalope paid his respects to Steve Jobs on Thursday, so today we’re back to punching morons. And, though it seems like a million years ago now, it was only Tuesday that Apple announced the iPhone 4S—which, naturally, was an utter disappointment.

Now, the Macalope wants to warn you that the commentary he wades into in the middle section this week is not pretty. If you want to skip that and go right to the happy ending, no one would think any less of you. Because, in the end, the outpouring of respect for the life of Steve Jobs this week was as beautiful as the things he helped create.

Teardrops

Sell all your Apple stock and light your Apple products on fire, the company “only” announced the iPhone 4S Tuesday morning.

Parents know that awful phase children go through where they have to have everything just so and if you get the Jango Fett instead of the Boba Fett, well, God help you. Well, some in the tech industry apparently never grew out of that phase (which, incidentally, is called “childhood”).

Time to document just some of the tantrums.

Kara Swisher at All Things D says No Sparkly iPhone 5 Disappoints Apple Fans (and Wall Street). (Tip o’ the antlers to Glenn Fleishman.)

Apple rolled out a new iPhone today. Sort of.

Um, nooo, it really did. What it didn’t do is update the form factor to the rumored teardrop shape, causing pundits to cry real teardrops.

Prolonged sighs could be felt all over the blogosphere and on Twitter, where Steve Brown tweeted me: “Can I be bummed now?!?”

You may.

Sure! If you want to be an over-privileged baby, knock yourself out!

People there are a hundred different Android OEMs and they churn out forgettable pieces of crap on a regular basis but there’s just one Apple making iPhones. You get that, right?

Wall Street also had its iPhone 5 bubble burst, with investors shunning Apple stock. Shares are down almost five percent now.

And they ended the day down a half a percent. Devastating.

CNet’s David Carnoy, you’re next. (Tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King.)

If you were among those who bet your office mates that Apple wouldn’t come out with an iPhone 5 today, congratulations. Give yourself a high five; you win. But if you were on the losing side of that bet and were sure Apple would unveil a truly new iPhone with a new chassis and a number 5 in the name somewhere, you’re probably shaking your head a little.

That’s it? The iPhone 4S? We waited these extra months for that?

Which is funny because when you go back over the likely “iPhone 5” rumors, that’s the only difference between them and what was announced: a new chassis and a number 5 in the name.

As @toldorknown said on Twitter:

Most of the disappointment I’m hearing about the iPhone 4S seems to boil down to “how will other people SEE that I’ve got the new one?”.

But what about Siri? Apple introduced, what appears to be—if it works—some serious Star Trek-level voice technology. And you’re complaining about the shape of the box it came in.

Well, except for Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson who’s just assuming it won’t work. (Tip o’ the antlers to Harry Marks.)

Apple just announced Siri, a voice-recognition service for the iPhone.

I fully expect it to suck. Don’t you?

Useless.

Well, somebody certainly is.

Does Business Insider actually pay you for this?

Way back in 2006, when Apple first introduced the iPhone…

The iPhone was introduced at Macworld Expo in January of 2007.

…I was very disappointed that the whole thing was built around a touchscreen.

I fully expected it to suck. I had never in my entire life interacted with a touchscreen service and come away happy.

So maybe I’ll be wrong again.

No, seriously, they pay you for this?

As Horace Dediu dryly noted, “The last time I saw this much disappointment with a keynote event was at the iPad launch.”

Right. And look how that turned out.

Scum and villainy

The Macalope and his editor agonized over how to approach this next part. We really did. There are some people who are so callous and self-absorbed that they don’t even deserve the direct attention our scorn would give them. On the other hand, not giving their names allows them to continue to perpetrate their atrocities without consequence. That’s not right, either.

It’s a sad fact of life that there are inveterate jerks who will take the death of a man (however flawed) like Steve Jobs, and try to use it for personal gain, or just as a self-righteous and hate-filled attack on his values or the values of those who cared about him.

But here we are.

This isn’t an argument over tech specs or market share or the normal baloney we discuss ad nauseam every week. This is about the life’s work of a man who was passionate about what he did, and whose passion created tools that changed people’s lives and created an economy that fostered people’s livelihoods.

So there will be no links and no quotes. You don’t need to hear the ridiculous blathering of these people. You just need to know who they are so that the next time someone at work suggests using the “branding” firm of Siegel+Gale, or says you should read an article on Gawker, or rails about how important the free software movement is, you can feel free to push them into an open volcano.

To David Srere, the “branding expert” who no one ever heard of before he sent out a press release declaring this the “first day of the decline of Apple” and asking if journalists would be interested in interviewing him: No one gives a crap about your uninformed opinions. Here’s a little brain teaser for you, David: Of what value is the “branding” opinion of a man who’s so eager to pimp himself that he sees the death of Steve Jobs as an opportunity, without realizing what that says about how cheap his own “brand” is?

Don’t wrack your brain, David. The answer is “zero.”

To Hamilton Nolan, the punk at bottom-feeding “gossip” site Gawker, who claims to have never used an Apple product but feels no qualms about lecturing us on how ridiculous our mourning of Steve Jobs is: Maybe the people who make the products you use don’t mean anything to you because their products suck. Ever think of that? Or, another thought, maybe they don’t mean anything to you because you’re dead inside. Also worth considering.

This piece is so mean-spirited that it’s hard to quantify. Jeez, he just made products, people, stop getting all emotional. You know, Gawker and Nolan could have said nothing. They could have simply let people express their feelings and quietly rolled their eyes. Or, they could have found a way to raise their complaint about mourning a titan of industry more than an unsung hero of civil rights without trying to take a giant crap on people who genuinely admired Steve Jobs, and were directly affected by his vision. But they didn’t do that. Why? Because taking a giant crap on people who felt something that Nolan and Gawker thought was stupid wasn’t an unfortunate side effect of the story, it was the goal.

Correct the Macalope if he’s wrong, but if Nolan is so concerned about civil rights, shouldn’t he be writing about that instead of gossip? Maybe the reason people mourned Steve Jobs more than Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth is that there are too many jackasses like Nolan trying to turn the business of technology into a high-school drama.

Steve Jobs lived large, affected the lives of millions, and left us too young. So sorry if the fact that we find that sad bothers your tender sensibilities. So very terribly sorry.

Stephen Fry has the perfect chaser to Nolan’s disgusting shot of rotgut:

Only dullards crippled into cretinism by a fear of being thought pretentious could be so dumb as to believe that there is a distinction between design and use, between form and function, between style and substance. If the unprecedented and phenomenal success of Steve Jobs at Apple proves anything it is that those commentators and tech-bloggers and “experts” who sneered at him for producing sleek, shiny, well-designed products or who denigrated the man because he was not an inventor or originator of technology himself missed the point in such a fantastically stupid way that any employer would surely question the purpose of having such people on their payroll, writing for their magazines or indeed making any decisions on which lives, destinies or fortunes depended.

Finally, to free software nutjob Richard Stallman, who’s glad Steve Jobs is gone because of the evil software prison he put people in, blah, blah, blah: You might attract more people to your cause if you adopted a slightly less Branch Davidian-esque eliminationist rhetoric.

And your software didn’t look like ass.

And you stopped eating your foot fungus (tip o’ the antlers to the Loop).

Saturday Special: Kind gestures

Fortunately, those were isolated incidents. Almost universally, the reaction was one of the utmost respect for the man and his accomplishments, and it even came from corners you might not expect.

In a tableau not seen since the Prussians called a 24-hour time-out during the Franco-Prussian War out of respect when Marcel Marceau died (EDITOR: Got that off of Wikipedia. Does that sound right?) [Oh, now I have to fact-check these? —Ed.], Samsung paused to honor Steve Jobs and flags flew at half mast at Microsoft. Google’s Eric Schmidt told perhaps the Macalope’s favorite story about Jobs that he hadn’t heard before:

I should tell you this story. We’re in a meeting at NeXT, before Steve went back to Apple. I’ve got my chief scientist. After the meeting, we leave and try to unravel the argument to figure out where Steve was wrong—because he was obviously wrong. And we couldn’t do it. We’re standing in the parking lot. He sees us from his office, and he comes back out to argue with us some more. It was over a technical issue involving Objective C, a computer language. Why he would care about this was beyond me. I’ve never seen that kind of passion.

We should all care about something so much.

Even former Gizmodo editor Brian Lam was genuinely contrite:

I just feel lucky I had the chance to tell a kind man that I was sorry for being an [expletive] before it was too late.

It’s true. He was an [expletive]. A pretty big [expletive], if we’re all being honest. But his piece is a heartfelt apology and retrospective on his relationship with Jobs.

There’s more, of course. Google postponed the Nexus Prime/Ice Cream Sandwich launch, seemingly out of consideration for Jobs, and there were tributes from John Sculley and so many others Jobs butted heads with over the years.

Respect isn’t so hard. The only real requirement is having a soul.

To those people outside the “Apple community” who put aside your differences, your grudges and even your legitimate complaints to show your respect to Steve Jobs, thank you. We hope when the time comes we can return the magnanimity you showed this week.

[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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