The Macalope Weekly: Low barrier to entry

Punditry. Pretty much anyone can do it. That’s not to say they should. This week, an old-media outlet throws its hand in with the trolls and the Macalope looks back on netbook predictions. Finally, is lousy iPhone 4S commentary the cottage industry that will get this nation’s economy back on track?! Of course not. But it’s somehow keeping Mike Elgan employed.

All-trolling zone

Does anyone know what the heck is up with Forbes?

You may wonder what the Macalope’s talking about. Why, Forbes is the noted national periodical, Mr. Macalope, that uncovered Stephen Glass’s journalist fraud back in the late 1990s. Forbes is, according to Forbes, “among the most trusted resources for senior business executives, providing them the real-time reporting, uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and community they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.” Whatever could you be talking about?

Yeaaaah.

See, it was one thing when Forbes published Kyle Smith’s paean to the Cult of “Apple is a Cult.” It was another when it let Kyle rehash his brilliant, never-before-seen “Apple = religion” argument while deriding Steve Jobs as someone who fostered a generation of self-absorbed hedonists.

And that’s just Smith.

Read more…

Let’s now turn to Louis Bedigian, who called the iPhone 4S a “remarkably sucky, shoddy, sloppy, slapped together disaster of a phone.” Yes, he really wrote that. Two weeks later Bedigian tried to scare Forbes readers by suggesting they’ll get robbed if they buy an iPad 3.

This is the online equivalent of TV news teasers like “ARE PARASITES IN YOUR SOCKS LITERALLY EATING YOU ALIVE?”

But hang on! We’re not done listing Forbes’s many atrocities against common sense and decency!

You know it’s bad at Forbes when the most reasonable writer it’s added to its bullpen of jerkery is repeated Apple-basher David Coursey. Coursey’s posts—from Steve Jobs Was A Jerk, You Shouldn’t Be to Cancer: ‘Think Different’ May Have Killed Steve Jobs—seem downright sensible after reading Smith and Bedigian.

Each and every one of these bon mots is split into two pages because they’re just so good that they warrant twice the number of ad impressions.

But the Macalope hasn’t even told you the best part. Because what’s the crowning jewel of Forbes’s commitment to Apple trollery, the cherry on top of this sundae of the damned?

Rob Enderle.

That’s right. No, the Macalope is not kidding. Our old pal Rob now contributes to Forbes and is even allowed to write about Apple, despite the fact that his client list reads almost verbatim like a list of Apple’s competitors. A fact which the Macalope notes is nowhere to be found on Rob’s contributor profile. Maybe Forbes’s executive readers just assume that everyone is as compromised as they are.

The Macalope at first wondered if Forbes might be having a change of heart on Rob, as one of his recent columns for the publication, titled “Steve Jobs’ Post Mortem Advice For Google, Microsoft and President Obama,” was subsequently pulled. You can see the Google cache here. The horny one wasn’t sure whether it was the impropriety of Rob talking about Apple or the horrible grammatical errors throughout the piece that convinced Forbes to yank it, but Rob says it was the latter. The Macalope emailed Forbes for clarification over the weekend but never heard back.

Regardless, enjoy today’s links, Forbes! Because they’re the last the Macalope’s giving you.

Accept no substitutes

Every now and then it’s nice to stop making fun of stupid things pundits are saying now and pause, gather our faculties, and reflect upon stupid things they said three years ago.

See, the Macalope distinctly remembers hearing how netbooks were going to kill Apple. OK, admittedly, one of the people saying that was Rob Enderle—but some of you kids may not remember that in 2008, this was a common perception. Also, people still thought Coldplay was good.

No, seriously. It was mass hysteria: “Apple will totally have to release a netbook to get in on the wave of the future! Also, ‘The Hardest Part’ is a terrific song.”

Anyway, fast-forward to right about… now and you’ll see reports saying “Thanks to iPad, tablets outsell netbooks nearly 2 to 1.”

What the?! Two to one?! But… but… what happened to the netbook revolution?! We didn’t even get to the beheadings! What a letdown!

OK, this isn’t exactly news, but it is a shining example of technology-industry groupthink. And now, despite being wrong all the time, some of these groupies write for Forbes. It’s very strange. The Macalope’s been writing semi-professionally for a while now, and he still doesn’t get how the gears of this industry grind ever dumbly onward. Not forward so much. Just onward.

Horace Dediu crunches some numbers like only Horace can and, if you include the iPad in computer sales growth figures, the amount of tar Apple beats out of PCs could pave the length of I-95. Of course, Mac growth beats PC growth without the iPad, and much of that comes from the MacBook Air line. The Macalope hasn’t seen anyone try to argue that the Air is a netbook, probably because it’s a ridiculous comparison. Netbooks are small, cheap, and underpowered. The MacBook Air is small, reasonably priced, and still has good performance.

PC makers fought each other to the bottom and now are amusingly trying to dig themselves out of that septic tank hole. How? Ultrabooks! Rumor has it these Ultrabooks are also “extreme” and, on occasion, “take it to the max.”

So how are these Ultrabooks working out?

“Warning: ‘Ultrabook’ laptops are all hot air”

Whoops, that doesn’t sound good.

Turns out the Utrabook moniker doesn’t really mean anything, because Intel—which is pushing OEMs to try not to make such crap—hasn’t created any specification for it. It’s the “Let’s vaguely try to be more like the MacBook Air!” of Manhattan Projects!

It’s a little funny how the worm turns, though, isn’t it? You’d think that some people would remember that the next time they’re predicting, well, anything. The Macalope’s not expecting that to happen, though.

Saturday Special: Worst. Fanboy. Ever.

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that Mike Elgan was calling himself “an Apple fanboy”? Turns out he can’t even do that right.

Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 5 (tip o’ the antlers to The 4 Misanthropes of the Apocalypse)

Mike, Mike, Mike. A real “Apple fanboy” buys both and recommends buying both. Get with the program.

The truth, it turns out, is that the iPhone 4s [sic] kind of sucks.

Do tell.

I don’t have much faith in Apple to get it right for the upcoming iPhone 5, either. The iPhone 4s has shaken my confidence in Apple’s legendary ability to bang out hit after hit.

Oh, please. When did you ever have real confidence in Apple? You thought the Zune was going to destroy them, for crying out loud.

The iPhone 4s is the first stumble by Apple since the company launched the original iPhone in 2007.

You know, maybe that lower-case “s” isn’t a typo. Maybe Mike’s actually talking about some phone from an alternate-universe Apple, where things are mostly the same but just slightly off. Unlike Mike, who is completely off. Back here in our universe, the iPhone 4S is selling like glass-and-aluminum hotcakes.

Which is kind of ironic because they actually eat glass-and-aluminum hotcakes in universe 3429.

One of Mike’s big complaints about the 4S is the battery life.

I haven’t run objective tests, but I do have some “anecdata” for you…

Allow me to waste your time with a bunch of meaningless crap, because I’m too lazy to do the work to figure out what’s going on. Someone who’s not too lazy to do the work is Chris Breen. The Macalope will leave it up to Macworld’s lithesome and vivacious readers to decide which writer actually writes columns worth reading (hint: it’s Breen).

Many of Elgan’s complaints are either solvable or just wrong. He complains that Siri doesn’t work with Google contacts. Well, dur, you bought an Apple phone, genius. And if you really got a lemon—as in a phone with a yellow screen—take it back.

Or, you know, key a multi-page rant about it. Whatever. Better to curse the darkness than light a single candle.

So why is Apple increasingly putting fake wood paneling and funky leather trim on its apps?

Not that this is a bad question, but it has nothing to do with the iPhone 4S. This is a problem with iOS 5. Get it right.

Oh, sorry, the Macalope forgot who he was talking to.

Before I launch into Siri’s problems, let me first say that I love Siri. It’s the single best thing about the iPhone 4s, and the sole reason to upgrade to this phone.

The problem is that it’s exactly what Apple says it is: an unfinished beta.

It’s always a problem when people do what they say they’re going to do and you still somehow don’t understand it.

I’m less concerned about this particular phone, and more concerned with both the ability of Apple to continue its winning streak, and also with the direction of Apple product design and engineering.

Remember what a loser the iPhone 3GS was when it came out after the 3G? What a dog! Total piece of crap. Can’t believe it’s still available and still hugely popular more than two years later.

Remember, kids, being a pundit doesn’t mean you have to make sense or have a logical argument. The only requirement for entry is having an opinion.

[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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