The Macalope Weekly: Dubious analysis

The Macalope supposes it’s true of other companies, but Apple seems to attract dubious analysis like mustaches to Rob Enderle’s face. This week a couple of ZDNet bloggers finally catch up with the rest of us while surveys predict a Kindle Fire-y doom for the iPad… or do they? Finally, Consumer Reports still doesn’t get the iPhone 4S.

Better late than never

In another sign of how Android is set to win the tablet space—some day, just you wait!—two members of the ZDNet brain trust have switched.

What’s that?

Oh. The Macalope is being informed that they actually switched from Android-based tablets to the iPad. Hang on a second while the Macalope rewrites his notes and hahaha, no, he knew that, of course—why else would he be bringing it up?

First up is James Kendrick.

I have used at least a dozen different Android tablets in addition to the two I own. I use tablets heavily, and have grown increasingly frustrated over the inconsistent user experience. That is why I just bought an iPad 2.

You don’t say. Well, that is shocking. The Macalope had heard that Android tablets were just as good as iPads and also come with 4G and USB keyboards and stuff. Correct the horny one if he’s wrong, but it appears that what you’re saying is that user experience matters more than just checking boxes off on a list of features. Who. Could. Have. Guessed?

Read more…

Tablets are very personal devices as they are used in the hands. Laggy performance, inconsistent app controls, and long app load times add up to a jarring, annoying user experience.

No, no, no. Jim, Jim, Jim. It’s items on a checklist. Preferably with green checks and red X’s. And the Android tablet has checks next to such iPad-killing items as “stylus” and “Flash” while the iPad has red X’s.

The hardware is typical Apple quality, and the software works as expected. It is smooth and snappy, and already impacting my work in a positive way. It just works.

Whatever, Apple zealot.

Next up is Stephen Chapman, who tried tablets back in August and determined they were not. For. Him. No, sir, they were not.

Since the launch of the iPad, a number of companies put out their own tablets at significantly lower price points than the iPad, so I decided it was time to do the deal and feed the monster inside of me that craved a tablet. And just what did I decide to buy, you ask? Good question! I went with a NOOK Color…

And, long story short, the Macalope knows you’ll find this hard to believe, but he was not impressed. Astounding!

All-in-all, I’ve totally cured myself of tablet envy! Now, when I see someone with an iPad or something of the sort, I think to myself, “SUCCESS!”

Well done, Stephen. And, yet, “tablets” continued to be a growing product category. How to explain this other than mass hysteria?

Fast forward to November and Stephen’s decided to give the iPad a try and guess what? He absolutely loves it!

My iPad has totally destroyed the perception of myself as an individual who wouldn’t make use of a tablet device. It has also totally destroyed my opinions of any other tablet out there standing a chance of competing against not just the device, but the app ecosystem and iOS on a tablet device.

ZDNet: the latest in last year’s technology analysis! If only someone could have told you that in August of 2010 and saved you the $250 you wasted on the Nook in 2011. OH, WELL.

All sarcasm aside, congratulations! Welcome to April of 2010, ZDNet bloggers. You’ve finally come to the realization the rest of us came to a year and a half ago.

OK, maybe not all sarcasm aside.

Misfire

Despite the opinion of Apple executives to the contrary, some seem to think that the Amazon Kindle will have a big impact on iPad sales. The Macalope really doesn’t know how this will play out, but so far the evidence is thinner than an iPad 2.

For starters, there’s the devastating ChangeWave survey that’s been floating around

2,600 early adopters were polled, of which 5 percent indicated they were either very likely to buy a Kindle Fire or had already pre-ordered one. That percentage exceeds the 4 percent who were planning to buy the iPad 1 before its 2010 release.

Right. When tablets were such a hot and proven product line.

Within the 5 percent group, 26 percent said they would delay or put on hold any plans to get an iPad.

So, of the people who were very likely to or had already ordered a Kindle Fire, 5 percent—a total of 130 people—were holding off on buying an iPad.

Devastating.

Did the people waving this survey around actually read it?

This isn’t the first exercise in histrionics about the prospects for an Apple product that ChangeWave has undertaken. Nor would it be the first time that the firm was on the wrong side of a trend. What’s the point of putting out a survey if no one links to it?

Which brings us to our old pals at Retrevo; they want in this game, too. Their results say a whopping 44 percent of people interested in buying a tablet would consider the Kindle Fire instead of an iPad!

This survey was of 1000 people, 69 percent of whom said they were tablet-curious—which means that all of 304 people surveyed said they’d consider a Kindle Fire. Meanwhile, 12 percent said “If you bother me again while I’m standing in line at this Apple Store trying to buy an iPad, I’m calling security” and another 44 percent said “Kindle whatnow?”

It’s not just survey monkeys (not affiliated with Survey Monkey, void where prohibited) predicting Kindle Fire doom for the iPad, as CNet’s Brooke Crother’s explains:

Two research notes today suggest that Amazon’s forthcoming Kindle Fire tablet might slow the heady sales growth of Apple’s iPad.

The first is the aforementioned ChangeWave survey. The second is even more dubious:

And a separate report today from Rodman & Renshaw’s Ashok Kumar claims that iPad momentum is slowing. “Our checks indicate that production volumes have been scaled back due to moderating sell-through. We estimate that iPad volumes in the current quarter will be 12-13 million units,” down from previous estimates of 14 million to 15 million, Kumar wrote.

Hmm. Ashok Kumar. Ashok Kumar. Where has the Macalope heard that name before?

Oh, right, he’s the guy who said a whole mess of ridiculous stuff about the iPad over the last two years that was all flat-out wrong: 7-inch screen, would launch with 3G support from Verizon, would be a “niche product,” etc., etc.

So, let’s just take it as writ that the word of Ashok Kumar and $2.50 at Starbucks will not even get you a cup of coffee, because the barista would be like “Word of Ashok Kumar? You get the hell out of here.”

Hey, the Macalope doesn’t know how many buyers the Kindle Fire will siphon off from the iPad. There has to be some real overlap between people interested in the iPad and those interested in the Kindle Fire. Heck, the Macalope is mildly interested in the Kindle Fire (although he’d never buy one instead of an iPad, just in addition to).

So far, however, there really hasn’t been much to dispel the notion that these are mostly two separate classes of tablets.

Saturday Special: Check!

Consumer Reports finally took the scarlet letter—”A,” for “Antenna”—off of the iPhone in its ratings this week, but the bestselling phone still doesn’t get the top nod from the publication that your parents used to pick that microwave with the dials back in the 1970s.

But it’s time to put the pain caused by “Antennagate” behind us and move forward into a bright future where we ask “Now what’s up Consumer Reports’s butt?”

These pluses were not enough, however, to allow the iPhone 4S to outscore the best new Android-based phones in our Ratings. Those top scorers included the Samsung Galaxy S II phones, the Motorola Droid Bionic, and several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks.

Other phones that topped the iPhone 4S include the LG Thrill ($100 on AT&T), which has the ability to capture stills and videos in 3D, as well as display them on its 4.3-inch 3D display, and the Motorola Droid Bionic ($300 on Verizon), which also has a superb 4.3-inch, high-resolution (540 x 960) display, with excellent keypad readability under most lighting conditions, even in bright light.

Consumer Reports has a features list and it’s checking it twice. Larger screen? Check! Keypad readability? Check! Videos in 3D? Check!

Videos in 3D? Other reviews call it a “gimmick,” but for Consumer Reports it’s enough for the Thrill to get a nod over the iPhone 4S. Admittedly, the Macalope has a complete and utter bias against 3D (possibly because the glasses never fit right on him since his eyes are a Classic Mac screen) but, really, how many people even want a 3D screen on their phone? If you threw a corkscrew on an Android phone, Consumer Reports would give you a check for “Corkscrew” and give the iPhone a red X.

This checklist method may make the job of writing comparative columns easier, but it doesn’t lead to better decision-making—a good user experience is about more than a checklist of features. Fortunately, consumers know this, just not the magazine that purports to represent them.

[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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