The Macalope Weekly: The unbearable lightness of analyzing Apple

The “APPLE DOOOOMED” articles keep rolling in, like clowns out of a vintage Volkswagen Bug. It seems it had been at least a little while since we’d heard how Apple was “evil”, though. But flip that number back to zero on the big board because Apple’s “evil” EULA will leave you quaking in your stylish-yet-affordable pumps. Finally, nobody does lighter than air analysis like eWeek.

Creative interpretation

It’s very odd how we keep hearing about the big fall Apple’s going to have any day now.

Sure, we’ve been hearing this for years, but this week alone we’ve already heard “How Apple Could Fall From Grace” and been asked the musical question “Has Apple Lost Its Mojo?”

Now we’re advised by Thomas H. Kee, Jr. at MarketWatch that it’s “Time to sell Apple” (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball).

No, for real—another mook in a suit is warning us about Apple. These mooks aren’t always the suit-wearing variety, but it’s often a good indicator that their advice about Apple will be less than stellar.

If a business fails to take care of its customers, its customers will go elsewhere. …

In the case of Apple, this is happening in front of our eyes, and the risks are therefore very high. …

Most people think Apple’s customers are the end user, but because Apple relies so heavily on third-party resellers like Verizon and Sprint, both of which are feeling margin contraction and negative effects on earnings because of the extremely high cost of iPhones, the real customers are third-party resellers, and Apple is not treating them right.

Right. Well, that’s certainly a creative reinterpretation of the relationship. Let’s take what’s wrong with Android and say that Apple should do the same thing. That tie might be on a little tight. It’s hard to imagine AT&T as an Apple customer when, as Michael McCormack of Nomura Securities has noted, the iPhone deal has “really been a wealth transfer from AT&T shareholders to Apple shareholders.”

Read me…

If Kee’s formulation were true, carriers would just drop the iPhone. Instead, they’re beating down Apple’s door to get it, because it’s the hottest selling smartphone there is.

Despite all this nay-saying, the actual news about the company seems to be pretty good to this mythical beast’s eyes. Which, admittedly, are just representations of eyes drawn on the screen of a Classic Mac. But look for yourself:

“More US Consumers Choosing Smartphones as Apple Closes the Gap on Android”

“WSJ: Apple continues creeping in to enterprise”

”Apple vs. PC Shipments: ‘PC’ Decline Worse Than Reported”

Seems pretty good to the Macalope. But he’s wearing a suit, so…

Farewell to the Half-Blood Prince

Apple didn’t so much “digitally destroy” the textbook publishing industry on Thursday as it offered it a ride to the future in its aluminum time machine.

The only question is how much gas money Apple’s going to wring out of the publishing industry on the way.

You can bet the kid’s college money (all $3.85 of it!) that there’s a spreadsheet at Pearson and the other publishers that says this’ll work out well for them. Because you just know Marjorie Scardino wants to be able to keep using that posh-looking conference room she has there (watch the video).

And people say there’s no money to be had in education!

What there isn’t, right now, is a spreadsheet that shows how well this is going to work out for schools and students. Apple floated the $15-per-book price tag for high school textbooks, but ask yourself why the publishers would be lining up to help reduce the price of their products so much. It’s not out of the kindness of their hearts, that’s for sure.

One of the big questions on everyone’s mind during the presentation was “How will students be able to afford all these iPads?” (It was second only to “What kind of executive goes by ‘Eddy’?”)

The day before the event, the Macalope was chatting with a community college math professor who said the textbook his students needed to buy was almost $300. Two books like that and there’s your iPad. The Macalope also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a cheaper iPad this year.

Now, you can rent these books for a fraction of the list price. And the rental companies are probably one of the things the publishers have in their sights with this initiative.

Apple, meanwhile, is trying to squeeze itself in as the new middleman once again. While it’s working with the publishers, it’s also opening up the market to anyone.

Assuming these budding shapers of young minds can get past the language of the license agreement for iBooks Author. As Dan Wineman notes, the license specifies you can only sell the book you create in iBooks Author through Apple’s store. Naturally, this has sent the hyperbole machine into overdrive:

Apple’s mind-bogglingly greedy and evil license agreement

From an application they’re giving away and is not the only way to get content on an iPad. Oookay.

Watts Martin responds to Wineman by pointing out that iBook Author only outputs interactive content to Apple’s .ibooks format anyway. PDF output isn’t interactive and has “iBooks Author” stamped at the bottom.

What the company has done is made a free tool for making content for their store. So the clause really has little practical effect. The Macalope agrees it should be removed, but “mind-bogglingly greedy and evil”? Have words suddenly lost all their meaning?

While yesterday’s announcements were certainly very nice and possibly transformative for the textbook business and are likely to make Apple a boatload of money, the Macalope’s skeptical about their ability to transform education. As a former teacher of 10 years told the Macalope, “It’s not hard to market a panacea in academia these days.”

This will be good for Apple and it has some nice side benefits for students and teachers, but if you’re looking for a solution to the ills of education, keep looking.

Saturday Special: When ten is less than zero

The Macalope’s smartly-dressed and nimble-footed readers are probably really tired of him yammering on about these eWeek top-ten pieces. The horny one’s been in this business a while and he knows more than anyone that you’d get further complaining about the weather than railing against dumb things online.

But sweet, crunchy alfalfa, is there no one who will rid the Macalope of the virtual tripe most often cooked up by eWeek’s Don Reisinger? The Macalope would rather have actual tripe. His own tripe. He’d rather eat his own tripe than have to read another eWeek top-ten list.

This week brought not one but two servings of the dish for which Klingons have no temperature preference because they will just kill you dead and incinerate your planet at the mere suggestion of it.

Apple 2012: 10 Major Challenges to the Company`s Product Strategy

Also, nice apostrophe. It’s like a grave accent drunkenly stumbled into the wrong sentence. “Heyyy, any o’ vowelsh need stresshing? How ‘bout you, Y? You’re shomtimesh a vowel, ain’tcha? Sure you are, you naughty little thing, you. [belch]”

By the way, have you looked at the eWeek website recently? It looks about as timely as a “Who Let The Dogs Out?” reference.

Now, the above piece is merely stupid. It’s this next one that will make you punch a puppy, kick a kitten, and put all your cherished celebrity cheesecake photos into the Trash and choose Empty Trash.

Apple iPad 3: 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy It at Launch

1. It might not be a major update

Here’s a thought: why don’t you wait and see before you start handing out advice?

2. The iPad 2 might be available at a cheaper price

Or not! But, come on, Don Reisinger needs ten items!

3. Wait for Android tablets

Because just like Godot, good Android tablets will be here any minute!

4. Windows 8 is looming large

But install size isn’t everything! Ha-ha!

5. Maybe an ultrabook would be better?

Or a sandwich! How about a nice sandwich?

6. Let the kinks get worked out

Of the third generation of the best-selling tablet ever. Could be really buggy.

7. Your office might get one for you

Or your sugar mamma! She’s so good to you!

8. Wait to see what Amazon shows off

Always put off purchasing currently available products for items that may or may not materialize later!

9. The best idea is to spend cash now

NO! NO! BUY NOW! OH, MY GOD, NOW, NOW, NOW!

10. Maybe you should wait for the iPad 4

[headslap]

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

[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. 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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