The Macalope Weekly: Punchlines

Hey, did you hear the one about the 5498 Android phones that walked into a conference in Spain? Turns out the punchline is “BlackBerry.” How about the one about the iPad mini rumors? The joke there is on you, because you’re reading an iPad mini rumor. Finally, an InformationWeek columnist tries to tell a joke but fails to deliver a punchline.

The pain in Spain

The buzz from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was positively bee-like this week, as giant swarms of attendees reviewing the latest Android handsets chanted in unison, “PROTECT THE QUEEN! PROTECT THE QUEEN!”

Oh, wait, that’s an actual beehive.

The noise coming from MWC was more of a cacophony of sounds describing the various features of the latest Android handsets, as OEMs desperately tried to differentiate their offerings from each other. And desperation, as we know, is what really makes a product shine.

Of course, it doesn’t help when these OEMs stomp on their own message about how much better their phone is than all the others. As Ina Fried wryly noted on Twitter about HTC’s announcement:

“It is the one phone you will need,” HTC’s Peter Chou, before introducing three different phones, all known as HTC One (One S, One V, etc)

Can these Android handset vendors not even hear themselves talking? First it was the Samsung’s Galaxy Note ad that said the phone was “already here” and “coming soon” at the same time, and now this?

Well, what is the hot new phone at MWC?

Maybe it’s the phone with the completely 100 percent original name, the ViewSonic ViewPhone… 4s (tip o’ the antlers to the Loop). At least no one will confuse it with an iPhone 4S by looking at it. Because it looks like a disposable camera.

Or maybe the hot phone is LG’s entrant into the hottest new sub-category of phones that are trying too hard, the 5-inch phone.

Or is it the Sony Xperia, which comes in colors? Where has the Macalope seen that before, oh, that’s right.

Read more…

Well, remember, it’s all about choice, and having as many lousy, eye-bleeding, and poorly-thought-out choices as possible. Because Apple doesn’t offer that.

By the way, how sad is that BlackBerry Bold ad that The Verge is sporting on all these reviews? This really demonstrates the pecking order of smartphones, doesn’t it? There’s the host of circus freaks jumping through hoops, trying desperately to be cool, and there’s the phone that had to pay to be on the page reviewing those phones.

And then, of course, there’s the phone that wouldn’t demean itself by being caught dead in such company. You know, the phone in your pocket.

Zombie iPad rumors

The iPad mini rumors are back, but this time they’re confirmed!

(Actual confirmation not included. Void where prohibited by law.)

CNet’s Brooke Crothers says forget about the dumb ol’ iPad 3, a 7.85-inch iPad is coming in the third quarter!

Enough about the iPad 3 already. The first iPad to come in a smaller size is due for production in the third quarter, an Asia-based report says.

Now, anyone who knows anything about Apple rumors is instantly clued in by the words “Asia-based report” and knows that what’s coming next will completely take the helium out of this “report.”

Apple is likely to begin production of a 7.85-inch iPad in the third quarter of this year, Taipei-based DigiTimes said, citing sources, in a story dated Thursday.

How is it, Brooke, that you are not yanking the Macalope’s hoof with this? DigiTimes. Seriously. This, of course, would be the same DigiTimes that, among many other mis-reportings, was saying only a couple of months ago that Apple would announce the iPad 3 at Macworld | iWorld in January. Which would have been a neat trick, as the company hasn’t attended the event since 2009.

Amusingly, DigiTimes also reported at the beginning of the year that Apple had put the kibosh on making a smaller iPad.

Why, a discerning reader might have reason to think the current “report” questionable, as it simply un-does the un-doing of the original “report”! That is, if CNet had provided its readers any of this context.

Crothers doesn’t bother, however, to mention DigiTimes’s spotty record, because who wants to be a rumor buzzkill?

And the price? It could go as low as $249-$299, the report said.

It could! It says so on the Internet in a “report,” so it might be true! Even if the source is wrong. All. The. Time.

Before Apple goes that low, though, an 8GB iPad 2 priced below $400 is expected on March 7, when the company also announces the iPad 3.

The Macalope is developing a theory about Apple rumors. Wanna hear it? OK, it goes like this: When trying to sell a rumor that you just pulled out of your butt, always reach in and pull out a slightly saner one, because it makes you look more serious. And you could probably use some more gravitas considering you just put your own hand up your butt twice.

The 7.85-inch iPad report confirms a string of past reports and word from CNET’s own sources.

Other things that Crothers has confirmed using this strict methodology include the Mayan apocalypse, that space aliens walk among us, and the undeniable superiority of the designated hitter rule.

That said, the idea of a smaller iPad confounds some Apple observers, particularly when no one less than Steve Jobs dissed the idea.

And the fact that your sources are a bunch of yahoos.

But times change.

Well, some things don’t change. Like people gullibly passing on the blathering of disreputable sources talking about supposedly upcoming Apple products. They’ve been doing that for years.

Amazon has shown that a 7-inch tablet can strike a chord with consumers. Moreover, the 7.85-inch iPad is expected to have the same 1,024x768 resolution of the iPad 2, meaning that no changes need to be made to apps to accommodate the smaller screen.

Right. Because people can just file the tips of their fingers down in order to be able to accurately hit smaller icons and buttons.

Well, no one ever said an Apple rumor had to make sense.

Saturday Special: Information weak

InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman has the prescription for the device that you didn’t even know was sick.

What iPad 3 Really Needs: Revised OS

Apple’s iOS is starting to get a little long in the tooth. There, I said it.

You said it. No one knows what you mean by it, but you said it.

The overall look and feel of the operating system has not changed since its 2007 debut.

Aaaaaaaand…

What?

Sales are down? HAHAHAHAHA.

Sure, Apple has piled in plenty of new features, but the core of the operating system is the same as it was five years ago. It needs a refresh.

Uh… why?

(Spoiler alert: He never says.)

What would I like Apple to change? Well, I’m no design guru…

A point I will now prove!

I’d like to see a sharper-looking operating system, with fewer curves and more corners. Not Windows 8-style corners and blocks, but something that has cleaner lines to it.

And maybe bluer. Because blue’s my favorite color.

Hey, you know what I really like? Jolly Ranchers!

Apple’s competitors have not only added features to their platforms, but have made visual upgrades as well. Look at Android, for example.

Right! In a desperate attempt to not look exactly like iOS, Google’s tarted it up like a three-shilling strumpet! Why can’t Apple do that?!

Windows Phone is too young to require a refresh, but even Research In Motion has altered the appearance of BlackBerry 7 when you compare it to Blackberry 5.

And look how well that’s worked out for the company.

Frankly speaking, I don’t expect Apple to change anything about iOS’s appearance in the near future, but it will have to eventually.

He still hasn’t said why.

Now that Microsoft has aligned the look of its PC, tablet, and smartphone platforms, it would behoove Apple to do the same.

Again, why?

Here’s a tip: If you can write an entire piece on what Apple “really” needs to do and not explain at all why they need to do it, then they probably don’t “really” need to do it.

[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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