The Macalope Weekly: Outlandish claims

Three pundits, three outlandish claims! First, our old friend Rob Enderle is back! (Did he ever leave? Is there some way we could arrange that?) And this one is tagged Not Safe For Work! Also, Not Safe For Keeping Your Lunch Down! Then you may be surprised to find out who this year’s cool company is, according to one pundit. And finally, a CNet pundit shows you how to argue against claims no one is making!

The Alternative Factor

You ever see that episode of the original Star Trek where the guy is sealed in some inter-dimensional corridor with his anti-person, trapped in battle for the rest of time? Sometimes that’s how the Macalope feels it is with him and Rob Enderle.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that the Macalope is Rob Enderle, and that the dual personalities are simply a perpetual revenue-generation scheme. Write stupid article for TechNewsWorld, skewer on Macworld, get paid by both!

Actually, you know, that’s not a bad idea. All the Macalope would have to do is sell his immortal soul. Like he’s going to be able to find that. He thinks he lost it in his last move.

Truthfully, the Macalope mostly tries to ignore Rob, because saying dumb things about Apple is just part of his schtick. And by “schtick” the Macalope means “sucking up to his client list,” which reads one-for-one like a list of Apple’s competitors.

Anyway, here we go again. No link because come on, Rob.

“Meg Whitman vs. Tim Cook by the Numbers” (tip o’ the antlers to Sean Hussey)

Rob does not, in fact, include actual numbers. Which is too bad, because that spreadsheet would be hysterical.

While Apple is outperforming HP, Whitman is clearly a bigger asset to HP than Cook is to Apple.

Can we just stop for a moment here to point out that HP is a client of Rob’s? A fact that, let’s see, yes, is not pointed out anywhere in this piece. Still, it’s easy to find out. Just go to Rob’s website and scroll all the way down to the bottom, to the little tiny link that says “Disclosure Policy,” and you can see his list of clients. Who could miss that?!

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She is clearly improving the mess she started with…

Indeed! Rob has found the silver lining in being face down in the gutter with your pants around your ankles, covered in your own filth, and without a dollar left to your name—like HP was when Whitman took over. There’s nowhere to go but up!

Last week was an interesting week. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) announced what appears to be a penis iron in the new iPad…

How shocking that Rob might be penis obsessed! Who’d have called that? Other than everyone.

…and folks are burning through their monthly 4G data plans in a few hours.

With their penises! No, wait…

Tim’s having his first Antennagate moment, and Steve Jobs he isn’t.

Technically, this is true, but in the stopped clock kind of way. Heatgate is an overblown faux scandal, just like Antennagate, and Tim Cook is not actually Steve Jobs!

On the other hand, Meg Whitman announced her first major restructuring since taking over HP (NYSE: HPQ), and on paper it not only looks impressive, but also is reminiscent of what Carly Fiorina attempted to do in a lot of ways.

On the one hand, Whitman announced a plan! And meanwhile what has Tim Cook done?! Pull off another highly successful product launch that’s further cemented Apple’s position as the market leader in tablets, and generated billions more in revenue? Ha-ha-haaa! As if that’s as good as a plan!

And now for the most awkward segue you’ll read this week. Possibly ever:

The problems range from poor WiFi reception and WAN data plans that run through their monthly allocation in hours, to the very high temperature that the iPad operates at, which Consumer Reports says could cause burns if held for a long period—like, say, if a child were playing games. Let’s just say when I get an ad about a product that will make me longer and harder I’m not expecting to get an iron, yet this Apple appears to be designed to take the creases out of my private part.

The Macalope is considering a class action suit against Enderle for the whiplash he incurred switching images from a child playing a game to Rob’s johnson. Much is made of Rob’s seemingly poor analytical ability when it comes to Apple (personally, the Macalope thinks he’s deliberately just ginning up hits and further prostrating himself to his masters), but he’s also a really horrible writer. Let’s not forget that.

As the Macalope notes, it’s hardly worth responding to this, as he doesn’t think Rob even believes it. He’s just swatting the hornet’s nest. But suffice it to say that when it’s been debunked by PCWorld, you know it’s a crock.

But back to Steve Jobs’ three critical roles. One was as a proxy for the consumer, and this new iPad is heavier and has critical issues for users (connectivity and heat), which suggests someone didn’t fulfill Jobs’ quality-assurance role.

Like they did with Antennagate. Do you even read what you write?

Momentum will only carry Apple so far. It has a premium brand, and people expect a premium experience. If they don’t get it, the lines to buy their products will get ever shorter.

Uh-huh. Like what’s happened with the iPhone 4S and the new iPad.

Oh, Rob. Are we to lock antlers like this forever? Is there literally no shaming you into ceasing to send forth your flying monkeys of wrongness about Apple every few weeks?

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The Macalope learned the answer to that long ago.

Meet the new hotness

There is an equilibrium to things. For every Apple nay-sayer who moves on (George Ou), grows out of it (Adrian Kingsley-Hughes), or just gives up (Katherine Noyes), another one steps in to take their place.

Such seems to be the case with The Atlantic Wire’s Rebecca Greenfield. Fresh off of telling us that Apple is done innovating, Rebecca believes that “Suddenly Microsoft is the Hippest Tech Company Around” (tip o’ the antlers to Ben Brooks).

Well, this is really a matter of opinion, but allow the Macalope to just quietly roll his eyes at this.

And again.

One more time.

OK. Sorry. Please present your evidence that the company that brought us the Windows 7 Launch Party and hip product names like Windows Phone 7 is the new hotness.

While Apple and Google are busy getting bad press for their privacy issues, labor practices and general big-evil-company wrongdoings, Microsoft has done some brand regeneration, making it look like the hippest tech company on the block these days.

Right. Certainly Microsoft has no problems of its own.

We noticed this new-found hipness when we came across the endearing Browser You Love(d) to Hate campaign. With some admirable self-awareness, Microsoft used its own bad reputation to argue that its hated Internet Explorer browser is on the verge of a comeback.

To be fair, there is something to this. It is a funny campaign and the Macalope gives Microsoft some credit for trying to do something different with Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. But the former is still struggling to catch on, and the latter is a big wildcard that raises as many problems for users as it solves for Microsoft. While Microsoft might be trying to gain some cool, there’s little evidence it’s catching on.

(We still prefer Chrome, by the way.)

So, Internet Explorer is hip and cool but not so hip and cool as to be useful. Now that the Macalope might be willing to believe.

But this image comeback isn’t limited to IE. Over the last few days we’ve seen Hotmail ads running on Boing Boing and Jezebel, two blogs that are hip for different reasons.

Does Greenfield not know that running ads does not make a “comeback”?

Windows 8 surprised and excited the tech blogger world, something a Windows browser [sic] hasn’t done since Windows 95.

That’s at least partly true. However the Macalope will point out two things: First, Windows 8 also has a fair number of detractors (tip o’ the antlers to the Loop). And second, and the Macalope can’t stress this enough, Microsoft has yet to ship Windows 8. All the good reviews in the world mean squat if it’s not successful.

Apple, of course, is uncool according to Greenfield. Despite actually selling things that people like.

Apple’s (maybe) new logo, on the other hand, with its rainbow mish-mash, feels dated.

Reasonable people may disagree (looks pretty cool to the Macalope), but let’s rush over to Apple’s site and, yep, that logo is nowhere to be found. Next?

Appl [sic] still produces insane-popular gadgets, but no longer wows reviewers like it once did.

Really? Which reviewers? Greenfield doesn’t provide any links, she just states it as given. There is a set of reviewers who will never like anything Apple ships. There is also a tendency by other reviewers to nitpick Apple products in an attempt to find a false “balance” with other crappier products. Ultimately, though, whatever the reviews, consumers still love Apple products.

Though the Foxconn protesters that threatened mass suicide back in January made Microsoft’s XBox, thanks to Mike Daisey and Apple’s financial successes, Apple not Microsoft absorbed most of the bad PR.

So, wait. Your “cool, hip” company was actually the one that should have been tied to the incident, but because of an inveterate liar it was Apple, so Microsoft is cooler than Apple. That’s your argument? You’re really going with that?

Google and Apple’s misdeeds have overshadowed the once dominant tech company, and while the other big players make public messes out of themselves, Microsoft looks to be cleaning up its image. And, we have to say, it looks good.

Sure! If you close your eyes to inconvenient facts! Like, say…

“Microsoft accused of rigging ‘Smoked by Windows Phone’ tests”

Oh, man, rigging contests designed to show how cool your products are is so cool.

Saturday Special: No way to make it right

This will come as a giant surprise to you, but according to CNet’s Charles Cooper, the Foxconn situation was not Apple’s finest hour.

Huh!

Was there someone who said it was?

A couple of weeks later, Cook returned to the same theme at an investor conference, where he said that “no one in our industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple.”

Really?

Actually, yes, really. Thank you for asking.

After the release of an audit yesterday by the Fair Labor Association we can measure those claims against the evidence. Apple may indeed be serious about improving the conditions of people working for its suppliers in China, but it’s playing catchup.

Catch-up to whom? Who is it supposed to be catching up to when it’s doing more than its competitors?

Cooper, not surprisingly, doesn’t say.

It’s not as if one fine day Apple management looked deep into their hearts and came to a collective decision that, yes, it was time to help the little people.

You can argue about whether it was deep into their hearts or wallets they looked, but otherwise that’s exactly what they did. In general, it does seem that Tim Cook is more concerned about being a better citizen than Steve Jobs was.

Have we already forgotten the two blasts last year at iPad factories that killed four people and injured 77? Or the incident in which 137 workers got sick after being ordered to use a dangerous chemical when they cleaned iPhone screens?

Um, no. As a matter of fact, these are some of the incidents that helped move Apple to action.

Cooper would probably suck at being an AA sponsor.

COOPER’S FRIEND: “Hi, I’m Larry…”

AUDIENCE: “Hi, Larry!”

COOPER’S FRIEND: “…and it’s been six months since I’ve had a drink!”

AUDIENCE: [applause]

COOPER: “BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT TIME LAST SUMMER WHEN YOU GOT SO WASTED YOU COULDN’T WALK?! HUH?! TELL THEM ABOUT THAT!”

COOPER’S FRIEND: “Uh… I already did.”

COOPER: “TELL THEM AGAIN, LARRY!”

And what about the spate of suicides and suicide attempts by Foxconn employees who could no longer take the pressure?

Suicide attempts that were below the national average and, oh, look, workers threatened mass suicide at an Xbox plant, but it’s more fun to throw spitballs at Apple than Microsoft, so forget that.

To be fair…

Ah, yes, we’re about two-thirds of the way into the Apple-bashing. Time for some fairness!

But Apple didn’t cover itself in glory.

Of course not. Neither did the prigs like Cooper, who wanted to make this exclusively about Apple.

Apple, a company with a famous reputation for eying every last detail, only had to open its eyes.

Ooh, sick burn, Apple! Must be nice to be those other companies that both make crap and are not held accountable for treating their workers like crap because their names aren’t “Apple.”

[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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