The Macalope Weekly: Cause and effect

Sometimes it’s hard to make the right connection between cause and effect. Are larger Android phones forcing Apple to make an iPhone with a bigger screen? First you’d have to show that comically large phones are affecting Apple in any way. A favorite silly pundit then posits that Google directly selling phones will soon make Android fragmentation a thing of the past! Finally, which came first: the MacBook Air or the Ultrabook? (Spoiler: IT WAS THE AIR.)

Looking for probable cause

The Macalope has long been a fan of the “Apple must” construction, and he’s glad to see it’s still popular.

Information Week’s Erik Zeman gives us the 411 on why the next iPhone will have a bigger screen: “Bigger iPhone Display: Why Apple Has No Choice”

No choice? Really.

Apple will finally increase the size of the iPhone’s display from 3.5 inches to “at least four inches diagonally,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Finally. What were they thinking?!

At this point, Apple has to increase the size of the iPhone’s display.

Plummeting iPhone sales demand it!

Competing smartphones that run Android and Windows Phone surpassed the 3.5-inch mark years ago. … These newer HD displays work well with HD content that is available from a wide range of content sources, such as the Google Play Store, Netflix, and others. They also look darned good.

As opposed to the iPhone’s Retina display, which looks like ten pounds of crap in a five-pound bag that’s already full of five pounds of crap.

Read more…

As much as Apple might want to stick to its own guns with respect to screen size and resolution, it would be better for Apple’s customers if Apple conformed to the 1280 x 720 spec that’s quickly becoming the norm for high-end devices.

Because … why? Why is that? As is so often the case in these pieces, Zeman doesn’t say. It just is.

Any parent will tell you that “Because Android OEMs are doing it” is not a valid excuse.

“Why were you out so late?”

“Because Android OEMs were!”

“Is that liquor on your breath?!”

“Hey, the Android OEMs parents let them drink!”

“If Android OEMs jumped off a bridge, would you do it?! WOULD YOU?!”

“Nnnnnno…”

Will it? Probably not, but we can always hold out hope.

You know, Apple may ship an iPhone with a larger screen the next time around. But if it does, it won’t be because Android devices are shipping with ludicrously large screens that require relaxed-fit pants to hold them. Apple is not in the business of chasing niche markets by boxing itself out of larger markets. No, if Apple ships an iPhone with a larger screen, it’ll be because the company thinks it’ll make for a better phone.

Feeding a belief system

For some inexplicable reason, some people seem to be preternaturally disposed toward being wrong about Apple. Join the Macalope, if you will, as he once again examines the strange case of Katherine Noyes.

Now, before you look at this piece, try to think to yourself, “How hard could it be to write a piece about Google selling phones directly that has one mention of Apple and yet get that mention factually incorrect?”

You’d think it’d be pretty hard, right? Well, not when the spirit is taken by the power of “open.” We’ve been over this a hundred times, but Noyes is an open-source enthusiast. Which is fine. Great, even. Yay for you and for open-source. The problem comes when the enthusiasm turns into tunnel vision.

Let’s be frank: None of us is completely immune to it. But Noyes has turned it into an art form. A dull, open-source art form for which the sound card doesn’t work, but it’s totally easy to compile your own driver, come on, no big deal, why would you waste your money on some “walled garden” that… hey, where are you going?

“Android 5.0 Will Launch this Fall with Five Nexus Devices: Report”

When Android 5.0 “Jelly Bean” launches this fall, it will appear first on several new mobile devices sold by Google itself as part of the “Nexus” line.

That’s according to a Tuesday story in the Wall Street Journal, which reports that Google is shifting its Android strategy so that it will not only give select mobile-device makers early access to new releases, but will also sell the resulting devices unlocked directly to consumers.

So, what we have here is another attempt by Google to cut out the middleman and sell directly to consumers. This hasn’t worked thus far for them so the Macalope’s not sure why Noyes thinks it will now. But she does!

So Long, Fragmentation

Because Google will sell five phones directly, fragmentation will be a thing of the past! It’s that easy!

Bypassing wireless carriers, of course, has the potential to enrage the carriers themselves.

You think?

Still, the shift could be an exciting one, removing as it would any disadvantage Android might face in its ongoing competition with Apple…

Any disadvantage. Seriously. So, according to Noyes, fragmentation is the only area where Android falls short when compared to the iPhone and iPad. And solving this disadvantage is as easy as Google selling a few phones directly.

The fact that Android users don’t buy apps? Not a disadvantage. That fact that malware on Android has quadrupled in the past year? Not a disadvantage. Indeed, after long touting the inherent security advantage of Android because “Open, yay!”, Katherine simply no longer discusses the issue. Inconvenient facts need not be submitted into evidence.

People wonder why the Macalope continues to rage against the machine, but the thing is that Noyes is not trolling for hits. She really believes this stuff.

And now you know why the Macalope drinks.

Saturday Special: Are too, times infinity

Let the Macalope bring you up to speed about this argument that’s been raging since second-period gym class.

HP’s Stacy Wolff said Ultrabooks “are not” MacBook Air clones, to which the Macalope said “are too,” to which PC World’s Melanie Pinola says “are not,” so the Macalope is going to invoke “are too, times infinity.”

BOOM. What now, PC journalist? Gotta get up pretty early in the morning to beat the Macalope at a game of “Are too/are not.”

However, despite Ultrabooks’ design similarities with Apple’s popular ultraportable, Ultrabooks really are a unique new breed of Windows laptops.

Well, yes, actually! A unique breed of Windows laptops. Just not a unique breed of laptops.

In fact, in 2003—five years before Apple introduced the MacBook Air—Sony introduced another premium, super-thin laptop: The Vaio X505 (also known as the Vaio PCG-X505, or the “505 Extreme”).

BOO-YAH! PRIOR ART! Yeah. Except the PCG-X505 doesn’t look anything like either a MacBook Air or, not coincidentally, like any Ultrabook the Macalope’s seen. Its “metallic body” is charcoal grey instead of aluminum and it doesn’t taper exactly like a MacBook Air, as so many Ultrabooks do.

The PCG-X505 actually has an original design (if not a great one). Unfortunately for Pinola’s point, it doesn’t look like current Ultrabooks. Which mostly look like the MacBook Air. Because that’s the reference platform.

Is this thing on? The Macalope said all this last week. Why don’t people do the required reading?

Look a little closer at some Ultrabooks that may look like MacBook Air clones, and you’ll find that laptop makers have added their own touches or improvements to the design.

Pinola does not seem to notice that her own sentence construction belies her whole point. They took the MacBook Air design and they added their own details! See?! How is that copying?!

Again, the point goes beyond the details of any particular laptop, because Intel only came up with the idea for Ultrabooks after Apple was so successful with the Air. Of course there were slim laptops before the Air, but then PC OEMs decided to burn their houses down by making netbooks. Apple showed them a better way, and here we are.

Times infinity.

[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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