The Macalope Weekly: Personality disorder

The tech industry is full of personalities. And that’s not really a compliment. Our old friend, the Winotaur, for example, is high on personality. And now, not surprisingly, he’s also high on the Microsoft Surface. John C. Dvorak is another tech personality, and he seems to be high on his inflated sense of self-worth. Finally, RIM’s former CEOs were certainly personalities but it’s difficult to say what they were high on while they ran the company into the ground. Possibly it was glue.

Vapor lock

With all the talk about the Microsoft Surface last week, it’s high time we spoke with the Macalope’s Microsoft counterpart: the Winotaur.

WINOTAUR: You feeling the heat yet?!

MACALOPE: The heat of products not yet shipping?

WINOTAUR: Oh, yeah, baby! Prepared to get re-Surfaced!

MACALOPE: “Re-Surfaced?”

WINOTAUR: I’m … still working out some catch phrases.

MACALOPE: Hey, what’s with not allowing anyone during the hands-on to actually, well, put their hands on the devices?

WINOTAUR: Sometimes there’s a product that’s just too hot to handle, you know, bro?

MACALOPE: Don’t call the Macalope “bro.” But, to be clear, what you’re saying is that they run hot.

WINOTAUR: What? No!

MACALOPE: Wicked hot. Too hot to hold. Burn-your-thighs kind of hot.

WINOTAUR: Stop putting words in my mouth!

MACALOPE: Well, see, here’s the thing. We have no real experience with this device, so all that’s left for us to do is speculate. Speculate about the price, the battery life, and why you wouldn’t let anyone use one. For months. Such is the atmosphere you’ve created. These are the seeds you’ve sown. Like sands in the hourglass, so pass the days of our …

WINOTAUR: You’re just upset because now we’re the most exciting company in tech.

MACALOPE: Uh-huh.

WINOTAUR: The most exciting company in tech.

MACALOPE: Right.

WINOTAUR: The. Most. Exciting. Company. In. Tech.

MACALOPE: Why do you keep saying that?

WINOTAUR: I’m trying to drop a link here! Where’s the link?!

MACALOPE: Oh, nooo. You don’t link to Gizmodo in the Macalope’s column. Get your own column. Besides, you’re the most exciting in that “drunk driver careening through a busy suburb” kind of way. Will he make it to his destination without killing dozens?! You don’t want to watch but you cannot look away!

WINOTAUR: Oh, these grapes are sour. It just kills you that we’ve got the buzz now.

MACALOPE: Vapor buzz.

WINOTAUR: Oh, you mean like the iPhone when it was announced.

MACALOPE: Douché. But even six months out, it was announced with a price. And the software demoed on it, you know, worked. Most of the announcement was a software demo. Steve Jobs even crank-called a Starbucks on the iPhone! He didn’t stand around asking people to listen to how the hardware clicks.

WINOTAUR: But the Surface runs Windows 8! People already know and love Windows 8!

MACALOPE: “Know and love”? Listen to yourself. Windows 8 isn’t shipping yet, either!

WINOTAUR: Ugh, God, I keep forgetting that.

MACALOPE: You know, even Paul Thurrott said “the more you think you want this device, the more you realize you know almost nothing about it.”

WINOTAUR: We have got to get better toadies.

MACALOPE: Look, the Macalope’s already admitted that the Surface looks interesting. There are some things about it that look ill-conceived—like touting a kickstand that only has one position—but it does seem like Microsoft really thought about this thing and it may appeal to a number of people.

WINOTAUR: Of course it will!

MACALOPE: If it works. If it’s priced right. If it gets decent battery life. If

WINOTAUR: It will!

MACALOPE: So you say.

WINOTAUR: Oh, what, you don’t trust us?

MACALOPE: You don’t really want an answer to that, do you?

WINOTAUR: Uh … no.

Cry me a river

The Macalope usually ignores the work of John C. Dvorak as he’s already admitted that his modus jerkerandi is trolling Apple fans, but this has to be seen to believed. Dvorak is no doubt just tweaking again, but at least he’s not getting the clicks this time.

To mark the fifth anniversary of the release of the iPhone, Buzzblog’s Paul McNamara contacted some writers who were incredibly, laughably wrong about the device and asked them to explain themselves. Few were so wrong as Dvorak, who said three months before the iPhone was launched that Apple should “pull the plug” on it. This being before any plug was actually put into the wall.

Dvorak, of course, contritely offered his apologies and explained that HAHAHAHA no! He blamed Apple, naturally!

“Wrong? Dvorak blames his ‘getting screwed over’ by Apple”

I had heard that some very select writers and analysts were shown the phone in advance; I wasn’t.

Really? Strange. Why would that be? Curious. Very odd. Literally no conceivable explanation.

Apple had a policy - and still does, NOT to even talk to anyone who has annoyed Steve Jobs in the past or present.

In your case, for “annoyed Steve Jobs” we can read “being wrong about Apple all the time.”

Other writers who are careful never to be more than only critical in an Apple approved way get full access as long as they tow the line.

Normally the Macalope wouldn’t be petty enough to call out a spelling mistake, but in Dvorak’s case he’ll make an exception. It’s “toe,” Mr. Big Shot Writer Guy, and remember that what we’re talking about is early access to devices. Apple hasn’t banned you from buying its products. Actually, if the company could do that, it would probably be a good idea, but it obviously wouldn’t stop you from writing about what a bad idea they are months before they hit the market.

If you’re an Apple shareholder, you’d probably applaud the company’s decision to be prudent who it gives review units to. If you’re an inveterate jerk who’s been nay-saying the company since the dawn of time, your reaction might understandably be different.

Everyone in the business knows who is blackballed and who isn’t. The ones who aren’t may as well work for Apple.

There’s two ways of looking at this: 1) Apple is cutting off the people who say bad things about the company or 2) Apple is choosing to not give review units to people who can’t—or won’t—recognize good products simply because they have an Apple logo on them. These are not mutually exclusive.

Avoiding these corrupt practices such as non-disclosures leaves me vulnerable when I’m trying to predict the outcome of a strategy with a product that is sight unseen.

Gosh, which John Dvorak do we believe? The one who says he deliberately trolls Apple fans just to gin up hits, or the one who blames Apple for his lousy analysis?

There’s trolling and then there’s trolling away your own dignity. Seriously, if the Macalope ever gets to the point where he offers nothing but excuses and blames everyone but himself for his own errors, just pile a bunch of sticks around him and leave him in a field somewhere to pass away peacefully.

And as for my prediction that this phone would be a bad idea for Apple to pursue, anything can still happen. Time is a cruel mistress.

Sure, John. If we just wait long enough the iPhone will look like a mistake and you’ll be vindicated.

Just out of curiosity, is that a geologic timescale or cosmic?

Saturday Special: Happy fifth?

RIM’s woes became officially unfunny a long time ago. But unofficially, we still can’t help but look on at the slow-motion train wreck in awe and wonder.

“RIM delays BlackBerry 10, reports plummeting sales”

If you want to relive the good times when RIM was still funny, The Guardian has a collection of the best (read: worst) quotes from RIM’s former co-CEOs, Slappy Mike and Gumbo Jim or whatever their names were (tip o’ the antlers to BoingBoing). They all read like something from the pages of Extreme Denial! magazine. Here’s the Macalope's favorite:

“The most exciting mobile trend is full Qwerty keyboards. I’m sorry, it really is. I’m not making this up.” [former RIM co-CEO Mike] Lazaridis...

Wait for it.

...May 2008.

Way to capture whatever the opposite of zeitgeist is, Mike. Bra. Vo.

Ever helpful, Google’s Matias Duarte said his company would “really welcome” RIM building Android devices.

Which may be the smartphone maker equivalent of checking into a halfway house. The Macalope doesn’t really think becoming another face in the Android crowd is going to help RIM, but he’s darn sure what it’s doing right now isn’t working. At this point we’re not arguing whether or not RIM needs to drastically change its unhealthy lifestyle, we’re just arguing over treatment programs.

If there is even a treatment. It’s quite possible their condition is terminal.

On a completely unrelated note, happy fifth anniversary, iPhone!

Completely unrelated.

Purely coincidental.

Not even a thing.

[Editor’s 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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