The Macalope Daily: Malpractice

Are you sitting down? OK, good, because the Macalope is about to approvingly link to a slide-show.

Yes, it’s an astounding breach of precedent, but while the horny one still hates the format as much as antler mites the content of this one is an effort well taken. Writing for InfoWorld, Paul McNamara brings us the ill-titled “5 years later: 8 iPhone-bashing pundits repent”. Apparently the headline writers at InfoWorld can’t count because John Dvorak categorically does not “repent,” as the Macalope noted on Saturday. In fact, he even goes so far as to suggest that time may still prove him correct!

That’s well-covered material, but what the Macalope finds amusing is that almost to a person these people are all still gainfully employed writing about whatever it was they were writing about before, be it technology or business or stocks. That’s not to say that someone should get the axe just for writing one bad piece about Apple—the Macalope’s certainly been wrong before, too—but it’s an unfortunate truism that being a pundit means never having to say you’re sorry.

Some of these people did say they were sorry and most of them copped to being just flat-out wrong, with the notable exception of Dvorak who blamed Apple because he didn’t get a review unit.

Of course, it’s one thing to be a pundit and be wrong. Who really listens to pundits? (Hello? Hello?) But to have been the CEO of a company that would be directly impacted by the iPhone and to have dismissed it, that’s a more serious form of malpractice.

And, not surprisingly, we have examples of those as well! RIM is the most obvious, and Horace Dediu shows the ugly result of that company’s failure to take the iPhone seriously. (The final graph is not to be viewed by pregnant women, people with pacemakers or small children.)

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer also famously derided the iPhone thusly:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

Microsoft’s current smartphone market share? Somewhere between 2 and 3 percent. That’s Schadefreude-riffic! Fortunately for Microsoft it has other irons in the fire. RIM? It sees to have devolved to a state prior to having the ability to make fire, let alone iron.

The point is not that you shouldn’t speculate or, heck, even make fun of new things. The point is to make sure you don’t take yourself so seriously you trash your livelihood and that of others. That’s obviously not a problem for pundits, but it sure can be for CEOs.

[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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