The Macalope Weekly: Pointless exercises

You ever wonder why people write some of these pieces about Apple? The Macalope sure does. Whoo, boy, does he. Once again, a member of the Apple Doomsday Cult feels the need to express himself, despite the company doing, you know, pretty good. Then we’ll look at the high bar that tech pundits raise for Apple. And finally, Henry Blodget is back with another nonsensical attempt to swat the hornet’s nest. It’s too bad he finds no sport in swatting actual hornets’ nests.

Shine on

It’s been almost a year since Steve Jobs left Apple, and while the company hasn’t fallen apart yet, it’s not for a lack of technology pundits speculating that it’ll happen any day now.

Time’s Sam Gustin is the latest to ask “Is Apple Losing Its Shine After Steve Jobs?”

Paging Mr. Betteridge. Mr. Ian Betteridge, please call your office.

If last week’s technology earnings bloodbath gave you pause, consider this…

Technology earnings bloodbath? The examples Gustin cites are Facebook, Zynga, and …

(Wait for it …)

… Apple.

“Bloodbath.” The company only beat its guidance by like a billion dollars. Total fail.

We’re halfway through the first sentence and already the dumb in this piece is causing the Macalope’s brain to leak out of his ears.

What happens if Apple, the world’s most valuable technology company, falters?

Armageddon? Or worse, the movie Armageddon? OH, GOD, WHAT IF IT’S THE MOVIE?!

Read more…

As the one-year anniversary approaches of the death of Steve Jobs, the visionary and revered executive behind Apple’s most beloved products, tough questions could bubble up about Apple’s future, especially if we see a few more quarters of disappointing earnings results…

Just a reminder: What Gustin is talking about here is the fact that Wall Street analysts overestimated what Apple would make in the quarter. The company’s profit was up 20.5 percent.

Last week, Apple delivered a rare earnings disappointment.

He’s called it disappointing twice now, but hasn’t actually said what happened. Informative!

Apple reported sales of $35 billion, below Wall Street expectations of $37 billion, and said it sold 26 million iPhones, down from 35.1 million in the previous quarter but 28% higher than last year. That result was underwhelming for a company that normally blows away Wall Street expectations.

Wall Street analysts’ guesses were off in the opposite direction this quarter. Apple doomed.

Apple has a winning product with the iPad tablet, but that device faces increased competition, most notably from newly introduced Google and Microsoft devices.

Objection. “Increased competition” assumes facts not in evidence. Also, in the case of Microsoft, products not in evidence.

What if Steve Jobs already introduced the overwhelming balance of Apple’s breakthrough products?

The thinking here is apparently that while Steve Jobs was brilliant, he was not brilliant enough to leave some notes about what to do next or hire executives who were smart enough to continue along without him. Why someone would think that is beyond this pointy commentator, but there it is.

This week, the Associated Press published a story with a truly eye-opening headline: “IPhone appeal dims as Samsung shines.” IPhone appeal dims? That’s not exactly the impression given by the company’s report nor its executives.

Or reality! If iPhone sales growth is slowing, it’s probably because Apple has all but completed carrier penetration in the U.S. and has yet to fully emerge in China and India. If the company can make a prepaid iPhone 3GS available for those markets, we might see growth jump back up to phenomenal instead of simply amazing.

Remember: Last time Jobs left the company, it nearly collapsed.

More than twenty years ago.

But as much as I respect him, Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs. Whereas Jobs was iconoclastic and mercurial…

All of these comparisons immediately devolve into a bunch of psychobabble that the authors are consistently unqualified to give.

By asking about Apple’s post-Jobs future, I’m not trying to troll a company I respect deeply.

You may not be trying to, but the effect is still pretty much the same.

Standards

If you’ve read as much tech coverage as the Macalope, well, God help you. But you would have noticed that Apple is held to a different set of standards than, oh, every other company ever. Writing on the Wall Street Journal’s ironically-named “Smart Money” site, Quentin Fottrell brings us the dreaded list of “10 Things Apple Won’t Tell You”! (No link because COME ON, but tip o’ the antlers to Bill Hurt.)

Cue dramatic music.

For example, you may be interested to learn that Apple won’t be telling you that you’re tired of buying so many of its products:

…with even Apple’s most loyal customers upset about the steady stream of newer models.

Which, apparently, you are required by law to buy, because you bought that LC back in 1992.

Some commentators chastise Apple for coming out with new iPhones and iPads only once a year. Fottrell says that’s too much. The Macalope wishes Apple’s critics would get together and get their stories straight. Fottrell seems unconcerned that Samsung has come out with 18 flagship phones in the amount of time it’s taken you to read this sentence.

Item number two in Apple’s transgressions against humanity: Apps end up costing too much! Yes, were you aware that with in app-purchases, you can end up spending a lot of money on these things?

(To be fair, Apple doesn’t make Smurfberries or charge consumers to buy more, nor is the strategy by gaming companies unique to apps in the Apple ecosystem).

Ah. To be fair.

Also, Apple uses an inherently unfair system call “capitalism” that benefits the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat!

To be fair, some other companies may use it, too, but …

Oh, jeez, we’re only up to number three, which is “You kids use the dang technology devices and such too much! You should do more like we did when I was young! Get outside and breathe the air and throw some rocks at people!”

Number 4: “You may spend more with our devices” on bandwidth and shopping because you’ll actually enjoy using them, unlike our competitor’s devices. So sorry.

Number 5: It’s been five years since Apple reinvented the smartphone market. What’s the company done for you lately?

Upgrade fatigue isn’t the only thing critics dislike about Apple’s product rollouts; some say the new products aren’t new enough.

Yeah! Apple’s only reinvented two markets in the last ten years! Get on it! Your competitors have reinvented … well, none. But, come on! You’re Apple!

Oh, God, are we really only half way through with this?

Number 6: iPhones cost too much!

“Is the iPhone expensive? Yes,” [technology consultant Jeff] Kagan says. “It is overpriced? Yes.”

Well, that’s that, because Jeff Kagan has never said anything dumb about the iPhone before. If they’re so overpriced, the Macalope wonders why people keep buying so many of them?

Number 7: Apple’s sales staff are too darn good at their jobs!

“They emotionally engage you so it’s harder to say no to their products.”

If only the Apple shopping experience were like having a tooth pulled. Like at Best Buy.

Number 8: Other companies sell phones the size of aircraft carrier landing decks with projectors and all kinds of crap in them and Apple doesn’t!

Yeah, if other companies followed checklists of features off a bridge instead of making phones that are a pleasure to use, does that mean Apple should, too?

Number 9: It’s a trap!

Storing digital content like movies, music and books on Apple’s “ecosystem”—the company’s compatible suite of hardware and software—may lock in customers for life.

For life. Fortunately, no other vendor uses things like ratings or DRM-protected movies. Just Apple.

And now we get to the Macalope’s favorite, number 10: “Our fans don’t care if we screw up.”

Indeed, many Apple customers stay loyal to the company even when it disappoints them. Earlier this year a group of Apple customers led by Change.org, a for-profit advocacy group, sent a petition to Apple imploring it to improve working conditions at its factories, especially in China. However, the group’s members said they won’t be discarding their Apple products, or even recycling them.

Can you imagine? They wouldn’t even switch to any of the readily-available competing products that are made here in the U.S. by workers getting paid six figures a year to OH WAIT …

So, given the choice between continuing to use the best products available—made by the company that’s actually doing something about workers conditions in China—and Luddism, Apple’s mindless zealots chose to continue using their devices while asking the company to do more. Unconscionable.

Well, this was a delightful exercise in applying standards to Apple that no one expects of any other company, Quentin! The Macalope’s not sure what the purpose of it was, but thanks!

Saturday Special: You can’t always get what you want

Business Insider’s Henry Blodget continues to try to leave flaming sacks of canine matter on our doorstep. You will be shocked (actual shock not included) to learn that Blodget says “I’m Already Annoyed By My iPhone 5” (tip o’ the antlers to Wes Kroesbergen).

No, you read that right. iPhone 5. If Henry Blodget is a time-traveler from the future, we must lobby the government to develop time-traveling technology as soon as possible, so we can send him back to whatever dystopian future Earth would not only produce this killer cyborg of trollery, but then send him back to our era just to increase ad impressions.

I haven’t gotten my iPhone 5 yet, but I’m already annoyed by it.

No, you are not.

Why?

YES. WHY? DEAR GOD, WHY?

Well, first, the wait.

Here, Blodget is pretending to be one of the people who were upset that the iPhone 4S wasn’t teardrop-shaped or some crap.

(I have an iPhone 3GS, which still works great. But I confess that I have been coveting the superior camera on the iPhone 4 and 4S. I tried to buy a 4 once, a couple of months after it came out, but hundreds of people had been waiting all night in line to buy them to ship them to Asia, so I gave up. But I have decided to upgrade to the iPhone 5, unless it totally sucks.)

COOL STORY, BRO.

Despite Apple’s assertion that it is going to crack down on leaks, people seem confident that they know pretty much everything about the iPhone 5.

Which means exactly squat doodily monkey butts.

And here are the things they think they know that have jumped out at me (and annoyed me):

It’s too bad that something else didn’t jump out at you. Like some angry badgers.

The iPhone 5 is not going to have a really big screen, like the gorgeous screen on the Samsung Galaxy S3. Someone showed me one of those Samsungs recently, and I instantly coveted it.

Then get one! GO. We will literally drive you to the store! Albeit with pointy sticks and air horns.

Who cares about having a “taller” screen? I certainly don’t want to have to turn the phone to “landscape” view every time I want to look at something.

There’s an immediate impulse to point out to him how stupid this is. Resist it. He’s doing it on purpose. Don’t let him bait you. BE STRONG.

The iPhone 5 will have a new power cord, one that will render the dozen or so Apple power cords I have obsolete.

Instead of having to pay a few bucks for a new cord, or even less for an adapter, what’s better is having an Android or Windows 7 phone that’s not upgradeable to the latest software release. That’s so awesome. Totally switching to one of them.

I gather Apple is making some other changes to the iPhone 5, too—moving a button, for example.

This the penetrating insight you get from Business Insider. “I dunno. They’re moving some button or sumpin’. You look it up.”

Bottom line, like a lot of other Apple customers, I’m quietly hoping that everything that has been reported about the iPhone isn’t true.

Because if I’m going to finally shell out another $200 for a new phone, it would be nice not to find it annoying.

Yeah, well the Macalope would like it if he had just read 600 words, purportedly about technology, that he didn’t find annoying.

But we don’t always get what we want, Henry.

[Programming note: The Macalope will be off next Saturday for some much earned rest and relaxation. You’d need a vacation if you had to pore over this stuff every week, too.]

[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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