The Macalope Weekly: It's a living
Another Saturday and the Macalope is back with three more harrowing tales of ?Yes, they actually get paid for this.? First is the hedge fund manager who calls the iPhone a huge fail because it?s too light. Then a writer for Slate says ?The iPhone 5 is boring. No, wait, it?s awesome!? And, finally, a business school professor has an explanation for Apple you?ve never heard before!
Get ready to scream because, yes, this guy gets paid for this and he probably gets paid a lot.
Writing for Barrons, Tiernan Ray tells the tale of the hedge fund manager who thinks the iPhone 5 ?feels like a toy? and investors should avoid Apple (tip o? the antlers to Tay Bass).
?Hedgie?? Oh, Wall Street ?
?Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners, who has been pushing the line of thought that Apple (AAPL) has peaked as a business in the wake of the passing of founder Steve Jobs, today sent a missive to the faithful espousing his personal impressions of the company?s mis-steps with the iPhone 5, after trying [sic] he ?played with? the device for ?about a minute and got quickly bored.?
About a minute! Well, that?s about a minute longer than anyone?s played with a working Microsoft Surface. So, Kass is practically an iPhone 5 expert!
Ray quotes Kass:
Say what you will about whether or not Steve Jobs would have let iOS 6 go out in that condition with those maps?
?but go play with the iPhone 5 yourself. It feels terrible. It?s very light and to me feels like a toy. It needs a lead weight.
Too light. Heavy phones are where it?s at, bro. Have you checked out the Samsung Neutron III SX? It?s got a big lump of osmium in it. It doesn?t do anything, it just adds weight. The phone weighs 47 pounds. Android phones are totally winning the density war.
(You can say that again.)
Well, Doug, we will have to agree to disagree, because to the Macalope?s hoof, the iPhone 5 feels like the best iPhone ever built. And the worst iPhone ever built still feels better than the best phone ever built by anyone else.
OK, you knew it was coming, but are you ready for it?
I cannot believe Steve Jobs would have let it go out the door like that. He would have understood that it just doesn?t feel right. That was the value of Steve Jobs?he understood the whole picture, technical and non-technical alike.
Steve Jobs would never have shipped a light phone!
Well, it?s no ?Steve Jobs would fire Tim Cook,? but it?s something. There is simply nothing you personally feel that you cannot attribute to Steve Jobs!
?I like pork rinds and feel that Steve Jobs, were he here today, would agree with me that pork rinds are delicious ? despite being a vegan.?
Can Apple keep the well-above-cellphone-industry-average customer upgrade cycle going?
With Steve Jobs gone, Apple is at risk of losing that magical Walt Disney feeling.
Which is a terrific example because, as everyone knows, Disney completely lost its magical feeling after Walt died and ended up shutting down several years later, the end.
For his part, Ray thinks the ?hedgie? who should get a wedgie and other Apple critics are full of hot air:
The iPhone is an exquisite piece of industrial design that stands alone. Kass must be the only person on the planet who thinks a thinner, lighter iPhone is a bad thing.
He?s out of touch, sounds like a bit of a jerk, and he runs a hedge fund. What are the odds?
Remember how boooooring the iPhone 5 was? Sure you do! It was in all the papers! The iPhone 5 was totally dullsville, man, and Apple is out of ideas! Better just fire Tim Cook, shut the company down, and give the money back to investors.
Well, you might want to have a neck brace ready, because you?re about to get whiplash.
Slate?s Farhad Manjoo practically pioneered the ?iPhone = boring? theme back in July.
Subtitle: ?It?s time for Apple to show us something new.?
We know you?ve reinvented more product categories in the last ten years than all of your competitors combined, but what have you done for us lately, Apple? Make with the new shiny! The effete members of our esteemed technology press are practically falling asleep in their snuff boxes!
Anyway, what?s the opposite of buyer?s remorse?
Yes, by Farhad Manjoo.
The Macalope, ever trying to be helpful, will frequently come up with explanations for why a pundit will say something crazy about Apple. In this instance he submits for your approval the idea that Slate employs two Farhad Manjoos. Or is it Farhads Manjoo? Well, whatever, one Farhad Manjoo is of our Earth, the other is a goateed Farhad Manjoo from an alternate Earth?an Earth gone mad, if you will. An Earth turned upside down, where good is evil, black is white, day is night, right, you get the idea.
One of the Manjoos, presumably the non-evil one, is at least upfront about the varied opinions you?ll get from guys named Farhad Manjoo who write for Slate.
When Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 last month, many tech pundits called it ?boring.? I was one of them. In fact, I was so bored that I called the iPhone boring way back in July, on the basis of the lackluster new mobile operating system that Apple announced at its developer conference.
Indeed, Evil Farhad even keyed the Farhads? first reaction to the iPhone 5, calling it ?not the best iPhone ever,? and complaining about the Lightning connector.
Now, almost a month later, it?s time for me to get something off my chest: I?ve made a huge mistake.
Or, is it that Good Farhad is now writing and simply doesn?t want us to know, because evil twins aren?t covered under Slate?s group health policy? Your filial loyalty (or whatever you call it with an evil twin) is admirable, Farhad, but you shouldn?t be covering for him. Particularly not after what he did to Ensign Chekov in the Agony Booth.
I?ll go even further: When I pick up the iPhone 5 and examine it closely, I find it difficult to believe that this device actually exists. The iPhone 5 does not feel like a product that was mass produced. In a strange way, it doesn?t feel like it was built at all. This is a gadget that seems as if it fell into the box fully formed. If you run your hands around its face, you?
OK, OK. Easy there. Suffice it to say, Good Farhad likes the iPhone 5. A lot.
We are left to wonder, however, when Evil Farhad will escape from the dimensional corridor in which Good Farhad has trapped him and retake the keyboard to ?
Uh ? shoot. The Macalope dropped his Star Trek: The Original Series reference cards and now they?re all mixed up. Crazy Lazarus from The Alternative Factor wasn?t from the same dimension as Evil Spock. Or was he?
Well, whatever. At least the Macalope?s explanation is more charitable than ?technology pundit shoots his mouth off about technologies he hasn?t used yet, later realizes how wrong he was.?
Saturday Special: No way!
You guys are not going to believe this but according to Professor Rosa Chun of the UCD Smurfit School of Business, Apple is (are you sitting down?) ?
? a religion.
Shocking, right?! Who saw that coming?!
Writing for the Irish Times, Chun says ?Emotional attachment to Apple is waning as innovation gives way to greed? (tip o? the antlers to UnLaoised).
Previously, you see, Apple was a non-profit. Not a lot of people remember that. Possibly because it?s not true.
It?s a little ironic being lectured about greed by someone who teaches at a business school. Of course, it?s entirely possible that someone bothered by the profit motivation of corporations would choose to teach instead of working in the business world.
Apple?s pre-order sales figures for its iPhone5 [sic] were impressive, with more than two million people pre-ordering the smartphone in the first 24 hours after its launch last month.
For most companies, sales figures like these are the ultimate sign of success. But for Apple, it may not be enough?
Of course. Nothing is ever enough to save Apple.
?the iPhone 5 is a failure at its heart.
A failure at its heart? A total failure at its heart? Maybe that explains why every now and then the Macalope feels a little bit nervous that the best of all the years have gone by. And why every now and then he falls apart.
It must be nice to be a pundit and be able to look into the heart of things. Wonder what that?s like? It seems like just pulling trite, over-used arguments out of your butt, but maybe it?s different than that. There?s probably some narcissism mixed in there as well.
This is about pride, reputation and loyalty, not just money. The magic is over.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS.
Some cracks are already beginning to show in the idea that Apple can always sell expensive, under-featured hardware?
The UCD Smurfit School of business: the latest in 1990s conventional wisdom ? today!
?on the back of customer loyalty.
So weird! Why do people like Apple products when they?re over-priced and under-featured? Must be marketing!
The record sales of iPhone 5 were based on expectation from past performance, but its reservoir of reputation may be drying up.
Because ? HEY! LOOK OVER THERE! SOMEONE?S DANCING GANGNAM-STYLE!
It was a disappointment to consumers who expected another revolutionary and visionary product from Apple.
But they bought them out of reflex. Or pity. Or ?
HEY, LOOK! SOMEONE ELSE IS DANCING GANGNAM-STYLE!
In its heyday, Apple was a religion, Steve Jobs was God, and the iPhone was a status symbol.
Shorter Chun: ?I have no idea what motivates Apple customers, so I?ll chalk it up to religion!?
Religious faith requires no evidence. Trust does.
Seriously, if all you have is ?Apple is a religion? then you have no business talking about Apple. Or business. Or even soup.
For a loyal Apple fan, product choice was never about quality or price, but about an emotional association and pride.
Uh, speaking as a ?loyal Apple fan? and someone who also wasted a lot of time in business school, that is a load of what experts call ?crap.? It feels ridiculous that we even have to have this conversation in 2012, that we have to put the lie to the idea that more than 100 million people have bought iPhones so far this year because Apple is some kind of freaking cult, but here we are, thanks to the good perfesser.
Apple does not build products that satisfy a feature checklist. It does not pointlessly jam in technologies that have little practical application (see: NFC). While you might be able to buy products in the same category for less, you often can?t buy name-brand products in the same category for less and you can never buy name-brand products with the same high build quality and user experience. Further, Apple products generally provide a lower cost of ownership.
This is why people buy Apple products. Because they provide value at their price point. Not because Steve Jobs put the voodoo on us. If you?re not going to address that argument?which we?ve made about a billion times?if you simply have no comeback for that, then just stop writing about Apple.
The decision by Apple to ditch Google Maps in favour of its own Apple Maps was premature, and led to Apple chief executive Tim Cook formally apologising to customers, something Steve Jobs would never have done.
This was followed by a 2 per cent drop in Apple?s share price.
Apple?s stock never fell 2 percent while Steve Jobs was CEO.
Apple?s culture does not allow for a failure.
Oh, fer ?
Did you just walk into this room? MobileMe. Ping. The button-less iPod shuffle. The list isn?t huge, but it does exist.
Chun then trots out Guy Kawasaki, Woz, and Foxconn in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attempt to round out her brilliant argument that no one has ever put forth with such clarity and reason.
No offense, but the only people who care what Kawasaki and Woz think are people trying to naysay Apple. They?re entitled to their opinions, but they were not part of the most successful segment of Apple?s history. And Foxconn? Well, it?s a good thing no one else uses Chinese labor.
The Macalope doesn?t know what kind of publication the Irish Times is running, but if it was his paper he?d stop doing business with writers who have nothing to share but ideas that have repeatedly been debunked right in the eye.
[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.]