The Macalope Weekly: Weak sauce
There are weak arguments and then there are the three arguments you?re about to read. First, are you ready for the RIM comeback?! Hello? Is this thing on? Second, does the size of the iPhone 5 show Apple?s arrogance? Dur, do you have to even ask? And, finally, hope you like Windows Phone, because your local cell carrier is apparently going to put you in a headlock until you buy one.
Won?t stop believing
We all know denial is not a river in Egypt, but has anyone checked to see if it?s a river in Canada?
Oh, Tim, honey. Don?t.
I?m the only diehard in my office who is still sporting a Blackberry.
Going into 2011, everyone at my company used Blackberrys. We were huge fans. We BBM?d each other constantly. We even blogged about how much we loved our Blackberrys. Then RIM started to nosedive and one by one, my staff started showing up at the office with iPhones.
The reason RIM started to nosedive was because its other customers got fed up waiting for a phone that didn?t look like it was calling from 2003. It?s not the other way around. You get that, right?
Hope the formatting of this column doesn?t get screwed up on the text-only mobile version you?re looking at.
(Cheap RIM jokes! The Macalope buys them by the gross at Costco!)
In spite of its challenges, I still believe that RIM will make a comeback. It?s not just wishful thinking.
No, the Macalope imagines there?s also a lot of hallucinogenics involved.
1) Developers believe in BB10. RIM has a knack for motivating some of the most brilliant minds on the planet. I personally know several developers who are still working for RIM and who are not the least bit interested in jumping ship.
RIM?s comeback will be fueled by the most powerful force in the universe: anecdotes!
2) Teenagers and messaging.
Is there some coming explosion in the population of teenagers in the world that the Macalope is unaware of?
3) RIM has always had the best keyboard. My bet is that the genius engineers at RIM are going to have the best touchscreen keyboard on the market.
As the saying goes about cameras, the best one is the one you have with you. And the keyboards everyone has with them are on their iPhones and Android devices.
4) They smell the coffee.
It?s nice that RIM now has management that, unlike the Undynamic Duo, recognizes there?s a problem. But it doesn?t help that you can smell the coffee if you?re lying on the floor with your entire body wrapped in Saran wrap.
5) Licensing. The BB10 operating system is being licensed for other hardware like Microsoft Windows Phone 8.
Agreed. RIM?s most likely path for success is as a shell company licensing its technologies to other companies that can actually make and ship modern phones.
6) Cash flow + growing existing user base. They still have $2 billion in cash and a user base of 80 million that grew by 2 million last quarter.
RIM?s revenue for the last quarter grew from the prior quarter, but is still down considerably from last year. The way they?re gaining users is by fire sale.
7) They dominate the high-security niche market.
Indeed. Enjoy your niche position.
8) Leaked specs.
RIM is awesome at vaporware. The Macalope fondly remembers how the PlayBook was totally going to own the iPad. Until it shipped.
Do they still even make the PlayBook?
9) Incremental Improvements are boring. The last iPhone had only incremental improvements.
You know what?s really boring? Listening to RIM yammer on about how awesome its next products are going to be, if only the market would just slow down and wait for it.
10) The competition is distracted. Samsung and Apple are embroiled in legal battles that won?t end any time soon.
It?s pretty rich having a RIM fan tell you Apple and Samsung can?t walk and chew gum at the same time as RIM keeps tripping over its overly large clown shoes.
I?m excited to watch RIM pull off the biggest comeback of the century.
Uh, OK, but you don?t have money on this, do you?
Or ? would you like to?
Does it ever strike you as odd that the Macalope can find fresh meat to tear his antlers into every day? How is it that pretty much every day of the week there is someone who is eager to step up (down?) and write something stupid about Apple? And how do these people think it reflects on them?
The Macalope doesn?t have an answer, and he?s not sure he wants to look a gift horse in the mouth. After all, it?s job security.
Which brings us to hedge fund manager Doug Kass, who is here to tell us about ?Apple?s Cycle of Abuse.?
The real abuse, Doug, is reading your Apple ?analysis.?
Kass?s first order of business is to try to throw Woz in Apple?s face. Woz has, once again, said things that are not very favorable to Apple. Anyone surprised by that should review his comments of the last 15 years and marvel that anyone takes pause in them, even as Apple continues its march to unprecedented success.
The Macalope has said it before and he?ll say it again: It?s interesting how the people most interested in Woz?s comments are the ones trying to bash Apple over the head with them.
Woz?s criticism, which Kass quotes, is over the screen size of the iPhone 5.
I wish they had made a small and a large version of the iPhone; that would have been great for me.
The iPhone 5 is literally smaller than the iPhone 4 and 4S. Do the math. Only the screen is larger. Now, maybe he wants a 3.5-inch screen iPhone 5 that would be even smaller, but Apple?s strategy is to make one current generation of the iPhone. And, oh, hey, look, it?s worked pretty well. But Woz wants a pony.
Arrogance has been the subject of some of my criticism recently on Apple. (It is also often the downfall of many companies.)
Really. Arrogance. And here the Macalope thought it was things like sales, revenues, and profit. Who knew that business analysis was really more about psychology than fundamentals?
Reminder: This man manages a hedge fund.
So, Kass?s conclusion is that it?s arrogance that drives Apple?s decision to add features on its own terms, when they make sense, instead of jamming them into phones just to check them off on a list. Don?t wait for battery life to catch up to screen sizes, just stop shipping Retina displays or make a giant honking phone!
Ohhh, you mean there?s a trade-off and this isn?t a free, all-you-can-eat candy store?
Also, if you believe the current Apple form factor is the best answer and Apple won?t or can?t do a larger-screen device (and will stick to one phone at a time for cost reasons), what is the next iPhone going to have that will really matter and get customers excited to buy it and help the company gain additional share?
Is gaining share Apple?s goal? Seems like its goal is to make a crapload of money.
Is the bulk of the innovation done? And, yes, I know it?s easy to say that Apple always thinks of something new, but the reality is that the last few iterations of iPhone have been evolutionary and not revolutionary?and, arguably, they now lag the market.
You could always argue they lagged behind the market. People have been doing that for five years. The first iPhone only had EDGE! It didn?t have a replaceable battery! Total deal killer!
It?s astounding how some analysts will simply cling to this checkbox mentality no matter how many times we point out that Apple doesn?t operate that way. And the company doesn?t seem any worse for not trying to get into a stupid arms race.
Another issue I would raise is how unfriendly Apple?s suppliers have been to their employees.
Of course you would. After all, trying to throw everything against the wall to see what sticks is your shtick.
Suppose a Wal-Mart supplier was accused of these conditions.
Suppose the company that locked its own workers into stores overnight was accused of having suppliers that mistreated employees? Gosh, what would the ramifications be?!
In my opinion, Apple is hypocritical?the company is every bit the abusive monopolist that it once accused Microsoft MSFT of being?
That link is to James B. Stewart?s hi-larious piece warning that Mapgate could raise antitrust concerns, a piece that Glenn Fleishman ? sorry, that?s Jeopardy-winner Glenn Fleishman ? deftly disassembled when it was published.
Hang on, though. Kass isn?t done with his ridiculous rant. Turns out you?re part of the problem, too:
And Apple?s customers are also hypocritical by continuing to buy Apple?s products and thereby supporting this abusive behavior.
Right. We should totally be buying stuff from companies that aren?t so arrogant as to ship phones with 4-inch screens in a 16:9 aspect ratio and whose suppliers are all located in the worker?s paradise known as Magical Fairy Candycaneland.
This is simply not a logical argument. Stupid, deranged, and/or pushing an ulterior motive, the Macalope does not know, but whatever the case, it doesn?t make a great advertisement for investing in Kass?s hedge fund.
Saturday Special: Good luck with that
Good news, Windows Phone fans!
What? Oh. Fan. Sorry, the Macalope got a little carried away.
But good news, uh, Roger! Nokia CEO and Microsoft plant Stephen Elop says Windows Phone?s ascendance is set to happen any day now!
Like ? RIGHT NOW!
What about ? NOW!
So, when exactly is this supposed to happen?
Ah, the ol? ?carriers will just shove Windows Phones in people?s pockets and push them out the door? strategy!
But we?ve seen this picture. Back in April, one of the Cassandras of Wall Street huffed some fumes in the cave where they commune with the flighty and vengeful gods that control the stock market and declared that APPLE WAS DOOOMED because carriers were going to turn to Windows Phone in 2012.
How?s that working out so far?
Oops. And, let the Macalope get this straight, Elop welcomes Microsoft shipping its own phone?
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop reckons carriers? fears over the Android and Apple duopoly will force the birth of the Windows Phone ecosystem that he?s bet the Finnish company?s future on?an ecosystem he believes would benefit from Microsoft?s presence.
Do Steve Ballmer and Andrew Lees ever argue over who gets to work Elop?s mouth and who gets to move his hands?
Elop said operators had made decisions to combat rivals? ?hit products? in the past and will be able to do so again once Nokia ships its Lumia 820 and flagship Lumia 920.
This time it?ll work for sure!
?I think [a Microsoft smartphone would be] certainly a stimulant to the ecosystem.?
Oh, jeez. Microsoft, just buy Nokia already and put the poor guy out of his misery. It?s like watching a cat play with a baby bird.
Look, the Macalope likes Windows Phone. If he couldn?t have an iPhone (shudder), he?d get a Windows Phone which, he doesn?t mind telling you, is really weird to him. But there it is. So he doesn?t get why it?s not resonating with people.
But it?s not resonating with people. Of course, Elop?s saying what he has to say, but that doesn?t make it less pathetic.
[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.]