The Macalope Weekly: It's a dirty job


Turns out some people still don’t get why the Macalope does what he does. Is it fun? Usually! Is it a calling? Well, he likes to think so. Is it a sick compulsion? Oh, definitely. But there are some places that should know better than to publish the stuff they do. The New York Times? Get outta here. And lastly, if Dan Lyons is going down, he’s taking the site he’s now editing with him!

How to care for your troll

The perennial argument about trolls and their care and feeding rages on.

Instapaper creator Marco Arment weighs in this time (foul language warning), noting that writing dumb things about Apple appears to be a growth industry.

Apple is popular and the dominant player in many industries, so anything that attacks it will attract attention.

People have always written stupid things about Apple (heck, people probably write stupid things about everything), but now that the company is top dog it does appear to be an easy way to generate clicks. Take Forbes, for example (please). Forbes’s business model over the last ten years seems to have gone from ‘executive jet in-flight reading’ to ‘maximum number of dumb articles about Apple per square inch of Web space.’ The Macalope believes that Katherine Noyes, on the other hand, truly believes what she writes. As amazing as that sounds.

Arment wants to stop feeding the beast.

We think we’re taking them down, but we’re just taking the bait. And then all of our readers and followers take the bait, and we support the bull**** by sending pageviews.

Not one to shy away from a fight, Jim Dalrymple has a different take (again, foul language alert):

The mainstream media often writes complete s*** articles that are factually wrong. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. The average consumer often believes the crap these people write, so taking them down a peg or two may help.

The Macalope’s philosophy is, not surprisingly, akin to Dalrymple’s. Usually, if he thinks someone genuinely believes what they’re writing, he’ll link to it in the process of dismantling it. If he thinks they’re just swatting the hornet’s nest, he’ll still comment on it, but not provide a link. If someone believes that Apple really is doomed because Steve Jobs would never have shipped a product as flawed as the iPad mini Smart Cover, then maybe they could learn a thing or two from being pantsed in public.

So, the horny one thinks there is value in the deconstruction. You can’t stop these pieces from being published, and you can’t stop everyone from linking to them. That’s just life on the Internet. To leave them there unchallenged is to tacitly agree with them. We are, after all, supposed to be Apple specialists, right? Would you ask Buzz Aldrin to stop punching moon-landing deniers? Of course not. Any right-thinking person would not only laud his actions but offer to drive him to the houses of other moon-landing deniers so he can punch them in the jaw.

Not a pummeling. No. That would be excessive. Just one solid sock right to the jaw. The man went to the moon, for crying out loud.

But apart from the economic and moral issues, these folks are also just funny. There’s a reason why people love fictional dumb guy characters like Homer Simpson, Señor Chang, and Rob Enderle. People like to laugh at idiots. It’s in our nature.

Arment concedes that silly pundit takedowns are the Macalope’s job, and with a rack like this it’s hard to disagree with that. Seriously, just look at these things. Sometimes the Macalope will stand in front of the bathroom mirror for hours, just flexing and…

Uh, well, anyway.

It’s a fine line to walk, and we all have our own personal limits. But the Macalope does take his job and his responsibility seriously. It’s just the silly pundits he doesn’t take seriously.

Damned if you do...

Let’s track how this went down.

First, people were saying there was trouble at the ol’ sawmill because Tim Cook was not Steve Jobs and he couldn’t handle Scott Forstall. Meanwhile, John Browett was personally dismantling Apple Stores across the land and turning them into Best Buys. EXECUTIVES GONE WILD! APPLE DOOMED! You know the drill.

Turns out Cook can handle Forstall, by showing him the door. This makes the rest of the executives happy. Bob Mansfield is so happy he decides to hang around for a few more years and work on [REDACTED], which is super-cool because it takes [REDACTED] and adds [REDACTED] to it, basically making it a space-cyborg-unicorn version of [REDACTED] and completely reinventing the [REDACTED] market.

In addition, Cook jettisoned John Browett, who did more damage to Apple retail in six months than all those people driving cars through Apple Store windows to grab MacBooks combined. Also, the Macalope heard he makes a funny noise when he eats soup. That’s just a thing he heard. You can see how that would bother the other executives.

Sort of like a ‘Gloink!’ noise. The Macalope doesn’t know if this is true or not but, just saying, it’s ‘out there,’ so it would be irresponsible not to talk about it.

That is to say, it’s ‘out there’ now. Now that the Macalope has mentioned it.


So, anyway, Cook gets rid of these two thorns in his side, both of whom were predicted to rain fiery doom on Apple, and is confidence restored? Noooooo! Of course not! This is Apple we’re talking about! Now the story is about the great concern raised by getting rid of these two thorns in his side. NPR even brought always-wrong Trip Chowdhry—he who said the iPad mini would have ‘mediocre customer adoption’—on Marketplace to talk about how bad this was. The Macalope gets why some sites post dumb things about Apple to drive up traffic, but why a Wall Street analyst? ‘I can barely tie my shoes or add fractions! Invest with my firm!’

NPR wasn’t the only outfit running this stuff up the flagpole. OK, The Guardian, yeah. We don’t expect much of anything from them. So this seems par for the course. One on which there is a flag pole. (See? These metaphors the Macalope’s mixing aren’t completely incongruous.)

“We’ve passed peak Apple: it’s all downhill from here” (tip o’ the antlers to Michael Burgstahler)

The decision to dump Google’s maps for its own, and the changes at the top of the company to eject Scott Forstall and John Browett point to a subtle downward trajectory

Sure. Maps, whatever, Apple never released a flawed product, blah blah blah. But how, exactly, is making all the other executives happy and getting rid of a toxic plague on Apple retail a ‘downward trajectory’?

Yeah, yeah. Expecting The Guardian to make sense is a fool’s errand. But what about The New York Times?

“Product Questions and Threats of Higher Tax Hit Apple Shares”

You will note in the third paragraph of this piece that Apple’s stock “slid” 3.8 percent on Wednesday. It is only by the seventeenth paragraph that we’re informed Apple’s stock is still up 38 percent for the year.

Won’t Apple soon run out of people to sell iPhones, iPads and Macs to…

Presumably, Apple’s product lineup is set in stone. Just like it was when the company only sold Macs and then again when it only sold Macs and iPods.

Hey, Tim Cook’s been on the job a whole year and he hasn’t remade a single market yet! What up with that, lazybones?

The company said its new iPad Mini would be among those products with low profit margins, raising concerns that Apple will make less money as it competes in lower-priced segments of the mobile market.

Are these “low” profit margins or just margins that are lower than Apple’s existing industry-leading margins?

Let’s face it. The only thing Tim Cook can do to appease the naysayers is ship an entirely new product that revolutionizes a market. Is it reasonable to expect him to have done so in a year or even to expect Apple to do so in the two and a half years since the iPad was released? No. But that won’t stop people from projecting doom. As the Macalope says, dope springs eternal.

Saturday Special: The RIM of Apple bloggers

Can we talk about Dan Lyons for a minute?

Yeesh. Lyons is, naturally, a member of the Macalope’s “no link” club. Yes, club members do get a blazer. The crest on the pocket features an ouroboros and a crying baby.

Lyons is now running ruining the show over at ReadWrite (formerly ReadWriteWeb and also formerly sometimes worth reading), so instead of linking to anything over there, the horny one will link to Philip Elmer-DeWitt’s choice words about the change.

“Fake Steve Jobs’ revenge”

Revenge is a dish best served cold. And stupid. And in a pit of personal despair. Apparently.

Ehhh, you know, this is more a revenge fantasy than actual revenge.

After the New York Times exposed his real identity—an unhappy editor covering IBM for Forbes—he took Steven Levy’s old job at Newsweek. There he was mostly just angry, writing Apple hit pieces that tended to miss their mark.

Don’t forget the Macalope’s favorite, when he had to go as low as Gizmodo to find a place that would publish his hit piece on specific Apple bloggers.

Now, as the newly installed editor of ReadWrite (a rebranding by new owners of Richard McManus’ admirable ReadWriteWeb), he can hire other people to produce Apple hit pieces for him.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those editorial meetings. And to swoop down and vomit your digestive juices onto their sandwiches.

Rest assured that Dan’s already hard at work turning ReadWrite into your go-to place for Apple trollery! This week alone Dan wrote about how Android is winning (link to Harry Marks’s take on the piece) and interviewed former Apple employee David Sobotta to get insights on what a bad boss Tim Cook is.

Elmer-DeWitt gives you all you need to know about that:

Spoiler alert: Sobotta never actually worked for Tim Cook.

No way!

Seriously, Lyons did quite a good job of nailing what people thought Steve Jobs was like. His characterization was cocky, clever, rude and, unlike many others, he hit the right tone. His brand of Apple trollery, however, is practiced by any number of witless hacks with equal aplomb.

Lyons is fond of claiming that innovation is over at Apple. In psychological terms, this is called projection.

[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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