The Macalope Weekly: Perspective

What is it about Apple that causes people to lose all sense of perspective? And is there any way we can bet on the leaps of logic taken? Because some of them would be pretty awesome if these analysts and pundits were jumping over barrels or buses or flames instead of logic.

Leaps of logic

It’s astounding to the horny one how many decisions on Wall Street appear to be made on little information. Talk about an institution in need of some perspective. Some analyst makes a pronouncement, like that iPhone 5 demand must be soft because Apple is reducing orders for parts, and people run around like the proverbial headless poultry. At least some on Wall Street manage to keep their heads:

[Topeka Capital Markets’ Brian] White acknowledged in a note to clients on Tuesday that there have been cuts made recently in Apple’s supply chain, but he says the Street has the reasoning all wrong. iPhone 5 demand isn’t cooling, the analyst contends—instead, some Apple partners are having trouble building enough components and Apple has been forced to cut orders from other suppliers as a result. Put plainly, White says, “we believe the doomsday scenarios painted over the past week are inaccurate.”

The Macalope isn’t a fancy-pants Wall Street analyst with connections at Asian parts suppliers, but this softening demand scenario seemed awful fishy to him considering that, as recently as two weeks ago, you still had a wait a few days to get an iPhone 5. Does that sound like a phone that’s having a popularity problem?

That’s the kind of critical analysis one can do with items found around the house. Like a Web browser. Meanwhile, Horace Dediu caught Susquehanna semiconductor analyst Christopher Caso double-dipping and making the same prediction he did last year, despite being proven wrong. That’s chutzpah.

And it’s not just taking certain data points and making parkour-style leaps of logic to reach your predictable anti-Apple conclusion, it’s also choosing to send contrary data points down the memory hole.

Take this Bloomberg video interview of Wedge Partners’s Brian Blair. Blair, who offers an otherwise reasonable analysis of Apple, said the following while discussing the public perception of Apple’s Maps troubles:

They really had flawless execution for a number of years.

You know, it would be one thing if we hadn’t had to listen to people moan about Antennagate, MobileMe, Glassgate, and any number of other trumped-up Apple ills, but we did. Most of those were legitimate problems that—because Apple is supposed to be perfect—were blown out of proportion. Remember: People were literally calling for Apple to recall the iPhone 4.

It’s like a hilarious Bill Murray movie in which he plays a sarcastic imp who learns an important lesson about life.

No, not Scrooged.

No, not Lost in Translation.

It’ll come to me.

Trolling for dollars

Dan Lyons’s little website, which has never met an Apple trolling piece it didn’t like, is back with another mash note to the company. This time David Sobotta loses his perspective in bringing us the harrowing tale of how “My iMac Has Turned Into An iLemon, And It Makes Me Concerned About Apple” (no link but tip o’ the antlers to Scott McNulty).

Wait, Sobotta? Oh, come on, Lyons! This is the same guy who claimed to know what it was really like to work for Tim Cook when he did not, in fact, work directly for Tim Cook. Lyons is apparently giving Sobotta a comfortable place to grind more axes than you’ll see in The Hobbit, which has a lot of dwarves in it and they apparently like axes for some reason. It’s a whole thing.

I’ve been using Apple’s computers since August of 1982, and I worked for Apple for 20 years, and until two years ago I’d never had a bad experience with an Apple product.

Sobotta has a lot of Apple street cred from all that time he spent not working for Tim Cook.

Some will say that I should have purchased Apple’s AppleCare extended warranty. I feel the same way about extended warranties on computers that I do about extended warranties on cars. I should not have to buy an extra warranty to get a product that is trouble free for a few years.

Dell provides a year. HP provides a year. Most vendors provide a year. Apparently it’s a big problem that Apple doesn’t provide more than most everyone else.

With a long career at Apple, I still have a few high-level email addresses so I sent a note to someone high enough up the corporate tree to see if Apple was willing to stand behind their product.

Which takes a lot of guts after trash-talking the company’s CEO on Dan Lyons’s AppleStalkerReadWriteWhatever.

Long story short, Apple says “Bring it in.” This, apparently, was not acceptable to Sobotta, because then he’s got nothing to complain about.

The experience confirmed several of my thoughts about the new Apple. Number one is Apple is no longer the leader in reliability.

Because you, one person, got a bad machine. Science! Want some more science in your stupid faces, Mac fans? Take this!

You don’t have to take my word for it, you can read this reliability report published in February of 2012. Apple is in fourth place and way behind Lenovo, which ranks number one.

Uh-huh. This would be the same survey that also had the company not leading last year. The Macalope had, of course, never heard of Rescuecom—and please note that the company’s domain is Rescuecom.com, not Rescue.com, which is an extermination service. Rescuecom helpfully points out the correct URL on its “Key Facts” page:

Website: www.rescuecom.com

That would be the website you’re already on.

“WAIT, IS YOU THE ONES WHAT KILLS THE BUGS? BECAUSE AH GOTS ME A MESS O’ BUGS.”

The Macalope’s not sure why we should listen to any company that either feels it has to shout its name at us (their preferred appellation is RESCUECOM, but like the Macalope's playing that little game) or doesn’t know what an acronym is. Also, why exactly are these guys supposed to be the last word on this? Because let us away again to our Internet search engine of choice and, soft! What light through ReadWrite’s baloney breaks?! It is the east, and these other reports of Apple topping reliability and satisfaction surveys are the sun!

But when you write for TrollWriteSMASH, edited by the artist formerly known as Fake Steve Jobs and currently known as mud, just one survey that supports your bitter, anti-Apple hypothesis will do.

On top of it all, after the call with the Apple expert, I got an email to me addressed “Dear Robert.” I have to say if you cannot even get my first name right, you probably aren’t going to solve any of my problems.

Oh, suddenly accuracy is important for Mr. I Found One Negative Reliability Study, Think I’ll Phone In The Rest. For the record, the Macalope doesn’t know that Apple categorically has the best reliability record. But he was able to easily find three counterpoints to Sobotta’s one without moving his furry butt out of his chair.

Sobotta’s basic issue here is that his machine is a year out of warranty and he wants special treatment. After all, he browbeats other companies into bending over backwards for him:

I have to compare my Apple experience to the phone call that I received from Adobe’s director of worldwide operations on a Sunday night …

Did he say “CHECKING FOR UPDATES…”? Ha-ha, because Adobe Updater, yeah, you got it. Well, must be nice to be a big shot executive who can ruin other executives’ weekends.

Look, Larry [sic], you got a lemon. That stinks, but it happens. And your anecdotal evidence about the machines that happen to be in your house, lumped together with what appears to be an outlier of a survey, do not a trend make. Good for you if you can get responses from other companies, if that’s how you want to spend your time. But Apple more than satisfied its contractual obligations to you and, frankly, went above and beyond, considering that you’re Dan Lyons’s go-to guy for a negative quote from a former company insider. So, give it a rest.

Sigh, winning, sigh

We’re talking about perspective, in case you jumped directly to the third section for some reason. One perspective that you can’t miss from tech pundits these days is on display like a red monkey posterior in this piece by VentureBeat’s John Koetsier.

“If Apple really wants to win, something crazy needs to happen in 2013.” (Last link for Koetsier, the Macalope thinks, because his shtick is becoming a little familiar.)

Ten guesses as to how Koetsier defines “win,” and none of them count because you should already know that it’s market share and only market share.

Isn’t it great that a company as successful as Apple—the largest company in the 150 known universes, including universe 132, which is the same as ours only everything is really big—can look to tabloid-style technology sites like VentureBeat, which are driven by pageviews, for advice? Kind of brings a tear to your eye how they’re just looking out for Apple, doesn’t it? By writing one ridiculous piece after another.

Well, that’s kind of like caring. Sort of. OK, not at all.

Steve Jobs was never afraid of changing his mind. If Apple wants to continue to be the market leader in smartphones and tablets in 2013 and beyond, a massive, earth-shaking, almost unthinkable change is needed.

The question is simple: Does Apple want to win, or does Apple want to be niche?

What’s it gonna be, Apple? Are you going to continue to implement your highly successful formula that’s reaped you a cash reserve of $121.3 billion … or are you going to listen to this guy, who said that removing the YouTube app was “unconscionable” and called the Microsoft Surface a “home run”?

Answer quiTOO LATE!

Apple’s modus operandi has been to make a limited set of very few products.

But staying at the top requires a different set of strategies …

“On the top” in terms of market share, of course. Profit?! Forget profit! So boring!

Koetsier seems to think that Apple keeps its product lineup controlled because of some corporate culture of OCD. In reality the company keeps it controlled because that keeps costs down and helps drive people who want to use Apple’s ecosystem to devices that have solid margins. In contrast to the iPhone, the iPod lineup has a number of different device and color options. Apple scales products by functionality, something that’s less of an option in the smartphone market, though Apple currently does offer some differentiation by screen size, memory, processor speed, and software options (Siri).

Apple may make a cheaper iPhone, as Koetsier suggests, but the only way it’s going to do that is if it can make money. This is why the iPad mini, still selling quite well, is $130 more than most pundits thought it could be. Making money is Apple’s modus operandi and, in a capitalist society, the definition of “winning.”

Let’s wrap up the tired argument we’ve heard a million times already with the pretty bow of why market share matters:

Market share does matter, because ecosystem health—diversity of apps, availability of content, compatibility of services, and more—depends on it.

Uh-huh. And iOS, with a global market share of about 15 percent, clearly suffers from a dearth of apps, content, compatibility, services, and more. The Macalope’s deflated this inflatable hobby horse enough times, please see his published works, thank you for calling.

Without a change, those market-leading profits will slow and eventually begin to contract.

Only by getting rid of its margins can Apple maintain its margins. Got it.

[The Macalope will not be seen on Tuesday so that we may bring you this important news: Happy Holidays.]

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