The Macalope Weekly: Unreasonable expectations

Apple disappoints Wall Street so you know it’s going to be “one of those weeks” (read: just like every week). First, we’ll take a look at a very reasonable comparison between the Microsoft Surface Pro and the MacBook Air; then, let’s sit back as “dude who writes on the Internet” tells us what Apple needs to do to fix itself. Finally, we’ll talk about what unprecedented dire straits Apple finds itself in. Again.

Is this a joke?

Every once in a while, when the Macalope is reading a particularly ridiculous piece of punditry, he has to look around to make sure he’s not being filmed. Such was his reaction on reading Matt Burns’s paean to the Surface Pro, at TechCrunch.

“At $1,018*, The Surface Pro Is Priced Just Right”

Like so many, Burns is a repeat offender. Kind of makes the Macalope wish there was a three strikes law for lousy punditry about Apple. Then we’d only have to sit through one more of these before he was sent to pound rocks somewhere unpleasant.

Ignore the noise and look at the situation. The Surface Pro is priced just right. For its size and form, the Surface Pro is a powerhouse computing platform and priced to sell. It might not outsell the MacBook Air but that’s okay.

Presumably because, you know, those Apple fanbois will buy anything.

Tell us more about this powerhouse platform, Matt.

It’s fully capable of running any desktop application and most high-end games.

Try that on a MacBook Air!

Dump RAW photos into Lightroom through USB 3.0.

You can only dream, MacBook Air owners!

Convert MKV videos with Handbreak [sic].

Unheard of in Air-land!

Dock the system and play Far Cry 3.

Ha! Can’t do that on a MacBook Air because there’s no Far Cry 3 port for the Mac! Sure, Surface Pro owners will have to put all the settings to their bare minimum and still be willing to accept lousy frame rates, but advantage: Surface!

For $1,019 the Surface Pro offers a Core i5 CPU with an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. There’s 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort and a digitizer pen …

Competition-shattering, right?!

The $999 11-inch MacBook Air is Apple’s low-end device. Like the Surface RT, it offers just enough power to get by and nothing more.

Really.

I wouldn’t recommend the base Air model for anyone that wants to venture outside of iPhoto or the web browser. It’s not a work machine; the $999 MacBook Air is a Facebook machine.

Huh.

What’s funny is that the Macalope has a MacBook Air—it’s his primary machine—and he seems to remember being able to do almost everything with it that Burns implies you can’t do. For some reason, Burns neglects to list the base Air’s specifications. Possibly because, yes, it also has a Core i5 CPU with an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU, 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0, and Mini DisplayPort. In other words, the exact same specifications as the Surface Pro—just without a stylus.

Perhaps Burns is confusing the Air with the iPad, which costs $500 less and is more comparable to the Surface RT? Or perhaps he is as high as a kite. Difficult to say.

Microsoft built the Surface Pro for a different market. It’s not a base model. This is a serious machine aimed at the prosumer or enthusiast. This is the model that you buy if you want to get work done.

Unlike the MacBook Air. Which has virtually the same specs. And costs less when you include a keyboard with the Surface Pro. That’s a base model. But not the Surface Pro.

Look, it says “Pro” in the name. How could it be a base model?

In fact, even before a single Surface Pro has been sold, Microsoft probably already considers its venture into the hardware business a success.

Because they’re delusional people, sure—that’s what delusional people do.

As Fast Company previously explained, your brand should piss someone off and I’ve never seen a PC that pisses people off like the Surface Pro.

Then you must be younger than 15 years old. Which still doesn’t excuse this travesty of a piece.

Hey, the Macalope thinks both that the Surface is an interesting gambit by Microsoft and that the Surface Pro could be a device that will please a lot of people. He even thinks there’s room to suggest that it is better than a MacBook Air (not that he would make that case, certainly). But the way to do that is to emphasize how it’s different than the Air, not tout the things about it that are exactly the same.

How lame is it when the horny one is forced to write tips for the other team?

Broken

Since Apple only reported record results this week, you can bet that the advice for “fixing” it is flowing in!

Jeff Macke tells us “How Apple Can Fix Itself in 3 Steps” (tip o’ the antlers to Nick Heer and auto-running video warning).

Because it’s clearly so broken. What with reporting record numbers, but offending the feelings of Wall Street analysts by not validating their poor estimates. No, Wall Street cannot fail, it can only be failed.

The idea that Apple (AAPL) is a growth company died last night. The company had been clinging to the notion that its best days were in front of it for years.

For thirty-five years.

Alas, the circle of life applies to all things on earth be they human or machine.

You’re deep, Jeff.

John Gruber first noted this, but there’s this weird idea among many that Apple’s destiny is in the dustbin of technology. Soon all will be right with the world again. Just you wait.

Those who thought Apple would be the first organization in history to grow forever are being punished for their faith this morning.

Strawmen are having a terrible day!

What matters now is fixing the company.

Because it’s sooo very broken.

Having consulted for a major firm and traded 100’s of millions of stock as a hedge fund manager and private investor …

Translation: “I have an ego thiiiiiiiis biiiiiiiig.”

… I’m going to take one for the team and tell Apple how to fix itself, free of charge.

What if we were to pay you to shut up? How would that strike you?

No? OK, on to the in-depth three-point plan for fixing Apple!

(No slideshow?)

Number one!

Fire Tim Cook

BOOM. Totally. The guy’s been in the job a year and a half and hasn’t introduced any products like the half dozen groundbreaking ones the company’s introduced in its 35-year existence. Also, there are so many better qualified candidates out there. Like …

Uh …

Well, again, Batman’s the only person who comes to mind.

Since Cook arrived Apple has missed Street estimates about half the time and released no earth shaking new products despite endless hints that a TV revolution was imminent.

The very definition of failure.

Last night Mr. Cook said Apple’s sales were inhibited by product shortage. He said it as though that was a) a good thing b) the fault of Apple’s suppliers. Neither is true.

Who are you going to believe, the guy running the (now) second-biggest company in the world or the guy who “consulted for a major firm”?

Rehire a Merchant

It’s time for Apple to buy out [Ron] Johnson’s contract and bring him home.

As far as armchair quarterbacking goes, the Macalope is giving this a C-. “I have no real ideas so I’m calling for a retcon. Ron Johnson never left Apple. Also, Spider-Man is not married and Superman’s uniform has a collar.”

Failing that, hiring anyone with a retail vision and letting that person keep the job for more than 10 months would be a start.

Even if they’re screwing everything up! Just do something! Anything! Hurry! Panic!

Those consultancy meetings with the “major firm” must have been a hoot.

Innovate, Don’t Tweak

Yeah, Apple! Make with the innovation already! What’s the holdup?! It’s not like innovation can’t be done on a clock or something! It’s not like your freaking raison d’être is taking the time to make sure you get products right instead of just jamming any old piece of crap out the door!

So, you know, get out there and, uh, innovate.

Well. Glad we cleared that up. So, you get on fixing that up, Apple, and we’ll just wait to hear back from you.

Unprecedented. Since 2009.

This is the second quarter in recent memory that Apple has had “the slowest growth rate since 2009.”

Well, yes. Let us now harken back to 2009. (Oh, you’ll harken, young man, and you’ll like it!)

Kids were doing a new dance called the “animated cat GIF,” hair styles were “Bieber chic,” the 3GS was the current model of the iPhone, and Apple had yet to introduce the iPad.

Now, forget the first two things, because the Macalope made them up—well, based on actual events—and focus on the second two. Apple was late in the lifecycle of the iPhone 3G form factor, three years into the overall life of the iPhone, and a year before the introduction of its next growth engine, the iPad. The horny one is quite certain that if he looked back to 2009 he could find all kinds of people talking about how innovation was dead at Apple, if only because people have been saying that since the late 7th century.

But, it makes sense that we’re in a similar situation now. Apple’s only just coming off the iPhone-4-style lifecycle, is three years into the iPad’s life, and has yet to introduce a new product. If the company could churn out new products like clockwork, you might expect it to ship another within a year. But, of course, Apple can’t churn them out like that.

The Macalope’s not saying that Apple doesn’t face challenges, but try telling him that it makes sense that Amazon’s P/E ratio is 4052 while Apple’s is 10.

These are bets on the future of each company and they’re completely out of whack. Heck, the Macalope likes Amazon a lot, but Wall Street seems content to keep giving them a hamburger today for the promise of being repaid on Tuesday. Meanwhile Apple, up to its hips in raw chuck …

OK, the Macalope kind of let that hamburger metaphor get away from him.

You can either believe Apple’ll ship something new or not, the Macalope supposes. Listening to Tim Cook on the conference call, he hears a guy who sounds pretty confident, but that’s probably just Apple fanboi religion reality distortion field Kool-Aid HyperCard OpenDoc …

Sorry, the Apple buzzword generator went on the fritz there.

Of course, when Apple does release something new, the usual collection of jackasses will probably just say it was Steve Jobs’s idea, and the whole stupid cycle will start all over again.

Well. That’s the business the Macalope got into. No point complaining about it when the dumb hits the fan.

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