The Macalope Weekly: It's magic!
Yes, kids, in just three easy lessons, you can make anything be about Apple! News about Samsung? No, it's about Apple! News about Facebook? No, it's about Apple! News about the scientific properties of magnetism? NO, IT'S ABOUT APPLE!
Writing for The Motley Fool, Salvatore Mattera performs the ol' switcheroo. That news you thought was bad for Samsung? Turns out it's bad for Apple!
"Samsung’s Mediocre S4 Reviews Are Bad News for Apple" (tip o' the antlers to Jim Miles)
Of course they are. That just makes sense.
See, while Samsung and Apple are competitors, bad news for Samsung is still bad news for Apple. Likewise bad news for Apple is bad news for Apple. Good news for Samsung, however, is bad news for Apple. Also, finally, good news for Apple is... anyone?
That's right. Bad news for Apple. You catch on quick. You'll go far in Apple punditry.
Samsung’s latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, is starting to roll out on carriers around the world. Unfortunately for the Korean tech giant, most of the reviews have not been particularly favorable.
At least Mattera can read. A lot of people detailing Apple's many woes will tell you the Galaxy S4 is so super-duper and positively reviewed the iPhone doesn't stand a chance. As it turns out, reviews of the S4 are mostly "good but not great".
But while most might see this as good news for Apple, it’s actually quite troublesome, since the reviews are evidence of a devastating new trend in the smartphone market.
Cue scary organ music, then cue slide whistle and finally cue sad trombone.
For a time, the smartphone market was a two-horse race. Now, that is no longer the case. In addition to competition from Samsung Galaxy lineup, Apple has to compete with HTC’s One.
HTC makes a good phone. It doesn't seem to be helping them that much, though.
There’s also Google’s cheap yet powerful Nexus 4, and LG’s Optimus G. Sony’s Xperia Z has received rave reviews in the UK, and Motorola is widely rumored to be working on a revolutionary new “X phone.”
There are many phones! Some of which don't even exist yet!
The smartphone market is becoming more competitive than ever
The Macalope has been following Apple for some time and he's noticed over the years how we're constantly treated to these breathless pieces that tell us how "Apple faces more competition now than ever before!" And yet, somehow, Apple seems to survive.
No doubt some loyal fans will stick to buying the latest iPhone.
"Some." Zealots, mostly.
As in all forms of competition, this leads to innovation and more choices for consumers.
Samsung, for example, has opted to stick as many features as possible into its phones.
Cramming features into a phone is innovative! You can't argue with that!
Wait, if it's so innovative why is the Galaxy S4 getting such "meh" reviews?
And while the Android hardware makers work on device features, Google continues to devote resources to improving Android.
Apple, meanwhile, will never ship an update to iOS ever again, The End.
Horace Dediu recently described what Apple's real problem is, and it's not competition from other device manufacturers.
“The narrative has been focused on the consumer demand, and the narrative needs to shift to the operator,” said Dediu, a former in-house analyst for Nokia Oyj. “Apple has run out of the kinds of operators that will say yes to them.”
People love iPhones. They just need to be able to buy them.
Back at it
The Macalope's Thursday piece remarked how Forbes contributor Peter Cohan hadn't mentioned Apple in the weeks since the company's stock price has ticked back up. Sure enough, Cohan was back that day wondering:
"Will Apple Top Facebook's $1 Billion Bid for Waze?" (No link, as usual, but you should know that for some reason the image along with this piece is a picture of an original Newton. Because... uh... buhhhh?)
A better question, it turns out, is "Should Forbes contributors be carrying water for firms looking to be bought out?" Turns out the answer according to Cohan is an enthusiastic "Yes!"
Facebook is in talks to buy Israeli crowdsourced traffic and navigation app, Waze, for $1 billion. But should Apple get back into the bidding?
News: "Facebook may be jumping off a bridge."
Forbes contributor: "Should Apple jump off the bridge first?!"
That deal might have helped Apple get an edge in giving iPhone and iPad users access to real-time traffic information to go along with their maps.
Or, Apple could have decided it was too expensive for what it is at a billion bucks. Not everyone likes to spend like a drunken sailor, you know.
Also, the Macalope apologizes. That's a hurtful stereotype of drunken sailors, many of whom are quite thrifty.
Apple could come back to Waze but unless Tim Cook offers a much higher offer than Facebook...
Much more than a billion dollars. That's what he's recommending.
...one it can certainly afford...
Spending money that isn't yours sure is easy!
...a meeting of the minds is unlikely. That’s because Bardin does not appear to be eager to team up with a company that is in his mind a model for failure.
Aw, it's a shame Apple is such a collection of losers that they won't drop more than ten million Benjamins on some mapping data.
Has the Macalope mentioned that we're talking about more than a billion dollars? Because that's apparently what we're talking about. More than a billion. Dollars. That's kind of a lot of money. Seems like you could pay some college kids to walk all over the planet and map it for less than that.
In short, Apple could use Waze’s help but Bardin does not believe that Apple can do what it needs to compete.
So, in other words, Waze has a solution to Apple's problem, one that's totally worth more than a billion dollars... according to Waze.
Now, the Macalope isn't a management consultant and venture capitalist like Cohan -- he did once consult himself and eventually invest heavily in the leveraged buyout of a veggie burrito -- but it seems to him like it might be in Waze's self-interest to talk up its worth to Apple to try to get them back to the table. You'd think that maybe that's worth considering rather than swallowing the words of the CEO of the company trying to get acquired hook, line and sinker.
Well, you'd think that because you're not a Forbes contributor.
Can the Macalope just ask what the heck is up with Bloomberg?
Slowly but surely what was a highly respected business news syndicate is turning into forum postings from firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's not just their guest posts that are starting to read like Paul Thurrott's drunken diary entries. Last week in an otherwise benign news piece quoting Horace Dediu, Bloomberg's Adam Satariano just couldn't help himself:
As Cupertino, California-based Apple sells fewer iPhones and more of its less-profitable products, its gross margin also has narrowed — to 37.5 percent last quarter from 47.4 percent a year earlier.
Apple is not selling fewer iPhones, Adam. But thanks for contributing to the general misunderstanding of Apple's current position, because we really needed more of that.
This week Philip Elmer-Dewitt seems to have snagged Bloomberg's Tim Culpan with his hand in the cookie jar which is not full of cookies but more made-up quotes from Jason Cheng, the CEO of Apple parts supplier Pegatron. Cheng says he told Culpan that, while his company was ramping up for later this year, their orders for consumer electronics parts were down across the board quarter over quarter. Seasonality will do that.
"Falling IPad Mini Demand to Push Pegatron Electronics Sales Down"
Way to pull the Apple rabbit out of your butt, Tim. (In the future, it's a hat you're supposed to pull a rabbit out of. A hat.)
But wait! Bloomberg is not done with its steady coverage of Apple! Turns out, the iPad will totally kill you.
The story: a 14-year-old, with the help of her cardiologist father, performed a science fair experiment testing the effects of holding an iPad 2's magnets against the chest of people with pace makers.
Now, this is great science, but what's not so great is Bloomberg's take on it. In the video, the Bloomberg anchor describes it as:
"a potentially dangerous flaw in the iPad 2, a flaw that was discovered by a 14-year-old girl."
Sensationalist coverage? On television news?! Now the Macalope's seen everything.
Yeah, no, actually. As TUAW's Steve Sande notes, Gianna Chien didn't "discover" the threat, it's in Apple's documentation. What she did is test for a likelihood that this interference could occur. And good for her.
The loose wording of the article seems to imply that Apple's documentation doesn't say anything about the danger of putting the iPad's magnets near a defibrillator.
The guide cautions users about radio frequency interference, suggests that patients with pacemakers keep the iPad at least six inches away and says they should be turned off in health-care facilities when instructed by staff or posted signs.
But Sande points out this passage in Apple's documentation:
iPad has magnets along the left edge of the device and on the right side of the front glass, which may interfere with pacemakers, defibrillators, or other medical devices.
Now watch as Bloomberg amazingly turns the medium... into the message!
"The best part of this study that's getting national attention -- we're talking about it on TV -- is that it's based on work Chien did for a science fair project in which she didn't even win first place."
"We're talking about it on TV"! You know this is a big deal because we just made a big deal out of it! Ipso facto ergo sum, allakazam!
Yes, it's such a shame the judges of the fair didn't know what Bloomberg knows: making things about Apple sells. Ugh, the prize probably went to something else with better science. So stoopid.
Well, one thing's for sure: it's a good thing there aren't magnets in anything other than iPads.