The Macalope Weekly: Escalation strategies

Where do you go when you’ve already turned it up to 11? That’s the problem pundits face now, after piling on Apple for months. First, we’ll see an example of someone bending the fabric of reality to get over that hurdle and then we’ll see how you can make an anti-Apple article with really no evidence at all!

In the middle, we’ll take a break and chat with the Winotaur. Because you’ll need a break in the middle.

Loosely defined reality

Did you know that Apple is named after a fruit, and that clever people can make jokes that employ that to withering effect? It’s true, as John McKenna shows writing for The Motley Fool.

“Apple Is Losing Its Shine” (tip o’ the antlers to Peter Dufault).

Well, not exactly “withering.” But to effect. Like, maybe, nauseating effect.

Churning out world-changing innovations like the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and the Macbook, innovation and creativity were as natural to the company as tying one’s shoes.

Let’s just note that those are four products that were announced over a span of nine years.

The last year, however, has called this company’s long-standing reputation into question.

Because all it introduced is an iPad with a smaller screen and an iPhone with a larger screen. In other words, all it’s done is the same thing everyone says is innovative-riffic when Samsung does it.

As investors are starting to ask questions, some are also looking elsewhere for opportunities.

Nothing wrong with that. The Macalope would never suggest throwing your money into a poor performer.

Last week, Bloomberg News polled hedge fund investors from all over the world on the status of Apple.

Actually, no! What they did was poll Bloomberg terminal users.

A whopping 71% said that Apple has a problem with innovation.

Yes! And 61 percent of those people thought it was temporary. You know, the Macalope spends a lot of time letting the air out of these things. It’s rude to follow him around trying to reinflate them.

Amid slowing sales and vigorous competition, Apple’s stock has plunged by 40% from its September 2011 high according to Bloomberg News.

Or, according to its stock price.

Aside from investor confidence, Apple has to get back to creating new gadgets that people will buy. The company must also stay mindful mindful that its close competitor Microsoft recently announced its latest video game console to the general public.

Yeah, the company might have missed that.

Apple’s pain with investors also presented a golden opportunity for Microsoft …

Hey, here’s a fun game: How much has Microsoft’s stock gone up over the last ten years? Ah, turns out it’s 36 percent. And how much has Apple’s stock gone up? 4913 percent.

If Microsoft has a good rest of 2013, which looks like it will be at least partially dependent on how well the new console release goes down, this could mean a serious setback for Apple since Apple isn’t a participant in console gaming – or at least not yet.

The future depends on console gaming? Well, that’s a … unique perspective.

Unfortunately, Apple has to contend with phone makers Nokia and Samsung in the realm of portable gaming, companies whose smartphones that use Google’s Android software are eating up market share.

Nokia makes Android phones? That’s news to … reality.

… it appears that merely brandishing the iconic Mac logo won’t be enough anymore.

Curses! Apple’s patented recipe for success is foiled!

McKenna has a drawer full of “Apple bad!” and he’s turning it over and dumping it all into this piece.

The lawsuit though has become sort of a Pyrrhic victory for Apple because even though they may have had a case of patent infringement, it has hurt Apple’s image in the eyes of the general public.

Really, how many people know that Apple is suing Samsung? And how many of those think it’s a bad thing?

A loss in confidence from investors underscores the problems of the company, as many are losing their love affair with the iPhone compared to more advanced products like the new Samsung Galaxy s4.

Apple, of course, sold more iPhone 5s at launch than Samsung sold Galaxy S4s at its launch, plus there is no proof at all that people are switching from the iPhone to the Galaxy S4. Also, “more advanced” means “more troublesome.” But other than that, totally.

This is the current state of Apple criticism: Toss a random collection of anti-Apple data points onto a page, stir in a healthy dose of misrepresentations and outright falsehoods, and you’ve got yourself a column.

A compromising vision

The tech world got a first glimpse of the next version of Windows, after the version that changed everything. Coincidentally, the Macalope ran into his good pal the Winotaur, down at the ol’ waterin’ hole. Which is actually a Starbucks, but it’s right next to an ol’ waterin’ hole. The Starbucks drove it out of business, as you’d expect.

MACALOPE: Hey, how’s all the “no compromising” going?

WINOTAUR: Oh, super good. We are just not compromising all over the place. We’re up to our butt cheeks in no compromising.

MACALOPE: Thanks for that imagery. You know, the Macalope was just reading that Windows Blue is going to feature the return of the Start button, as well as offer a boot-to-desktop option.

WINOTAUR: See? That’s a perfect example of how we don’t compromise. You get everything.

MACALOPE: But wasn’t Windows 8 already supposed to be the no-compromises operating system?

WINOTAUR: Right.

MACALOPE: Then why are you adding things? Isn’t that compromising?

WINOTAUR: What? No. Look, there were no compromises in Windows 8 and there will be even fewer in Windows Blue.

MACALOPE: Uh … whaaa, OK, let’s try a different tack.

WINOTAUR: Please. Because you’re just looking foolish now.

MACALOPE: [sigh] Isn’t reverting back to elements of the traditional Windows experience just compromising on your vision of a next-generation operating system?

WINOTAUR: Pff, you wish!

MACALOPE: That’s not an answer.

WINOTAUR: Your … your mom’s not an answer.

MACALOPE: Yes, that is also not an answer. See, you had this idea that users could have touch and desktop all at the same time. But you haven’t really sold that many touch devices, and you’ve just confused desktop users. So, a year later you’re turning Windows 8 back into a desktop operating system. You’re compromising with your users.

WINOTAUR: Right! By not giving them any compromises!

MACALOPE: Oh, my God, it’s like talking to a Labrador retriever.

WINOTAUR: The uncompromising thing is having an operating system that runs on all your devices! We don’t have a device you can’t run full desktop applications on! It’s not half an experience!

MACALOPE: You’re saying the Surface has no compromises?

WINOTAUR: Yes. That’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that.

MACALOPE: Not even the Surface RT?

WINOTAUR: …

MACALOPE: Ha! You hesitated!

WINOTAUR: I was … just deciding if I was going to pretend I had never heard of the Surface RT.

MACALOPE: Well, judging by how many people bought one, you would probably not be alone if that were true.

Everything but the kitchen sink

You might have missed it, but Apple testified in Washington D.C. on taxes recently. So, naturally, it’s doomed.

Writing for Yahoo News, Virginia Heffernan thinks this is just another sign of Apple’s downfall (tip o’ the antlers to Ronald Parr):

Apple products are cute, simple and self-contained.

As opposed to smartphones and computers of other manufacturers that are ugly, complicated liquids.

You know what isn’t cute, simple and self-contained?

Zombies? A pack of hyenas? A bursting egg full of spiders? A busted sack full of scorpions?

The heavy-metal band Scorpions?

The web of foreign tax shelters that Apple is accused of employing to avoid paying billions in taxes to the U.S. Government.

Oh, darn it! That was going to be the Macalope’s next guess! Well, he was close with the spiders.

Yes, it is certainly shameful how Apple has employed tax-evasion strategies that certainly no other company is currently employing and, while not illegal, are totally “shady” according to Heffernan. Kind of like how going 60 miles an hour in a 60-mile-an-hour zone is shady. Don’t even get Heffernan started on those people.

Not paying taxes you owe is never good …

If it’s not illegal, then how do they “owe” it? Look, the Macalope is not a fan of our tax code by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a little rich when the people who wrote it drag the people who follow it before them and demand to know what they were doing employing all those loopholes they put in. After all these years you’d think that Claude Raines would no longer be shocked—SHOCKED!—to find out there is gambling going on here, but every time the Macalope watches Casablanca he still is.

… and the story seems to be further exhausting a national resource that may be more precious to Apple than money: America’s stores of goodwill toward it.

Which must explain why no one’s buying Apple products anymore.

Whatever the case—its specs or its products or its users—Apple’s market cap is now $374.37 billion, down some $275 billion from last fall.

Pff, yeah, $374.37 billion is practically nothin’!

The Wall Street Journal has dutifully reported that Apple’s mystique is wearing off, as have several other publications. You may or may not buy into these stories.

Not.

But the general pile-on triggered by Apple’s douchey decision to push Google Maps off its iOS …

Oh. Really. “Douchey.”

The Macalope already covered this, Virginia. How did you get your Ph.D. without doing the required reading? Apple and Google had a business disagreement, and much of it was over Google’s demands for more user information, which Apple didn’t want to hand over. It must make columns easier to write, though, if you avoid pesky facts and make things all about personality. “They just did it because they’re arrogant jerks!”

“Teens are telling us Apple is done,” Tina Wells, of the youth-oriented Buzz Marketing Group, said earlier this year.

Ah, Tina! How nice to see you again. Wells, you might recall, was around a few months ago, telling us how teens are eschewing Apple in favor of the new hotness of the Microsoft Surface.

No, really, that’s what she said. The Macalope swears on a stack of alfalfa.

Again, like McKenna, Heffernan is simply collecting a litany of anti-Apple data points, whether they’ve been refuted by other data or not, and slapping them on a page. Why either of them think that’s useful is anyone’s guess.

But, having displayed this stunning array of crappy data, it’s time for anecdote soup!

Wells said teens are drawn to the elegant, feature-rich Samsung Galaxy, a craving I’ve noticed in several of the New York teenagers I know.

Surely, we cannot now deny that all teens use and love Samsung phones! A study by a marketing firm no one’s ever heard of and the anecdotes of someone who hates Apple are irrefutable!

And then on Facebook the other day, a friend was greeted with a chorus of “amens” when she asked, “Is anybody else sick of Apple’s arrogance?”

It is shocking to find that one of Heffernan’s friends would have anything but glowing praise for Apple, since she is so even-handed in her opinion of the company.

Ugh, OK, look. Apple is not perfect. There are many criticisms that could be leveled at the company, but the one-sided screeds like the ones Heffernan and McKenna hurl haphazardly onto the Internet are neither informative or insightful.

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