The Macalope Weekly: Fairness and accuracy in the media

It’s just another day in technology journalism as an old “favorite” (ironic quotation mark alert) somehow continues to get his mash notes to Apple’s competitors published. Meanwhile, all trends must be judged in terms of their relative badness for Apple, regardless of any data points to the contrary. Finally, just take Google’s word for it!

Where’s Nancy Reagan when you need her?

Yep. It’s Enderle.

Sorry, but he’s like a big ol’ glazed donut, full of delicious stupid.

And that makes you wonder why even an outfit like TG Daily publishes his turgid anti-Apple fan fiction.

“Tablet wars: Amazon vs. Microsoft and why Apple should be worried” (no link):

… I’d definitely argue there is very little about the mass market of Android that Google truly owns.

For one brief moment, we agree.

And then it all falls to pieces.

Both Amazon and Microsoft have announced but not yet released new tablets - beating Apple to the punch.

Linear time: How does it work?

While Cupertino is typically better at building excitement, the iPhone 5S launch excitement petered out pretty quickly this year.

There Rob chooses to link to some dood writing for a site the Macalope has never heard of who wasn’t impressed with the new iPhones the day they were announced—as opposed to a press release about the 9 million people who actually bought the phones. Because that’s our Rob.

(Disclaimer: Not actually our Rob. If he were ours, we could return him.)

Remeber [sic], Amazon’s services in retail exceed Microsoft, while Amazon’s enterprise services exceed Apple’s. This last point is new because this generation of tablets is tied to Amazon Web Services. So you can see the beginning of an effort not to just go after Apple, but to aggressively go after firms like Dell, HP and even IBM.

If Amazon is going to make an enterprise play, it’s going to have to rip all the ads out of its tablets. And if it rips all the ads out of its tablets, the company won’t be able to sell them at rock-bottom prices.

If Amazon’s strategy is successful, the only way either Microsoft or Apple could fully combat it is to merge with each other …

This fan fiction is really unbelievable. So, just like regular fan fiction.

… or become successful in areas (corporate for Apple, consumer for Microsoft) that both have failed in historically.

Except for the success that Apple is currently having in corporate sales with the iPad and the iPhone.

When inconvenient facts present themselves, a clever analyst will just throw them out!

Microsoft is finally beginning to put the entire strength of the company behind its tablet efforts …

Yeah? How’s that working out?

[sad trombone]

[sad piccolo]

[sad slide whistle]

[sad spray from a seltzer bottle right in the face]

They are light on consumer …

An antigravity kind of light.

… but if Redmond can make consumers want to use tablets professionally they can basically flank Amazon and Apple …

Oh, sure, that could totally happen. While we’re at it, let’s spot Microsoft some more yardage by assuming it has a successful CEO search, a revitalized operating system with the Windows 8.1 launch, and, what the heck, let’s give ’em a +8 suit of mithril chainmail.

Their new Windows RT tablet, using Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor (the only technology that may be more powerful than Qualcomm’s), has the added advantages of Office and a magnetic keyboard so it can be a more powerful laptop replacement in a pinch than either Amazon or Apple currently provide.

Only Rob could claim that the Surface RT is an asset. With a straight face, that is.

Okay, maybe the Winotaur.

A lot of folks who bought the initial iPad wanted to be able to live on it and most found they had to buy a laptop (generally a MacBook Air) to close that gap.

“A lot.” The Macalope would love to see Rob cite a source for that because, by the laws that govern logic in this universe, that would have to be hysterical.

One gets the impression that Enderle has never seen an iPad, let alone held one, and has to look up its spelling every time he mentions it.

Microsoft is supplying one product that effectively displaces both an iPad and a MacBook Air.

You misspelled theoretically. Or perhaps mythologically.

As Samsung has successfully demonstrated, Apple isn’t good at defense …

Huh. If only there were some cliché about offense and defense that applied here. OH WELL.

Look, Rob, Android tablets succeed because they’re cheap. Apple tablets succeed because they’re good. Microsoft tablets … well, they just don’t succeed.

As always, the problem is less Rob and more the people who continue to publish Rob. Just say “no” to Enderle.

Is it really bad for Apple or superbad for Apple?

Writing for the San Jose Mercury News, Troy Wolverton details yet another troubling trend for Apple.

Actually, that’s a joke. All trends are troubling for Apple, if you look hard enough.

Apple threatened by growth of prepaid smartphone plans” (tip o’ the antlers to JonyIveParody):

LET THE BLOODBATH BEGIN.

Although prepaid accounts still represent less than a quarter of all wireless service plans in the United States, they’re gaining ground rapidly.

Which is why no one buys iPhones anymore.

Wait, let me start again …

That shift is a worrisome one for Apple …

Aren’t they all?

… whose iPhone provides the lion’s share of the company’s revenues.

That’s right, because people like plans more than they like iPhones.

No, seriously, start again, because this has gone all dumb already.

The company faces the prospect of losing market share—and eventually revenue—to cheaper phones on prepaid plans, or having to offer a lower-cost phone that could undermine sales of its higher-priced iPhones.

This, despite the fact that Apple has consistently been gaining share in the United States for multiple quarters.

Without its subsidy, for example, Apple’s new iPhone 5C—billed as the “lower-cost” iPhone by CEO Tim Cook—costs $550. That’s hundreds of dollars more than the typical cost for a prepaid phone, many of which run Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system.

Yes. The reason people buy prepaid phones is because they’re cheaper. The reason people buy iPhones is because they’re iPhones.

Analysts say the company could endanger its brand or cut into its healthy profit margins by offering a truly inexpensive iPhone.

But with iPhone sales having fallen in China …

Wait, the Macalope thought we were talking about the U.S. market. Ah, we must have reached the “kitchen sink” phase of the article.

And then there’s the Great Recession.

Yep, we’re neck-deep in the kitchen sink phase. (And someone just washed a lasagna pan in here. Yuck.) Next Wolverton will tell us about the threats posed to Apple by killer bees and aliens. Never forget the aliens. Always waiting … watching … Surely they will have a negative impact on Apple—and only Apple.

News flash to Troy: The economy has been bad for a while now. It’s getting a little better. If it were going to kill Apple, it probably would have already.

The Macalope assures Wolverton and the San Jose Mercury News that it is both logically and physically possible to write an article about a trend without trying to make the story about how bad the trend is for Apple. They should try that sometime.

I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM

Are you ready to have your mind blown?!

Writing for Quartz, Steven Max Patterson says “Contrary to what you’ve heard, Android is almost impenetrable to malware” (tip o’ the antlers to Tay Bass).

When you ask a guy from Google.

So maybe blown isn’t the right word. More like sucked. Are you ready to have your mind sucked?!

Until now, Google hasn’t talked about malware on Android because it did not have the data or analytic platform to back its security claims.

And, also, that wasn’t exactly putting the company’s strongest foot forward.

But that changed dramatically today when Google’s Android Security chief Adrian Ludwig reported data showing that less than an estimated 0.001% of app installations on Android are able to evade the system’s multi-layered defenses and cause harm to users.

What about apps that simply ask users to give permission to harm them? Seems like those are the ones that are more of a problem.

Ludwig sees security in biological terms:

“A walled garden system[’]s approach [to] blocking predators and disease breaks down when rapid growth and evolution creates too much complexity.”

Sure, Apple has the security problem, not Google. So Google’s argument boils down to: “I know you are, but what am I?” Or “I DON’T HAFF A DRINKING PROBLEM! YOUF GOT THA DRINKING PROBLEM!”

The problem Google wants to solve is that most independent security researchers don’t have access to a platform such as Google’s to measure how many times a malware app has been installed. … Security researchers are very good at finding and fixing malware, but in the absence of reliable data that indicate how frequently a malware app has been installed, the threat level can become exaggerated.

Sounds more like the disease Google is trying to control is press reports of Android malware, not Android malware itself.

Reports that reach publication are often extremely exaggerated.

There is great exaggeration of these reports. The reports are exaggerated in nature. Patterson cannot stress the word exaggerated enough.

Do antivirus vendors exaggerate malware counts? Of course. That’s their business model. But relatively speaking, Android is still the most exploited mobile platform. No one serious denies this.

The new security mechanisms appeared about a year ago when new versions of Android started shipping with Verify Apps. Verify Apps intervenes when an app is downloaded, compares it to a large database of malware information curated by Google and warns the user if the app is potentially harmful.

So it’s a blacklist. The Macalope is not sure how that’s supposed to be better than Apple’s whitelist approach.

Verify Apps is also distributed to older Android versions by including it in updates to the Google Play app that is used to download apps from Google’s app store.

And all Android users automatically get all those updates, right? And they all use Google Play, right? Right? The situation on Google Play might not be that bad, but Google Play doesn’t cover everything.

Checking and blocking apps is enabled by default requiring a user to choose to disable it in order to circumvent its protection.

ROCK SOLID.

Using Verify Apps, Google collected this data outside of the protected perimeter of the Google Play app store from installations “in the wild” where the incidence of malware is higher.

Except it’s still within the confines of devices that have Google Play installed, which is not every “Android” device—at least how “Android” is colloquially defined.

And now, enjoy some Goofus and Gallant construction.

A locked down approach has worked for Apple in protecting iOS from malware because it controls both hardware and software towards the goal of maximizing its profits.

BOO, APPLE.

In contrast Google has used an open model to maximize Android market share in which it licenses Android for free and controls neither the hardware or software ultimately sold to the end customer. This model has allowed for rapid innovation …

Unlike on iOS where there is no innovation.

… that resulted in a large market share but has created the need for the open malware defense framework that Ludwig presented.

Openy, openy, open. Also, open with open sauce and a side of open.

If you take away two things from this article, Patterson hopes that they are “press reports of Android malware are exaggerated” and “Google is open.” If you also get that Apple sucks, so much the better.

Ludwig makes a convincing data driven case that Android is secure …

Once you throw out the least secure parts and redefine “Android” to mean the installations Google wants you to focus on.

Hey, the Macalope has been on Apple’s case about Mac security for years. But iOS is legitimately more secure than any other platform. There’s a term for blithely taking Google’s word on things when it downplays the problem on Android and suggests that iOS is the one with the problem. It’s called “enabling.”

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