The Macalope Weekly: No admission

This week will start off with some suggestions that Apple’s doomed and then we’ll get into the outright admissions that Apple’s doomed! Yes, straight from Apple’s own mouth!

Wellll, not really.

OK, not at all.

Conveniently pre-doomed

The Boy Genius [sic] Report’s Zach Epstein does declare:

“Huge leak suggests Samsung’s Galaxy S5 will outclass the iPhone 6”

Would that be a gas leak? Because that seems like what you’re huffing.

There are two strings of smartphone launches this year that are obviously the most highly anticipated of 2014. The first comes from Apple, which is expected to launch an iPhone 6 with a larger display as well as a phablet-sized iPhone.

Expected by the never-wrong rumor mill. So you can take those expectations to the bank of your imagination and cash them in for sparkling candy currency which you can spend in Narnia, Middle Earth, Diagon Alley, and virtually anywhere else that’s entirely fictitious.

Galaxy S5 rumors have been coming hot and heavy in recent months …

True fact: rumors must always be described as coming in “hot and heavy.” Much like the people who obsess over them.

… and while there are a number of conflicting reports out there, even leaks that contradict each other may still end up panning out.

Because when presented with 47 options for phones, Samsung will choose to make 89.

In KDB’s latest note, the firm’s analysts claim to detail both a flagship Galaxy S5 model as well as Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 and its larger companion. From the looks of things—on paper, at least—the Galaxy S5 will pack specs that outshine and outclass its iOS-powered rivals.

Well, that’s all we need to know then! Spin, magic rumor wheel of congealed organ meats! Spin!

According to KDB’s unnamed supply chain sources, the Galaxy S5 will be powered by either a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon chipset or an octa-core 64-bit Exynos SoC clocked at 2GHz.

Well, the headline on this piece certainly seems warranted, because if there’s one thing we know when we look at the history of the iPhone, it has always competed solely based on specifications, such as the clock speed of the processor.

It’s not like Epstein himself has never been wrong about anything before either. Yes, the horny one is going to bring this up again because when you write something so over-the-top gushy it deserves to be remembered. Particularly when that thing is Windows 8. Here’s what Epstein had to say about Windows 8 when it was shown at Microsoft’s BUILD conference back in 2011:

A tablet that can be as fluid and user friendly as the iPad but as capable as a Windows laptop. A tablet that can boot in under 10 seconds and fire up a full-scale version of Adobe Dreamweaver a few moments later. A tablet that can be slipped into a dock to instantly become a fully capable touch-enabled laptop computer. This is Microsoft’s vision with Windows 8, and this is what it will deliver.

This is not analysis. This is fan fiction. Epstein’s stance in the piece was that when Windows 8 shipped it would be Apple that was playing catchup, not Microsoft. Instead, Microsoft had to write off $900 million on the Surface and is now trying to roll back the changes it made in Windows 8 because it alienated its user base.

But you should believe him now about the Samsung whatever beating the next iPhone because …

Eh, the Macalope’s got nothing.

Wrong … and wrong again

Writing for Quartz, Leo Mirani says “Apple’s admitting the ‘cheap’ iPhone 5c failed by bringing back the iPhone 4.”

Aaaand, wrong. Boy, that was quick. We didn’t even get out of the headline. Not only that, he’s wrong in two different ways. Most obviously, Apple’s not admitting anything. But, secondly, Apple’s not “bringing back” the iPhone 4: It remained on sale in China after the new iPhones were announced and continues to be on sale there. It was also already on sale in Brazil.

The Macalope didn’t have time to punch in every two-digit country code, so maybe there are more countries where the iPhone 4 is sold. He doesn’t have all day to figure out how completely wrong people are. There are video games to play, you know.

The company has reportedly restarted manufacturing the iPhone 4, which it discontinued with the launch of the iPhone 5s and 5c models late last year. So says the Economic Times, an Indian business newspaper, which cites “three senior executives with direct knowledge of the company’s plan.”

Direct knowledge. And, yet, they didn’t know Apple still sells the iPhone 4. So … not that direct.

As far as whether or not the company is restarting manufacturing, well, the Macalope supposes it’s possible that the iPhone 4s Apple currently sells in China and Brazil are Antennagate returns the company’s been storing in a bunker for three years. Or maybe they’re springing up magically from the ground where the icon garden used to be outside One Infinite Loop.

But they’re probably being manufactured somewhere.

So, what we have here is a phony story. The only thing that might be happening is that Apple could be considering selling the iPhone 4 in India in addition to the countries where it’s continued to sell it. But let us never allow phony facts get in the way of determining “what this tells us about Apple’s troubles.”

… consumers want cheap phones but also want cachet.

The iPhone 5c was meant to solve this problem.

No, it wasn’t. It was meant to shore up Apple’s margin at the same price point. The iPhone 5c is the same mid-tier price point as the 4s was the year before. This is like a parfait of wrongness. So many layers!

Offer people a brand new device at the same price as older models and they should in theory snap it up. Instead, the exact opposite happened …

If by “exact opposite” you mean “more people bought mid-tier iPhones than had the previous year,” then yes. Because in its quarterly conference call, Apple explained that the iPhone 5c was selling better than the iPhone 4s had the prior year.

The iPhone 5c isn’t even the cheapest iPhone without the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4s is. But the current narrative is all about what a loser product the iPhone 5c is, so what are you going to do? Well, if you’re Quartz, ignore the iPhone 4s’s very existence.

Consumers across the world—not just in developing countries—saw the “cheap” iPhone 5c as simultaneously too expensive and insufficiently exclusive. They rushed to buy the more expensive iPhone 5s instead …

It’s true that Apple sold more of the 5s than it thought it would and less of the 5c. Boy, that’s a really terrible problem to have. To the extent that Apple upsold people by making the middle tier phone plastic, that’s just gravy.

All of which explains why Apple would be willing to do something as out of character as to bring back an older model.

Indeed, doing something it’s been doing all along is sooo out of character.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Not even a “Are you serious with this?”

Only two ways of looking at it

Over at 24/7 Wall Street, Paul Ausick says “Apple’s Share Buybacks [is] An Admission That Nothing Is New” (tip o’ the antlers to Kevin van Haaren).

Share buybacks are generally an announcement that a company has run out of ideas, that it cannot think of anything better to do with its cash than dump it from a helicopter over the eager, open paws of shareholders.

Well, they can be. Or they can be a shrewd investment. Buy back the stock at a particular value, all the while cackling to yourself because you know it’ll go up later.

Cook said, “[W]e are betting on Apple. [The buyback] means that we are really confident on what we are doing and what we plan to do.”

It is possible to argue just the opposite: Apple has no idea what it is doing nor any idea what to do next.

Yes, it is! So that just makes it Tim Cook’s word against Ausick’s. Hmmm. Tough call.

If Apple had a big idea why would it want to reduce its war chest for producing and marketing that big new idea?

Have you seen the size of the company’s war chest? Apple’s not Samsung. It doesn’t have to blanket the airwaves in order to sell its products.

Plus, does it strike anyone else as odd that a person writing for a site ostensibly about investing doesn’t (or pretends not to) know that the company could stand to make an imperial crap-ton of money by doing this?

… Apple could readily tell Icahn and other disgruntled shareholders to go pound sand if the company had another iPod, iPhone or iPad about to hit the market.

But the company doesn’t.

And Ausick knows this because, well, do you see another iPod, iPhone, or iPad? Well, do you? No, you do not. So, therefore, we know it does not exist.

Much like Benedict Cumberbatch. Ausick does not see him right now, so he must not exist. No, it doesn’t matter if you’re watching Sherlock right now or even if you’re canoodling with Cumberbatch. What matters is what Ausick can see.

But if you are canoodling with Cumberbatch, good for you because rrrrrowr.

As for Tim Cook’s repeated assertions that new products are coming, Ausick says:

Who’s he kidding?

Who, indeed. Not clever people like Ausick, who know that things they cannot see do not exist, that’s for sure.

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