Paling in comparison

No, these are not instances of one thing paling in comparison to another. Instead, these are instances of pundits themselves making comparisons that never should have been made. Android security is just as good as iOS’s? The Amazon phone will destroy the iPhone and the iWatch? Come on, folks.

One of these things is not like the other

Hey, kids! Who likes ridiculous exercises in false equivalency?! Why, everyone, of course!

Take it away, IDG News Service’s Jeremy Kirk!

“Report: Neither iOS nor Android inherently more secure than the other” (tip o’ the antlers to Rob Wensing).

Hold on for some logical whiplash, because it’s in the lede:

Apple’s tight vetting of mobile applications gives it a security edge over Android …

OW. I’LL SUE.

… but there are still several ways for attackers to steal data from iOS devices, a mobile security company warned in a report Tuesday.

Shorter Kirk: “Would iOS still beat Android if we gave Android a lightsaber?”

The report looked at the risk factors facing users of the platforms, concluding that enterprises still face data breach risks regardless of the platform used.

No platform is completely secure, therefore they’re all equally insecure.

Uh …

OK, let’s go directly to the report from Marble Security (PDF)—which, as usual, is an outfit the Macalope’s never heard of until this startling report that iOS and Android security are just the same—and see if it supports the headline here at all.

It has been said that iOS (the operating system for iPhone and iPad) is inherently more secure than the Android operating system. There is some merit to these claims …

So, no. They are not the same.

Some people believe that iOS is a more secure operating system than Android. This report maintains that neither iOS nor Android is inherently more secure than the other.

But you just said … !

That said, Apple controls app distribution and OS version control in a more secure way, which creates a more secure operating environment than Android.

Oh, for … When you get down to it, both iOS and Android are simply collections of ones and zeros. And how can one set of ones and zeros be more secure than another when evaluated purely as integers?

[slide whistle]

However, the risks to enterprises allowing employees to bring in their own devices, whether iOS or Android-based, are not that dissimilar.

WILL YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND?

In other words, if you throw out Apple’s inherent advantages, they’re practically the same. Got it. Good information. Thanks for that. Nice value add.

[Loads report into atomic T-shirt cannon. Shoots report into the sun.]

Let’s go back to Kirk, because at least his piece on the report is shorter and the more he reads this report the more the Macalope can feel his sanity slipping away.

Still, there are a couple of avenues into the “walled garden” of iOS, it said.

A couple of avenues into iOS. Fewer than the more and easier to access avenues to Android. But they’re both the same. Numbers have no real meaning.

For example, an application not from the App Store can be installed on a non-jailbroken device using TestFlight, which is a platform for distributing beta apps to select user groups.

Uh … wuh?

Is there a non-crazy person at Lost-Our-Marbles Security that we can talk to?

Ooookay, yes, that is technically possible. But if a user is going to go to that level of trouble to load malware on their own phone, well, then they really shouldn’t be using a butter knife, let alone a smartphone.

“While Android devices can more easily obtain apps from non-vetted sites, there are many ways for iOS apps to also get onto devices, which spells trouble for the enterprise,” Marble said.

It’s easier to get malware on Android, but they’re both the same, really. Almost indistinguishable when you throw out the things that distinguish them. You know, what difference does it make, when you get down to it? We’re all going to die eventually. And after the logic of this report, death’s sweet embrace doesn’t seem so bad.

Here’s a very real example of the difference that Marble Security summarily throws out:

Nieh and Viennot discovered all kinds of new information about the content in Google Play, including a critical security problem: developers often store their secret keys in their apps software, similar to usernames/passwords info, and these can be then used by anyone to maliciously steal user data or resources from service providers such as Amazon and Facebook. These vulnerabilities can affect users even if they are not actively running the Android apps. Nieh notes that even “Top Developers,” designated by the Google Play team as the best developers on Google Play, included these vulnerabilities in their apps.

But pay no attention to that. Someone might deliberately install TestFlight and then deliberately give their iPhone’s unique identifier to a malicious developer and then deliberately download their app, which can then gain access to their phone. Which is almost exactly the same thing, so a pox on both houses.

Fire fight

Amazon finally announced its much-rumored phone this week and you know what “phonicorn” spells, right? A-P-P-L-E D-O-O-M.

Not literally, of course.

Even before the phone was announced, you could read the Apple doom on the wall.

Again, not literally. Well, except for at Seeking Alpha, where David Trainer’s been scribbling on the sheetrock.

“Amazon’s New Smartphone Spells Trouble For Apple” (no link because pull the Macalope’s other hoof, David):

If Amazon does release its long-rumored smartphone in two weeks, the device will be one more market in which the online retailer goes head-to-head with Apple.

It’s like other phone manufacturers don’t even exist.

If Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is any indication of the level of quality of its purported smartphone, Amazon will be eating Apple’s lunch, further eroding the already declining market share of Apple’s iPhone.

Except we’ll never know by how much, because Amazon never gives out sales figures; it just shows graphs without a legend on the y-axis.

But exactly who’s going to be affected by this Android-based phone that’s designed to get you to buy more crap from Amazon and that’s constantly reading your face? Apple, which sells a premium phone with a premium user experience, or other Android handset manufacturers and Google itself? Here’s an “Android” phone that ships sans Google services. Who’s really the loser here? It’s not Apple.

Forbes apparently thought this piece was so awesome that it ran it as well (tip o’ the antlers to Andy Sab).

But writing for Cult of Android, Buster Hein said it more succinctly:

“Amazon’s Fire Phone is ready to roast Apple” (again, no link but tip o’ the antlers to Greg).

Uh-huh. Because a phone designed to shovel more products from Amazon into your insatiable maw—and which ships on just one carrier in the U.S.—is really a threat to Apple and Apple only.

Hmm.

Do the kind of people who want a cheaper phone, don’t care about privacy, and are Amazon super-fans really sound like people who were buying iPhones up until this week? They sure don’t to the Macalope. Yet here’s Hein:

Years of speculation are finally over: Amazon is taking on the iPhone …

There are no other phones! None at all! Certainly not any other Android phones. There is only the iPhone and now the Fire Phone. That’s it. Seems like a guy who writes for a site called “Cult of Android” would know that there are other Android phones that are going to be way more affected by the introduction of the Fire Phone than the iPhone. Very strange. It’s almost as if it’s some cynical ploy in order to drive traffic to the site by mentioning the iPhone and, oh, that’s exactly what it is, duh.

No, the one headline that got it right and deserves a link was from Rene Ritchie:

“Amazon announces perplexing Fire Phone, matters nothing for Apple and iPhone.”

Indeed.

Stupid is as stupid does

Writing for the International Business Times, Athena Yenko practices the art of jamming Apple into headlines in which it doesn’t belong.

“Apple iWatch, Samsung Galaxy Gears are Stupid Devices - Hartmut Esslinger” (no link because the Macalope does not reward such shenanigans, but tip o’ the antlers to Rob Wensing).

Hartmut Esslinger, you will not remember, is a former Apple designer from back in the day. Assuming that day is some time during the Carter administration.

One of Apple’s early designers, Hartmut Esslinger, the one who decided that Apple computers should be white, says that smartwatches - such as the rumoured iWatch and the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Gears - are stupid devices.

Does he, really?

Actually, as it turns out, no. Surprise. If you go to the Forbes piece that Yenko cribs from, Esslinger doesn’t mention the “iWatch” anywhere. Yes, he says smartwatches are stupid, but it’s clear he’s talking about the junk that’s shipped to date. Which makes sense inasmuch as no one has the slightest idea what an iWatch might look like, if it even exists.

But you can’t build a story around the Galaxy Gear being stupid. Everyone already knows it’s stupid. That’s not news. So, you know, you’ve got to take a little creative license. Jazz things up.

Make things up. That kind of thing.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman predicts for Apple to sell at least 33.5 million of the rumoured iWatch in 2015.

Neat trick for a device that no one knows anything about. You should see Bachman’s predictions for the market for unobtainium.

On the other hand, sales data from NPD Group revealed that four out of five smartwatches sold in US were second generation Samsung Galaxy Gear.

How is that “on the other hand”? How does any of this make any sense, really? It’s like someone took all the ridiculous blather about smartwatches and put it in a blender. The reason this fact is uninteresting is that four out of five smartwatches is pretty close to the total number of smartwatches that have been sold in the U.S.

“Samsung’s Galaxy Gear fits the exact definition of what we currently think a smartwatch should be,” Ben Arnold, executive director of industry analysis at NPD said in a statement.

Right. Which is the problem, because Esslinger is right. The whole category needs to be redefined, which means that all these data points are completely meaningless.

However, even with this impressive data, Esslinger found smartwatches as stupid devices.

Samsung owning the smartwatch category is exactly as impressive as Microsoft owning the tablet category before the introduction of the iPad. That is to say, not at all.

So, Yenko took a piece by Forbes and turned the Apple up to 11. If there’s a better application for the slow, sarcastic golf clap, the Macalope hasn’t seen it.

Subscribe to the Best of Macworld Newsletter

Comments