All out of ideas

This week, the Macalope asks you to ponder this question: Who’s really out of ideas? Is it Apple, or the people who write about Apple?

(Hint: the latter.)

Faster, pussycat! Innovate! Innovate!

These are dangerous times. And dangerous times bring dangerous obsessions.

Writing for Newsday, Dominic Basulto warns that “Apple, Amazon have a dangerous obsession” (tip o’ the antlers to Thomas Costello).

You mean like … baby goat YouTube videos? Because the Macalope knows what that’s like. You start with just a few and you think “This isn’t a problem. I can quit any time!” And the next thing you know you’re selling a liver in an alley to get more adorable baby goat YouTube videos.

Apple has a new smartwatch coming in the fall …

It does? Huh. The Macalope must have missed the announcement. Yeah, that seems likely.

… and Amazon has a new Fire smartphone coming in July. That should be good news for consumer technology fans, but the reality is that both products are “me-too” plays that should be setting off all kinds of warning bells for Silicon Valley watchers.

You have not seen this mythical iWatch of which you speak. Therefore, you have absolutely no idea what it will be like. And that, you thought, was a good basis for an article.

Hey, the Macalope’s even going to defend the Fire Phone here. Because no one has before created such a shopping device, a device so brazenly designed to get you to one-click purchase as much crap as possible in order to feed the alien parasite burrowing into your cerebral cortex and which keeps screaming “PURCHASE! PURCHASE!”

But that’s what Amazon wants, right? That’s why it brought the alien parasite eggs to Earth and has been seeding them in every package of Q-Tips it sells. (Why else do you think Johnson & Johnson puts a warning on the box full of things you bought specifically to put into your ear canal to not put them into your ear canal?)

Anyway, the Macalope digresses.

Even die-hard Apple fans would have to admit that the iWatch sounds like a “me-too” tech play that has the company struggling to catch up with the likes of Samsung.

No! No, they would not! You know who else would not admit that? Die-hard fans of logic and the linear nature of time! Let the Macalope say this again, as it inexplicably does not seem clear to you: No one knows what an “iWatch” will be like or even if it will exist.

True, there’s an opportunity to create a market-changing digital fitness product using the iWatch - but smartwatches have had trouble gaining any traction to date.

The iPhone was just like any other phone. Just like the iPod was just like any other digital music player and the iPad was just like any other tablet and the Mac just like any other computer.

You have four data points and you chose to ignore them all. Nice job.

… an Amazon smartphone sounds a lot like a Facebook smartphone, and we all know how that did.

Except it doesn’t have to do that well, really. The idea is for Amazon to make money off of purchases made on the device, not necessarily sell that many devices.

You have Google launching Internet balloons, building a fleet of driverless cars and developing quantum computers. But, oh, by the way, Google’s Nest plans to acquire Dropcam for more than half a billion dollars. A company that promises to change the world ends up buying a webcam company.

I’M BORED. THERE’S NOTHING GOOD ON.

Apple has a futuristic new headquarters in the works and a vision to change the way we think about digital health. But it follows that up with the so-called iWatch …

UGH. GOD. THIS IWATCH. SO STOOPID, RIGHT?

… America’s most innovative companies risk ceding more and more ground to upstarts who are coming up with disruptive products.

This is our disruption-addicted economy in a nutshell. “If it’s not disrupting something it’s crap!” Look, innovation isn’t easy. It takes time. It takes work. If it’s not happening fast enough for you, maybe disruption should start at home.

Right, like that’ll happen.

Dumbing down our discourse

Here’s the problem: You know articles about Apple draw big hits, but you have run out of ideas for stories. What? To? Do?

Take it away, Fortune’s Matt McCue.

“What does Dr. Dre’s body language say about the Apple-Beats deal?” (tip o’ the antlers to Erick Diaz).

Normally the Macalope would consider not putting a link in for this kind of stuff, but he was concerned that readers might think he was making this article up. No, this is a real article that Fortune published.

Yes, we are in worse shape as a civilization than we all thought. You’re absolutely right.

Rarely has a deal been so scrutinized as Apple’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of Beats Electronics and Beats Music.

Well, now, anyway.

One thing is for sure: The four major players instrumental in Apple’s acquisition of Beats—Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue, and Beats co-founders Dre and Iovine—have said precious little about Apple’s largest-ever acquisition beyond the deal’s official announcement. But their body language, captured in two official photographs released with the news, may be able to provide clues into how they might work together.

There are times when people of good conscience must make a stand. When the course of human intellectual, scientific, and, yes, moral progress is subverted by a meager few seemingly bent on tearing down the entirety of our progress as a species. We once stood together as a culture and said “NO!” to The Hat Squad. Now the Macalope asks you to do it again.

STAND UP. STAND UP AND RAISE YOUR FIST AND SAY THIS ALOUD:

“NO. YOU CAN’T TELL ANYTHING ABOUT A BUSINESS DEAL BY LOOKING AT TWO PICTURES.”

We asked [body language expert Janine] Driver, who didn’t know the specifics of the $3 billion deal …

Because science. Also, we blindfolded her for a minute before we realized that wasn’t going to work.

… or the business hierarchy of the four …

Or, really, anything about how money works.

… to analyze two pictures of the group that were taken the day Apple announced it was buying Beats.

“This man here … is he a cat? He looks like a cat.”

On Tim Cook: “I have an expression: ‘When you grab your chin, you’re about to win,’ Driver says.

If you feel dumber for having read that, the Macalope is right there with you.

When you grab your chin, it is an anchor to all of the other powerful people who grab their chin—including Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney.

That’s pretty much everyone in humanity that has every grabbed their chin right there.

On Dr. Dre: “He is also very confident.”

Tim Cook and Dr. Dre are both confident people. Fascinating.

If I had to guess who got $3 billion, I’d say that guy.

Wait … she knows that $3 billion was exchanged between Apple and Beats but “didn’t know the specifics” of the deal?

Because it’s totally possible that Beats acquired Apple for $3 billion.

On Jimmy Iovine: “He is literally rubbing the palm of his hand … When there is an increase in stress or anxiety, adults take one piece of our body and rub another piece with it.”

The Macalope’s just gonna leave that riiiiight theeeere.

On the very obviously staged balcony photo of Jimmy Iovine, Tim Cook, Dr. Dre, and Eddy Cue, Driver says:

“Unless the photographer staged them …”

OK, but in fairness, she can’t very well analyze a staged photo and get interviewed by Fortune and sell more copies of her book. So … let’s be fair.

“Dr. Dre is the most confident person in the photo. He has that right elbow popped out …”

He’s leaning on the railing. As is Cook. In the staged photo.

Is there something to body language? Sure. Probably. Why not? Heck if the Macalope knows. But can you tell anything meaningful from two pictures, one of which was staged? No. And to publish this as analysis is just making us all dumber.

Stupid analyst tricks

Writing for no less august a publication than the Washington Post, Matt McFarland believes one man can make a difference—a difference in Matt’s ability to easily meet a deadline.

“Apple buying Disney? A consultant explains why he thinks a deal is ‘frighteningly obvious.’” (tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King).

What should be frighteningly obvious is that any lone nut can have a crazy opinion. That doesn’t, however, make it newsworthy.

Apple’s success has started to become a problem.

For starters, people are writing all kinds of crazy things about the company!

Apple is expected to release a smartwatch this fall, which should provide a boost. But Francis McInerney, a consultant at North River Ventures, has another idea for how Apple can keep growing. Why not buy Disney?

You know, that little startup Disney, which looks set for huge growth.

“The logic is so great this could happen tomorrow,” McInerney said.

Your space alien logic is not the logic we are familiar with here on Earth.

His argument doesn’t draw from any inside information of either company …

There’s a shocker.

McInerney imagines the two combined as a “Netflix on steroids,” in which Apple would benefit from finding ways to monetize Disney’s content offerings …

But only Disney’s content. So, on steroids, but with anemia.

Gosh, if only Apple sold Disney’s content now without having to buy the whole company.

… and Disney would have a safe and profitable place in the emerging, unbundled world of TV and video to peddle its wares.

Sounds like this works a little better for Disney than for Apple.

Having Disney under the Apple umbrella would also be an asset if Apple ever launches a television set, which has been suggested for years but may not become a reality.

Because people really want a television that shows one company’s content?

At the same time, there are plenty of good reasons to think this deal will never happen.

You buried the lede.

Disney’s market cap is $143 billion, and its shareholders would expect a premium on top of that price. Apple currently holds $151 billion in cash and marketable securities, but the majority of that is offshore and would be taxed if brought back to the United States.

Yes, “Apple would have no money left over after buying Disney” is a good reason to think this might not happen.

While this idea seems crazy, is crazy, and will not happen, there is one reason to talk about it: to get the names “Francis McInerney” and “North River Ventures” into the news. So, mission accomplished. It’s obvious why McInerney wants this. It’s less obvious why the Washington Post does.

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