AOL LOL: Further away than you think


Let’s get the warning out of the way up top: As always, please, keep your hands and feet inside the car and swallow any liquids in your mouth before reading the headline of the piece the Macalope is about to link to. The Macalope and Macworld will not be liable for any screen damage done to your computer from a spit take.

Ready? Here we go.

Writing for Network World, Steven Max Patterson tells us: “Google and Apple: Apple could be the next AOL.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @JonyIveParody.)


That was weird. Where did all that Shasta come from? The Macalope wasn’t even drinking anything. Very strange.

So, yeah, sure. AOL. Makes sense. Verizon will buy Apple any day now. Just watch.

Keep watching.


Any minute.

There-no. Not yet. Soon.

Apple announced its financial results on July 25 and Alphabet/Google on July 26. After-hours trading drove Alphabet’s market cap up over Apple’s.

Uhhh, did it? The Macalope thinks maybe it actually did not. Alphabet did have a good quarter and its shares were up, but the piece that Patterson links to that says Alphabet’s market cap passed Apple’s in after-hours trading is from back in February. Alphabet passed Apple again in May, but right now Alphabet’s market cap is at $533 billion and Apple’s is at $571 billion and the horny one’s (albeit back-of-the-napkin) calculations based on their recent share prices seem to indicate they were closer last week but not close enough to put Alphabet on top, after-hours trading notwithstanding. A Google search on several terms similar to “Alphabet passes Apple’s market cap” also turns up nothing other than those two instances from prior in the year in the top results.

The thing is, they’re both quite successful companies with different business models. It’s only since Google shipped Android that we’ve been told we can’t love daddy and other daddy equally.

The chart above is a non-scientific indicator of expectations about the future of both companies.

The “chart” is of the results of an online poll in that CNBC piece from February that asked “How long will Alphabet’s market cap be greater than Apple’s?” Ah! Important question to put to your readers who are all licensed financial analysts and not at all Alphabet fans drawn to a story about their favorite company’s quarterly results. How did the respondering go, CNBC?

Well, they’re glad we asked. 12 percent of respondents said “a week”, 30 percent “a year” and an astounding 39 percent said Alphabet’s market cap would dominate Apple’s for “a decade”. Astounding and, sadly, wrong. Very, very wrong. The prize for being actually correct here in our reality goes to the 5 percent who said “a day”. That’s how long it actually was. One day.

But, hey, the poll is still open! If you’re one of the 83 percent of people who vastly over-estimated how long Alphabet’s market cap would top Apple’s, good news! This absolutely meaningless online poll is now so old your browser probably doesn’t remember having replied so you can just go ahead and answer “a day” and, boom, now you’re right.

The expectations favor Google’s continued growth.

The expectations of a group of non-scientifically chosen people who, it turns out, were fabulously wrong. That’s pretty much the whole Apple vs. anyone argument wrapped up in a neat package, isn’t it?

Patterson notes that shipments of iPhones and Mac were down. For Google, however, everything’s coming up Milhouse.

Alphabet, on the other hand, handily beat expectations…

Uh, well, Apple also “beat expectations”, beating its guidance and Wall Street estimates. But, yeah, its numbers were down from the same quarter the previous year.

Alphabet rode the shift to mobile…

Unlike Apple.


Apple is in a tough spot.

Indeed! It’s hard to say whether it’ll be the billions in revenue or the billions in profit that will kill it first. Still, look for Verizon (market cap $222 billion) to buy Apple (market cap $571 billion) quite soon.

Possibly with bitcoin. Or that Harry Potter money. Hard to say which. Just some currency that is not actually real money.

A smartphone maker would have to try to make a bad Android phone.

Oh, is that how they do it?!

Wait, why do they do that?

Long before AOL lost its lead, many internet users experienced the difference between AOL's walled garden and the richer open internet.

DING DING DING! Let’s give Patterson 10 points on the Cliché-ometer for “walled garden”, a spin on the Wheel of Misunderstanding and a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat, which we will take out of the boxes and dump on him in one giant avalanche of taste.

Apple’s secrecy prevents the company from trying new product designs…


Apple’s obsession with perfect prevents the company from releasing a good product and making it great.

The Macalope is not going to check, he’s just going to assume that Patterson is a huge fan of the Apple Watch which, let’s face it, was probably released a little too soon and follows this paradigm he’s espousing and has, as we all know, received nothing but accolades from Apple’s detractors. So, good advice! Surely, if Apple were to start releasing things that were less polished there would be nothing but positive feedback from that.

While everyone waits for the iPhone 7, Apple’s conquest of television and the Apple Car to be perfected, Google and Facebook are iterating furiously out in the open…

And, yet, somehow Apple continues to make a metric butt-ton of money, far more than either of those companies, and is the one that actually has the larger market cap which is how this conversation started.

Yep. It’s a real puzzler.

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