The Macalope Weekly: Possession is nine tenths of the lawsuit

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You know it’s a pretty big week when the Macalope only gives passing mention to another record quarter for Apple. (SEEN IT. BOR-ING!) Unless you decided to have a little “me” time in the sensory-deprivation tank, you probably heard that an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a bar. The device was sold to Gizmodo (motto: “We’re going through your underwear drawer right now!”), who eventually returned it to Apple—but not after leaving a thick coating of slime all over it. This may seem like a strange time to question strict security requirements for mobile devices, but one pundit nails it.

Let it never be said I didn’t do the least that I could do

There are several galling parts to this missing iPhone story. One is Gizmodo’s “nobody did anything wrong!” stance. The second is the behavior of the person who took the phone.

Any reasonable person would have, as John Gruber notes, given the phone to the bartender. You lose something at a bar, you call the bar the next day to see if they found it. That’s how it works. Only a jerk circumvents this basic rule of life by taking it home, fiddling with it for days, and then selling it.

Sure, he did make some kind of effort to return the phone by calling the Apple front desk. But, not surprisingly, there’s no number to press for “crazy guy who says he’s got an iPhone prototype.” Maybe Apple should have taken his call more seriously, but when the finder/stealer didn’t get a response there was still one sure-fire way to get the company’s attention. One method that would have cut through all the red tape and gotten an immediate response. One which more and more people are using every day.

E-mail Steve Jobs.

Just snap a picture of it and shoot it off to the man himself. That sure would have worked.

Assuming the sight of black helicopters doesn’t bother you.


What lessons can we take away from this?

You’d think most of the obvious ones would have to do with California state statutes against purchasing stolen property. That is unless you’re Jenna Wortham of The New York Times, who thinks this is a sign that Apple’s “spell” is “wearing off.”

The debacle is arguably one of the most jaw-dropping flubs for Apple, a company long known for maintaining an impenetrable veil of secrecy.

Shockingly, Apple is made up of “humans” who have flaws! Who knew?!

But perhaps what is surprising is the utter delight and occasional vitriol permeating the reactions around the Web.

Are you new on the Internet or something, Jenna? If you want to see some anti-Apple vitriol, the Macalope could send you some CompuServe forum threads from 1994 that turn ugly faster than you can say “Godwin’s Law.”

So, what’s the evidence for this supposed sea change? Comments on blog posts and Facebook, of course.

The near-giddy response to Apple’s misstep may point to a broader shift in the public attitude toward the company and its covert tactics.

The New York Times: all the Facebook comments that are fit to print. “What’s your source on this, Jenna?” “Mike97 on Facebook!” “Good enough for me! Run it!”

At what point do we just burn modern journalism to the ground and start all over?

Good pundit! GOOD PUNDIT!

You know, the Macalope spends a lot of time smacking down silly pundits and he really gives them a hard time sometimes. He feels just terrible about it.

Ha-ha! No he doesn’t. He loves it. It’s what he was born to do. So much so there may be something wrong with him (apart from the antlers and the head shaped like a classic Mac).

But sometimes these guys overcome bad genes, a poor upbringing, the high lead content in the drinking water at ZDNet, or whatever it is that’s affecting them, and actually get something right. Take Galen Gruman, for example.

Just three weeks ago the Macalope included Gruman in his list of April Fools. In that short span of time Galen has managed to accomplish an incredible feat and turn his life around.

On the pages of InfoWorld, Gruman asks why corporate IT shops and analysts hold mobile devices like the iPad and the iPhone to standards they don’t apply to other devices.

I find it quite ironic that with all the hyperventilation around mobile security, which is disproportionately focused on the iPhone (no doubt there’s some proxy Apple-bashing going on there), you don’t hear criticism of IBM for not embedding mobile-oriented security into its Lotus Domino and Lotus Notes server platform, nor of Novell for not embedding mobile-oriented security into its GroupWise email platform.

Galen! Have you been working out? You look terrific.

So the next time you’re tempted to raise the security shibboleth when someone wants to bring in an iPhone or Droid, ask yourself if you’re not holding those devices to a different standard than you do your laptops and PCs—and why that’s the case.

The Macalope said pretty much the same thing about the iPhone two and a half years ago.

It’s not so much that the iPhone isn’t ready for the enterprise, it’s that the enterprise isn’t ready for the iPhone.

Despite his non-standard appearance, the Macalope knows a thing or two about corporate IT and he can speak from experience: very little of it makes any sense. You know what they say about trying to teach a pig to dance, right? It wastes your time and makes the pig implement a Microsoft-only corporate standard for enterprise-level software delivered solely on Dell hardware.

Or something like that.

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