The Macalope Weekly: Enthusiasms

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[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

As a fictitious version of Al Capone once said, “A man becomes preeminent, he’s expected to have enthusiasms.” And then he beat a man to death with a baseball bat to make his point. This week’s group of pundits doesn’t kill anything other than logic, but they’ll still make your head hurt! An InfoWorld pundit shows his lack of enthusiasm for the release of iOS 4.2, Paul Thurrott goes off the rails for Windows Phone 7, and a PC World writer’s personal preferences get the best of her.

You can’t always get what you want

While the Macalope was pleased to get an update that almost made his iPad seem like a completely new (and free!) device, not everyone was as thrilled. InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman, for example, declared Apple’s release of iOS 4.2 “an unsatisfying upgrade”, saying that multitasking, folders, e-mail threads, and mobile management “are welcome but long overdue…”

You may think it’s “long overdue,” Galen, but compared to what?

That’s the thing about the market for technology goods. It’s all relative. You only have to be better than your competition. And the iPad’s competition until just recently has been {ERROR: NULL OBJECT}.

Would it have been nice if the iPad had gotten all the iOS 4 features at the same time the iPhone did? Sure! Pandas are nice, too, but you can’t keep one in a small, unfurnished apartment (the Macalope found that out the hard way).

Does Gruman think it didn’t take effort on Apple’s part to bring those features to the iPad? There’s nothing wrong with you, personally, wishing you could have everything you want right now. Just don’t expect the rest of us to consider it penetrating technology analysis.


He who innovates last innovates best!

The horny one rarely wastes his time on Paul Thurrott because he’s really more of a Microsoft enthusiast than an analyst. The Macalope doesn’t get that, but it’s Thurrott’s right and he’s entitled to his opinions. However wrong and stupid and wrong they are. Just…keep them over there.

But every once in a while the boosterism goes into full-fledged fantasy mode. You have to keep an eye on these things because, well, the Macalope cares and he’d hate to see Paul enter a spiral of delusion.

Well, a bigger one (tip o’ the antlers to Shawn King).

Put simply, Windows Phone is already more innovative than anything offered by Apple or Google in the smart phone space.

Oh, totally. Except, you know, when you consider the fact that Windows Phone 7 wouldn’t even exist if Apple hadn’t invented the iPhone. But other than that…

Look, the Macalope’s as big a supporter of Windows Phone 7 as you’re likely to find in the Apple world. He frankly doesn’t buy into the doom and gloom over the sales figures for the device to date. Moving 40,000 units on the first day of availability isn’t a barn-burner, but it’s not horrible either.

Thurrott’s statement is patently ridiculous, of course. But, to give credit where credit’s due, Microsoft eschewed simply making another “me-too” iPhone rip-off and actually thought of something different. Do you have any idea how hard that is for them? Really, really hard. It’s totally against their nature.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Somewhere very close to this universe is an alternate universe where Apple didn’t introduced the iPhone in January of 2007 and Microsoft shipped Windows Mobile 7.0 built on the same old code base, running on BlackBerry-esque hardware like they had planned. We don’t live in that universe, but we also don’t live in the Windows Phone 7-centered universe Thurrott thinks we do, either.

Penalty for premature end-zone dancing

The Macalope doesn’t know about you, but he considers the iPhone to be a pretty big success. Sure, maybe when you add up the sales of all the disparate devices and OS versions that are called “Android” you get a slightly bigger number, but all in all, it’s not a bad day when you take home most of the profits.

So, he was a little surprised to see someone claim that Apple is getting desperate in the mobile area. PC World’s Katherine Noyes argues that Apple’s decision to defend its patents, Android’s rising market share, and a magazine allegedly being kept off the App Store because it focuses on Android all mean the company is losing it!

Put it all together, and it’s clear Apple is more worried than ever about Android’s growing popularity.

Scoff if you wish, but anecdotes like these don’t lie! They add up! Like integers. Integers of doom!

Noyes is clumsy in her wording, saying Android’s prodigious growth makes it “the No. 2 operating system (OS) on the planet” when she means the No. 2 smartphone operating system. She also says “Apple’s iOS, meanwhile, fell from a 17.1 percent market share a year ago to 16.7 percent in this year’s third quarter.” Careful, Katherine: that’s just iPhones. iOS, of course, has a much larger market share because of the iPad and the iPod touch. Care to throw in those, along with similar Android devices, for an overall OS market share? Probably not, since Android tablets are only just hitting the market and there is no real Android equivalent for the iPod touch.

Sorry, go on. You were talking about how Android rules.

I believe Apple’s iPhone is rapidly becoming a niche device. Its restrictions are too numerous, its approach too condescending, and its choices too few to have the broad appeal it needs to succeed on a grander scale in the long run.

In short, Apple may always have its share of fans among consumers who don’t mind living in its “walled garden,” but there’s no way it can compete in the market as a whole with the diverse, compelling and powerful platform that is Android.


BWAHUH WHAT? Oh. Phew. Sorry, the Macalope must have dozed off there in the middle of all those tired old arguments.

In cell phones, Android does have a higher global market share (although not, apparently, in the U.S.) and there are certainly arguments to be made in favor of Android-based phones over the iPhone, but Noyes is apparently less interested in making them than in winning a free set of steak knives from the Trite Generalities Promotion Counsel of Weak Tea, Indiana.

Noyes has no real evidence to back up her anecdote soup. She simply says Android is ascendant because it’s more “diverse, compelling and powerful” and ignores some inconvenient facts. Like that the reason that the 30 percent of Android users who’d rather have an iPhone don’t just switch isn’t anything other than price. Which explains how the iPhone can be the most desired phone while Android still has higher market share. But the fact that carriers are able to give away Android-based phones doesn’t support Noyes’s argument. No, it’s all about choice and freedom from “walled gardens” and open-source puppies and kittens and adorable mutant open-source puppy-kittens.

Apple could try to make a phone that carriers could give away for free. Maybe they’re working on that now. Or maybe they’ve just decided that they can’t make one that doesn’t suck and, rather than drag down their reputation, they’re just going to cede the low end of the market to Android and focus on the juicy, profit-basted end like they do with Macs. Mmm, desperation never tasted so good.

Noyes also doesn’t want to talk about fragmentation. It’s apparently a “diverse” and “powerful” feature of Android that carriers are not “compelled” to provide timely upgrades, which is why Android 2.2 has only now become the most-used version, a full seven months after its release.

Finally, she probably really doesn’t want to talk about the fact that it looks like Android’s growth might be slowing in the U.S. Nope, the iPhone is destined to become a niche product because Android is wicked boss, yo.

Take a look at Noyes’s Twitter feed and you can see her bias: she’s an open-source enthusiast. She even calls herself “Linux Girl,” often using the third person. (What kind of crazy nut does that?!) Look, the Macalope knows Tux, he’s partied with Tux, Tux is a good friend of his. So he has great sympathy for Linux. But, this isn’t analysis, it’s boosterism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s not like the Macalope doesn’t engage in it himself.

What’s wrong is that this particular piece is a haphazard collection of loosely connected items that fails to achieve the dramatic effect intended by its creator.

Hey! Kind of like Linux!

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