The Macalope Weekly: The classics

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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.]

Something in the air this week has the Macalope thinking about the classics. He’s wondering if Steve Ballmer’s latest executive shuffle makes him a brilliant leader or if this purge just means Microsoft’s turned into the island in Lord of the Flies. The Macalope then wonders who are these Lennie Smalls having antenna problems with their iPhone 4s. One thing’s for sure, though: these ham-fisted giants are not the target market for the rumored iPhone nano.

Hold me closer, sweaty dancer

From HP to Google to Egypt, executive movement is all the rage these days. Microsoft doesn’t want to be left out of the fun, so it’s doing what it does best: lamely trying to copy everyone else.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was said on Monday to be overhauling the company’s executive structure in a bid to better compete against Apple and Google.

It’s become a cliché to say a company’s reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, but when you actually see Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet run by while being chased by an angry man with a gun and you start to wonder why you rented an ultimately cheesy remake of Romeo and Juliet, well, then you know this analogy’s gone off the rails.

But back to Microsoft, the board of which seems to lack the guts for a real revolution.

The plan would promote senior engineers that would have experience in areas where Microsoft has historically been weak, such as in cloud computing, phones and tablets.

That’s not a bad idea—the company has suffered from listening to managers rather than doers. But like Apple under Michael Spindler or HP under Carly Fiorina or the island under Jack Merridew, these things rot from the head. Is Ballmer going to listen to them, or is he going to continue to insist that people really do want a control-alt-delete button on their tablets? Does he fully support this move or is he just doing it to appease the board?

There also seems to be some evidence this “replace the suits with the geeks” idea doesn’t tell the whole story.

In the ongoing battle between the geeks and the suits—er, the executives with a technical background (typified by chairman Bill Gates) and those with a business/management background (Ballmer’s gene pool)—it seems to me two very senior techies are on their way out, replaced by a guy with stellar Yahoo integration skills.

To be clear, if the Macalope were to give Microsoft sincere advice, he’s not sure he’d say Ballmer has to go. And since he’s not being asked to give the company sincere advice he’s all for keeping the guy it’s easy to make fun of. What would happen if the company had someone who was quietly competent running the ship? That would just make the Macalope’s job harder.


Antennagate II: The Antennagetening. This Time It’s CDMA!

It’s time to whip out the #APPLE FAIL tag again because, according to The Inquirer’s Lawrence Latif, Apple didn’t fix the antenna problem in the CDMA iPhone.

JUST HOW LONG does it take for Apple to fix an antenna? That is the question Verizon Iphone 4 users must be asking after finding that the problems that plagued the device at launch over six months ago still persist.

A better question is how long is it going to take The Inquirer to add “iPhone” to their CMS’s spellchecker? Current answer: more than four years.

So just how long will it take Apple to fix an antenna? Probably until fanbois stop buying broken Iphones.

Wow, that’s a lot of fanbois willing to suck it up and use a broken phone because of their blind allegiance to Steve Jobs and Apple, constantly getting cut off in the middle of their calls, and possibly also receiving a severe shock as long as we’re just making crap up.

Like The Apple Blog’s Liam Cassidy, the Macalope wonders how he’s been using his iPhone 4 so wrongly for the past seven months that he’s never had a problem. Maybe it’s the hooves. Or maybe he and the millions of other satisfied iPhone 4 users are just fanbois who’ve got Stockholm syndrome so bad that they ignore all the problems. That’s gotta be it.

Again, is it possible to have this problem? Sure. If you have oven-mitt-sized hands and people frequently deny your requests to let you hold their puppy you might want to look into a phone that doesn’t have any antenna problems, but is just as good as the iPhone in every other way.

Good luck with that.

Despite getting an early thumbs up from Consumer Reports, it seems likely that the CDMA iPhone 4, like its GSM brother, will ultimately have to fall into their “zero tolerance for antenna problems in phones made by fruit-themed companies” category.

Despite this, Apple continues to sell a lot of phones. It’s weird!

iPhone nano a no-no or a go-go?

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s working up a cheap iPhone to get down into the low end of the market.

Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about $200, without obligating users to sign a two-year service contract, said the person who has seen it.

The Macalope talked about this back in November.

People have long talked about an iPhone nano, but the Macalope doesn’t see what you can pull out of an iPhone and still have it be an iPhone. It’s a phone that runs apps. You take the phone out and it’s an iPod touch. But you take the apps out and it’s just a phone.

Bloomberg says the prototype, which it admits may never see the light of day, “was about one-third smaller than the iPhone 4, and it had no ‘home’ button.” No “home” button? How are you going to keep them home on the farm with no “home” button?

While he has no reason to doubt the story and knows there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy, the Macalope’s still having a hard time imagining this device. How do you make an iPhone a third smaller and still retain the one thing that keeps it in the kiddies’ pockets: apps? You can’t just shrink your average iOS game by a third and have it still be playable and not look like hell.

One way to do it is to make the iPhone nano just like the iPod nano: have it ship with a core set of apps but without access to the App Store. Would that be popular? Well, if it were $200 off-contract or free with a contract, it might be.

But the flaw in the thinking continues to be that this is all about fighting Android for market share.

To fight off Android’s massive growth, a $200 iPhone Nano might do the trick.

The Macalope would get a t-shirt with Apple’s share of the smartphone market’s profits printed on it, but he has a hard time getting t-shirts over his antlers. That’s OK. He looks pretty good in a button-down and a jacket.

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