The Macalope Weekly: Come on and Xoom Xoom Xooma Xoom

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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.]

Steve Jobs’s health was back in the “news” this week, where by “news” the Macalope means “jerktastic speculation mill.” Meanwhile, the technology pundits hailed the arrival of the Motorola Xoom, the Android-based tablet that will totally give the iPad a run for its money this time for sure, mister! And it only took them a year. Lastly, someone keys a barb at Apple that the Macalope enjoys. It can happen!

National Inquiring minds want to know

Congratulations, Joe Wilcox! You make Rob Enderle look good. Because as ham-fistedly as Enderle tried to turn Jobs’s illness into a trite game about himself, at least he didn’t blame the victim for the coverage.

Now that Paparazzi are following Jobs and taking photos or videos of him outside the cancer treatment facility, Apple must respond.

Oh, because if Apple and Jobs would only “come clean” on his health then the paparazzi would stop following him and trying to photograph him. Apparently, according to Wilcox, it’s Apple and Jobs’s fault that he’s being chased by people whose only concern is making money off his condition.

The Macalope usually only jokingly attempts to psychoanalyze the silly pundits he skewers, but Wilcox really seems to have some kind of character deficiency that prompts him to continually make these bravado-laden challenges.

I’m on record as saying Jobs’ health isn’t a private matter. He works for shareholders and has ethical obligation to them to report on his ability to effectively run the company.

He has an ethical responsibility to report on his ability to effectively run the company to the board, which represents the shareholders. Just because you plop down $342 for a share of Apple doesn’t entitle you to executive colonoscopy results.

Hell, US presidents have annual checkups, which are publicly reported.

That’s because they’re public servants. See how that works? Not to mention the fact that they have their finger on the button of a bunch of nuclear weapons.

Apple doesn’t have to disclose the gritty details of Jobs’ recovery, merely fill the silence with something more than rumor or speculation.

Right. Because if there’s one thing we know about gossip hounds it’s that they’re easily sated by a smattering of details!

They say silence is golden. I say absolutely not.

Possibly because you can’t hear yourself talking.


The problem with continually halving the distance

According to eWeek’s Don Reisinger (motto: this Top 10 List isn’t complete until it has 10 items!), the Xoom compares favorably to the currently shipping iPad.

Motorola Xoom pricing starts at $600 for a WiFi-only model.

True! Except that device isn’t shipping in the U.S. yet. As an aside, apparently there’s no Wi-Fi-only Galaxy Tab either. That Android choice factor sure seems like a great deal for the carriers who’d rather force you to buy a 3G model. Less so for consumers.

The device will cost $799 for a 3G version. At first glance, $799 might seem like a lot to pay for a tablet. But when one considers that the high-end iPad retails for $829 and it doesn’t have the same feature set in the operating system or as powerful components, it becomes clear that the Xoom is delivering a good value.

Right! Who cares if it’s sometimes confusing, doesn’t have iPad-level battery life, and lacks a solid base of optimized apps. It has more checks on this grid of boxes of not-yet-available features that Reisinger just made!

One of the key aspects of the Motorola Xoom is that it’s upgradable to 4G. … The 4G connectivity for the Motorola Xoom should be made available at some point in the second quarter. … Even better for Motorola, it trumps Apple’s iPad, which doesn’t come with 4G connectivity.

Indeed! This device “has” (well, not in the sense of actually having) a feature that the current iPad doesn’t have! It totally rules the tablet space! Until Wednesday, anyway!

But in terms of features that will force you to, at some uncertain point in the future, wipe the device, mail it in, then wait a week to get it back, the Xoom totally has more of those. And, really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

One of the Macalope’s favorite games to play with these Top 10 lists is “find the filler.” This time it was pretty easy.

Motorola Is Respected

As opposed to HP. And Samsung. And… Apple?

Apple’s iPad lacks both a front- and rear-facing camera. … The Motorola Xoom, on the other hand, comes with dual cameras. … The factor also arguably puts the iPad behind in its battle with the Xoom.

Indeed. If you were hoping to, as Andy Ihnatko describes the experience, take pictures using a highly reflective lunch tray between now and whenever the iPad 2 appears, your best bet is the Xoom.

InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman is less sanguine than Reisinger but still seems to be underestimating the iPad’s app advantage.

Bottom line: The Xoom seems overpriced, and it has some ergonomic issues, not to mention its built-in business apps still are inferior—a factor that each new Android OS seems to ignore.

But I believe the Xoom is the first real shot in the tablet wars. For most users, the iPad’s advantages won’t be that critical, and it wouldn’t take much for Google and Motorola to fix most of the gaps in the OS and in the native apps.

These guys want a battle sooo badly. They’d be easier to take seriously if they didn’t hail the one true iPad competitor every three months, only to have it fizzle. It started with the HP Slate before the iPad came out. Maybe the Xoom is it! Fifteenth time’s the charm!

Read the reviews and you’ll find that while this thing is an improvement over other Android tablets, it still has a a number of decent caveats. Not the least of which are the lack of apps and the price. Will it do better than its predecessors? Probably. But in order for the Xoom to really make sense as a purchase, consumers still need to decide that they absolutely have to have feature X that the iPad 1 doesn’t have (and which they might not even be able to use if they do have it), price and supporting ecosystem be damned. And that’s even before we know what the iPad 2 will offer.

In the world of tablets there continues to be two categories: “iPad” and “not iPad.”

More like this, please

The Macalope usually only doles out gorings with his pointy antlers, but they’re also covered with a peach-like fuzz that can be soft to the touch when he gently rubs them against…

You know, this is getting weird. Let’s just say he can also be a benevolent mythical beast and leave it at that.

Which brings us to Lore Sjöberg’s piece at Wired entitled Not Everyone Subscribes to Apple’s Plans for Domination.

The Macalope loves this piece so much he wants to take it behind One Infinite Loop and make little umlaut-covered babies with it. Why? Because it’s satire and it’s good satire. It’s not some overly pedantic cry for a fairness the author never expects from any other company. It’s a spray in the face with a seltzer bottle.

Today’s crop of silly pundits could go a long way toward reducing the number of ulcers in the horny one’s four-chambered stomach if they stopped taking themselves so seriously.

Of course, then the Macalope would be out of a job and he’d have ulcers for another reason. Thank goodness it’ll never happen anyway.

(Disclaimer: the Macalope holds an insignificant number of Apple shares.)

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