The Macalope Weekly: Say, this iPad thing may really take off

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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.]

Next week, when Apple customers are enjoying their second-generation iPads, RIM customers will still be wondering what this whole tablet thing is about. RIM developers, on the other hand, will just be wondering how to actually get coding. Meanwhile, an iPad subscription content provider made a telling remark this week and, while it was tough to pick just one, the Macalope will share with you his favorite silly coverage of the iPad 2 announcement.

Good luck with that

Can you feel the excitement? We’re just days from the launch of the tablet of 2011! The tension is palpable!

No, no, not the iPad 2! The PlayBook!

And, OK, not days, really. Except in as much as days make up weeks.

To be completely accurate, most of the tension is with would-be developers like Jamie Murai. Murai wanted to try his hand at developing for the Playbook but RIM—possibly in an effort to make sure developers are really committed and not just jumping on the PlayBook bandwagon as part of peer pressure or some fad—has cleverly made the task excruciatingly painful: multiple downloads, multiple installs, multiple requests for personal information, and a $200 charge for every 10 apps you publish.

Now, RIM is pretty much caught between a rock and a hard place (and apparently has all the presentation skills of James Franco to boot). So its SDK was probably a tad rushed. Let’s say it was made in an afternoon.

In defense of RIM, when Apple first released iOS there was no SDK other than the Web.

In criticism of RIM, this is probably why.

Also, that was four years ago and you guys sat on your butts for three years before waking up to find your house was on fire. Well, look on the bright side, RIM. At least you’re way ahead of Microsoft.

Read more…

What they’re really mad about

The fallout still continues over Apple’s subscription pricing scheme…sorry, its evil subscription pricing scheme.

Publishers, much like their music industry counterparts of old, are having their business model shaken up and are responding by stomping their feet and throwing hissy fits a-plenty.

“It is unclear how their proposal is going to work, we are still talking to them,” said Scardino. “The important thing to remember is there are many, many tablets coming out and multiple devices … [from] Kindle to mobiles. If indeed Apple are not happy to give us customer data then maybe we will get it somewhere else.”

Ahhh. Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it? Turns out it’s not just about Apple being greedy. It’s also about them not selling out the customers to the publishers. And that’s the thing that will, at least according to the CEO of the company that owns the Financial Times, drive them elsewhere.

At the very least you have to break these things apart. Yes, Apple’s trying to set itself up as the middleman. But if it were the only middleman between those actually creating the content and you, the content consumer, and you could still get all the content you get now (admittedly, big ifs), it might actually be better than what we’ve had to date.

King of the hill

While there were several formidably stupid contenders in the Dumbest iPad 2 Coverage category this week, the Macalope’s favorite piece came before the device was even revealed.’s David Goldman got the expectations exactly wrong claiming on Tuesday that Apple really needed “to kill it with the iPad 2 event.”

You wouldn’t think that Apple, the largest and most hyped-up tech company on the planet, would have anything left to prove.

Hyped-up! Smoke and mirrors! Reality distortion field! Other lazy tropes!

A year ago, when Apple introduced the iPad, it was the first tablet of its kind on the market. Now there are as many iPad competitors as Dalmatians.

There aren’t 101 real iPad competitors even if you read that in binary.

Only the 32 gigabyte $599 Motorola Xoom tablet gives the iPad a real run for its money in cost: It is a full $130 cheaper…

Wow! Really?! How did the Macalope miss that?!

…(if you shell out for a a [sic] required Verizon data plan) than the similarly sized $729 iPad 3G, which has an optional data plan for an additional price.

Gosh, who would have thought that a “subsidized” (still hate that word) device would cost less. Why does it cost less? Must just be the carrier giving you something out of the goodness of their heart! OMG you guys, isn’t that sweet of them? And we didn’t get them anything.

HA-HA. No, in order to pay $130 less on day one, you commit to pay $480 over the next two years for 1GB of bandwidth per month. The iPad is $10 more for a quarter the bandwidth, or $250 more for twice the bandwidth. So, the Xoom’s still cheaper!

Hold on, sparky. That contract is worth something. Unlocked phones can run $300 more than those on contract. Of course, the difference for tablets should be less because there’s no voice component, just data.

And, sure enough, this pans out. While Goldman felt compelled to quote the most Xoom-favorable pricing, the off-contract price for the 32GB 3G Xoom is $799 while the 32GB 3G iPad is $729. That’s the easiest, most straightforward comparison. But it shows that the iPad’s less expensive, so let’s ignore long-term costs and just look at what Motorola can do to put you in a Xoom… today.

Of course, they may have to clear it with their manager first.

(Note: their manager is the carrier.)

Oh, also, why is it no one seems to remember the 16GB $499 iPad when comparing the iPad to the Xoom? Get ready to hear this a lot:


Whatever. Of the serious options, Apple still has the cheapest 10-inch tablet when you factor in the entire cost. And if 16GB is enough for the horny one, it should be enough for lots of people. Don’t be a size queen.

Well, at least the Xoom still holds the edge in non-working features.

While the Macalope thinks the iPad 2 is a solid update, he also thinks Apple correctly decided it had the situation well enough in control (read: sitting on a heap of the skulls of its enemies, drinking a flagon of mead) that it could keep some of its powder dry.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes gets it:

“Why wasn’t the iPad 2 a more impressive upgrade?” This is a question that I’ve heard a lot since yesterday’s iPad 2 announcement. The short answer is that it didn’t need to be any better - it’s still more than good enough to toast the competition.

InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman (in a 12-page review that Page Views Monthly called “a triumph of ad impression maximization”) gave the iPad 1 the nod against the Xoom.

So, while the market will decide, it’s pretty safe to say Apple’s comfortable with the iPad 2’s specs, thank you very much.

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