The Macalope Weekly: The Noyes machine

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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.]

It wasn’t supposed to go down like this. The Macalope had other things to talk about. Like how funny RIM continues to be, and the guy who groused about iPad lines, and how Motorola promises the next Xoom will be the real winner and…and…

And then PCWorld’s Katherine Noyes overturned a tanker truck full of stupid all over the information highway.

Put on your hazmat suits, kids. We’re going in.

No. Way.

The Macalope knows you’ll be just as shocked as he was to hear that Katherine isn’t impressed by the iPad 2. Which is to say not shocked at all. Indeed, any other reaction would have been a truly shocking event.

At the risk of offending Apple fans far and wide…

We’re way past that, Katherine.

…I can’t for the life of me see what there is to be excited about in Apple’s new iPad.

Weird. You’ve always shown such objectivity about Apple’s products before.

[eye roll]

Read more…

Let’s be honest, Katherine. You didn’t seriously consider the features of the iPad 2. We know that. Your annoying obsession is for open source and, as iOS is not open source, that’s all you needed to know. You crossed it off your list before it was announced. It’s not like anyone who knows you wonders what you might think of the iPad 2. You were going to hate it. And you’re going to hate the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5 and whatever else Apple ships that doesn’t come with Ubuntu Incontinent Ibex on it. We get it already.

“The specs are basically what everyone else is coming out with in three to four months,” NPD Group retail researcher Stephen Baker told my Computerworld colleague.

Assuming that does in fact happen, that would give Apple what? Say it with me, everybody: a three or four month lead. Baker also doesn’t discuss at what price these similarly configured tablets will be sold, but some of the products in the pipeline might finally be priced competitively. For some reason, Katherine chose not to quote Baker from later in that piece where he noted Apple’s advantage in apps and a better overall experience.

In fact, that’s the second time Katherine’s linked to the same piece—a piece which quotes an analyst from J. Gold Associates as saying:

“Apple didn’t really move the bar all that much,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. “I don’t see this as heads above the competition, especially the Xoom, right now. Apple fans who want the latest will buy this or upgrade, but I don’t see any overwhelmingly compelling capabilities that would make people sitting on the tablet fence go out and buy one.”

Isn’t it always amazing how many of those mindless “Apple fans” there are? Millions and millions of them! What motivates them? Well, there’s some disagreement as to whether it’s zealotry or the reality distortion field, but what we know for sure is that it’s not the ease of use, reasonable price point, and robust ecosystem of the iPad! As if!

The Macalope looked up J. Gold Associates, as he’d never heard of them before, and he wonders if anyone should really be listening to a “Technology Analyst Firm” (bolded and capitalized on their site, so you know they’re really good) with a site that looks like it was made with Microsoft FrontPage circa 1997. Ol’ Jack’s got a history of questionable judgement on Apple. Maybe it’s just the Macalope, but the name “Jack Gold” sounds more suited to a porn producer than a “Technology Analyst.” Then again, Jack does seem to be in the business of providing anti-Apple “money quotes,” which is sort of like porn for those suffering from Apple derangement syndrome.

Anyway, back to Katherine.

7. It's All Marketing

That’s right, Katherine. It’s all marketing. Claiming an Apple product is beating the stuffing out of your favorite platform because of marketing should always be read as “I have no idea what’s going on and no interest in trying to figure it out because I’m very angry!”

In a Retrevo survey published about a year ago, the majority of consumers said they didn’t really want an iPad.

This is seriously pathetic. This survey is from more than a year ago. Even if you ignore the fact that the Macalope debunked this survey right in the eye when it came out, the survey is, you know, more than a year old. It’s been debunked by reality. The Macalope guesses that Katherine had to go back that far because even Retrevo’s own subsequent surveys show the iPad being a consumer favorite.

The rest of the piece is a yawn-inducing collection of conventional wisdom that Katherine trots out for PCWorld over and over again. Possibly because they hate their readers. Maybe there’s another possible reason, but one’s not coming to the Macalope.

An inconvenient truth

Pity the Macalope, dear reader.

No sooner had he finished deconstructing the piece above—almost literally as he was wrapping up and preparing to get on with his life…to start living again—then the red alert from Macworld headquarters signaled in his secret lair.

Katherine was at it again.

Now, the Macalope’s not gonna lie to you. This is going to be a hard one. Almost every syllable of this piece contains more than the USDA recommended daily dosage of stupid. Even the title could put you over a week’s allowance. Ready?

Why Tablets Are Just A Fad

Children, pregnant women, and anyone with a heart condition should go read some nice how-to by Chris Breen. The rest of you brave souls, just breathe through your nose and stay hydrated. If you need to take a break…that’s OK.

Here we go.

Ever since rumors of Apple’s first iPad began to look credible back in 2009, I’ve been watching the tablet space with a mixture of wonder and confusion.

As in “I wonder what’s going on? I’m really confused!”

After all, the devices really don’t offer anything you can’t get on a smartphone or a notebook computer, and their form factor is inconvenient, at best.

“Inconvenient”? Have you ever even used a tablet, Katherine? Or seen one?

Yet strong sales are backing up the hype—at least for now—suggesting something about the devices has caught on with consumers.

That is marvelous. Because the iPad is selling by the metric ton, this suggests people like them.

But they don’t. They secretly hate tablets and Apple, for making them buy tablets! Katherine’s the only sane person in a world gone mad!

What is that mysterious “something”? Purely marketing, I believe.

“I have no idea what’s going on and no interest in trying to figure it out because I’m very angry!”

Mark my words: The device—and all the others of its ilk that have sprung up for a piece of the action—are nothing more than a passing fad, at least in the mainstream.

Oh, those words are marked, Katherine. Marked with a big circle around them and the words “KOO-KOO CRAZY BANANAS” written next to them.

As far as I can tell, tablets do not offer any significant functionality that’s not already available on a smartphone or notebook computer, yet they lack critical components like keyboards.

As far as you can tell? You really have never used a tablet, have you?

So why the hysteria? It’s a fancy new toy, and—in the case of the iPad—one from Apple, at that. Never underestimate consumers’ desire to impress each other with the latest and greatest gadget, especially if they’re Apple fans.

“I have no idea what’s going on and no interest in trying to figure it out because I’m very angry!”

I just don’t see why you’d be willing to carry one of these things around—in addition to a phone, most likely—when you could have something convenient (a single good smartphone) or powerful (a laptop).

This is the kind of inquisitive mind that goes into technology punditry.

Look, why not just say that you recognize it’s not for you, because you love open source more than air, but allow that other people might like it? While it’s not the Macalope’s cup of tea, he can see why other people use Linux. And not just because they’re anti-government nuts with tremendous neck beards who have difficulty interacting with other people, so they tend to have to support their own hardware and software.

Not just because.

But, the point is, if the Macalope, who has a head shaped like a Classic Mac, can be open minded about Linux, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect Katherine to be open minded about things she doesn’t personally use.

And, yet, here we are. Popping Advil and drinking gin right out of the bottle.

It’s true that other manufacturers are still hot on Apple’s trail with their own iPad-like contenders, but the release of the iPad 2 made it clear that excitement with the devices is already fading.

Fading? Katherine, the lines for the iPad 2 haven’t even started fading. You still have to wait a month to order one online. Now you’re just making up things that fly in the face of what’s actually going on.

I see no reason to own a tablet, and fully expect them to fade out of the mainstream over the next few years.

This may come as a shock to Ms. Noyes, but she is not the Lathe of Heaven. Her dreams do not make reality. This is simply fingers-in-the-ears denial, possibly caused by Android-based tablets continuing to have their butts handed to them by the iPad.

There’s a principle any first-grader can tell you: When you’re losing the game, you call the game stupid, flip the board and go home.

Why PCWorld would publish that as “analysis”, that’s the mystery.

Tablet h8

What’s probably got Katherine upset is that Android tablets don’t seem to—yet, anyway—be getting the kind of traction Android smartphones have. Why might that be? Despite Noyes’s insistance that what people really care about is “open” versus “walled gardens,” the Macalope thinks it’s mostly been because Android phones are available on more carriers and cost less. To date, Android tablets have neither of these advantages.

Still, the Macalope thinks Katherine may have flipped the board too soon. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab revisions could well be the first real winner of the Macalope’s “Is It Competition Yet?” game when they come out (which isn’t until June 8).

On the other hand, maybe Katherine’s sour on tablets because Google’s definition of “open” when it comes to Honeycomb seems to be a little loose.

Whatever the reason, PCWorld owes humanity an explanation for why it publishes this claptrap (other than as link bait).

Our only consolation is that one day they’ll answer to the wrath of a vengeful God.


Now, the Macalope is only contractually obligated to bring you three items every week. But this was kind of a rough week and he doesn’t want to leave you with the bad taste of Katherine Noyes in your mouth. No, he wants to leave you with something more uplifting. Something that will cleanse your palate and rejuvenate your soul.

That’s right, red pandas playing in the snow.

Go ahead. Enjoy it. You’re a survivor.

(Programming note: there will be no Saturday column from the Macalope next week, but look for a special April Fool’s Day edition next Friday.)

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