The Macalope Weekly Special Edition: Fools of the Year

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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’s that time of year again when we look back at those who inflicted mental cruelty and suffering on us over the last 12 months, shake our fists at the heavens, and cry “WHYYYYYYYYYYY?!”

Then we call them names in a vain attempt to make ourselves feel better. It’s just a thing we do. Try not to over-analyze it.

Let the Macalope start off by saying that he’s sure most if not all of the individuals on this list are probably very nice people. (Except for Rob Enderle—he’s actually a kind of fish.) So, don’t confuse the Macalope calling them fools with them being bad in general. It’s just that, when it comes to Apple, their opinions seem, well, foolish.

Got it? Good.

Let’s get this party started!

Read more…

10. Samsung

Sometimes it’s a thin line between marketing and lying. Not this time, though.

In pimping their new Galaxy Tabs (Coming soon! Is this summer soon?), it appears that Samsung may have gilded the lily a bit. May have been economical with the truth. May have just made a whole bunch of crap up and tried to pass it off as true.

Despite Samsung’s claims to the contrary, InformationWeek’s Fritz Nelson found the next Galaxy Tab to be thicker than the iPad 2, not thinner. Meanwhile, Harry McCracken found those “man on the street” testimonials for the Galaxy Tab to be fake, unless the street is Broadway and this is supposed to be some kind of cinéma vérité.

And even then, they’re still made up.

We know you’re frustrated, Samsung. But this is no way for a mature company to act.

9. Rob Enderle

You knew he was going to be on the list somewhere, right? Even if he weren’t on the list, his body of work is enough to earn him the status of Apple Fool, Emeritus.

And while this past year didn’t represent Rob’s finest in foolish Apple analysis, he still did key a craaaaaazy article about how Apple’s Fifth Column had infiltrated the company’s competitors to drag them down. Oh, you think there’s another reason Apple’s beating them? WELL, MAYBE YOU’RE PART OF THE CONSPIRACY.

He also sagely warned that HP’s firing of Mark Hurd sent a message to Apple that even Steve Jobs should be careful about his behavior, instead of just sending the message that HP sucks at picking CEOs.

Finally, his lack of good taste showed through when he turned rumors that Steve Jobs had six weeks to live into an excuse to bore us with his fantasy bucket list.

And here we thought it was just his mustache that was tasteless.

8. Netgear CEO Patrick Lo

Lo makes the list for two reasons. First for saying “Once Steve Jobs goes away, which is probably not far away, then Apple will have to make a strategic decision on whether to open up the platform.” Second for offering a classic non-apology apology because “some” (read: “you morons”) “construed” his words to have been about Jobs’s health, which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Sure, Patrick.

One could have been inclined to let him off, had he given a real apology. People sometimes say the wrong thing. But you apologize for it, you don’t accuse people of being too dumb to understand what you were really saying.

7. Brett Arends

According to Arends, the “true” cost of the iPad isn’t $500. It’s $2000! (Tip o’ the antlers to Nostrich.)

Arends’s little trick here is looking at the opportunity cost of the device (i.e. instead of buying it, you could invest that money), which really should factor into the purchasing decision. What’s annoying, however, is that Arends seems to think this only worth noting when there’s a hot Apple product on the market.

The Macalope had a bit of déjà vu over this piece. He wonders if the Wall Street Journal knows that Arends sold them almost the exact same story he wrote about the iPhone for four years ago.

As Rob Wensing dryly noted on Twitter, thanks to the recession, his iPhone purchase actually outperformed the market. It’s worth pointing out that Arends doesn’t take into account the high resale value of these Apple devices, either.

The Macalope also wonders, though, if this is the same Brett Arends who was willing to ignore the two-year contract commitment on the Xoom when he claimed it was cheaper than the iPad. Nothing, of course, compares to Arends’s tablet of choice, a rooted Nook Color, because that was the cheapest tablet of all. Sure it doesn’t have cameras, has a slower processor, features only limited video support, and won’t run some Android games, but life is long. You’ve got plenty of time to enjoy it later.

6. Consumer Reports

Who are you gonna believe: Consumer Reports or that lyin’ iPhone 4 in your hand that works fine and provides all kinds of utility you’d otherwise be missing out on?

But what’s Consumer Reports supposed to do? It’s not like they can recommend a device that violates their “no antenna problems from phones made by fruit-themed companies” policy!

As the Macalope predicted, they had little choice but to double down and also refuse to recommend the CDMA Verizon iPhone, since facing the fact that they were making a double-standard mountain out of a molehill apparently wasn’t an option.

So, what was Consumer Report’s highest ranked AT&T phone? The Samsung Captivate.

Well, at least we can be sure the Captivate doesn’t have any antenna issu—oh, heck, the Macalope’s not going to be coy about it. Here’s a link to an InformationWeek piece on how the Captivate has its own antenna problem and another link to a video showing the Captivate dropping bars faster than any phone tested, including the iPhone 4.

But, you know, people don’t expect Apple products to be crappy.

5. Dan Lyons

What happened to Dan Lyons?

Oh, the Macalope doesn’t mean in the sense that “his early stuff was good but then he sold out,” although that could have something to do with it. But more in the sense that he used to seem to really get Steve Jobs and now he seems to have all the insight of, well, the other yahoos on this list.

Lyons grandiosely announced he was switching from the iPhone to Android, falling into the “It’s Windows versus the Mac OS all over again!” argument as well as lauding Google for features it wasn’t even shipping yet. He later keyed the Mac’s epitaph, coyly noting in the thirteenth paragraph that Apple won’t really kill off the Mac. Sort of makes you wonder why the article was titled “R.I.P., Macintosh”, then.

Lyons also seemed to think that Apple should have recalled the iPhone 4, claiming the notion that other phones had antenna problems was “ridiculous” and “absurd.”

This just in: two magazines your parents used to get in the ’80s—Newsweek and Consumer Reports—don’t approve of the hottest company of the current century. There’s a shocker.

4. Joe Wilcox

Joe drops down a notch on the list this year—then again, it was hard to follow up on last year’s challenge to a recuperating Steve Jobs to return to work.

Still, even batting cleanup on this list means you did outstanding work in the field of foolish Apple coverage. First there was Joe’s challenge to John Gruber to “be a man” and allow comments on Daring Fireball, as if that were the measure of a man. Joe went on to foolishly question Jim Dalrymple, claiming Verizon wears the pants in its relationship with Apple.

But what kept him high on the list this year was blaming the victim for the frenzy of coverage of Jobs’s illness. According to Joe, if Apple and Jobs only came clean, the paparazzi wouldn’t follow him around taking pictures. Right. Because that always works in Hollywood.

3. Adobe

It almost seems a memory now, those heady days of the spring of 2010 we spent arguing over Flash. Do the sands of time cloud the Macalope’s eyes or did Adobe’s John Dowdell really suggest Apple was unethical for banning Flash from iOS? Did Lee Brimelow really try to lay claim to the high ground right before saying “Go screw yourself Apple”?

They sure did. (Correction: Dowdell says his reason for claiming Adobe was more ethical than Apple was because Steve Jobs didn't reveal his medical condition in 2009. The Macalope doesn't think that makes the company less ethical either but apologizes for mischaracterizing his rationale.)

Later in the year, Dowdell followed up by suggesting that anyone who was having problems with Flash on Android was probably not running legitimate copies of the software and complained that people shouldn’t be so quick to write about mobile Flash problems. Well, to be fair to us, there are so many mobile Flash problems you have to write about them quickly in order to keep up.

Dowdell and Brimelow were doing such a bang-up job of PR that Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch decided to help out by seemingly trying to make it into a First Amendment issue. Yeah, that’ll work.

Meanwhile, Adobe is still struggling to ship an Android version of Flash that doesn’t give you the terrific user experience that only stuttering video and smooth battery drainage can bring. But one thing’s for sure: the only reason Flash isn’t on iOS is because Steve Jobs is a control freak.

2. Gizmodo

Ugh. Is it worth going over the iPhone 4 thing again?

Suffice it to say that during the whole tawdry ordeal, Gizmodo displayed the same moral rectitude you’d expect from a combination of Signor Ugarte, Dr. Smith, and Waluigi.

They purchased merchandise that could be considered stolen under California state law, then stated they’d “probably” give it back to Apple. Then they published doctored quotes from e-mails to make them look less like the unserious jerks they are.

These days they just sit around lobbing epithets like “evil” at Apple. That might actually hurt—if their opinion were worth something.

1. Katherine Noyes

Congratulations, Katherine! You’re the 2011 Fool of the Year! This one came down to the wire, but Katherine really stretched over the finish line to take the gold.

Well… wait. What’s the opposite of gold? Lead. She took the lead.

Katherine is an open-source enthusiast with a penchant for cherry picking. Take this post by her from a month ago, for example. Her contention is that because there were slightly more job postings for “Android” (which includes tablets and…whatever other Android devices there are) developers than for “iPhone” developers, that means…

Apple’s head start notwithstanding, the iPhone is well on its way to becoming a niche device.

She says this in practically every article. It’s like a tic.

Except more annoying.

Katherine also claims that Android app security is better, based on a veritable pitcher of the weakest tea you’ve ever had. Forrester Research, at least, disagrees.

It’s theoretically possible that the iPhone could end up being a niche device some day. But while Katherine likes to talk about Android beating the iPhone, the real story is Android and the iPhone beating everyone else—so the “well on its way” part is at least premature. And if it does happen, the reason’s not going to be because, as Katherine suggests, consumers are just dying for open source devices, but because of price and the fact that carriers can easily easily manipulate Android to their own ends.

These factors don’t hold true for tablets where, not surprisingly, the iPad is still kicking butt and not bothering to take names because no one’s going to remember the iPad’s competitors in a year anyway. Katherine’s response to this burr in the side of “open always wins” was to call tablets a fad fueled by marketing. In other words, all those millions of people who bought iPads are just gullible dopes.

Needless to say, a fair number of reasonable people disagree with her (tip o’ the antlers to Martin Kopischke), including some of her colleagues at PCWorld.

There’s wrong and then there’s on the wrong side of history. And that difference is what makes Katherine the Fool of the Year.

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