The Macalope Weekly: A tale of two pundits

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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.]

There are some days when the Macalope feels it would be more fun to deal with actual trolls than the Internet variety. Business Insider’s Henry Blodget gets a twofer this week. First, he makes like Prince and says “Oh, no, let’s go cray-zee!” about iPhone tracking. Then he’s back on the iPhone’s market share being “dead in the water.” Never fear, though. The Macalope will cleanse your palate from the sour taste of bad Blodget, as a former target of his antlers makes good.


Henry Blodget wants you to get up and go to your window and shout about a bug!

IT’S OFFICIAL: Apple Has Brainwashed The Whole Country—How Else To Explain The Lack Of Outrage Over Apple’s Secret Location Tracking?

Well, you’re clearly outraged, so there’s that. Then there’s a lawsuit and there are apparently going to be hearings. That’s not enough? What’s going to satisfy you, Henry? Flipping tables? Or do we need to torch some convenience stores?

Please explain, with a straight face, how that could possibly be a “mistake.”

With a straight face? When you’re being so ridiculous? The Macalope’s not sure that’s possible.

Well, then, Apple should already have apologized profusely, explained that the engineer has now been summarily dismissed, and offered a software update that eliminates the tracking system forever.

Ha-ha! Have you met Apple? “Apologize profusely”! Ahhh, that’s a good one. Anyway, what the company has done is to explain the issue and promise a fix soon.

Read more…

But here’s why it’s easy to think it was a bug. You see, unlike some other companies, Apple’s not in the data-harvesting business. If the company does harvest data, it does so anonymously, and only for the purpose of building better stuff—as this incident shows. In fact, its general disinclination for data-harvesting is what’s led to the argument with the Financial Times over access to subscriber information.

If this had fit a pattern, it might have been more concerning. But it didn’t.

Unlike Blodget, PCWorld’s Tony Bradley is finding it hard to care that much.

The revelation that Apple iOS devices track your location is not really news, it’s not unique to Apple, and the information gathered doesn’t really have the ominous Big Brother implications it might suggest.

Wait, Henry, are you saying Tony Bradley, who made the Macalope’s Fools of the Year Junior Varsity Squad, was brainwashed, too? OH, MY GOD, HOW FAR DOES THIS GO?

Dumb in the water

First, an apology. The Macalope really didn’t want to talk about market share again this week. Seriously, how many times do we have to point out that, despite the protestations of silly pundits far and wide, there’s substantially more evidence that iPhone-versus-Android is not the same as Mac-versus-Windows? (A war that, we may remind, is not even over yet.)

The good news, however, is that this will be the last Henry Blodget-penned piece about the iPhone and Android’s market share that the Macalope will ever link to, because it’s become clear he’s just trolling.

The Android gains matter because technology platform markets tend to standardize around a single dominant platform (see Windows in PCs, Facebook in social, Google in search).

So, Blodget is not only content to repeat the same arguments, but—despite the counter-arguments many have made—he’s content to repeat them verbatim.

At least he does finally address the fact that the only real concern—that developers will stop writing software for iOS—hasn’t materialized (in fact, iOS continues to be the favored platform). But he only does so parenthetically. Literally.

(This has not happened yet. Developers are certainly gearing up to develop for Android, but most say that they develop for the iPhone first. And Apple’s app distribution and payment mechanism is still far superior to Android’s. But lots more developers now develop for Android than they did two years ago.)

Hey, guess what, Henry! Lots more people own iPhones than they did two years ago, too!

Blodget’s dismissal makes no sense. His main argument is that:

  1. Market share drives share of development
  2. A small share of development kills a platform

But when it’s clear that number one isn’t happening, he says it doesn’t matter—as long as Android’s increasing the number of developers. Well, then why doesn’t it matter that Apple’s increasing the number of phones it sells and still maintaining its market share?

Well, the reason is bladdity blaggy blooga THE IPHONE’S DEAD IN THE WATER.

Blodget is, apparently, just going to keep writing the same piece over and over and over again, no matter what. For example, the Macalope is nigh certain that NPD’s results showing the iPhone taking market share from Android in the U.S. will have no effect on Blodget’s zombie argument.

The Android OS lost ground for the first time since Q2 2009, falling to 50 percent of smartphone unit sales in Q1 2011 compared to 53 percent in the prior quarter. Apple iOS share rose 9 percentage points to comprise 28 percent of smartphone unit sales.

Now Blodget says that “dead in the water” means year-over-year. Which is convenient, because Android’s base a year ago was much smaller than that of the iPhone—plus, it gives him another year to keep reposting the same claptrap.

Is Android’s meteoric growth slowing? Is the iPhone picking up steam with the inclusion of Verizon, and will it pick up a little more steam with the white iPhone? Hard to say yet. What’s easy to say is that, at this stage of the game, anyone who thinks they can declare “IT’S OFFICIAL” that the iPhone is doomed to irrelevancy is not interested in providing serious analysis.

Now let us never speak of Henry Blodget’s market share jackassery again.

Most improved

But all is not dark in the land of silly punditry! For lo, the Macalope brings you a tale of one silly pundit who has traveled the road to redemption!

It wasn’t that long ago that the Macalope used to have to devote his time to knocking down the most ridiculous arguments from ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes.

But lately he’s been better and now Kingsley-Hughes has written a smart piece on the trouble with Android tablets.

The problem is that they’re seen as disposable product. By this I don’t mean that they’re single-use or anything as environmentally unfriendly as that, but rather than manufacturers see the product as finished as soon as it has been sold and see little value in supporting it with regular software updates (at least anything beyond bug fixes). After all, why should they? They’ve got your money and the only way they’re going to get more money is to sell you a new product.

This is an astute point that might be lost on your average consumer going into the store, but it really reduces the value of an Android tablet. It also seems that while carriers do eventually deliver software updates for Android phones, they’re rolling their eyes and sighing more than a 13-year-old being forced to mow the lawn.

“Pff. Fine. Here’s your stoopid update. Pff. Sheesh. Gawd. So stoopid.”

Adrian gives credit where it’s due for why this software updating is even a thing.

The truth is that it was the iPhone that lead us to expect to see software updates for smartphones. Apple changed that.


Of course, if every silly pundit improves their performance like Adrian has, the Macalope’s going to be out of a job. Fortunately most of them are preternaturally incapable of that.

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