The Macalope Weekly: Funny again

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After complaining last week about things that weren't funny, this week brought a turnaround. RIM apparently decided it needed to get funny again or risk its status as the laughing stock of mobile technology. Meanwhile, the craziness that is Apple-rumor generation is always good for a laugh and, while Microsoft itself is frequently a laugh riot, one mythical creature always is: the Winotaur.

Saturday Special: Still digging

OK, the Macalope checked the entire list and he can say categorically that "denial" is not "not just a river in Canada," it's not a river in Canada at all. So how do we explain RIM?

RIM took a second measure to minimize opposition on Thursday after it had Northwest & Ethical drop its demand the chairman and CEO roles split. ... The company's board of directors would in return develop a committee of independent directors to find an "appropriate balance" between board leaders and the CEO role, whether it was necessary for the co-CEOs to occupy top spots on the board to run the company, and suggest a structure that might better run the company.

RIM is so special, you see, so unlike any other technology company, that it needs both Zan and Jayna to run the company.

Into the ground.

Hasn’t it considered the fact that just one CEO might run it more slowly into the ground?

Now a host of current employees have come forward to confirm that, yes, the company is a complete mess, thanks for noticing.

Unfortunately for these employees, RIM seems intent on digging deeper into the hole it's in to find that damn pony it just knows is under the dirt somewhere.

RIM may have a counterpart to the Apple TV, according to a rumor put forward by a historically reliable source. So far nicknamed the BlackBerry Media Box, it would be a blend between the basic BlackBerry Presenter and a media hub like Apple's box.

Right. Because you're already doing such a bang-up job competing with Apple on smartphones and tablets that you thought it was a good idea to open the war on a third front. That right there is just the kind of premium decision-making you can only get from two CEOs.

Occam's rumor

Where do Apple rumors come from, dear readers? Why from the wonderland of imagination! Say, anyone know what the emoticon is for Doug Henning?

Early this week, Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore gave us an object lesson in how crazy bananas people can get when it comes to loose talk about Apple. Whitmore apparently forgot to note he was just thinking out loud when he wrote that his firm “believes” Apple will ship a new iPhone in September, along with a lower-cost prepaid iPhone.

What?! Two iPhones?! That’s like 100 percent more iPhones!

Some sites threw caution and history and possibly their underwear to the wind. Like Business Insider, for example:

Apple will have TWO new iPhones in September

Thanks for capitalizing “TWO” there, guys. Otherwise we might have missed the whole thing about there being two iPhones.

The Unofficial Apple Weblog, meanwhile, hastily walked back a credulous title on its piece from “Apple to release two iPhone models this September” to “Psh, we didn’t fall for that! We were just going along with it to see how long you’d go along with it! C’mon! As if. Sooo obvious.”

Of course, as the Macalope has pointed out about iPhone rumors in the past:

While rumors do not mean Apple is going to make something, they don’t mean it isn’t going to make it, either.

And Whitmore isn’t the only one whose analyst sense is tingling. (Most people don’t realize where analysts come from: they’re people who, while in high school, were bitten by other, radioactive analysts).

Nature, or Wall Street anyway, apparently abhors a low-cost iPhone vacuum and analysts weren’t done trying to jam something into the category. Not without cause, though, as Apple COO Tim Cook himself said that Apple wouldn’t be ceding any market. Compared to Whitmore's flight of fancy, though, these analysts had their feet firmly on the ground and were completely making up far more sensible scenarios.

Indeed, you almost have to hold the note from Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty up to the light just right to make out the second iPhone on the grassy knoll.

Mike Abramsky of RBC Capital predicted that when Apple ships the iPhone 5 in September, the company will continue to ship the 3GS, but for free.

At half the RAM of the iPhone 4, it’s somewhat questionable how long the 3GS will continue to be able to run the current release of iOS, but the Macalope has long been more sympathetic to the idea that the low-end iPhone would follow the track of the MacBook as a cheaper, but full-sized and fully-functional plastic unit. The 3G and the 3GS never felt good enough in his hoof to be the iPhone standard bearer.

What he’s less sure about is Abramsky’s prediction that Apple will ship three iPhones starting in September, continuing to sell the iPhone 4 for $99.

That's a lot of iPhones. And having a median option makes it easier for people to justify downgrading. You know what happens when you throw a market share party, right? You wake up the next day hung over and wondering where all your profit went.

The Macalope feels a bit like a broken record, but market share in and of itself doesn’t make a company any money. Besides, guess what? Most recent signs point to the iPhone’s market share rising while Android’s is “dead in the water.”

“Android continues to be the most popular smartphone operating system, with 38 percent of smartphone consumers owning Android devices,” wrote Nielsen. “However, while Android also leads among those who recently purchased a new smartphone, it is the Apple iPhone that has shown the most growth in recent months.”

So count the horny one as being furry and skeptical about Apple suddenly deciding to throw the profit baby out with the bath-water. Even more skeptical is this guy:

Keith Bachman of BMO threw a monkey wrench into everyone’s predictions by dismissing the idea of a cheap iPhone and predicting a single, full-featured model - the iPhone 4S.

Keith, Keith, Keith. That kind of prediction is not going to win you any caps-laden headlines over at Business Insider.

The rush of Windows 8

Word has it Microsoft is rushing Windows 8 for an April 2012 release in order to fight the iPad. Oookay, seems like a good time to fight the iPad might have been, oh, last year instead of next year.

To get the inside scoop, it’s time for another chat with our friend the Winotaur.

MACALOPE: Did the Macalope read this right? You’re trying to speed up the release of Windows 8 for…uh…April, 2012, instead of late 2012?

WINOTAUR: Ohhh, yeah, you heard right. The game’s afoot! Or ahoof, as the case may be.

MACALOPE: What game is that?

WINOTAUR: The tablet game.

MACALOPE: Don’t you mean slate?

WINOTAUR: Uh… actually, I forget what we’re calling it this week.

MACALOPE: “iPad envy”?

WINOTAUR: As if. Our tablet’s not going to be some toy. It’ll run full versions of the applications.

MACALOPE: And super awesomely, the Macalope bets.

WINOTAUR: You know it. You just hook up your mouse and go. That’s a real computer, there, not some Etch-A-Sketch.

MACALOPE: Well, except inasmuch as the user experience will probably make people want to shake it. In that regard it’ll be just like an Etch-A-Sketch.

WINOTAUR: Oh, right. Look, people don’t want half an application. They want it all, baby.

MACALOPE: Even if it shortens their battery life? And they have to carry around a mouse? You guys have been trying to sell Windows on tablets for years. Turns out people don’t want tablets. They want iPads.

WINOTAUR: No, they want a full user experience where…

MACALOPE: Stop. Stop. Stop. No. You know what your problem is? You’re not even selling tablets. You’re selling Windows. Let’s say someone goes into a Microsoft store next year and sees your solution and asks what it is. What do you tell them?

WINOTAUR: That’s easy. It’s Windows 8 for tablets running on…

MACALOPE: STOP. See, someone walks into an Apple Store and what do they see? iPads. What is it? It’s an iPad. Does it hook up the same App Store I know from my iPod? Yes, it runs all those applications. Done. Boom. Here’s my $500. They walk into your store and they need a chart to explain it all to them.

WINOTAUR: Whatever, dude. You’ll see. You’ll be chewing your cud out of the other side of your mouth next April.

MACALOPE: That’s great. Rushed operating systems are the best. Hey, you know what you should do to make that tight deadline? You should throw some more bodies at it.

WINOTAUR: Oh, way ahead of you. Waaay ahead of you.

MACALOPE: Terrific. Best of luck to you. We’ll look forward to seeing it some time in 2013.


[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.]

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