The Macalope Weekly: Surprise!

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Many things may be surprising this week, dear readers. For example, you may be surprised to know that Rob Enderle was wrong about something! You would, however, have to have absolutely no idea who Rob Enderle is. But it’s possible! More surprising might be the Macalope’s take on the patent wars: He’s not, exactly, for Apple! Finally, it’s Apple’s turn to be surprised about a startling new technology known as “web apps.” Who saw that coming?!

Saturday Special: His record of being wrong is unbroken!

You guys, you’re not going to believe this! It turns out that Rob Enderle was on the wrong side of history.


Streak Smart, the go-to site for all things about the Dell Streak…

The Dell Streak.

Dell’s Android tablet.

Dell. They make crappy PCs and Apple could buy them with cash.

Anyway, according to Streak Smart, the Dell Streak is no more.

A moment of silence, please annnnnnd you’re laughing already. OK. That’s understandable. But the Macalope heard the name “Dell Streak” and it jogged something in his memory. Hmm. What was it? What could it have been oh, here it is.

The Dell Streak: Better than an iPad and an iPhone

Sadly, the market did not agree with the vision and depth of insight of the Last Inquiry Unicorn, Rob Enderle.

Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies.

Cough, Dell, cough.

At least Rob’s fluffing of the Streak seems to have been expunged from a piece the Macalope took to task last year, probably at the prodding of that scold, Glenn Fleishman, who seems to believe analysts should disclose their conflicts of interest to journalists.

Well, don’t be too hard on Rob. He’s just practicing the oldest profession.


Why, what did you think the Macalope was talking about?

Read more…

Taking sides

“Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, ‘What did you do in the great Patent Wars of 2011?’ You won’t have to say, ‘Well, I shoveled [expletive] in Louisiana.’” - George S. Patton

There’s been a lot of hubbub about patents this year. They’re like this year’s Cabbage Patch Kids or Tamogotchi or tactical thermonuclear weapon. You’d better be on the patent-holding side or woe betide unto you. Loser.

Sadly for Google, its mom wasn’t willing to line up at 6:00 a.m. in front of the Toys-R-Us. Or the Soviet Academy of Sciences at the end of the Cold War, as the case may be.

The Macalope took some flack in the comments last week, because he poked fun at Google’s laughable complaints about Microsoft and Apple suing Android hardware manufacturers. So, he spent some of his well-earned vacation time thinking about this whole situation while drinking umbrella-adorned beverages by the ocean and having his antlers massaged by nymphs.

That’s not a euphemism, by the way.

Anyway, he doesn’t want to be talking out of both sides of his floppy-drive mouth about this. When the history of this great battle is written, he wants people to know where he stands. Well, sir, what shall it be? Shall it be for liberty or for the tyranny of a broken patent system?! Don’t wait for the translation, answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’!

(The Macalope buys trite uses of famous quotations by the bushel down at Earl’s Trite Uses of Famous Quotations Shack off I-75 in Sarasota.)

Well, really, you can be against Lodsys and for Apple. But it doesn’t really matter. The Macalope’s position on this is about the same as that of Watts Martin, who nicely sums up some of the differences and concludes thusly:

…I’m not sure I’m on Apple’s “side,” both as someone who doesn’t like software patents in general and as someone who generally likes Apple’s products.

The Macalope doesn’t feel like he really has a dog in this Google/Microsoft/Apple fight. He frankly doesn’t support dog-fighting at all. Or cock fighting. (That is a euphemism, by the way.) But he doesn’t think you have to be rooting for someone to find it funny that one of the teams is complaining about the rules of the fight.

Still, if forced into absolutes, he’d gladly trade the dissolution of the Lodsys suit for the dissolution of Microsoft and Apple’s claims against Android hardware manufacturers. It’s not like Apple really needs the help of the courts to fight Android—it’s already taking all the profit. The Macalope worries more about independent developers getting extorted by idea squatters than three giant companies fighting with each other.

Apple foiled by surprise technology!

It’s times like this when all the Macalope can do is sit back and ask himself “what are these people smoking?” Apparently, the new consensus amongst the silly pundit class is that Amazon has totally stuck it to Apple by developing a “web app” that circumvents Apple’s draconian subscription policy.

BOO-YAH! In your face, Apple! Bet you never saw that coming, did you?! You were all like, “oh, Amazon’s gonna give us 30 percent of all its Kindle revanooz and it’s gonna be so sweeeeeeet!” And then, BAM! Out of nowhere came this space-age technology called “HTML5,” and you’re all like whaaaaaa? Where’s my blood money?!

Let’s start with Read Write Web’s Richard MacManus (tip o’ the antlers to Joey Drews).

Today Amazon launched an HTML5 browser version of its market leading eReader application, Kindle. Called Kindle Cloud Reader, it’s a direct response to the 30% cut of sales that Apple now takes from in-app purchases and subscriptions via iOS apps.

Actually, at most it’s a direct response to Apple not allowing a store button that circumvents its in-app purchasing system, but go ahead, caller.

The 30% Apple toll hits businesses like Amazon hard, because the margins on book sales are slim enough as it is.

Actually, it doesn’t hit Amazon at all, because they’re not using Apple’s in-app purchasing system, but please continue. The chair recognizes the overly dramatic Senator who doesn’t quite have his facts straight.

Because the HTML5 site is very close to the functionality of the iPad Kindle app, this is going to have huge ramifications for Apple. Yes, Apple’s walled garden has just been structurally weakened. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a matter of months, not years, before Amazon pulls its iOS Kindle app from the App Store.

(Emphasis MacManus’s.) Right, because what users love is difficult installation processes. They dig that. They crave it. Your average iPhone user hates the convenience of the App Store. What they really like is Web standards.

In order to understand why Apple’s walled garden is probably going to go the way of AOL’s walled garden from the dot com era, we first need to acknowledge the sophistication and promise of HTML5.

MacManus then follows that with a picture of the Berlin Wall falling, narrowly dodging Godwin’s Law. Also, the Macalope feels compelled to point out what a failure of a metaphor that is, unless he’s suggesting that East Berlin was a garden.

Should Apple be concerned about that? You bet. It’s a going to end up being a very large hole in its wall, caused by companies wielding HTML5 sledgehammers.

What is it you’d suggest Apple do? Drop its 30-percent take on subscriptions to zero? How is this different from Apple 30-percent take of app sales? You don’t seem to mention that. Presumably that’s less like a wall built around a repressive socialist stronghold that people were literally shot and killed for trying to climb over.

What MacManus sets up as some kind of unexpected consequence of Apple’s mustache-twirling dastardliness is actually a feature of the operating system. Go figure! Yeah, see, it’s not actually a joke on Apple that HTML5 apps work. The company built that into the OS with that in mind. Really! You can look it up.

If HTML5 apps do reach functional parity with native iOS apps, what, exactly, is Apple supposed to do to stop anyone from taking advantage of that? Cut off access to the Web? That’d sure sell a lot of phones.

Apple’s proposition about native apps is that “good enough” isn’t, in fact, good enough. Only a bunch of technology nerds who obsess over business models that average users couldn’t give a rip about value “open” over “walled garden.” The Cloud Reader is nice, but it's nowhere near as smooth as the native Kindle app which is easier to install and still free.

As bad as MacManus’s take is, Joe Wilcox turns the lunacy up to 11. The Macalope would have focused on Wilcox, but, to be honest, he’s had to write about Wilcox over and over and over and, ugh, this relationship is SO SUFFOCATING, JOE.

Wouldn’t it be funny if Apple bullying led to a larger developer revolt and escape to HTML5 mobile web apps?

I guess it might be if, you know, Apple didn’t explicitely offer this as an App Store alternative. Then it might be funny. Is Web development funny? Well, it’s a little funny the way the Macalope does it, but he’s pretty sure that’s not what Wilcox is talking about.

What’s particularly rich is all this caterwauling about how unfair Apple’s 30-percent take is to Amazon. Amazon, which took 70 percent of independent book sales until the App Store came along. That was apparently totally cool and not at all like totalitarian socialist regimes.

Well, if MacManus and Wilcox aren’t crazy enough for you, maybe you’d prefer the San Francisco Chronicle’s Benny Evangelista, who just decided to make stuff up.

Using HTML5 also gets around Apple’s ban on Adobe’s Flash multimedia playback technology.


[Editors’ Note: 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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