The Macalope Weekly: True originals

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The Macalope can’t tell you how to make a true original. But he knows one when he sees one, and these aren’t them. Ultrabooks? Executive, please. While some sites might occasionally, as if by accident, publish some good pieces, it doesn’t get them off the Macalope’s list. And, while it’s possible Apple might make one, an iPad mini doesn’t strike the horny one as worthy of admission to the pantheon of Apple product gods.


As Ultrabooks start hitting the market this year, you can look forward to Olympic-level verbal gymnastics as PC OEM executives attempt to explain away the many similarities between their laptops and the reference platform for their laptops, the MacBook Air.

First up on floor exercise, HP’s Vice President of Industrial Design, Stacy Wolff. The excitement is palpable, as word has it that Wolff will be performing a roundoff back handspring into a triple Lutz!

And here he goes!

Apple may like to think that they own silver, but they don’t. In no way did HP try to mimic Apple. In life there are a lot of similarities.

“In life there are a lot of similarities.” You are deep, Stacy. Or just really stoned.

There are particularly a lot of similarities if you’re, you know, copying someone else. In that instance, there a tons of similarities. Life sure is funny with its startling and completely natural similarities (tip o’ the antlers to Marco Arment)!

Wolff claims that the design of the possibly-named-by-a-12-year-old boy HP Envy Spectre XT was inspired more by the Compaq TC1000—in that it was silver with black keys and will probably suck. See, the TC1000 was inspired by the Titanium PowerBook, so you Apple nerds are totally off-base with this idea that HP’s new Ultrabook was inspired by the MacBook Air! Ha! As if!

Read more…

The thing is that you have to design what’s right…

Which just happens to be exactly the design Apple’s already selling.

…and that is that sometimes the wedge is the right solution, silver is the right solution.

Sometimes black keys are the right solution. And ports on the sides instead of the back. And taking out the optical drive. And…

Oh, screw it! We copied Apple, OK?!

So there are a lot of things I can list off that are differences; but if you want to look at a macro level, there are a lot of similarities to everything in the market that’s an Ultrabook today.

That’s a nice sleight of hand there. Lots of similarities to everything in the market … today. Like, say, the MacBook Air.

It is not because those guys did it first; it’s just that’s where the form factor is leading it.

Whatever you need to say to sleep at night, Stacy.

Again, like I said, with our TC1000, I didn’t come over to the Cupertino office and say “Hey, this looks like our old tablet. Why did you guys do this?”

Right. Look at your ridiculous tablet. Look at a MacBook Air. Now look at your Ultrabook. Now look at the Macalope. He’s on a horse.

You can talk about how Apple didn’t invent silver and it didn’t invent black keys and how a wedge is just the natural shape, but the fact is that you weren’t even making this class of laptop until Apple did. Ultrabooks weren’t even a thing until the MacBook Air came along. You guys were pushing cheap pieces of plastic with low margins. Then you saw Apple selling something better and being successful with it, and you wanted in.

That’s not a bad business decision, and the Macalope knows you can’t just admit you’re copying Apple, but let’s just be clear that that’s what you’re doing—no matter how you phrase it.

Sometimes they find a nut

The Macalope gives some publications a hard time, but every once in a while even a purveyor of pointless pontification can get something right.

Case in point, Forbes and The Street, which have taken a brief respite from loaning out their pages to people whose dogs were apparently run over by Steve Jobs and instead published some pieces that actually make sense. And you said it wasn’t possible.

Oh, sure, you said it because the Macalope said it first but, hey, this isn’t about the horny one. It’s about you. Don’t try to change the subject.

Forbes contributor Darcy Travlos warns investors not to make the same mistakes about Apple’s stock:

Investors are being offered an opportunity in the market to purchase a stock at 8.2x earnings (excluding cash) for a company that is growing 59% year-over-year in the last quarter. This attractive stock price is the explanation for its recent run. Despite the stock price appreciation, the stock price has still not caught up with the value of this company.

… Undoubtedly, there will come a time that Apple itself will be disrupted, but it does not appear to be anytime soon.

Hasn’t Travlos heard that Apple’s only got two good years left? ABANDON SHIP!

The reasoning behind the Apple Doomsday Cult’s prediction, if you remember, is that Tim Cook has been tried and convicted of the singular sin of not being Steven P. Jobs. Case closed, Apple doomed, please purchase my white paper.

Over at the The Street (The Wall Street), Erick Jackson notes the teensy problem with that theorem.

“Apple’s Executive Team Is Steve Jobs’ Greatest Creation” (tip o’ the antlers to stinmass)

Apple could have the most amazing management team in the world, but none of us would talk about it, because Steve Jobs was that good a CEO.

Point in fact, that’s exactly what’s happening. The Macalope has said this for a long time, but people were spoiled by Steve Jobs. If Phil Schiller were at any other company people would hold him up as the next best presenter. Instead all we heard for years was “He’s no Steve Jobs.” The same is now true of Tim Cook. Forget all his other characteristics, he’s not as charismatic as Jobs, so get ready to watch Cupertino burn to the ground.

Jackson, however, doesn’t seem to have any qualms about the team that Steve Jobs built.

These guys are killers. They’re relentless. They’re going to keep coming after you until the battle is won.

Well, that’s refreshing. And now Forbes and The Street will return you to their previously scheduled collection of Apple Cassandras, already in progress.

Saturday Special: Stop the rumor insanity!

As hard as it is to believe, the DigiTimes credulity train is still running from Gullibility Gulch. This time the cargo is the iPad mini, which got another free ride from DigiTimes’s always rock-solid sources. If you’re looking to get crazy stuff confirmed, just ask “sources in the supply chain.”

Craig Grannell doesn’t buy the rumor, partly because no one can explain how this trip to Tiny Town is supposed to work:

Arguing everything would be fine if a 7.85-inch iPad arrived with a 163 PPI screen is nonsensical. At best, existing apps would be fiddlier to use, causing more hit errors, and the text within them would be smaller and therefore harder to read.

But arguing that you can just shrink the screen down and it’ll all be peachy is exactly what people are doing. Take AppleInsider for example:

By using the same screen resolution as the iPad 2, Apple could allow current applications written for the iPad to run on a new, smaller device without any modifications.

Except to your fingers, which you would have to file into points. Easy!

OK, not necessarily (unless Apple decides to sell iFinger Sharpeners, in which case, yes, necessarily). There are UI elements on the iPhone that are physically smaller than their counterparts on the iPad and people seem to manage. It’s possible that Apple’s tested this out and thought “meh, it’s good enough.”

But there’s a bigger reason to question this petite rumor.

Remember netbooks?


Anyway, the theory at the time—which was enormously popular with pundits, mind you—was that because netbooks were popular, Apple would have to ship a netbook or immediately go out of business. QED. The Macalope is paraphrasing here, but not by much.

But instead of trying to destroy its margins on laptops, Apple found a way to continue to sell classy laptops while reinventing a category of device that Microsoft had failed at for years.

The iPad mini strikes the Macalope as the netbook idea of 2012. Because the important question here is this: Why would Apple ship a lower-margin device when sales of its higher-margin device aren’t exactly hurting? In fact, there’s evidence that that sales of its higher-margin device are hurting sales of competitors’ negative-margin devices.

And, sorry pundits, Apple does not need to respond to stylus-using freaks of nature like the Samsung Galaxy Note. Unless said response is simply to pause momentarily from rolling around in its pile of iPad money to laugh derisively.

[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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