The Macalope Weekly: A kinder, gentler Macalope

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During these troubled times of high unemployment and gas prices and the firing of Dan Harmon from “Community”, it’s nice to be able to rely on your friends. First, the Macalope outsources some retorts to a friend in the security business and then a friend stages an intervention which prompts the horny one to make nice with a former victim.

Don’t worry, the Macalope’s sure he’ll forget all of this friendliness and be back to goring people by next week.

Protesting too much

Hell hath no fury like a security software vendor kept off a platform.

“Eugene Kaspersky frustrated by Apple’s iOS AV ban”

Boo. Hoo.

Just so we’re clear, the thing that keeps Kaspersky’s software off of iOS is the same thing that makes Apple’s mobile platform the most secure operating system there is. Period.

“We as a security company are not able to develop true endpoint security for iOS,” Kaspersky told The Register in Sydney today. “That will mean disaster for Apple,” he opined, as malware will inevitably strike iOS in the future.

We’re so sure.

Yes, it sure was a disaster for Mac users when a virus wiped out their user settings.

Oh, wait, that wasn’t a virus, it was your malware removal tool. Oopsies!

Kaspersky says the infection vector won’t be iOS itself, which he said “by design is more secure” than other operating systems.

What, then? Evil spirits?

Read more…

“ … The only way is to inject it into the source code of legal software. It will take place in a marketplace and then there will be millions or tens of millions of devices.”

Huh. Well, in general the Macalope would have to defer to Kaspersky, since the horny one isn’t a security expert but rather just a pointy beast meant for skewering pundits.

Fortunately, he’s not in a deferential mood today! The Macalope’s dad always says “if your antlers aren’t sharp on one side, find someone else whose are.” The Macalope still isn’t exactly sure what that means, but to solve his current dilemma he spoke to Rich Mogull of Securosis, who had this to say:

Kaspersky is correct, someday someone will probably get an evil app into the App Store or exploit a legitimate app and circumvent the iOS security and sandboxing. But I’m not convinced any AV vendor would be able to discover and stop this app any faster than Apple could yank it from the store. And I don’t think this will ever be a rampant problem like it currently is on Android.

I’ll take a more-secure platform over AV any day of the week. Thinking AV is the only way to prevent malware is a very myopic view.

Indeed. Myopic and, of course, self-serving. Kaspersky:

The result of an attack on iOS, he feels, will be declining market share for Apple and a concomitant boost for Android, a platform he admits is less secure but which at least offers developers the chance to develop security software.

Because security software that deletes your user settings is the only way to protect yourself!

A severe attack, Kaspersky argues, therefore has the potential to highlight the problems of a closed ecosystem and damage Apple permanently.

Right. Again, Mogull:

There is a long history of antivirus vendors claiming a platform can’t be secure unless they have access to it. For example, Symantec and McAfee even took out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal when Microsoft first announced they would lock down the 64-bit Windows kernel in Vista, breaking the kernel hacks they relied on. Personally, I’d prefer a secure platform [over] having to rely on a partially-effective solution that requires reducing the rest of the system’s security.

The Macalope really didn’t have an opinion of Kaspersky before its CEO decided to make a big deal about the fact that its virus software is useless on iOS because Apple has decided to make its mobile operating system incredibly secure. But he does now, and it’s not a good one.

You talkin’ to me?

In writing a post ostensibly about three things that should trouble Apple, developer and admitted Canadian Guy English doesn’t mention the Macalope by name, but he might as well have.

In his lead up to the things three, English calls out a beloved genre of Apple punditry:

I believe that many Apple observers have been too invested in picking off the low hanging fruit of obviously out-of-touch commentators, columnists, and analysts. Apple is winning. It’s fun to pick on the idiots, and we do tune in for the affirmation that engenders, but that’s not insight. It’s a tag team wedgie patrol. It takes a cleaver intellect to dismantle bull** but, ultimately, it often just ends up with pantsing the dumb guy.

Well … what if he really, really deserves it?

Hang on, though, because the Macalope gets English’s point, but he doesn’t completely buy the whole thesis. The pointy one would argue that this exercise actually can be insightful. In coming up with responses to some of this nonsense, we can actually better define what’s going on in the market.

Let’s take Android for instance. For well over a year, people have been arguing that Android is winning because it’s got higher market share, and as part of deconstructing this argument we’ve learned first that Google makes more money off iOS than Android, and then that Android isn’t even a very good business for Google. Google doesn’t publish those numbers, but the smarter students have been able to intuit them. That’s insightful.

Anyway, let’s face it. The Macalope’s never going to stop handing out wedgies. Also, he must point out that many of these people are not considered “the dumb guy,” as English puts it. They’re actually considered smart! Some of them run big companies that are considered to be “winning”! (Can’t wait until next month! Wear something with an elastic waistband, Eric!)

Many of them are merely idiots, but even without getting too far down into the barrel you can find enough emperors without clothes on to populate a nudist colony. Assuming that’s something you were looking to do.

Rather than doing that let’s aim to pants the A-grade quarterback.

Here are the top three problems I believe Apple faces in the near term.

English is a smart feller and the Macalope has not one quibble with his list. And he’s right. When we’re doling out wedgies, noogies, snicker-snags, and pantsings, we should not give anyone a free ride.

Well, wedgies are kind of like a ride. But you know what the Macalope means.

In addition to English’s list, the Macalope would add Apple’s lackadaisical attitude toward Mac security, which he’s commented on recently. Another bee in his antler-friendly bonnet is Apple’s self-serving App Store rules. The Macalope hopes there’s some reasonable explanation of why Apple yanked Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil from the iTunes App Store that doesn’t amount to “the house always wins.”

Maybe Apple fans do spend too much time punching dopes, but the Macalope does not feel that it’s without merit or reward.

Also it’s just fun.

(Disclosure: Rogue Amoeba has previously been an advertiser on the Macalope’s site.)

Saturday Special: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Looking forward to the storied Apple television? Too bad, according to Rocco Pendola, writing at The Street.

“Why Apple’s iTV (or Whatever It Will Be) Will Fail”

Now, you’d think the Macalope would rip into this with allllll the antlers, perhaps going so far as to borrow some antlers from a friend for the weekend, or renting some ZipAntlers (motto: “Antlers when you want them.”).

Well, sorry to disappoint, but there are two reasons the Macalope’s not going full bore.

First of all, the Macalope would like to give some props to Pendola, assuming “props” are still something the kids give out these days. If not, and he thinks that’s the case, he would like to use the term ironically, but still make it clear that he is sending Pendola some respect. Because when the Macalope gave Pendola the full business-end of his pointy appendages the last time, Pendola took it with exceeding grace. Most people get all bent out of shape when being teased by a cartoon of a mythical creature with a classic Mac for a head. It’s weird.

Second, though, once you get past the nuttiness of claiming a product that you’ve never seen will fail (which, admittedly, is exceptionally nutty), Pendola’s point is sound.

Apple has had and will continue to have trouble striking deals with content providers. At best, if it plans on merely beaming content through a nice-looking television set, it will have an incomplete, and not all that compelling, offering.

The big problem, the 900-pound gorilla sitting on the balloon full of our hopes of television nirvana, is the fact that the people who own the content are idiots who hate their customers. Getting around this is not going to be easy. Maybe Apple can do it, but so far it hasn’t had much success.

If this is indeed where things stand right now—Apple at a stalemate with content providers—expect iTV, iPanel, whatever to fail miserably. When I say “fail miserably,” I mean along the lines of Ping or the present iteration of Apple TV.

Well, hang on. These are two different things: Ping is a miserable failure, but one all of Apple’s doing and one they might be able to fix if the company could get its act together. The Apple TV, on the other hand, is a modest success and what’s holding it back is something outside of Apple’s control: entertainment industry douchebaggery.

Ultimately, though, neither Pendola nor the Macalope know what, if anything, Apple’s going to release. So the only “fail” for now is in trying to state with surety that you know how it’ll do.

[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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