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WWDC is winding down, so it’s time to back up and make sure that we didn’t let something dumb that someone said get lost in the shuffle of fabulous announcements, free food, and oh, the Macalope’s aching head, the drinks.

Oh, yes, here we go.

CNet’s Eric Mack tries to tell us “Why we would’ve been better off without the iPod”.

Stay tuned for Mack’s follow-up Christmas piece entitled “How Bedford Falls would have been better off if George Bailey had been hit by a bus as a teenager.”

[The original iPod] would cost you $400 in 2001, and that first model didn’t quite remake the industry overnight as legend might have you believe.

Wheeee-haaaw! Straw man arguments sure do burn purty don’t they? Throw another one on the fire!

So, for the sake of an argument that I’ll never be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, let’s pretend all that never happened.

Translation: “I’m just going to pull a bunch of arguments out of my butt. Enjoy.”

Mack uses a courtroom theme, and if the Macalope were the opposing counsel he’d have the whole thing thrown out of court for assuming facts not in evidence.

…at some point a big name in consumer electronics makes a digital music player that combines the three critical elements [Apple used in making the first iPod] of marketing, design and storage space that Apple hit on in our world.

Mack lists Sony, Microsoft, and Samsung as the contenders that would have made the iPod if Apple had not made the iPod. None of whom, in this universe, could find their musical butts with the help of a team of hard-bitten roadies. Why Mack thinks that the iPod somehow prevented them from making a device that people wanted to buy is beyond the Macalope. They couldn’t do it because they’re incompetent, not because Apple somehow cast a magical spell over the world.

Samsung was thinking of a single device to rule them all before Jobs fast-tracked a digital music player project in California. The huge Korean company may not have been able to pull off the same elegant design or euphoria-inducing marketing that our-world Apple excels at, but…

No. No “but.” That’s exactly the problem. That’s it. Their devices sucked and people didn’t want to buy them. End of story.

In other words, while folks in our timeline spent six years dazzled by a string of iPod iterations until the iPhone changed everything again, I believe many more folks in no-iPod world could have been consuming all kinds of media on their phones years earlier. Heck, maybe we’d even have better wireless networks as a result of that pressure.

It have become a cliché to translate a paragraph like this as “I am as high as a kite,” but the Macalope believes that Mack may, in fact, be as high as a kite.

Prior to the iPhone, the carriers had all the power, not the manufacturers. A realistic vision of this alternate and completely crappy universe would have carriers plodding along offering one lousy, incomplete store after another, forcing you to buy music you hate in order to get the songs you want. And then they’d shut down the store a year later and force you to re-purchase your songs on another store.

Oh, and believe it or not, but Mack gets through the whole piece without mentioning DRM once. Sounds like someone’s already living in an alternate universe.

[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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