The Macalope Daily: Doubling down


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On Monday, the Macalope took exception to a piece by Southern California Public Radio?s Matthew DeBord on how the iPhone 5 was five inches of fail in a 4-inch phone. Now DeBord has fired back with ?3 reasons why the iPhone 5 will still fail.?

Sigh. Is this going to be a thing, Matthew? People are going to talk.

I prefaced it all by stressing that I was taking a contrarian position, but I got called out big time for my contrarianism, both in the comments and, more recently, by the Macalope over at Macworld.

Well, saying you?re being a contrarian doesn?t inure you from criticism. Being a contrarian means you take an opinion contrary to popular belief, not one contrary to all evidence.

Now, if you had said it was parody, well, that would have made more sense.

The Macalope then sets about dismantling my Fail! arguments. The thread of reasoning that undergirds it all is that the iPhone 5 won?t fail because the iPhone 4S wasn?t failing. All the stuff that Apple was being urged to do with the iPhone 5 was kinda sorta unnecessary because the iPhone 4S was still plenty popular. They didn?t even need the stinkin? iPhone 5!

The Macalope doesn?t quite agree with your summarization of his argument?the point was more that people have said every iPhone since 2007 would fail and here we are, but let?s let that lie and proceed to fresher, more happenin? material than this moldy stuff from earlier this week.

Nevertheless, there remain reasons why the Apple iPhone 5 could fail:

Ah! Now we?re at ?could?! See, Matthew, ?could? is different than ?will,? which is not only what you said previously but what?s in your headline. Really. Those words have different meanings. You can look them up.

It won?t make the big fourth quarter number.

DeBord calls Apple?s record-breaking pre-orders a ?neat trick? and notes:

A stunning debut won?t matter if Apple doesn?t take it to the finish line. That?s where markets are looking for growth, and for Apple, the bar is high here.

Well, sure, but record pre-orders is still a positive early indicator and the markets sure seem pretty optimistic. It?s possible sales could plummet after the launch, but the horny one sees no reason why the iPhone 5 won?t be a hot holiday item.

Also, let?s remember the iPhone 4 which is now ?free.? It is, of course, not really free, you just don?t pay up front for it. Apple still makes money on it, and both it and the now-cheaper iPhone 4S still count as iPhone sales.

iPhone 5 users will be stuck with a behind-the-curve phone for 2 years.

Here DeBord seems to state as fact that the iPhone 4S was ?behind-the-curve,? which might come as news to all the people who bought one and quite like it, thank you very much. If everyone bought iPhones based on a list of ?features,? no one would buy iPhones.

But as Henry Blodget points out at Business Insider?


?Samsung will have a new smartphone in the market by February and it will surely trump the iPhone 5 in numerous ways.

Not until February? What, are its engineers and designers on vacation? Samsung released a flagship product a couple of months ago. What?s taking it so long?

Again, a list of features slapped into a case does not an enjoyable smartphone user experience make. What good is having an NFC-capable phone if you can?t use it anywhere? The Macalope fondly remembers (because it was so funny) being told how the Motorola Xoom would kill the iPad because it had 4G. Well, technically, it didn?t have 4G, it had the capability to one day have 4G. But ? check!

If you can stand four-letter words that start with ?f,? read this (tip o? the antlers to Daring Fireball) to understand how this works and isn?t just marketing. Getting something right is better than getting it first.

The iPhone 5 will succeed wildly and make Apple even more totally dependent on it.

So, now you have a piece that says both ?the iPhone 5 will fail,? ?the iPhone 5 could fail,? and ?the iPhone 5 will succeed wildly.? Just to keep score on the intellectual integrity of your argument.

Of course, the Macalope gets the sense that, based on his quick retort and favorable linking to Henry Blodget, DeBord is more interested in just having an argument than it being logically consistent.

Here, he switches to a different argument, which is how the iPhone 5 will fail Apple, because the company is now locked into feeding the beast in the hope it will grow ever fatter.

The iPod is killable. The iPhone, clearly, is not.

Actually, no! You?ve missed another key point in how Apple does business compared to everyone else. The iPhone is not only killable, it one day demands to be killed. As long as Apple kills it itself. Which, by the way, is exactly what it did with the iPod.

If you want, you can argue that only Steve Jobs could kill products that Apple made. That is at least an idea you can bet on, but it means you have to think that while Jobs believed in that philosophy, he only hired people to work for him who believe in milking cash cows in perpetuity. That seems an odd blind spot to project on the man, though.

So ? should the Macalope pencil you in for Friday, Matthew? Not that he really wants to, but right now his week?s open.

[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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