The Macalope Weekly: It could've been worse


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Just so you know, as painful as some of the pieces we'll look at this week are, the Macalope did you all a favor. Not only did he pass up a piece by Rob Enderle, he also passed up a piece by John Dvorak. So ... don't say the horny one never did anything for you.

What we will be wading through, however, is more Apple acquisition porn of the shoddiest kind, reasons why an unshipped Apple product will fail (SEEN IT), and the thick, viscous fluid that drips from Dan Lyons's brain.

We just did this!

No sooner had the Macalope closed the book on a list of five reasons why an Apple watch will fail than someone else published a list of seven reasons why it will fail. It's like a recursive Apple fail! Each call to the function brings you ever more failing!

InformationWeek's Thomas Claburn ups the ante with "Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly" (tip o' the antlers to Shawn King).

You know, this is really annoying. The Macalope doesn't necessarily believe Apple will ship a "watch" (remember that the company was rumored to be working on a netbook before people realized, no, it was a tablet) and, yet, he has to defend the idea against the slings and arrows of outrageous dumb.

Understandable as it may be that the tech industry would like to see wearable devices follow the same explosive growth trajectory as the mobile market experienced over the last six years, Apple, Google and other companies in this space have yet to demonstrate there's any mass-market value to buckling, strapping, mounting or otherwise attaching small, Internet-aware computers to one's body.

"Apple, Google and other companies." Uh-huh. You know that not one of those companies has actually released a wearable computer, right?

There is certainly niche-market value: The Nike + iPod sensor, the Nike Fuelband and other activity-tracking gadgets like the Jawbone UP wristband are loved by some. But these specialized gizmos will never have the broad impact of the iPhone.

Which is probably why an Apple watch would do more than that.

The lack of imagination here is breathtaking. And, as the Macalope noted on Thursday, it happens every time. Apple is rumored to be working on a new kind of device so pundits look around at the existing, failed devices in the same category and conclude Apple's will fail, too. iPod, iPhone, iPad. All declared failures before anyone even understood them.

Squeezing a processor into an iPod Nano form factor mostly means a less-capable computing device, and adding a wristband doesn't change that.

Claburn apparently thinks that the 100 designers the company supposedly has working on this are just sitting around shrugging and saying "Well ... we could just shove a processor into an iPod nano." "Yeah, let's do that." "OK. So ... lunch?"

Because that sounds so much like Apple designers.

We haven't even gotten to his seven reasons yet.

1. Subscription Fees

Ah, yes. No one wants to pay for another cellular contract. This, of course, is why the iPad was such a big failure.

2. Battery Life

Translation: "I got this off a list of generic things to complain about."

3. Sensors Don't Matter

What Apple will do is just slap some sensors into an iPod nano and you'll get a bunch of dumb data, which is dumb and stupid and so is an Apple watch, QED.

Let's pause for a second to point out that a) Claburn has no idea what an Apple watch might do and b) we don't even know that Apple is working on a "watch."

4. Everything Watches Can Do, Phones Can Do Better

You can't argue with subjective, unprovable truths about devices that don't exist, my friends! It can't be done!

5. Notifications Are The New Spam

"In my day, the newspaper boy delivered the news promptly at 5 a.m. We didn't get any more news until the following morning. And that's the way we liked it!"

6. NFC Isn't A Point of Differentiation

The iWatch has potential for near-field communications ...

So does the iPhone. Does it actually have NFC? No. So what are the chances an Apple watch will?

It seems unlikely that Apple will be able to reinvent the watch in a way that matches its reinvention of the mobile phone.

I can't imagine how Apple could do this thing, so there must not be any way they can.

7. Cost

Apple products cost too much! That's why no one buys them.

Like the Macalope said, he's not even a proponent of an Apple watch, but now he wants the company to ship one just so Claburn will have to print this article out and eat it.

All mixed up and backwards

Back when Apple was in the doldrums (the Macalope means years ago, when it was actually in the doldrums, not now when it's just perceived to be in the doldrums), there were all kinds of dumb acquisition ideas floated about the company. Now that it's big, there are still dumb acquisition ideas about it, just with the company on the other side of the table.

Writing for Forbes, Greg Satell asks "Should Apple Buy Dell?" (no link because, really, look at that title).

Writing for Macworld, the Macalope says "No."

Well, I'm glad we settled th ...

Dell’s recent announcement ...

Oh, my God, you're serious with this?

... of a $24 billion deal to take the company private through a leveraged buyout raised many questions and one near certainty: the investors will be looking for an exit in 3-5 years. Who will buy it? As strange as it may sound, Apple would be a prime candidate.

Why is it that this kind of ridiculous acquisition porn, like most porn, is only exciting for one party? And it's never the star.

While this is just mere speculation and I don’t have any inside knowledge ...

Wow, really?! You don't know that this brilliant idea isn't being executed as we speak?! That's a shocker.

... when you take into account the history of both companies and their most likely future needs, an Apple purchase of Dell doesn’t seem that crazy after all.

Compared to what? That scene in Poltergeist where the guy rips the skin off his face? Because it actually seems crazier than doing that.

So, why are we supposed to think this unholy union would be a good idea?

... while Dell has made headway building supercomputers, they lack the second part of the puzzle, a natural language processing solution. It is the marriage of both that makes platforms like IBM’s Watson possible. Dell doesn’t have one and will find it difficult to acquire a top-notch product, but Apple’s Siri would make a great fit and that’s why the idea of an Apple-Dell union could make a whole lot of sense.

For Dell.

Further, while Apple can still expect 3-5 years of strong growth from its existing lines of business, the future beyond that is unclear.

Whereas Dell's prospects are rock-solid!

Er ...

It could very well be that they will need to make a significant back-end acquisition to augment its legendary front-end prowess at about the same time that Dell’s bankers are looking for an exit.

Dell is looking to focus on selling high-end servers to companies for their data crunching needs. Apple is never going to be in that business. It doesn't even sell its own server anymore. Other than a brief period where Dell resold iPods, these two companies have been like oil and water forever. Is it too much to ask that these things make at least a modicum of sense?


Dan Lyons, at his new home on ReadWrite In Crayon, is dishing it back to Apple bloggers!

Wait, does he actually do anything else?

"Who's Manipulating Apple Stock With This iWatch Story?" (no link but tip o' the antlers once again to iHKDesign, who is well on his way to that free set of steak knives for being this quarter's biggest Macalope tipster).

What's got Lyons's Underoos in a twist this time? Turns out Apple bloggers who mentioned how whispers that demand was low for the iPhone 5 might be stock manipulation are now ignoring the very obvious fact that Apple is manipulating its stock by leaking information about an upcoming watch!

That was the cry from Apple fanbloggers last month when the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had reduced component orders, a possible sign of softening demand for Apple products. That story broke nine days before Apple was to report its earnings, and sent the stock reeling downward.

But if that was the case ...

Lyons glosses over whether or not that was the case in his rush to create false equivalencies. A-gain.

Does no one else think it’s kind of remarkable that this unreleased product suddenly starts showing up in dozens of blog posts and press stories? And that these leaks happened, coincidentally, right after Apple’s stock endured a brutal slide from just above $700 in September to a low of $435 in January?

The Macalope doesn't know if you noticed, Dan, but Apple rumors are pretty much a 24/7 business. The Macalope's not saying Apple didn't leak this information—heck if he knows, but he's not naive enough to think Apple is above doing that. But if Apple has the ability to reverse a slide, why didn't it do that when its stock was at $600? Or $500?

The reason Apple bloggers (and others) suggested stock manipulation might be occurring was because there was a demonstrable reason for investors to suppress the stock, tied to actual dates and numbers. Also because the story about weak iPhone 5 demand made no sense.

But let's not interrupt a man engaged in his favorite pastime: bashing Apple bloggers.

Apple wanted to get the stock back up, and so its flacks were reaching out to reporters and briefing them on background, trying to convince them that things at Apple were better than what Wall Street believed.

Which, you know, they are. But that's some kind of Kremlin-esque plot to Lyons who is shocked—SHOCKED!—to find out there is marketing going on here!

Here's the disconnect in Lyons's complaint. He doesn't seem to be saying that an "iWatch" doesn't exist or isn't a product Apple's working on. Apple's perfectly in its rights to leak information about upcoming products, as long as it's true. The stories about Apple cutting iPhone 5 orders "in half" were bogus.

Bits and pieces about Apple doing a watch have been floating around since at least last year.

Oh! And here the Macalope thought it all had to do with Apple stock dropping.

Slow news day over at ReadWriteFlopSweatPratFall, the Macalope supposes.

[MG] Siegler, who basically operates as an unpaid Apple PR guy ...

Ask yourself why someone would do that. He probably does it because he believes it. Siegler is certainly opinionated and antagonistic against Apple's competitors (although not all of them—he liked the Kindle Fire), but he's right more often than Lyons is. Not that that's saying much.

The story has been everywhere. Huffington Post, CBS, ABC. Everywhere. We’ve even seen photos of what it might look like, long descriptions of all the amazing features it might have, and all the problems it might solve.

Are you new here or something? This is Apple, Dan. This is the company that, regrettably, made you famous. Does Apple play the news cycle? Good god, yes. That's called smart marketing. The fact that you can't see the difference between that and outside parties making crap up about iPhone demand ... well, that just fits your character profile, actually.

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