The Macalope Weekly: Missed connections


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You can almost see the “missed connection” personal ads these pundits would write: “You: gullible reader, looking for more information about the technology industry. Me: technology pundit willfully ignoring implicit costs, pushing really bad ideas, and misrepresenting survey results to generate page views.” Will they get together?! Read on!

No such thing as a free lunch

Writing for The Motley Fool, Steve Heller has some fun with language!

“Apple Has a Siri-ous Problem.”

Ahhhh, the Macalope sees what you did there!

You nauseated everyone with a pun! Very clever!

Perhaps what you haven’t heard is how Google Now for iOS has completely undermined Apple Siri, to the point where it may threaten Apple’s coveted halo.

It may threaten Apple’s halo!

Or, well, it may not.

But it may!

Or not.

But maybe!

So, having said that it “may,” let’s just assume that it will. Or, heck, let’s just assume it has already. That’ll be easier.

Google Now leverages all of your Google user data to improve relevancy, context, and timing.

And to improve the flow of information about you to Google’s real customers: advertisers!

Check out the video below to get a better sense how Google Now works.

Here, enjoy these Google advertising materials! Now do you think Google Now is threatening Apple’s halo? No? Here take some more advertising materials. What about now? No? Look, just keep taking advertising materials until you change your mind, OK?

At a whopping 42 seconds long, the video does not give you a better sense of how Google Now works. It does note that you have to sign in for the service to work, so that Google can get the maximum amount of information about you! And it’s not like the company seems to be constantly chafing at our antiquated sense of legality like it’s a pair of burlap boxer-briefs, so don’t worry about your privacy!

Google makes some great products and Google Now does seem like a better voice interaction system than Siri. But Google’s products, while ostensibly free, always come with a hidden cost, and the Macalope doesn’t get this glib disregard for even mentioning that. Not to mention the equally glib attitude about the coming future where companies own all our personal data, which we should just get used to, because future! Now Google’s CEO stands on stage at its annual developer event and waxes poetic about the need to get out from all these onerous laws holding the company back.

Not everyone has to care about these concerns, but they should at least be recognized.

Swing and a miss

Are you ready for the dumbest idea-that’ll-never-happen that you’ve ever heard? Or, well, that you’ve heard since Thursday?

It’s admittedly hard to keep up with all the stupid ideas in an industry that moves as fast as technology!

“Why Apple should develop Android apps.”

See? The Macalope told you. Pretty stupid, right? But CNet’s David Carnoy isn’t the only one huffing paint fumes.

Wait, is that an outdated reference? What are the kids huffing these days? Bieber? Are they huffing Bieber? The Macalope wants to keep it “fresh.” And, by the way, the Macalope does know that saying “fresh” is totally not fresh.

Any-way, let’s let Carnoy explain why this is supposed to be a good idea:

Consider Instagram’s eventual transition to Android, which was so wildly popular that it was a factor in Facebook’s billion-dollar acquisition of the photo-centric social network just a few days later.

“A factor” like “oh, and, yeah, we’re gonna have an Android app, too.” In point of fact, Facebook acquired Instagram almost exclusively because of its success on iOS. By the time the Android app was even available Zuckerberg had already made the “M” in “Mark” on the billion-dollar check.

On a personal level, while my day-to-day smartphone remains an iPhone (the 4S), I’m finding myself using Apple’s apps less and less …

So, Apple should make them for other platforms.


Setting aside a discussion of the deficiencies of iTunes and iCloud, my larger point is that I’m being drawn away from Apple apps because I don’t want to feel cornered by them.

But the point of Apple’s apps isn’t to sell content, it’s to sell devices. Apple would like it if you bought your books from iBooks, but it really just wants to sell you an iPad. And an iPhone. Also a Mac, if you don’t mind.

Heck, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is for it …

Trotting Woz out is not only a lazy trope, it’s actually become proof that something is a really, really bad idea.

But remember: the iPod didn’t really take off until Apple created iTunes on Windows. Yes, that was a different era—Apple the underdog, Microsoft at the height of its powers. But it worked out brilliantly for Apple.

Right, know why? Because it helped Apple sell more devices, not because it helped the company sell more music. That was just gravy.

It’s not like Apple’s apps are so goldarned great, either. Ask a Windows user about iTunes on Windows and it’s like getting sprayed in the face with a firehose of liquid hate. Heck, even Mac users don’t like iTunes anymore.

The iTunes and App Stores do make the company more money than they used to, but Apple still isn’t a media company. It’s a device company. That’s why it makes sure it has such a great App Store; that way, if you don’t want to use Apple’s apps you can find something else.

You hate Apple and leave the office at 5 PM every day

Bloomberg is back this week and—surprise!—it’s here to tell you how bleak things are for Apple!

“Apple losing innovative edge, three in four investors say” (tip o’ the antlers to Carl Howe).

First of all, yeah, it’s been kind of obvious for the last six months that investors are down on Apple. We can read line charts. Actual people, on the other hand, keep buying more iPhones and iPads every quarter. But, yes, investors are a sad emoji.

Second, though, when you say “investors,” what you really mean is “Bloomberg terminal users.” That’s really a certain kind of investor, one that might be inclined to be cranky, since they spent all that money on a Bloomberg terminal only to get spied on.

Thirdly, let’s look at what the results said when taken another way. Yes, when you add Bloomberg terminal users who said Apple has “lost its cachet as an industry innovator,” either temporarily or permanently, you get 71 percent. But when you ask who sees Apple as a long-term innovator, you get 66 percent.

Of course, that kind of headline doesn’t distract people from the fact that you use your terminals to get more information from users than just their opinions about Apple.

Bloomberg’s write-up of the results (tip o’ the antlers to the Jony Ive parody account on Twitter) is as loose with the words that come out of Tim Cook’s mouth as it is with its definition of “investors.”

Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the company won’t introduce a product to add to its innovations—the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone and iPad—until the U.S. fall, one of Apple’s longest stretches without a fresh gadget since at least 2000.

Actually, what he said was the company won’t introduce a new product category before the fall. It’s still possible we’ll see new products at WWDC next month. Ever helpful, analysts are falling over themselves to provide negative quotes about Apple.

“They’ve definitely lost their momentum,” said Lionel Mellul, 43, head of the cash equity business at Sunrise Brokers in New York, a poll respondent. “It’s still at the point where they might turn things around. They still have a strong brand.”

Apple might turn things around. From record revenues. That’s good to know.

Apple remains the most profitable technology company, generating $41.7 billion last year.

How that squares with the doom and gloom is left up to confused readers to decide.

“Apple is innovating around the same things which, in my mind, is not really innovating,” said Gala Prada, 42, head of pension funds and portfolio manager for Fiatc Seguros in Barcelona, who answered the poll. “There are companies like Samsung—which are taking the lead right now innovating in all kinds of consumer and electronics products—which also make Apple, on a relative basis, look a little bit behind,” Prada said.

Please name one new, breakout product that Samsung has introduced which has redefined a market in the way the iPod, iPhone, or iPad did.

The Macalope will wait.

This could take a while. You might want to go get a sandwich.

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