The Macalope Weekly: A hot mess


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There are two kinds of hot messes in this world: the “situation careening out of control” kind and the “looks sloppy but still attractive” kind. This week we’ll look at one of each. Then we’ll marvel at The Tim Cook Narrative, which is not the name of a new indie band from Canada.

The horror. The horror.

Sometimes, dear readers, there is a train wreck so massive that, while we cannot look away, due to the sheer spectacle of the horror, we also cannot help but feel that the driver, while asleep at the controls, is also a victim.

Such is the state of this hot mess at The Motley Fool, perpetrated by Tim Beyers.

“A New Chromebook Could Kill the New MacBook Air” (tip o’ the antlers to Harry Marks).

Fair warning: This grizzly scene is not for the faint of heart. Have you ever stared into a bucket of goo that just a few hundred words ago was a writer’s credibility?

The new MacBook Air tops out at just 8 GB of RAM—a strategic mistake when users have come to embrace memory-hogging cloud computing services on a bigger scale.

As several people in the comments of this piece pointed out, Beyers is over-simplifying “cloud computing” as “stuff that happens in your browser.”

As several others pointed out, some people actually pay for this analysis.

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming the new normal in computing, which means users need systems capable of running in-browser apps faster, more efficiently, and more securely. And that, in turn, demands more memory.

Unlike desktop apps, which run not in your computer’s memory, but on top of your desk. Hence the name.

Apple had a disruptive opportunity …

Who in the pool had “disruptive” appearing in paragraph three? You’re a winner!

… to turn the Air into a cloud-optimized machine, and then whiffed.

Does the company that operates two App Stores, selling native applications for its platforms at a handsome profit, seem like it’s interested in users chasing the still-fictitious dream of always-on Internet?

Think of what might be were Apple to design an Air with 32 GB or even 64 GB of RAM.

Or 128GB. Or 256GB. OR A MILLION GB. Instead, Apple only chose to offer double the RAM of the Chromebook Pixel for $200 less. Utter failure.

Because if there’s one thing we know for sure it’s that future products from Apple’s competitors beat products that Apple currently ships every single time.

The text of the piece is only the locomotive taking a corner too fast. You have to watch the video to see the train jump the tracks and explode into flames of embarrassment.

Apple’s not the only one guilty of this. Google is even more guilty of this when they made the Chromebook with only 4 GB of RAM, which is even worse.

Math doesn’t lie, people!

However, the next Chromebook Pixel could kill the MacBook Air if it offers lots of RAM, because then Beyers can have a lot of tabs open.

I use less than 100 gigs of drive space on my Mac because I use so many cloud services.

Well, the Macalope hopes it’s a heck of a lot less than 100GB, because the base Chromebook offers only 32GB of drive space. The horny one doesn’t consider himself a huge cloud-services user, but his MacBook Air only uses about 60GB of its 128GB drive.

Now if the next Pixel comes out and it gives you 32 GB of RAM or 64, something crazy, but gives you real horsepower to use cloud services, I frankly might consider it.

RAM is apparently the only thing that matters, as Beyers does not mention the new MacBook Air’s incredible battery life even once. The comments on the piece are not kind and Beyers has the good sense to apologize for the piece. But he’s only part of the problem here.

Someone at The Motley Fool paid him for this. The Macalope’s not sure what Beyers’s experience is (the guy likes Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, so he can’t be all bad), but whatever it is it didn’t shine through here. Someone at The Motley Fool is also responsible for this tragedy, for which there are no winners. It’s a shame that person gets to walk away from the explosion in slow motion without looking back, unscathed by the horror they aided and abetted.

Who’s going to clean up this mess?!

The Atlantic Wire’s Rebecca Greenfield is one of the many who took it upon themselves to provide their design expertise to Apple this week.

“Why Google’s Design Is More Consistent Than Apple’s Unorganized iPhone Mess.”

Please, Rebecca. It’s hot iPhone mess.

A week after Apple’s not-so-successful release of its new iPhone operating system …

Total failure! It’s not even publicly available yet! And did you hear it has bugs?! Ugh!

And you can bet Apple measures success by stupid things like how many developers downloaded it and are planning to update their apps or ship new ones for it.

… today we get an in-depth look at the strict guidelines that dictate Google’s design team, showing exactly why the Google app icons all have a similar look and Apple’s most certainly do not.

It’s true! Google’s icons do all look similar. Like, really similar. For example, the icons for Google, Google Settings, and Google+ are just blue, green, and red squares with white lowercase Gs in them. The Settings icon has little gears and the Google+ icon has a plus sign. They’re similar, dull, hard to tell apart, and eminently forgettable. Perfect robotic creations for an operating system that has a little robot as a mascot.

That’s not to say the icons in iOS 7 are great. Many of them are decidedly not. The Newsstand icon is so bad that it’s amazing it doesn’t actually suck the badness out of some of the other icons. The point is, though, that consistency is not the pinnacle of design.

… the whole design process seems to have a type of disorganization that Apple just doesn’t usually allow.

Remember when Apple was perfect and never made any mistakes?

Ah, just think of how lost we’ll be come fall when we don’t have the consistent iOS interfaces that we enjoy today.

Turns out that history—and here the Macalope means actual history, not “the way pundits remember things”—is full of instances of Apple not following its own rules. And the company has certainly never let others dictate to it about “good design.” Take the first iterations of Aqua, or the candy-colored iMacs, or the time we nearly had to burn OS X to the ground when Apple made the menu bar translucent. We’ve been here before, so let’s not act surprised when Apple goes a little overboard in a pre-release version of its software. Let’s not pretend this is an unprecedented event.

Apple is bold in its choices and sometimes those choices have to be dialed back. Which is good, otherwise we’d all be using Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian iMacs. Who’s going to clean this mess up? Apple is.

He’s failed him for the last time, yet again

The puzzling paradox about Apple is that, at the same time, people are complaining the company’s gone too far, saying it’s all out of ideas.

Quick! Into the Stupidmobile and back to The Motley Fool!

“Apple’s Out of Ideas.”

The URL reads “It’s Official: Apple Is Out Of Ideas.” Presumably that was Jeremy Bowman’s title until Henry Blodget sent The Motley Fool a cease and desist order for using one of his trademark phrases about Apple.

So, what’s the evidence for this stunning conclusion that has certainly never before been presented with such clarity and thoughtfulness?

Unlike the ads we’ve seen in recent years, which have generally shown off the iPhone, iPad, or Mac, or compared Apple’s products with those of its competitors, the iPhone-maker now seems to have shifted into a full-on meta-brand.

Which it’s certainly never done before.

It’s no longer selling products, just emotions.

Because this will be the only ad Apple ever airs again, The End.

Even if Apple is selling emotions, it’s better than the stomach-churning nausea that Microsoft is selling in its Surface ads.

After all, this is a company that’s been in full-on harvest mode since Tim Cook took over.

That new Mac Pro? Laaaaame.

In his nearly two years at the helm, only one significant new product has come out.

Bowman: Chief, I need to get this piece in fast before fall comes and Apple ships new products!

Bowman’s editor: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzgrazzle brzzle bacon with the snnnrk pudding envelope … zzzzzzzzzzz …

Bowman: Uhhh … OK, great!

And that product—the iPad Mini—is simply a scaled-down version of the iPad, a size that Steve Jobs famously knocked.

And we all know Steve Jobs never made a self-serving statement or ever changed his mind.

Bowman’s not impressed with iTunes Radio. Possibly because he doesn’t understand how Apple makes money.

How, exactly, does Apple carve out a significant space in this market, and drive enough profit from it to be meaningful to its bottom line?

Uh, by selling iPhones?

iOS7, perhaps Apple’s meatiest reveal during the conference, was similarly greeted with shrugs …

Yes, that’s certainly an accurate description of the flurry of both thoughtful critiques and downright freak-outs that have taken place since WWDC.

Sources have said the watch is due out by the end of 2013, but that promise seems less believable with the delays we’ve seen in the smart TV.


The Macalope is really going to be interested to see what the next narrative about Tim Cook is once Apple ships new products in the fall. He’s been a lackluster CEO who lacks vision for so long that it’s hard to imagine. Presumably there are whole new ways for Jobs’s hand-picked successor to fail his ghost, as imagined by the people who know neither of them.

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