The Macalope Weekly: Recycling


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As a woodland creature the Macalope is as into taking care of the environment as the next hoofed beast. But recycling tired arguments about Apple is not exactly saving Mother Earth. This week we’ll look at the possibility that Apple may be (are you sitting down?) … a religion. Sigh. Phew. Then another pundit employs the ol’ late argument bailout trick, while a Wall Street watcher thinks a more open Apple may save it from … er, something.

Heard it

See if you can contain your guffaws as “writer and comedian” Xavier Toby tees off on Apple Stores for Australian publication The Age.

“The ‘cult’ of the Apple Store” (no link but tip o’ the antlers to Andrew Cherry and Yaakov).

♫ Be-cause it’s a re-li-gion! ♫

If only we could stop Toby as, alas, we’ve heard this one before. About a billion times.

Inside every Apple Store there’s really only ever four things for sale. iPhone, iPod, iPad or Macbook [sic].

Well, and iMacs. And Mac Pros. And minis. And software. And peripherals. And cases. And …

OK, there’s only about 150 things.

Which you can get at about a hundred different stores. In the same shopping centre.

Are shopping centers in Australia significantly more dense than they are in the states? Or is it just writers for The Age?

For exactly the same price.

Sometimes you can get them for less!

At the register there’s always that one hot girl in black-rimmed glasses.

That’s some niiice objectifying, Toby.

The nerds are too scared to talk to her and she’s already knocked back all the sales guys since she’s dating the assistant manager.

Toby writes Apple Store slashfic on the side!

The Apple Store is like a really smug cult.

♫ Be-cause it’s a re-li-gion! ♫

But despite a company that’s got about $76 billion in cash, you’d think their i-thingy’s would be waterproof.

Because … well, just because.

A week later, the hipster making my coffee noticed it and exclaimed, “Is that an iPhone 3? More like third world.”

You seem to have a lot of unresolved issues with retail workers. What’s that about?

He pointed me out to his over-tattooed co-workers …

Is The Age’s key demographic 50-to-75-year-old office workers? The Macalope’s just trying to figure out why this article has more hipster-bashing in it than the cocktail hour at an AARP meeting. And if that stereotype bothers you, it’s still a heck of a lot better than the ones Toby employs, if only because the Macalope’s only using it once.

The Macalope just hopes Toby never finds out about Portland.

Stupid pundit tricks

When last we heard from Forbes “contributor” Nigam Arora, he was telling us what Steve Jobs would and wouldn’t have done, because Forbes is really the place we’d turn to for those insights.

[eye roll, other gesture Macworld doesn’t allow to be spelled out, fog horn, slide whistle, Pac Mac game-over sound]

Now he’s back to tell us “Why Apple’s Car Dashboard Looks Like A Clunker” (tip o’ the antlers to Chris Allwein and the Jony Ive parody account on Twitter).

Because he’d know about that, too.

Here are the five reasons why Apple’s new car dashboard design will fail.

BOOM. Will fail.

Now, when you or the Macalope write opinions such as this, we recognize that we are not clairvoyant, per se, and thus use terms like “might fail.” Arora, however, apparently believes he has powers beyond those of mortal men (and mythical beasts) and does not need such wiggle room.

Well, not until the end of the piece.

A typical touch screen does not provide tactical touch feedback. Apple understands this and devotes a substantial part of the design describing how surfaces will be raised on a touch screen to provide tactical feedback to the driver. This approach is simply a kluge and drivers are likely to continue to prefer real knobs and buttons.

And we know that because Apple only patented these input methods then that is all that will be used.


Apple claims that its design can be customized but it is difficult to see any major car manufacturer ceding control of the dashboard design to Apple with the possible exception of niche products or as an option.

Just like no major cell phone service would cede control of the operating system to Apple back in 2007.

You know, when Apple has a track record of having done the thing that you categorically say it can’t do …

Oh, forget it.

So, let’s recap. Without having even seen a single implementation or really knowing anything about it other than the patents—which we know Apple always implements exactly as submitted—Arora predicts failure with utter certainty. In case you’re joining us mid-claptrap. Which is actually a good idea. The Macalope should be so lucky. But he got season tickets.

The enthusiasm for the Apple brand is no longer the same as it was a year ago. The power of the Apple brand is waning.

Uh-huh. Because people are buying fewer Apple products. Except they aren’t—they’re buying more. But in Punditland, more is kind of like fewer, just with more instead of less. See? It’s almost exactly the same thing.

Any car manufacturer wanting to sell a model in large numbers will have to be mindful of Apple’s diminishing status before aligning a model too closely with Apple.

Right! You know what they should do? They should go with the company that has the highest customer satisfaction numbers! Let’s see, the Macalope will just look up who that is and …

Oh, it’s Apple. Even in Korea.

Well, what about Stark Industries or Lexcorp? They’re fictitious, but maybe their customer satisfaction numbers are better.

Now, get ready! Because Arora is about to make like D.B. Cooper by taking Forbes’s money and bailing out of this plane!

Apple has many smart engineers. It is conceivable that Apple in due course can overcome the shortcomings described here, or Apple may simply abandon this design.

Foop! Like a parachute in the night, there goes the obligatory escape clause in the second to last sentence of a piece that has declared an unseen technology a failure.

The Macalope has seen this trick many a time. If the device ends up being a success, the pundit simply declares that it was for reasons that no one could have foreseen. “Apple changed it! From what I imagined it would be! I was still right!”

No. You said it would fail. A) companies always change things and B) your lack of foresight is not Apple’s problem, it’s yours.

Of carts and horses

Writing for The Motley Fool, Margie Nemcick-Cruz seems to have this whole cart/horse thing backwards.

“Apple Needs to Lose or Open iTunes” (tip o’ the antlers to Paul Baptist).

Well, the cart may not be going anywhere, but at least the wheels are clean.

When iTunes began, its function was to make money for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) by promoting the sale of iPods.

Yeah, and look how that worked out. Pff.

Oh, right, really well. Sorry, the Macalope must have been thinking of iTunes-killers such as Wal-Mart’s online music service, or BlackBerry’s, or any number of others that opened to great fanfare, went nowhere, then crawled to the side of the information highway to die like so much roadkill.

Unfortunately, iTunes grip on digital music is quickly being vaporized.

Nemcick-Cruz seems to believe iTunes is about lock-in, but that’s not its main purpose—especially in this era of DRM-free downloadable music. It’s a supporting service, like iCloud. It’s the kind of service that users simply expect to be on a smartphone when they turn it on. iTunes hasn’t been the best service for years, yet Apple continues to sell more and more iPhones.

As an example - I have a friend who told me he had spent $700 on songs on iTunes in the past two years. Last month, he discovered Spotify where for $9.99 a month you get unlimited music, downloadable, of your choice, and without commercials. He now describes iTunes as “completely unnecessary.” How long before others follow suit with such recommendations?

These anecdotes are irrefutable! OK, the Macalope will bite. Sure, if you’re spending $30 a month buying songs then an all-you-can-ear-eat service makes more sense. Not everyone spends that much, though. Also, not everyone trusts the license holders—some people (and mythical beasts) prefer to own their music.

According to co-founder Steve Wozniak …

BZZZZZZZT. Oh! Sorry! But contestants instantly lose if they quote Woz. So sorry. Thank you for playing.

“If you remember, we ported iTunes to Windows. We now addressed 100% of the world’s market with this integrated system (iPod/iTunes), and it began the era of Apple that we are now in. So why don’t we port iTunes to Android?”

This is a textbook example of why citing Woz’s opinion as support should be a clue that you’ve taken the wrong side on an issue.

When Apple shipped iTunes for Windows, it helped the company sell iPods and then iPhones. If Apple ships iTunes for Android, what hardware does it help Apple sell? Oh, that’s right, its competitors’ hardware.

In building a wall around iOS and iTunes, Apple keeps its current users inside. Unfortunately, the nature of a competitive marketplace has cut into Apple’s iPhone dominance …

What is this dominance of which you speak? The only dominance that Apple ever held was in profit, where it still dominates.

In making iTunes (and iTunes Radio) available on Android/Windows Phones (Android of course owning the lion’s share of the market), Apple will in fact likely be drawing more users into contact with it than it loses by opening up iTunes …

Allow the Macalope to suggest that using iTunes as a gateway drug to Apple products is not exactly having the company put its best foot forward. iTunes does not have the best prices and, on the desktop anyway, is not exactly a beloved application.

The reason Google gives away Android for free is it increases the likely-hood of its users interacting and using its other products.

Right. Which is where Google makes its money. Which, by the way, is a pittance compared to what Apple makes selling hardware. The same people that used to argue that Apple needs to license the Mac OS are now arguing that Apple needs to ship Android versions of iTunes, iCloud, and the suite formerly known as iWork.

Apple may be losing iTunes sales to services like Pandora and Spotify, but fortunately both of those services have apps on iOS. Apple’s real incentive is to just make iTunes better, not more ubiquitous. And iTunes Radio is a big step in that direction.

As an Apple shareholder I just hope that, like Steve Jobs did with the iPod when he introduced the iPhone as a music player and phone combined, that they are willing to allow a current profit center to be cannibalized, so they don’t get left in the dust by the competition who embrace the new model.

As an Apple shareholder, why would you want them to cannibalize a profit center with a higher margin?

The Motley Fool’s tag line is “To Educate, Amuse & Enrich.” The horny one will leave it as an exercise for his readers to guess which one this piece was suppose to do.

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