The Macalope Weekly: Ill-informed opinion


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Well, it’s iPhone-day-plus-one (Unboxing Day, if you will), so the Macalope hopes you’re all enjoying your new iPhones as much as he’s enjoying his! Which, uh, he doesn’t actually have yet. He’s sure it’s magical, though.

But not knowing much about the new iPhones hasn’t stopped these pundits! First we’ll hear some startling and disturbing news: Apple doesn’t innovate anymore! Then we’ll check in on an old friend (actual friendship not included) with a very serious concern about iOS 7 and we’ll wrap up the week up by hearing about what a loser the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner is, even if the people talking about it know next to nothing about it.

Innovation dysfunction disorder

It may just be a figment of the Macalope’s fervent imagination, but he likes to believe there’s some sort of club somewhere where these pundits hang out, wearing blazers with crests on them, playing checkers, drinking Frescas, and honing their Apple tropes.

How else to explain the near-unanimous silly pundit consensus that “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore”?

Aditya Chakrabortty asks “iPhone 5s: has Apple given up on innovation?” (tip o’ the antlers to j seth).

Last week, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook launched two new iPhones that aren’t especially new.

Sure, because they didn’t remake the market that Apple remade in 2007. Not that this standard is ever applied to anyone else, of course.

Yet even those hacks who queued up for a few minutes alone with the precious object felt let down.

Hacks. Really.

Not ‘“wow”, but “meh”’, wrote leading gadget blog CNET.

The fanboys …


… can remind each other what [the new features] are as they queue up this weekend, in that traditional consumerist doomloop where the media report on a new Apple product, whipping up punters to buy the product, allowing the media to report on the crowds baying for the product.

Only idiots buy Apple products! Tens of millions of idiots a quarter!

Then again, treading water is what Apple has done ever since, sadly, it lost Jobs. Under the turtlenecked-one, we got the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, one after another.

All in one afternoon! Ah, the Macalope remembers that day fondly! Jobs stepped down the day after and since then? Nothin’!

(How is the six year gap between the iPod and the iPhone “one after another”?)

Perhaps the firm will bounce back with some new thing.

If only one of its executives would say whether or not the company is coming out with new products this fall and into 2014!

… where Jobs’s Apple used to spend a lot on R&D, that has now tailed off. According to Colin Haslam at Queen Mary University of London, between 8% and 10% of all the money Apple made from sales would regularly go towards research and development. That’s now nearer 2%.

Which would mean something if Apple’s revenues were flat or down over those years.

That’s one big change to the Apple business model. The other is structural. In the early days, Jobs laid a lot of emphasis on making his goods in the US. That’s barely the case now …

In the early days? Like when mammoths roamed north America?

None of these changes happened overnight in the summer of 2011.

Oh! So, strike everything you’ve said so far.

But one thing Steve Jobs wouldn’t have done …


… is what his successor did this spring: cave into pressure from hedge funds and give the company a $100bn cashpile.

Pretty sure they didn’t give away all of it, Aditya.

William Lazonick at the University of Massachusetts Lowell says that Apple is no longer a design and product firm, driven by engineers and designers, but a “financialised” company focused on returning money to Wall Street.

If that is the case, the company’s doing a pretty lousy job of it—based on its share price, anyway.

Well, Aditya, the Macalope will simply add you to the stack of “Apple doesn’t innovate anymore”-istas he keeps track of. Not that he’s plotting for a day of reckoning or anything.


Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman

Guess who’s back! That’s right, it’s our old friend, Dan Lyons! Aw, Dan, we missed you.

Well, we missed laughing at you is what we missed. So, that’s … well, that’s not really the same as missing you at all.

“Is Apple Designing Products to Appeal to Women?” (tip o’ the antlers to nostrich).

Sure! Men, too!

Has Apple become a brand that’s primarily targeting women?

Has HubSpot regretted hiring Dan Lyons yet?

The new operating system interface introduces translucent elements, as well as a palette of lighter, softer pastel colors.

For the ladies! Bow-chicka-wacka-wacka …

[opens can of Colt 45 malt liquor]

One of the harshest critics, tech blogger Jim Lynch, called the software “an estrogen-addled mess designed for 13 year old girls” and complained that “the manly, solid colors and design found in iOS 6 have been chopped off.”

Not that that’s incredibly sexist or anything.

(Also, “chopped off”? NICE.)

But Lynch’s tirade prompted some pundits, including Jim Edwards at Business Insider, to wonder whether Apple is indeed making a concerted effort to target women.

Will using iOS 7 make men sterile?! Teach the controversy, Business Insider!

Edwards isn’t hating on the new operating system; he just points out that the new software contains colors some would consider feminine.

Like white. And blue. Of course green. Is there a color that reminds you more of a woman than green?

Edwards also points out that the new low-end iPhone 5c comes in five bright colors, but “the new colors do not include ‘masculine’ shades like burgundy, navy blue, or Lincoln blue.”

Patton orange. Dwayne-Johnson yellow. Mixed-martial-arts red. Personally, the Macalope won’t even look at an operating system if it doesn’t have Lincoln blue.

(What the heck is Lincoln blue?)

For what it’s worth, I brought up this subject among my immediate colleagues at HubSpot, who are mostly women.

An now he’s got to go to “remedial sensitivity training,” whatever that is. Ugh. So stoopid.

They found the topic irritating …

Are you sure it was the topic they found irritating?

… asking things like, “What exactly does that even mean to say that a design is feminine? And even if Apple is trying to sell to women, why is that a problem, since women control so much spending power?

Also “Why are you in the ladies room?”, “How did you get hired here again?”, and “What’s the number for HR?”

Anyway, one of our colleagues has been using the beta version of iOS 7 for a while. She says she loves it.

Case closed! If you do not have lady parts, iOS 7 is not for you!

What the Macalope loves about this “stir” is that apparently these bros—who are oh-so-sensitive to color hues that the slightest lightening of them makes them rush to their blogs—were fine for years when they thought Apple was just marketing to men. Now that they think Apple’s marketing to women we need to have a big discussion about it.

The Macalope’s been using iOS 7 for a while now, so here’s a simple tip for iPhone users concerned about their strategic testosterone reserves: Just use a dark wallpaper, perhaps something in a Vin-Diesel gray or a Pabst-Blue-Ribbon blue. That’s an easy way to return a more masculine tone to your now tremendously girly portable computing and telephonic device.

Oh, and also, get over yourselves. That’s harder, but probably more important.

We know almost nothing about it but it sucks

There is no Apple product so rich in well-designed and easy-to-use technology that pundits won’t rush to tell us how lame it is.

Colin Neagle gives us “5 bad signs for Apple’s iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner.”

Or does he?

… those who have tried the technology first-hand seem to be largely satisfied.

LOL, fanbois.

However, before designating the iPhone’s new security feature a win, a few issues need to be considered.

Let us attempt to rain on this parade—even though Neagle hardly knows anything about the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner at all.

Apple’s iPhone fingerprint sensor can be hacked

In an opinion piece at Wired, security technologist and author Bruce Schneier declared that Apple’s fingerprint authentication technology “almost certainly” can be hacked. Although he hadn’t used the technology himself …

“I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout it, but I bet it stinks.”

How exactly the iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor can be hacked is still unclear, but Schneier seriously doubts that it will be entirely secure.

Unlike 4-digit passcodes, which are entirely secure.

Uh …

Hey, you know what’s great? Ring Dings are great.

“I’m sure that someone with a good enough copy of your fingerprint and some rudimentary materials engineering capability—or maybe just a good enough printer—can authenticate his way into your iPhone,” Schneier wrote.

I am sure that at the end of the day the convenience of the modern-day elevator in high-rises will be eschewed for the more rigorous but rewarding use of stairs.

Unclear privacy and legal implications

As with a key, the Fifth Amendment does not apply to fingerprints. This will be very important to people who don’t feel safe locking things up.

The Motorola Atrix (and Atrix 2)

Both of those had fingerprint scanners, they were both flops and Apple surely can’t build something better than Motorola!

Other than all the things it has to date.

Anyway, Ring Dings. Yum. Check ‘em out at your local convenience store.

It’s not that big a deal (historically speaking)

OK, this is double dipping with the previous one, but you know why, “historically speaking,” fingerprint scanners haven’t been a big deal? Because no device with one has been in a successful consumer product. This is what sometimes happens with these things, Colin. They’re not a big deal until they are.

To most smartphone users, the fingerprint scanner will be the most recognizable difference for the iPhone 5s, in terms of hardware. That hasn’t really worked out for other manufacturers.

Neagle will ignore the instances in which Apple has made any number of things not previously that popular really, really popular (digital music players, smartphones, tablets) and focus instead on how other companies have failed to do the same. Way to learn from history, there, Colin.

What remains to be seen is whether smartphone users will actually get excited about a feature on the iPhone that they didn’t care about on other products.

Yeah, ‘cause that’s never happened before.

And that’s it. But, wait, that’s just four signs! And, because of the double dipping, it’s only three actual things!

Well, the Macalope would love to get irate about that, but he’s gotta go find himself some Ring Dings. And a new iPhone.

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