The Macalope Weekly: Solutions in search of a problem


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Apple punditry is a magical force: It whirls around like a perpetual motion machine, even when motion is not required or, really, desired. Apple can have a bad afternoon and 10,000 people will weigh in with their valuable opinions about how Apple needs to “fix” its problem. Meanwhile, Microsoft can be sitting there with a lame duck CEO for months on end and no one seems to be concerned. This week, we’ll look at a raft of solutions that Apple is not interested in to problems it doesn’t really have.

Buying cheap isn’t always a good deal

Long-time MacDailyNews contributor SteveJack says “Apple should buy BlackBerry and sell lower-priced iOS-powered phones and tablets under the BlackBerry brand.”

If you’re looking for more serious Apple analysis, you may want to click on the link entitled “Hot Pictures of Elisha Cuthbert” in MacDailyNews’s sidebar.

For as long as Apple has been Apple there have been calls for the company to make “affordable products.”

Sure. And people have been calling on Apple to get out of the hardware business and license OS X. It doesn’t mean the company should do either of those things.

SteveJack notes that Apple’s products are affordable when you look at total cost of ownership. Which is, of course, the answer. Heck, just this week Target was offering $200 for first-generation iPads. That’s admittedly an aberration, but it’s one the Macalope took advantage of while the taking advantage of it was good.

One major problem: Offering low priced products is, as Apple’s leadership likes to say, “not part of Apple’s DNA.”

No, what they say is that selling junk is “not part of Apple’s DNA.”

This is a nice way of saying: We can’t dominate entire markets (outside of the fluke iPod/iTunes Store) because it would irrecoverably damage the Apple brand …

So, the iPod line is just a “fluke.” A parasitic flatworm, if you will. Well, arguments sure are easier when you don’t take everything into account, that’s for certain.

I have a solution that satisfies everyone …

Wait, why do we need to satisfy stupid people?

… Buy an established brand (on the cheap, no less) and design and market products for mid-tier consumers.

SteveJack believes that by acquiring a crappy brand name, Apple could sell products under it and take the low end of the market as well as the high end, without sacrificing the Apple brand name—much like some car companies do. Heck, you don’t have to go as far as car companies: Apple board member Millard Drexler ran the Gap for years, and that company does the same thing with Old Navy (low), the Gap (middle), and Banana Republic (high).

So, the concept seems to work for companies in other industries, although certainly not in every case. Apple doesn’t work that way, though.

What would happen if Apple bought the BlackBerry brand and soon after, this new BlackBerry announced two products to start: A brand new 5-inch BlackBerry smartphone and a brand new 7.9-inch BlackBerry tablet, both of which are powered by Apple A-series processors, run iOS 7, and connect to the App Store …

And these devices would in no way cannibalize Apple’s existing products.

Plus, the BlackBerry brand currently has all the cachet of a clump of wet dog hair. How is buying that name supposed to help Apple?

There are other possibilities – other brands, creating your own (quite expensive) – but the BlackBerry brand would fit the bill quite nicely. No sense letting a widely-known brand just [wither] away to nothing.

Having used a BlackBerry for a while, the Macalope would contest that statement.

Here’s what I think would happen: Apple iPhones and iPads would continue to own the high-end smartphone and tablet markets.

So cheaper products that provide access to Apple’s ecosystem will have no effect on sales of iPhones. Sure.

It’s fun to speculate about things—although BlackBerry really isn’t very fun—but when writing your unrealistic Apple slashfic, try to keep your feet on the ground.


Forbes “contributor” Larissa Faw is back and still has not apparently heard of Betteridge’s Law.

“Has Apple Soured Among Moms And Children?” (no link for Forbes and a double no link because this is the second time Faw has written the exact same collection of highly weaponized wrongness, but tip o’ the antlers to Tay Bass).

Apple executives, during its October 28th 4Q 2013 conference call, claimed the company is “stronger than ever” and that Apple is “winning with [our] products in all the ways that are most important to us.”


But …

BOOM. Nothing but buts, as far as the eye can see.

… self-perception is different than reality.

Are you ready for reality? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE REALITY!

And the truth is that a growing number of consumers are dissatisfied with the company’s products.

Truth™! Now with 100 percent less truth!

There’s the fact that Apple iOS 7 literally makes some owners sick.

How many owners? Eh, well, some owners. Also, let’s forget the fact that Apple has already provided an update to turn off most of the parts that were making those people sick.


The Internet features many blog postings detailing what to do when key programs, like FaceTime and iMessage, aren’t working properly.

As opposed to the products of Apple’s competitors, which work flawlessly all the time.

And hopefully users can find an available electrical outlet since it’s unlikely their phones have much battery life left.

Cheap, inaccurate shots! Forbes buys them by the barrel down at Leon’s Cheap, Inaccurate Shots Shack off I-90 in Montpelier, Ohio! Tell Leon Forbes sent you!

And now, a word from a guy trying to sell a book:

“Apple has lost some of its luster,” says Jeff Fromm, Barkley’s marketing executive and author of Marketing To Millennials.

What?! A guy selling a book taking shots at Apple?! Now the horny one has seen everything.

“It is likely a result of a few factors. When Apple brought out the iPhone 5, none of the chargers and adjacent products would ‘fit,’ which was a frustration as it forced consumers to re-purchase these items.”

“I am literally pulling these things out of my butt. Science can’t explain it, but that’s what’s happening!”

“Further, Apple has not embraced the level of transparency that some leading brands use to connect with today’s demanding consumers.”

“In short, Apple sucks. Please buy my book.”

Well, that’s certainly evidence enough. The Lightning connector and, uh, Apple’s lack of transparency. (What the … ?) What else could there be?

Then there’s the lack of innovation.

Ah, of course! The lack of innovation!

”There’s nothing new or exciting to kids about the iPhone or iPod,” says Wynne Tyree, of the marketing agency Smarty Pants.

Presumably products that are exciting to kids come from Smarty Pants’s clients, which include Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“Kids today are all about the Surface and Sidewinder missiles!”

“Kids are hungry for the next cool device.”

“Which comes from … er …” [mumbles incoherently, shuffles papers, jumps out of window, sprints across parking lot to his car, drives away, assumes new identity]

Now, the Macalope must caution readers to swallow any fluids or foodstuffs in their mouths before reading this next bit:

“Apple [is] in the top 25 global brands among all consumers,” says Barkley’s Fromm. Metric firm ChangeWave reports a 96% customer satisfaction rate among iPhone users. And Apple continues to sell millions of products each year.

That’s nice, but it needs a big but.

But …

Awwww, yeah.

… for a company that built its legacy and reputation on cool innovation, it’s troubling when a growing number of once loyal fans—particularly Millennial-aged buyers—start to show signs of losing their affinity for the brand. They still may be buying Apple products, but they aren’t happy or excited about doing so.

Um, Larissa? You just said Apple had a 96 PERCENT CUSTOMER SATISFACTION RATING. Even the Smarty Pants survey you cite as so bad for Apple shows all of its products are more popular among kids 6-12 than Android devices. It’s also a little convenient that, based on the survey’s 3-month timeframe, most—if not all—of it must have been conducted at the tail end of Apple’s product cycle, before the iPhone 5s and 5c and the new iPads were announced.

“Apple is an amazing brand, but it is waning with Millennials,” says Buzz Marketing Group’s Tina Wells …

Yes, Faw goes to the Buzz Marketing Group well yet again. Wells, as you may recall, actually said back in January that kids were over Apple products and wanted to buy Surfaces. The Macalope knows he just joked about that, but she actually said that. In a just universe, she would have been instantly vaporized into a cloud of wrongness that would have briefly looked to the west, only to have been blown away into nothingness.

This dissatisfaction is about originality. Apple’s last game-changing product hit the shelves three years ago, an eternity in today’s tech market.

Please name one—just one—game-changing device from any of Apple’s competitors since the iPhone was released.

And, no, the Macalope will not wait for you to respond to that, because he’s got better things to do with the next rest of his lifetime.

Shopping spree

How can Apple fix the horrible predicament it’s in? (What?) Well, Seeking Alpha’s Ashraf Eassa says when life gets you down, go shopping!

“Samsung Is Apple’s Worst Nightmare” (tip o’ the antlers to Greg).

Actually, Apple’s worst nightmare is snakes. Cat snakes, to be specific. They’re horrible. Horrible. Imagine being swallowed alive while it’s meowing incessantly. Always meowing. Then all is black and all you can hear is purring.

Anyway. Not Samsung—cat snakes.

While Apple’s products truly are wonderful, and while its engineering prowess is certainly very impressive …

Aw, the Macalope prefers the “but” construction.

… it’s clear that Samsung will brute-force its way into taking more and more marketshare from Apple at the high end while at the same time will enjoy key structural advantages in the low end that Apple would - at least in its present form - not be able to match.

And we all know that market share is what makes a company run.

Now, thanks to the superiority (to many customers, anyway) of iOS and the power of the Apple brand, Apple can get away with offering “less” hardware for the same price, but just how much longer can this last?

Uh, forever?

What Can Apple Do?

Drive off a cliff and explode in mid-air?!

No, of course not! It can go on an epic spending spree that will probably make a mess of people on Wall Street even stinkier rich than they already are!

Buy Micron! Buy Sharp! Buy Global Foundries! Buy, buy, BUY! All for the low, low price of $55 billion! Apple can’t afford not to spend $55 billion what with, uh, the lousy position it’s, uh, in right now?

If Apple should buy these companies, what should Microsoft have to buy in addition to Nokia to get back into the game?

“HP, Samsung, and Ecuador.”

Will Apple do this? Probably not …

Cue the mid-air explosion!


Oh, well. The company had a nice run, right?

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