The Macalope Weekly: Hard lessons to learn


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There are painful truths in this world, and it appears some people are in denial. The Macalope hates to break it to Samsung (HA!), but it’s not fooling anyone with its entrepreneurial baloney. Actually, that’s worse than baloney. That’s pimento loaf. Also this week, some pundits get some tough love from the Macalope.

Wait, can not linking them really be called “tough”? Or “love”?

Up is down, down is up

Business Insider lends some of its precious space to Samsung to get the good word out:

“SAMSUNG: Why We’re So Successful Despite The Religious Devotion Of Apple Customers” (no link but tip o’ the antlers to Tay Bass).

Is it modesty? It’s probably modesty.

There’s no real indication that Samsung used the words “religious devotion of Apple customers” and, let’s face it, that’s actually tame for Business Insider’s crack squad of headline writers. That’s their “value add.”

There are only two companies making any real profit in mobile computing: Apple and Samsung.

But Android is winning.

It’s too bad nobody edits Business Insider for consistency across stories. Or, perhaps there was such a person and she was driven insaaaaane.

The two rivals have very different philosophies in how they develop products and software, but there’s no arguing that they’re both massively successful.

That’s very true. Apple’s is one of focus, Samsung’s is one of trying to make every single imaginable kind of smartphone, particularly the ones that Apple makes.

“Samsung is a very entrepreneurial story,” [David Eun, the executive vice president of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center] said.

Uh … what? You mean back in 1938?

Yes, certainly the world’s second-largest shipbuilder and fourteenth-largest life insurance company is just like Jobs and Woz working out of a garage.

Samsung has a weapons division, for crying out loud. Pull the other hoof, David.

Eun pointed out that Samsung now sells more TVs (two per second) and more phones than any other electronics company.

Just like any small business!

“Seven years ago there was no iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phone,” Eun said.

And then they both appeared at the same time, as if by magic!

“The leaders at Samsung are people who have risen and made their mark by being entrepreneurial.”

Oh, you mean like Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, who bribed prosecutors, politicians, and presidential candidates back in the ’90s? Or like Samsung executive Dr. Seungho Ahn, who’s accused of having used ill-gotten confidential testimony in licensing negotiations with Nokia? Or is it whoever runs your sleazy marketing campaigns? Are those the kinds of entrepreneurial spirits you’re referring to?

Hey, Apple of 2013 isn’t anything like Apple of 1977, either. But Samsung plays an entirely different kind of game. Trying to portray itself as a lil’ ol’ mom-and-pop doesn’t pass the smell test. Unless what you’re smelling for is a gigantic load of antelope dung.

On linking

The Macalope’s taken a little guff of late from some of his pals in the punditry profession (disclaimer: not actually pals, and it’s questionable if you can call it a “profession”) about his habit of not linking pieces. Business Insider chief correspondent Nicholas Carlson defended a piece by Jay Yarrow that the Macalope took exception to, concluding:

No excuse to be rude and not link

Apparently there is an excuse to miss major points about changes in Apple’s iPad product cycles.

After the Macalope threw the penalty card at him on Thursday, Tiger Beat in the Valley’s John Koetsier fired back on Twitter with his concerns about Apple and ended with this:

@markbyrn @TheMacalope oh, and I link to ppl when I talk about them or diss them in public

Ooh, sick burn on the horny one. The Macalope does find it amusing that after all the things he’s written about Koetsier, the man’s biggest complaint is that there’s no link.

And that’s really the thing, isn’t it? The Macalope can say any manner of insulting things about the arguments these pundits make. What really bothers them is when they don’t get linked. That’s pretty much why there’s no link. So many pundits seem less concerned about the accuracy and logic of their arguments than they are with the traffic.

Well, guess what: Linking is a privilege, not a right. Linking is currency. And the Macalope isn’t giving Macworld’s currency to a pundit unless he thinks the pundit deserves it.

The Macalope used to link to both Business Insider and Tiger Beat in the Valley. For example, he linked to this piece by Koetsier about the Microsoft Surface that’s so over the top that the horned one thinks maybe it was performance art? Not really sure. It’s definitely funny, particularly in hindsight.

Anyway, he would link to either publication again if he felt they wrote something that made sense—even if it pointed out Apple’s flaws in an accurate way. It just needs to be something this side of “ZOMG SKY FALLING APPLE DOOMED CAPS LOCK HOW DOES IT WORK?” (To be fair, that’s more Business Insider’s style than Tiger Beat in the Valley’s.)

Bottom line is, when it seems you’re more concerned with the traffic than with the providing information or insight, you’re not getting a link.

Case in point

Undaunted, unabashed, unashamed, John Koetsier was right back at it again.

“Android tablet revenue surpasses iPad for the first time (but not the last)” (No link, but tip o’ the antlers to … well, John Koetsier!)

Android tablet shipments have outpaced Apple iPad shipments all year. But it’s only in the last quarter that Android tablet revenue surpassed iPad revenue for the first time.

Look! Koetsier found another bone to chew. Spin, magic wheel of punditry, spin!

According to Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty:

“Android revenue share reached 46.2 percent in 3Q13, for the first time exceeding iPad share of 45.6 percent.”

So, this was last quarter, the quarter leading up to new iPads. And it’s revenue, not profit. Still, bad for Apple.

Apple fans, this may be temporary—just before iPad Air and iPad Mini retina tablets hit the market late in the quarter—but it’s a sign of things to come.

Because the future is always bright for Apple’s competitors, but never bright for Apple.

For the Apple loyalists that immediately pipe up and say that revenue is not profit, and that Apple makes much more profit from tablets than Samsung and the entire world of Android hardware manufacturers … you’re right.

That link is to the Macalope’s Thursday piece. Yay, the Macalope is right! Isn’t it nice when we can all agree?

If you’re wondering where John’s big but is, it’s riiiiiiiight heeeeeeere:

But that’s irrelevant.

Profit is a trailing indicator. And in the big picture, the overwhelming tide is to Android, in device diversity, in device quantity, in usage, in sales volume, in revenue.

If Apple continues to take just the high end of the market, how does it not continue to profit? The thing that burns the Macalope is that Koetsier is glossing over his previous argument and, therefore, the Macalope’s counter-argument. He’s sliding over the whole point of the horny one’s rebuttal.

Let’s revisit what your argument was, John—or at least the one that the Macalope took the most exception to. You wrote:

But the question continues to be: Can Apple remain competitive globally with a world-class apps, media, and accessories ecosystem if it continues to dip in market share?

Yes. Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. To reiterate for the slower or just willfully obtuse students in the class, this is the benefit of taking the high end of the market. By definition, that’s where all the money is. Koetsier’s argument is just a rehash of the same “It’s Windows versus the Mac all over again!” argument that the Macalope and others have debunked—right in the eye!—over and over again.

Will the increased market share of Android-based devices drive developers and third-parties to abandon iOS?

NO. No, no, no, no, no, noety no-no.

Why? Because so much of the growth in tablet sales is of cheap devices in China that are outside of Google’s ecosystem. Indeed, there is no one monolithic ecosystem for Android—at least not the way there is for iOS. And what ecosystem there is is largely populated by the people who like to pay next to nothing for things. That’s not an invalid choice: Some people can’t do anything else. But it’s not great for third parties looking to get those people to buy apps, cases, and peripherals.

The Macalope is still waiting for Koetsier to respond to that counterpoint. “Is so” is not an adequate response.

There are many decent arguments to be made about challenges Apple faces and the Macalope has no problem linking to them. Apple could have a talent retention problem. It may be troubling that Tim Cook seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth about innovation. Apple’s real problem is growth and, because it doesn’t like chasing the low end of markets, it needs to remake another market if it hopes to get back to big growth.

But it’s still an enormous and highly successful company. If you’re going to make a case about its challenges, you need to couch it in the proper context, not lay down a bag of crap and light it on fire. Let us recall what Koetsier did: He likened Apple to BlackBerry. If you think you deserve a link for that, you’re out of your mind.

Does Apple have challenges? Certainly. Every company has challenges. Microsoft doesn’t even have a real CEO right now. But comparing Apple to BlackBerry? That’s not serious analysis.

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