The Macalope Weekly: Reasonable explanations


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The Macalope is nothing if not helpful (cough), so this week he’ll try to provide some very reasonable explanations. First, does The Boy Genius report simply have a typo? Next, is one pundit really just trying to cover up a secret identity? Finally, the horny one will help out in the game of making everything about Apple.

Redefining “smart”

There is a place for contrarian investing. But is there a place for crazytown bananapants investing? Let’s find out.

Writing for the increasingly mis-named Boy Genius Report, Chris Ciaccia says “Apple has the size, Google has the momentum, but the smart money has been on BlackBerry in 2014” (tip o’ the antlers to @JonyIveParody).

The Macalope’s going to assume that’s a typo, that it should have been “smert.” No, “smert” isn’t really a word, but it still makes more sense in this context than “smart.”

It’s been an interesting start to 2014 for the mobile platform makers Apple, Google, BlackBerry and Microsoft, with BlackBerry leading the way, leaving the others in the dust.

It’s often amazing to the horny one that the English language doesn’t just explode or wink out of existence when it is perverted to say something so contrary to reality. But there it is, being resilient.

Now, it’s probable that what Ciaccia is talking about in that sentence is BlackBerry’s stock, not the company itself. But, if so, he should be more careful about what he writes, as the warranties on most computer screens don’t usually cover spit-takes.

Despite a sharp downward turn on Friday, BlackBerry shares were still up more than 36% year-to-date at the time of this writing, while Google shares have gained nearly 9% year-to-date. Microsoft is up about 2% after Friday’s gains and Apple shares have fallen about 6% since the start of the year.

Of course, BlackBerry’s stock is up a bit because of where it had fallen to. But, still, facts are facts. Not all facts, however, appear to be created equal. From whence comes this optimism about BlackBerry?

Much of BlackBerry’s outperformance can be traced to optimism surrounding new CEO John Chen …

Aside from Chen and the recent fourth-quarter earnings report that wasn’t nearly as bad as expected …

BlackBerry: Not nearly as bad as expected! Get in now!

Compare that with Apple, which has been the worst performer amongst the four companies. There’s one very good reason why: institutional investors simply don’t believe in Apple’s future.

Sooo, they don’t believe in Apple’s future, but they do believe in BlackBerry’s.

This BlackBerry:

“BlackBerry CEO: our future devices will ‘predominantly’ have hardware keyboards”

Back to the future! By going to the past! We’ve learned nothing!

CEO John Chen told Bloomberg News that the company’s next phones will mostly feature hardware keyboards. “I personally love the keyboards,” Chen said …

Chen said this back in mid-January. Since then it’s been nothing but blue skies for BlackBerry!

“94% of BlackBerry trade-ins switched to other platforms during promo” (tip o’ the antlers to David Chartier).

Well, other than bleeding users. Sure. That’s gonna happen.

Well, keep up the great investing, Wall Street!

Apple knows what a lazy ass you are!

For this next section, the Macalope must ask that his more sensitive readers leave the Internet, uh, until the section is done (how would you even do that?) because your eyes cannot handle the tale of …


The Daily Mail’s Victoria Woollaston says “Apple can track you even AFTER your iPhone battery dies: Sensors use built-in chip to collect data when the 5S is ‘dead’” (no link because, ugh, so wrong, but tip o’ the antlers to Tay Bass).

Apple iPhone 5S users take note – even when your phone battery dies, the handset can still track your every move.

This is because when a battery dies, the phone keeps a small amount of power in reserve, meaning its low-energy chip can carry on collecting data from built-in motion sensors.

Ah! And this information is all sent to Apple, right? Right?


Uh, no. It isn’t. Or at least there’s not a single indication it is. So the headline is false. Shocking, the Macalope knows. Please breathe into this bag until you’re no longer overcome by the vapors.

But Woollaston wasn’t the only one to try to make this into something scandalous. Let us now away to the land of fantasy fiction known as The Boy Genius Report, where Zach Epstein says:

“iPhone 5s continues to track your movements even after the battery dies” (again, no link).

The headline is fine, but get ready to go from zero to BLAZZLERAZZLEFLAZZLE in 3.5 seconds.

In a post that is as incredible as it is horrifying, Reddit user Glarznak has written about what could be a pretty amazing revelation: Apple’s iPhone 5s apparently continues to track users’ movements even long after the battery has died.

When a phone’s battery “dies,” there is indeed still a small amount of charge left to keep power flowing to certain components. Many people know this, but it’s still pretty remarkable (and frightening) that the M7 was able to keep tracking motion for four full days while the user’s iPhone 5s was powered down.

It is, according to Epstein, “horrifying” and “frightening” that a device that you tell to track your footsteps actually tracks your footsteps.

Is it possible that Epstein is in reality The Scarlet Pimpernel? That his overwrought outward demeanor is nothing but a ruse to disguise his nighttime activities saving people from the guillotine?

It’s seems an outlandish suggestion, yes, but it would explain a lot.

Hmm. Needs more Apple.

It’s not at all a stretch to include Apple in a piece about the tablet market. But it doesn’t really need to be all about Apple, does it?

Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen says “People Love Their Tablets. That’s Bad News for Apple” (tip o’ the antlers to @JonyIveParody).

Apple sold more than 70 million iPads last year. People love them. But they might love them a little too much for Apple’s taste, if new predictions of shrinking growth in the tablet market turn out to be true. Tablets are so good, it seems, that people are keeping the ones they have and not buying as many new ones.

The Macalope would like you to go to the source of this information, the forecast by IDC, and see where it says “Apple.” He’ll wait.

Back? Yeah, it’s not in there.

Wait, you didn’t go, did you? You didn’t even bother to click the link. Look, if you’re not going to do the required reading …

Fine. Fine. Just … let’s move on.

So angry.

The forecast did not single out Apple or its iPads as being uniquely affected by the slowdown. The prediction appears to apply to the tablet market as a whole. But the declining eagerness to buy new tablets is particularly bad news for Apple.

Why is that, according to Wohlsen?

If the growth slowdown is evenly distributed, that’s worse for Apple, since a pullback for Android is merely going from meteoric to rapid, while Apple’s goes from modestly steady (about 9 million more iPads were sold in 2013 than 2012) to more modestly steady.

But is the projected slowdown projected to be evenly distributed?

Why, no, it’s not. Here’s that paper bag again.

The glimmer of hope for Apple in IDC’s prognostication is that the trend toward lower-priced tablets appears to be bottoming out. Consumers are moving to higher-end devices that work better and last longer, Mainelli says.

So, in other words, the situation you set up is directly belied by your source for this piece. Got it. Thanks for that somewhat odd diversion. Reading is fun.

While it doesn’t mention Apple, IDC does make a somewhat fatuous assumption.

Much of the tablet growth in commercial to date has been in verticals such as education, but going forward IDC expects tablets to continue to infiltrate small, medium, and large businesses around the world. This commercial growth is likely to benefit Microsoft’s Windows over time.

Sure, because businesses love Windows 8 and the Surface. Actually, no, so far the tablet that businesses really like is the iPad.

“Apple’s iPad takes 91.4% share of enterprise tablets”

So, IDC forecasts tablet sales to slow, except for high-end tablets (otherwise known as “iPads”) and enterprise tablets (again, “iPads”). As far as bad news for Apple goes, this is not exactly the baddest of news. Not really the artist formerly known as Prince kind of news.

But if we’re playing the “make it bad for Apple” game, there’s actually some good news for two of Apple’s competitors that Wohlsen missed. Amazon and Google sell tablets at cut rates in order to get people to use their ecosystems. It’s less crucial for them that people buy tablets; they just want people to use tablets to buy stuff and look at ads. Apple makes money off its ecosystem, too, but unlike Amazon and Google that’s not where it makes most of its money.

As long as we’re desperately trying to find ways to make this especially bad news for Apple and only Apple. Which seems to be the goal here.

Hey, here’s another one: If the tablet market is anything like the smartphone market, a slowdown might help any company not named “Apple” or “Samsung.” Why? Everyone other than those two companies sells their devices at a loss, so if they’re selling fewer they’ll be losing less money!

There are so many ways a clever writer can make something bad for Apple. One only needs to apply oneself.

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