The Macalope Weekly: Schooling


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School’s not out for summer yet—that’s why there’s still time to send Apple to school about its own business. Meanwhile, you dumb Apple fans need to be schooled on alternatives to those devices you love because … well, you make certain pundits unreasonably angry is why. Finally, Valleywag is going to tell us how anonymous technology journalists think an Apple executive who retired this week was just magical. Oh, is that not how it meant that?

He’s an ideas guy

One of the most beloved genres in all of tech punditry is the “Apple, I’m a dude on the Internet and lemme give you some advice” genre.

Take it away, Chad Henage of The Motley Fool.

“3 Lessons Apple Inc. Needs to Learn” (tip o’ the antlers to Justin Mecham).

Oh, dude on the Internet. Is there anything you don’t know?

As a loyal Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) consumer and shareholder, I’m worried that it is missing opportunities. In particular, there are three lessons Apple needs to learn.

Apple misses a lot of opportunities. It’s called focusing.

The first lesson Apple must learn is, customers are telling Apple that its iPhone 5s is priced too high.

Like the 7 million people who bought an iPhone 5s on its launch weekend?

So, it’s certainly not Apple’s customers who are saying that. Maybe you mean customers of other phone manufacturers.

With increased competition from Google’s Android army of manufacturers, and Microsoft now in control of Nokia’s handset division, Apple can’t stand still.

You know, like it usually does.

Beware the Windows Phone juggernaut!

The significant difference between Apple and Microsoft or Google is, while the latter get the majority of their revenue from sales other than hardware, Apple is at its core a hardware company.

You know who else is a hardware company? Samsung. HTC. Motorola. And Nokia, which is now Microsoft so, yes, it is also a hardware company. Alas for most of them, Apple takes most of the profits in the handset business. [sad trombone]

The second lesson that Apple needs to learn is the price of the iPad Mini Retina is too high.

It’s priced too high if Apple’s primary concern is unit shipments. It’s not necessarily priced too high if the company’s concern is actually making money. That said, yeah, Apple can’t really afford to have multiple quarters of declining iPad sales so we’ll see what next quarter brings and if Tim Cook’s explanations for last quarter’s drop end up holding water.

The third lesson Apple needs to learn is, it must spend more on R&D to find its next big hit.

Meanwhile at Apple: “Oh! Oh, really?! Oh, God. Oh, no. Oh. Crap. Crap, crap, crap. We probably should have been doing that! QUICK, SLAP SOMETHING TOGETHER!”

Thanks for the timely message, Marconi.

Why “slide show” rhymes with “side show”

Writing for The Street, Jason Notte helpfully breaks down the “5 Tech Toys More Beloved Than Apple Products” (no link but tip o’ the antlers to Neil Weinstock). Where by “breaks down” the Macalope means “splits up into multiple pages to increase the number of ad impressions.”

Take a deep breath before we dive headfirst into this multi-page pile of manure.

Why should we deny the inevitable? Apple and its grand master plan that lies beyond the comprehension of simple plebes such as ourselves is going to dominate our lives one intuitive device at a time.

We know this to be so, and by “we,” it’s implied that such confidence belongs to the anonymous, caterwauling, defensive, ever-pumping, never-dumping crowd of comments-field sycophants with freshly downloaded iTunes copies of every Steve Jobs biopic (even the Ashton Kutcher one) and tattoos of the Apple logo on their check-signing wrists.

“Check-signing”? Hey, the Macalope knows Artie MacStrawman—he’s worked with Artie MacStrawman. Artie MacStrawman does not use checks. Also, if you’re getting upset over what goes on in a comments section you should ask your doctor if horse tranquilizers are right for you.

Notte’s love letter to Apple fans is as full of religious metaphor as you’d expect from such a polemic. People who buy Apple products are “enlightened Apple acolytes” who “prostrate themselves before the brand that’s saved not only their worthless, boring lives, but their souls.”


With great reluctance and with many apologies to the Apple disciples and their collective wisdom, we present the following five instances of Apple’s irreproachable products being undermined by a pesky competitor.

You will not be surprised to find that this list is high on poisonous barbs aimed at iPhone, iPad, and Mac users and low on devices “beloved more than Apple products.”

Microsoft Windows

How’s OS X doing? All versions combined add up to little more than 7% of the total.

The Macalope would point out that the Mac’s share is currently growing while Windows’s share is shrinking but, yes, more people use Windows. Thanks for the latest news from 1995.

Amazon Fire TV

Notte makes a big deal out of the fact that the Fire TV has Pandora while the Apple TV does not. That’s probably because some of the reviews of the Fire TV have been less than kind. However, it kind of ignores the fact that you can AirPlay Pandora to the Apple TV. And since when is a streaming music service the way we determine how good a device that plugs into our televisions is?

Naturally, Notte goes for the two-fer, as his next item is iTunes Radio which, it’s true, is not as beloved as Pandora. Gosh, if only you could get Pandora on an iPhone or iPad or Mac.

iTunes Radio doesn’t have to beat Pandora. It’s just there to be easy and built in. Maybe the Macalope should do a piece on “5 Things Silly Pundits Don’t Understand About Apple” and spread it over six pages like Notte did, because page views.

Google Nexus 10/Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

“Beloved” obviously doesn’t mean “more units sold.” Certainly the Nexus 10 falls far below the iPad in sales and, surprise, you’ll never know how many Kindle Fires Amazon has sold because it won’t tell you.

Google Chromebook

See previous.

Hey, all these devices are admirable members of the gadget and software world. But only one of them can really be called “more beloved” than the Apple product it competes against and none of them are doing much to undermine the value of Apple’s offerings. It’s weird that a mythical creature with a head shaped like a classic Mac has to point this out, but it’s a big technology world out there and there’s room for all of them.

Nice talk

Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications, Katie Cotton, retired this week after 18 years of dealing with needy, mewling tech journalists. Fortunately, Valleywag’s Sam Biddle is there to help them express their feelings.

“Goodbye to Katie Cotton, the Queen of Evil Tech PR” (tip o’ the antlers to Ellyn McNamara).

Oh, don’t let the use of the word “queen” bother you. Valleywag would have used “princess,” but it’s too many letters.

After 18 years of spin, Katie Cotton, Apple’s magnetically ruthless vice president of worldwide corporate communications, has left her job, and tributes from the tech press are pouring in. What no one will admit is that we were all afraid of her.

Is that Cotton’s fault or your fault? Cotton was there to do a job for Apple, not for you. If she made your job harder, well, too bad. She wasn’t there to make your job easy.

CNNMoney quoted A-list Apple flack John Gruber’s fond memories of Cotton.


But the real tribute to Cotton isn’t merely that tech writers are praising her. It’s that they’re praising her despite despising her.

Respecting someone and thinking they were really good at their job is the same as despising them, right?

One writer I spoke with described her as “pure evil,” a “ruthless enforcer for a cruel if brilliant autocrat. The ugly side of Steve Jobs personified.” To another, she was “kind of wicked witchy.”

See, these are the important, untold opinions of Cotton.

You know. The sexist ones.

My former Gizmodo colleague Jesus Diaz, who weathered the worst of the storm over the blog’s early purchase of an iPhone 4 …

“Early purchase of an iPhone 4.” Remember that one, kids. If you're ever caught trafficking in stolen property, just tell the authorities you were making an "early purchase." Biddle makes it sound like they cut in line on release day.

… recalls a rare returned phone call from Cotton, the “Darth Vader to Steve Jobs’ emperor,” after inquiring about Steve Jobs’ health …

Poor Jesus Diaz was only concerned about Steve Jobs’s health! Aaaand buying a stolen iPhone to publish pictures of it online. That, too. Mostly the latter.

“She was angry…fuming…so angry it was hard to understand her. And then she hung up on me.”

So, that’s your example of how horrible Katie Cotton was to “journalists”? The one that involved actual criminal charges? Somebody call whine-one-one.

Like the Staatssicherheit before it, Apple PR operated on two main principles: silence and fear.

Biddle deftly dodges Godwin’s Law on a technicality. But you don’t get to be Gawker’s resident pit bull for nothing. Sure, he barks at everything, but one of these days he’ll be right!

See, on the one hand, treating everyone with contempt is just Biddle’s shtick. So, the shot at John Gruber, meh, whatever. But, on the other, we really don’t need another outlet for anonymous technology industry jackasses to spew their pent-up sexism. After all, isn’t that why God created Medium? Apparently Valleywag doesn’t have a problem playing along with the patriarchy that says women who do their jobs well—exceedingly well, in Cotton’s case—must be portrayed as overbearing “wicked witches.”

OK, you want to use that word? Then let’s paraphrase an old Tina Fey skit: “Yeah, she is a witch. You know what? Witches get stuff done.

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