Schoolyard games: Turning Apple into a bully


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Congratulations to Quartz’s Dave Gershgorn, who found a way to criticize Apple that works in every situation.

“Apple is punching down” (Tip o’ the antlers to Philip Speicher.)

If your eyes happen to roll up as you read that title — and, really, why wouldn’t they? — you will see the text above the title:

Big Bully

Inasmuch as Apple is the largest tech company in the world depending on the day and what measure you use, yes, it’s almost always competing against a company that’s smaller than it is. So, all the golf claps to you, you’ve created Apple’s Kobayashi Maru. The only way for them to win is to lose a lot of money and market value.

Apple has won a lot of fights.

For all these fights, Apple had to go up against the tech industry titans of their time: Microsoft, IBM, Nokia.

In other words, if you look at just the big fights Apple got into, it only went up against big players.

Tomorrow, please look for Quartz’s shocking exposé on how Apple crushed Watson, LiteSwitch X, Audion and a dozen other little companies’ products. Because Quartz apparently doesn’t know those things happened.

In our Earth’s reality, however, Apple has crushed big and little companies alike in its path to the top. That’s how you get to the top. That’s the way that works.

…where does the biggest company in the world by market cap go for a fight? All the way down, it seems, to startups like Fitbit and Spotify.

All the way down to poor little Fitbit and Spotify?!

Fitbit is a publicly traded company with a market cap over $3 billion. Sure, it’s no Apple — as the Macalope said, no one is — but it’s not exactly two hard-working nerds in a garage. Spotify, meanwhile, has 100 million active users and half a billion registered users. Apple Music has 17 million subscribers.

Fitbit and Spotify are both leaders in their markets. So, who’s the big bad again?

Gershgorn knows this but the point is to make Apple out as the “bully” so best to press on and gloss over the logical constraints.

The fitness tracker market itself is projected to reach $5.4 billion by 2019. And that’s a market Fitbit has led since at least 2014…

Speaking of wrist wearables, though, both Microsoft and Google have their own technologies competing in the same space as the Apple Watch. And both are getting their flabby butts handed to them. Again, doesn’t go with the narrative so…

[opens window, chucks argument out]

A seeming lack of demand has made Apple pitch the Apple Watch, the first entirely new product launched by the company since the death of Jobs, as the ultimate fitness tracker, rather than the ultimate smartwatch.

A lack of demand that has made Apple second in the watch industry in revenue and first in the smartwatch industry. That’s a lack of demand that other companies can only dream of. Which is probably just further evidence of what a bully Apple is. Remember, the narrative cannot fail, it can only be failed.

The page title of this article is “Apple is picking on the little companies, and it’s not going as you’d expect.” See, Apple is huge and it’s not beating these mom-and-pop companies that are actually pretty large and leaders in their industries!

This pretzel logic is making me thirsty!

If you wanted Fitbit’s “stylish” Blaze smartwatch, it would still be more than $150 cheaper than the Watch, at $200.

The Apple Watch Series 1 starts at $269. The Blaze does have a GPS (CORRECTION: The Blaze's product page touts "connected GPS" but the footnote says that comes from your phone instead of the device, so it's exactly like the Apple Watch in this regard. Tip o' the antlers to Jerry Ellsworth.), but the Apple Watch Series 1 has other features it doesn’t, mostly notably it doesn’t look like a prop from Battlestar Galactica.

Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2, also waterproof and similar in most ways, costs around $30.

The Mi Band 2 is “similar in most ways” to the Apple Watch or the Fitbit? Because neither of them is anywhere close to the Apple Watch in style or functionality. That’s why they’re cheaper. Good luck playing Pokémon Go on a Mi Band.

It could be that Apple sees itself eliminating competitors before they become a larger threat, or it’s placing footholds in markets where it expects similar growth. But right now, it’s not winning.

Except its music business is growing faster than Spotify’s and it’s wildly successful in the smartwatch business. You’ve simply defined the terms so narrowly as to make it look like Apple’s losing.

It’s just another case of heads Apple bashing wins, tails Apple loses.

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