Ah, but the Zune could beat the iPod if it had a chain saw!

SvenOnTech – “The technology resource you can’t resist!” – proves rather resistable today as he Sven Rafferty [the Macalope originally missed the byline and attributed the piece to "Sven" - it's been corrected throughout] [UPDATE AGAIN - Jon Eilers writes to note that the piece on SvenOnTech was misattributed to him. It was actually written by Sven Rafferty.] takes the “Zune spells ‘doom’” argument for a spin and goes careening off Reality Bluff and into Fantasy Lake.

With Apple’s slipping sales for months in a row…

You mean the months leading up to a widely-expected refresh?  Those months?

First Vic Keegan wants to compare successive quarters, now Rafferty wants to look at successive months. [UPDATE: for those who don't want to click through the link, the important point is that a serious analysis would have looked at changes year over year to avoid cyclicality predominately based on the iPod's product cycle. Also, Rafferty' comment is not supported with any data - we are left to wonder how many months he's talking about.]

MacNN noted that Piper Jaffrey predicted Apple would come close to 8.6 million in iPod sales for the third calendar quarter, which would be a 33.3 percent increase year over year and a small increase in sales growth from the second quarter.

The Macalope will say it again.  iPod sales growth may have been slowing.  But iPod sales are not “slipping.”  They continue to grow.

…with the iPod and the how-hum [sic] refresh we witnessed at the Showtime event, Steve Jobs best be working on getting that full-screen iPod ready for Macworld or he can start kissing his bread winner goodbye.

The bar is set really high for Apple.  If it doesn’t provide a $50 touch-screen iPod with seven days of battery life and free movies, an event is ho-hum.

Point of fact, the event was apparently exactly what investors were expecting, as Apple’s share price saw a modest uptick since Sept. 12th (today showed a substantial jump largely driven by expected increases in the Mac’s market share).

But enter the Zune.

Removing any Microsoft bias, the Zune isn’t that bad.

The Macalope can picture the marketing materials now:  “The Microsoft Zune.  It’s not that bad!”

Rafferty then goes on to list all that’s right with the Zune without listing any of the numerous questions about it.  For, you see, a point has already been chosen and, to support it, the Zune must be rubber and the iPod glue.

The Wi-Fi sharing is great, too, and even though there’s no video support, that will be here soon like a more robust Windows was with 3.11 back in the early 90s.

Yes, Microsoft is slow out of the gate but, remember, it lumbers ever forward!  Apple, apparently, will never update the iPod ever again.

The remarkable assery of this piece is that Rafferty is not even taking the bad data points for the iPod (and you really have to try to find them!) and comparing them to the good ones for the Zune.

He’s taking the current features of the iPod and comparing them to imaginary future features of the Zune – a product you can’t even buy yet.  That’s vapor^2!

Where’s the full-screen Steve? The Wi-Fi? The Bluetooth? The meat?!

Where’s the neural interface?  The time warp feature so you can enjoy tomorrow’s music today?  Where’s the hoozifluffer with the wingjambiddler?!

If the iPod doesn’t bring on a new cool factor (and regurgatating the iPod mini via the nano doesn’t qualify,)…

And the Macalope guesses offering the first wearable digital music player ever and the ability to buy and play movies on an iPod – today! – don’t count either.

…then Apple can once again remember the days of the Macintosh Performa and try to figure out, “How did we lose all the market share…again?”

Wow.  Did the Mac really have 75 percent market share before the Performa came out?  The Macalope sure remembers those days differently.

Frankly, the Macalope prefers such articles the way John Dvorak writes them.  At least Dvorak goes out on a limb and tries to convince you the Zune has already won the battle.  Rafferty would have you believe the iPod’s vast lead is in dire jeopardy because future Zunes will be better than this one, which “isn’t that bad.”  And isn’t out yet.

The worst you can say for the iPod and the best you can say for the Zune right now is that Microsoft has announced a modest offering that they may decide to take a loss on in an attempt to gain market share.  To pretend that only Microsoft can leapfrog features is to ignore reality (Apple and Microsoft also have this whole operating system thing going on if you haven’t noticed) for the sake of tritely playing devil’s advocate.

The Macalope would advise Rafferty to save the “Apple, are you listening?” tone at least until Microsoft actually ship a Zune.

Apple rumors raw and uncut!

Think Secret launches Secret Notes, a shoot-from-the-hip companion blog.

As many of the news tips on Secret Notes will be works-in-progress that are not yet ready for the front page of Think Secret, they should be read with more skepticism than regular stories.

Thank god someone will finally be cutting out all that heavy-handed editing and fact checking and double-sourcing and…

Wait, what?


The Macalope has received advanced footage of Maynor and Ellch’s ToorCon 2006 presentation, describing how they were abused by Apple!

Watch it here!

Well, OK, maybe that’s not it.  But the Macalope suspects it’ll probably be something along those lines.


George Ou… uh… responds in comments.

Hey that’s a nice spin. What the hell did you expect Apple to say? You’re all full of shit.

Ah, it does remind one of a young Oscar Wilde, does it not?

And speaking of sneaking in and taking a dump on someone’s desk, Daring Fireball has more.

UPDATE: And more!

It’s not over yet, Mr. Fleishman!

(Oh, dear god, when will it be over?)

Determined to have the last word, Maynor and Ellch will tell “the complete story” next weekend at ToorCon 2006.

Uh… the Macalope’s pretty sure that one side of a two-sided story probably isn’t going to be telling “the complete story.”

[Updated to fix the link and quote Ou's comment as WordPress doesn't seem to be letting the Macalope link right to individual comments.]

Ou yes? Ou no.

Apple released a wireless security patch late today, noting that SecureWorks

…did not supply us with any information to allow us to identify a specific problem…

It’s just as the Macalope has been saying to George Ou all along. David Maynor lacks the raw physical talent to convey the concept “a heap buffer overflow can allow attackers to cause system crashes, privilege elevation or arbitrary code execution” through the medium of interpretive dance.

Try telling that to Ou, though, and he’ll just insist that Maynor’s an artiste and is misunderstood in his time.

Glenn Fleishman has a good synopsis of the controversy.

David Pogue is a pussy

David Pogue pens a hilarious walk down memory lane with all those brilliant prognosticators who sagely predicted Apple’s imminent demise in the mid-1990s.

The Macalope’s only complaint: other than Microsoft’s Nathan Myhrvold , Pogue doesn’t name names.  [Correction:  he also mentions David Winer - so Microsoft and bloggers are fair game, but not journalists... hmm...]

Ah, the privileges of membership in the big media boys and girls club.

C’mon, Pogue! Bwaaak-buck-buck-buck-bwaaaaa!

That’s a chicken sound, in case you can’t tell.

A Note About Corrections

The Macalope’s still getting his feet wet in this whole blogging thing, but he’s a little confused by the varying standards for corrections.

Two polar opposites seem to be George Ou and Victor Keegan (or, rather, the Guardian).

Say what you want to about Ou (the Macalope certainly does), but he notes corrections in situ (like a man!), which is the policy the Macalope intends to follow.

And there’s good precedent for it. In an email, John Gruber notes:

if it’s a correction, or a significant addition, or somehow changes the meaning, then I call it out somehow. My rule of thumb is — if it’s a change that I would like people who have already read the article before to notice if they happen to skim it again, I’ll call it out.

To the Macalope, that’s the most sensible policy and it was rather startling to him that when Victor Keegan corrected the two mistakes in the online version of his column, the mistakes were “disappeared.” 86-ed. Flushed down the memory hole. Anyone reading the article now would never know there was were any errors. Anyone reading pissy blog posts about the errors (cough) might wonder what they were talking about.

In fairness to Keegan, it’s probably the Guardian’s policy that online content be corrected in this manner rather than his and it’s not at all unusual for the big media companies. It is a little schizophrenic, though. Print journalists have traditionally been brow-beaten over corrections, which are often used as a metric in annual reviews. But while journalists may still get dinged for them, many of the papers have thrown the transparency out the window in moving to online media. Just because you can magically correct something doesn’t mean you should.

Further, using the number of corrections as a basis for performance seems overly draconian.  It’s not that the Macalope doesn’t think sloppy reporters should be held accountable – they should. But people make mistakes and it’s likely that some reporters are going to get called on them more often than others. A simple counting system doesn’t work.

A political reporter – for example – is going to get heated calls more often than someone covering the local flower show (“Those were dahlias, god damn it! DAHLIAS!”).  Likewise complex tax regulations or the nuts and bolts of technology are going to be easier to make a mistake on than coverage of the county fair. And if readers don’t complain, reporters have zero incentive to correct a story if it’s going to pop up on their annual review.

The papers have made a decision to try to reduce the number of corrections instead of trying to increase overall accuracy.

Anyway, all of this is a long way of saying that the Macalope will be providing corrections where the errors appeared – sometimes right next to the error and sometimes at the end of a post, depending on how it affects readability and whether or not the error is isolated or throughout.

Also, on the advice of Gruber, the Macalope won’t be calling out spelling corrections anymore. There’s a fine line between diligent and being pedantic. No one cares if the Macalope has a problem with homonyms, they just care if the information is wrong or misleading.

This has been a public service announcement. We now return you to Mac news, rumors and silly pundit take-downs.

Threat level reduced to "Aluminum"

The Macalope’s new non-explosive battery arrived yesterday, causing a great sigh of relief from Mrs. Macalope who had been giving the old one a wide berth ever since the announcement of its potential to be the family Yule Log this holiday season.

Apple’s instructions ask that you drain the battery before sending it back, leaving the Macalope to wonder why the company left out that little safety tip in the emailed instructions for the exchange program.

Oh, sure, it’s OK for the Macalope to sit around with a fully charged incendiary device on his lap, but god forbid it get within Steve Jobs’ zip code.

Now the Macalope’s trying to remember the shamanistic ritual of initiation you’re supposed to go through with a new battery to make sure it’ll last 4-evah.  He thinks it’s charge, drain, charge, drain.

Or is it drain, charge, drain, charge?

Or maybe it’s drain, drain, charge, charge, charge, drain, charge.

[Edited for spelling.  It's just not the Macalope's day...]

A kwality product

Not that the Macalope isn’t sympathetic to the argument that the “iTV”‘s ability to stream a quality picture to HDTV sets is in question, but there are a couple of counter-arguments to be made to Davis Freeberg’s turd in the Apple special event punch bowl.

First, the Macalope notes that you can almost exactly replace “iPod” for “iTV” and “CD-quality” for “HDTV quality” in Davis’ argument. Davis notes this and says:

If you let someone hear a CD track and an iTunes track and ask them to rate each on a scale of 1 to 10 you will get very little difference between the two. If you show someone a show in HDTV though and then in non HDTV you will get a much wider differential.

The Macalope is sure that’s true, but while the HDTV-owning portion of the market is growing, not everyone owns one yet and even if consumers do notice the difference it may not matter that much to them if it provides another feature: ease of use. That doesn’t make them “idiots”.

Hell hath no fury like a tech purist surveying a compromised solution.

[ADDENDUM:  the Macalope, for example, owns an HDTV set.  He's downloaded TV shows from iTunes and - while he's noticed the quality is not as good as DVD - it's been acceptable.  The movie downloads are supposedly four times as good and if they're good enough on Steve Jobs' TV, they're probably going to be good enough on the Macalope's.]

Most importantly, however, all that’s known so far is that Google and Apple are in talks. If you follow the links all the way back to the Engadget piece that started it all, you’d see this is the key graph:

All we’ve got to go on so far is a quote from Google’s consumer product chief, Marissa Mayer, who has confirmed the two companies are “engaged in talks.”

Engadget’s coverage focuses on video, but if that’s all there is to go on, this could just be related to the advertising connection speculated in the post below (although the Macalope suspects they must have meant “video talks” or the whole piece is jumping to conclusions). Also, it doesn’t mean it’s related to streaming existing Google video to the “iTV”. It could be something entirely new.

If Davis wants to jump off the “the ‘iTV’ is gonna flop” balcony, that’s his business. But the Macalope would preach a little patience.

UPDATE:  Customers download 125,000 poor quality, over-priced movies from the iTunes Store in its first week (antler tip to Daring Fireball).

Ha-ha!  Idiots!

UPDATED AGAIN: Via Daring Fireball, here’s another source talking about the Apple/Google “talks.”

But again the key graph is nebulous:

Google’s consumer product chief, Marissa Mayer, tells me that indeed, the two companies are engaged in talks.

Mmm. “Talks.”

“Talks, talks, talkie, talks.”

“Oooh, we talked about our hair and boys and all the great stores down at the mall. And then we had a pillow fight!”


[Edited for spelling.]

Your ad here.

Coming soon to www.apple.com: an “Advertise on this site” link?

The Macalope can’t wait for Apple to put up something about Bonjour and have GoogleAds dump a bunch of “Vacation in France” ads on them.

Now you’ll know how we feel!

ADDENDUM: Another thought on this: ad-based subscription service for iTunes? It’s not the Macalope’s cup of tea, but it could appeal to a segment of the market Apple’s not currently reaching.

If it’s not that, it’s annoyingly close to what the Macalope joked about below – a fee service that also made you watch ads.

Can a punch in the gut be far behind?