A new low in iPhone speculation assery

Others have opined about the general silliness of how sure everyone is that Apple will be announcing an iPhone. And an iPhone 2. And an iPhone mini. And an iPhone nano. And…

Well, CNET’s Michael Kanellos has lowered the stupid bar so low that the Macalope is doubtful anyone will be able to limbo under it.

Not only will Apple announce an iPhone, Kanellos says, but he knows it will fail.

This is like the flip-side of Tuesday’s Crazy Apple Rumor. Sadly for Mr. Moltz, the Apple rumor world has become self-parodying.

Michael Kanellos is not psychic. He’s not a time traveller. He’s not able to bend reality to his will. So, what he’s saying is that he thinks he’s considered all the possible alternative entrants that Apple could make to the cell phone market and he’s determined that none of them will work.

Oh, and it’s his birthday and as a little present to himself he wants to “antagonize Apple fans.”

Well, at least we know where we stand.

Mike, just a hunch, but did you get your ass kicked a lot in high school?

If Apple got into medical devices, people would come out of Steve Jobs’ speech proclaiming “The iBag is the easiest, most user-friendly colostomy device I’ve ever encountered.”

Ha-ha! Those silly Apple fans and the way they value ease of use! It’s so funny! Ah, Apple fans! Will you never learn?

Sales for the phone will skyrocket initially. However, things will calm down, and the Apple phone will take its place on the shelves with the random video cameras, cell phones, wireless routers and other would-be hits.

Can we dissect, for a second, how little sense that makes? If the iPhone is going to be a flop, chances are it’s going to be a flop from the get-go. People are either going to buy into the proposition – unlocked GSM, Apple’s own service, VOIP, whatever it is – or they’re not. It’s not like they’re going to rush out and buy one, get it home and suddenly realize they have to swap SIM cards or something and start posting angry missives on the Internet causing others not to buy one.

Unless Apple makes wild promises about it that it can’t deliver on (and so far the only ones making wild promises are Apple analysts), sales are unlikely to “skyrocket” but ultimately amount to not much.

Remember the Mac Mini? It was supposed to ignite a revolution for small computers.

It was? Who said that?

Oh, some other jackass at CNET.

It didn’t. The flat-panel iMac? Some predicted that Apple’s price tag would drive other prices higher. Whoops.

That’s it? That’s Kanellos’ list of Apple trend-setting failures?

Because if it is, that is awesome. Both of those products are quite successful and – just because they didn’t live up to the hype his own publication attempted to create – it doesn’t mean they’re “would-be hits.”

He could have listed the Newton. He could have listed OpenDoc. It’s not like Apple’s never had a much-hyped technology fail before. But he just doesn’t seem to be trying that hard. Well, it’s his birthday and maybe CNET has a policy where you can phone in a column on your birthday.

But the iPod looks like it may turn out to be a non-repeatable experience. Look at the historical record. When the iPod emerged in late 2001, it solved some major problems with MP3 players.

Unfortunately for Apple, problems like that don’t exist in the handset business. Cell phones aren’t clunky, inadequate devices. Instead, they are pretty good. Really good.

Well, now, there’s the rub. You’ll get a whole range of opinion on this but, in general, the devices themselves aren’t that bad. The Macalope’s more inclined to stop at “pretty good” than “really good”, but the hardware’s not the main problem. It’s the interfaces that are tied to service providers that suck so badly.

It’s ridiculous that the Macalope has to point out the linear nature of time, but it remains to be seen if Apple has a solution to this problem that will work with multiple carriers.

Kanellos notes that users conflate their satisfaction with their phone to the capabilities of their carrier’s network. And, unless Apple’s been secretly constructing their own network, this will always be an integral piece of the user experience the company won’t own. But, still, it’s a problem faced by all hardware manufacturers.

The issue Kanellos doesn’t mention at all is support. When a user has a problem now, he or she calls the cellular provider who sold or gave them the phone. The service and the hardware is supported by one entity. If Apple does go the unlocked GSM route, are customers going to be able to diagnose whether their problem is hardware or network related? Will they know who to call?

But Kanellos has got a rash that says “Apple is style over substance” and he’s gonna scratch it no matter what the doctor said!

Apple, in other words, won’t be competing against rather doltish, unstylish companies like the old Compaq.

Uh, wait, are we talking about computers now? The Macalope thought we were talking about the iPod, where Apple competed – not against Compaq – but against Rio, Sony, Creative, etc.

Kanellos believes the iPod succeeded because Apple chose to use 1.8-inch hard drives and made it easier to use than the competition. However, because he’s unable to see how Apple might be able to leverage new hardware and ease of use again, he declares that the iPhone will be a failure.

The phone the company hasn’t announced yet.

That phone.

Granted, Apple will use contract manufacturers to assemble their phones, but designing these phones takes experience and talent. And the cell carriers are far deeper into it here.

Mmm, yes. Creating a cell phone is a special kind of alchemy that only fifth level druid mages with plus five hit points can perform.

There’s really not much point in going through this exercise. Kanellos has already admitted that the point of the piece is to be contrarian, which absolves him of any responsibility to actually make sense.

But someone should really throw a bucket of cold water on the whole collection of silly pundits who already think they know what the iPhone’s whole product life cycle will look like.

Because the Macalope doesn’t know if you’ve noticed, but…

Apple hasn’t announced an iPhone yet.

  • […] i initially planned on writing a response to every stupid comment he made, but the Macalope has already done a pretty good job. Instead, i only want to counter a few of his ridiculous ideas: Why won’t the Apple phone succeed? […] The entire strategy, however, is based on what I call “iPod magic.” Apple succeeded with the iPod, the theory goes. Therefore, they can break into other categories and turn them upside down. […] But the iPod looks like it may turn out to be a non-repeatable experience. Look at the historical record. When the iPod emerged in late 2001, it solved some major problems with MP3 players. At the time, such music devices came either equipped with a nominal amount of flash memory–like 64MB or 128MB–or a large 2.5-inch hard drive. […] Apple opted to adopt the 1.8-inch hard drive, a piece of hardware spurned by other manufacturers. That was the world’s mistake. The 1.8-inch drive let Apple put a huge amount of storage–the real problem with MP3 players–into a small form factor. The first iPod sported 5GB of storage, or nearly 40 times as much as the upper crust of flash players. The company even locked up supply of 1.8-inch drives for a while, so no one could copy it. […]

  • […] Update Kanellos has received the highly coveted Jackass honors and has also been trampled on by the the Macalope. No surprises there. […]

  • […] Update: Kanellos has received the highly coveted Jackass honors and has also been trampled on by the the Macalope. No surprises there. […]

  • Ken:

    They didn’t???

  • Skroob:

    I wish they WOULD announce the damn thing, all this speculation is wrecking my stock price.

  • ScoPi:

    I heard the iPhone is going to come in case made of unicorn skin, and if it doesn’t I’ll be on the internet seconds after the announcement venting my displeasure.

  • Korivak:

    At this point, unless the iPhone is mailed to everyone’s house the day before it is actually announced, along with a cheque to cover whatever they’ve already invested in iPods and cell phones and free cell service and unlimited wireless net access for life, someone will complain. Better throw in a Core 3 Quartet and Mac OS 10.7 too, just to be safe.

  • Apple, as of today, hasn’t announced the iPhone, iTablet, iWoodstove, iRidinglawnmower, or iFlatLatexInteriorPaint.

    Having bought their stock at $16 a share (two splits ago), though, I really can’t work up a complaint.

  • Geo:

    Kanellos is an ass-munch writer. He flails and fails.

  • Ken:

    Apple will completely collapse if the iPhone doesn’t fulfill any of the above requirements.

    BTW, I’m starting to suspect that the Macalope is somehow related to John Moltz…

  • swissfondue:

    The article by Kanellos is him admitting that he hasn’t a clue on how to design a mobile phone experience that people would rave for. Therefore Apple must fail as well.
    Try to find the logic 😉
    Notice these commentators always talk hardware; whereas Apple is about designing an experience.

  • Will:

    “…sidewalk hawker for a time-share resort, among other occupations.”

    …enough said. Kudos to CNET for covering their asses.

  • Trotskiii:

    This guy is an ass his article sums up everything that is cr*p about CNET

    It says something when CNET has to go trolling with articles like this in order to get people on site!

  • The thing with the iPhone is that it doesn’t have to get 80% of the market in order to be deemed “successful”, like the iPod has. IF Apple manages to get 10% of the cellular market in the next 5 years, this would be an amazing feat, because it would mean that they just sold 200 million handsets. Currently, there are only 50 million ipods, and Apple has 80% of that market. So, when you say “it will fail”, make sure you have all the facts in.

  • Jon:

    IIRC, the iPod started with weak sales (or weak buzz/hype) and then skyrocketed afterwards… I could be wrong on that, but it’s the exact opposite of what Kanelass [sic] is predicting. And exactly what I expect to happen if Apple releases said “iPhone.”

  • Maybe once the iPhone ships, Apple will be sorry they ever set out to make the damn thinng… I can see the press crucifying them, as in, “Apple hugely disappoints by utterly failing to live up to widely held expectations. Is this it? This measly little music-playing phone? How about the three iPhone models with a 20″ touch screen, WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Xsan, iMovie, running Mac OS X 10.6 we promised our readers? Apple’s just made liars out of a handful of analysts, and they won’t easily forgive that.”

  • John Moltz? What about the guy who used to do appleturns? What happened to him?
    Did he go feral on a deer-hunt in (some american state where they do that stuff: Nevada?), sprout antlers and invent bovidian mac-punditry?
    We may never know.

  • Karl von L.:

    At this point, I’m actually kinda hoping that it turns out Apple is not and never was developing an iPhone, just to see all the “analysts” have to eat crow.

  • Ken:

    Hmm… the sporadic updates, the quirky sense of humor, the sheer hatred for pundits… that could be it! Jack!

    Although we’ll only know when the Macalope disappears for 2 months immediately after apologizing for being gone for a week.

  • Lynch:

    I miss Jack.

    The Macweb hasn’t been the same without him . . . . sigh

  • John Muir:

    Forensic and hilarious. Thanks Macalope, your stock as always is running high. Don’t go releasing any vapourware yourself now. 😀

  • James Gowan:

    I read the piece. The guy DOES blow but I have certainly thought that IF Apple does come out with a phone, it’ll need to be substantial. Their mantra normally is “less is more” and “simplicity” whereas these days, cell phones are all about the do-everything or people will not want it. Being that it’s new, it’ll have to offer more than the others. Camera, Video Camera — those are must-haves for Apple to enter the market. Will it go the Blackberry route and do internet and email. Hopefully as more and more want to do that too. Games? Sure, it’ll have to do that. Fortunately, they’ve got that covered with Games on iTunes Store. Photo sync? Sure. That’s a must-have. Blue Tooth? Yes. And we all know it’ll play music…

    But, it’s not enough to just include iTunes as Motorola has had that for a long time. People have experienced that and most likely have been turned off because of Motorola’s implementation of it. Somehow, Apple is going to have to show it’s much better than before.

    As far as Motorola goes, I think the 100 song cap was a big turn off a lot of people and not having the ability to just choose any song as a ringtone was one too. Being locked into having to download a song specifically for ringtones was/is a ripoff, especially if you already owned that song. I’m sure Apple will have much more song capacity and the ability to easily use any song in your collection for a tone.

    Of course, I’m just speculating. Maybe Apple isn’t working on a phone. We’ll see.

  • zoara:

    I love how he asserts that the brand people will choose over and above this mythical iPhone is… of all things… a Motorola. Yep, the manufacturer that has repeatedly shat on its phone consumers with what is possibly the worst user experience ever.

    Anything, I say, anything except Motorola. Yuck.

  • Phil:

    It can’t be Jack Miller, there’s no references to television or Buffy or Tivo. Unless, the reason he disappeared was to go into tv addiction rehab…

    *sigh* I miss AtAT.

  • Eric:

    Me too, me too – where is Appleturns? Oh come back if you can! Or at least let the world know what happened. You are sorely missed.

  • Sigivald:

    Disk: That would be “Every American state with deer, and Canada too.”

    James: I’d rather have a phone with a good UI for the half-dozen-or-so things I actually care about, than one (oh, like my current Moto v551) that has an awful UI and can’t even manage to transfer an mp3 file without claiming it’s “corrupt” and can’t be played (and yes, I have, in fact, spent quite some time with the interwubs working on that, and no, it simply doesn’t work, no matter what bitrate and encoding is used).

    (I swear, every time I try and do something with that phone, I wonder what the hell the people at Motorola/Cingular were thinking regarding the UI. Like why the default for captured pictures is “send” rather than “store”, and how there seems to be no way to change your mind and actually save the damn picture if you select send first through over-eager pressing of buttons.

    I mean, do they test this stuff? Have they ever heard of “cancel”?)

    An Apple phone, if they decide to make one, can’t help but improve the state of phone usability and UI by an order of magnitude.

    Unlike many other people, though, I am not confident that Apple plans to do such a thing.

  • Zunny_Blowzdogs:

    You really need to get a grip. Everything his article said is true.
    Apple is entering the cell phone market where it has no footing, and is sure to take pounding by Motorola, Nokia, & Erricsson. The carriers are likely to roll over and hand their market to Apple.

    P.S. That comment about Apple fanboys swooning over every overhyped P.O.S. Steve puts out is TRUE! They’ve cheered every flop like the Cube, Newton,i Lamp, Mighty Mouse, etc. like it was the 2nd coming of Christ. All of Apple’s successful products (original iMac, iPod, etc.) could be counted on one hand. 25 years later, Mac’s still huave about 3% market share. You call that success? I call it a fabulous disaster.

    • instig8r:

      I love reading such exercises in creative buffoonery. Remind me to not employ you in anything that requires an understanding, of, oh, anything!

  • Your passing reference to the possibility of the phone being VOIP is a very interesting one. If Apple wanted to _really_ antagonize carriers, they could design a phone that utilized VOIP on a home network and switched to the traditional cellular phone service when it was out of range of that home network. A brilliant application of existing technology that, unfortunately, would anger cell carriers, who would cry “lost revenue.”

    I wonder if the advantages of the VOIP+cell concept could be explained to the average consumer.

    Personally, I think there will not be a phone – I don’t think Apple can make sufficient profit margins on it for it to be a compelling option. Regardless – thanks for the wonderful writing here!

  • Thanks for the article, macalope. good as always.

    Those anti-apple trolls get really annoying. (but always get good page impressions.)

    Zunny_Blowzdogs: i bet your fantasy world is very comfortable. and tiny.

  • Blain:

    I am almost willing to wager money against the iPhone. Although, were there such a beast, it would seriously have to buck a lot of trends, which actually might work out better. Keep in mind that when the iPod came out, most players had arcane and complex menus, since all the work (managing files, setting up playlists, sometimes even renaming files) was done with the player, not the supporting software.

    How many comics and comic strips have been done about someone lamenting about a phone that actually is for just making phone calls? Or at the very least, moving all the maintenance over to iTunes.app and friends:

    Ringtones? No ties with any carrier, and the phone only plays them. Do all the uploading through itunes.

    Games? No ties with any carrier, and the phone only plays them. Do all the uploading through itunes.

    Camera? Save it for revision 2.

    Video? Save it for revision 3.

    email? Don’t bother.

    web? Don’t bother.

    Phone messages? Maybe. But not really. Probably can view phone messages, and reply with a preset list of statements. Additional replies can be set via computer.

    ToDo list? Done on the ipod side, all managed on the computer.

    Reminders? Syncing done with iCal. The phone only plays.

    Wireless? Beyond GSM for the sim, possibly bluetooth for headsets, and to sync with the computer.

    Preset phone numbers? Maintain them through Address Book, and extend the iPod’s contacts list. Don’t bother with adding contacts, although unknown numbers can be viewed through Address book, and contacts added thusly. Heck, if you set the ringtone in Address Book, iTunes could make sure that the appropriate songs are uploaded.

    Perhaps the controls will be the simple click wheel, and a new button with a phone icon. Pressing the phone button will bring up the phone menu/functionality or hide it. Clickwheel functionality will not deviate far from the pod side. Fast forward and rewind will not be used, and play might become mute.

    When the phone is ringing, pressing the button not only brings up the phone side, but automatically answers. While talking, holding the phone button down (like holding menu down for backlight) will hang up, less like the answer and end buttons of cell phone, and more like the ‘talk’ button of a portable landline.

    Again, that’s just a random guess, but frankly, whatwith Leopard, new ipods already out, and iTV already around the bend, it’d be craziness to release something as farfetched as an iPhone. At least, not until the summer.

  • Actually, Jeff, Zunny’s IP address shows he’s at Playboy, Inc. So his fantasy world is actually quite rich.

    Or maybe “he’s” a playmate.

  • Patrick:

    If Apple isn’t partnered with an existing carrier or cellphone manufacturer who is, the carriers will make any Apple phone, no matter how good, a market failure. To think Apple (or anyone) can pull off phones for different network topologies without carrier backing is foolish. I just don’t see Apple being able to build their own cell phone from scratch, and yes, analog radio circuitry design is in fact black magic. EE students learn this right after they build their first circuit that is perfect on paper and doesn’t work in the messy world of the physical universe.

    All that said, I could definitely see an Apple phone being a new UI on Symbian. Series 60 is beautiful enough to satisfy even Steve Jobs, is rock solid to boot, and the latest series three has a highly abstracted presentation layer suitable for different formats. As others have pointed out above, the key to an Apple phone (and really, who says it is a cell phone?) might be an iLife player. Now that would be something other manufacturers don’t have.

    Apple UI on Series 60 phones built by Nokia seems the way to do it, in my opinion.

  • matt:

    I’ve never had a desire to own a cell phone. I don’t know much about them. I’ve had three iPods. I’ll own more.

    If I could pick up my iPod and call my babysitter, that would be pretty swell.

  • selfish:

    the only reason an iphone seems so silly to everyone is the insane US phone market – in more civilised countires, where GSM is the standard, and phones don’t have anything to do with the carrier, apple would have no problem producing a phone. as it stands now – when the US is the biggest market for apple – not going to happen.

  • Hey, are there any C|Net Archives back to 2001. I seem to recall that they predicted that the iPod would pretty much do in Apple. Based on their reliable reporting, I think I’ll increase my position.

    Oh, and Zunny-Blowdog, nice troll. Apple is a “for-profit” company in business to make money. It’s easy to pick out Apple’s failures. Apple actually innovates inside those pretty boxes. Their flops are headline news. Every time a hack or piece of malware is found that can even theoretically attack a Mac, it makes the front page. Windows malware isn’t even news. It’s listed in Section C, page 5, to the left of the crossword, underneath the Police Blotter. That there’s a new virus for Windows is no more newsworthy than the atomic number of Uranium. (92)

    Apple’s stock has gone up by a factor of 10+ over the last few years. In case you missed day one of Economics 101, that is considered “successful.” That is far different from saying that every product they introduce is a success. On a percentage basis, if Apple enters the phone market, your best bet is to go long.

  • Johnson Roberts:

    Alexander: The VoIP capabilities/technologies you’re suggesting in which the handset switches automatically from an internal (home or business) wifi connection to a standard cell network connection is already in the works by both carriers and the manufacturers (both handset and infrastructure), and there is especially a big interest in this from the IP leaders (think big networking companies)–it’s sometimes referred to as telepresence technology, because your location can be tracked by where your phone is and therefore engage the right way to reach you. It would be cool if Apple were the first to offer this, but it’s probably a bit early for this since the carriers haven’t built any standards around this. And speaking of that…

    Patrick: The US is really the onlly major country in which the carriers rule phone sales. Most countries use one primary technology (GSM or CDMA) and then the consumer buys any phone they want and stick in their carrier’s SIM card. That practice hasn’t hit the US and American consumers are used to the carrier-subsidized phones (the razor blade strategy), and thus this could be a problem. So you could be right that in the US it could be difficult because the carriers could not be cooperative, but it’s the way it’s done everywhere else. From that standpoint, I would tend to believe Kevin Rose’s (jumbled) comments that the Apple phone would be availalbe through all the major carriers. Afterall, Jobs did get all the major music labels onboard iTunes for 99 cent songs. This is probably an easier sale, especially with the allure of iTunes bandwidth usage on the cell networks–because at the end of the day, that data bandwidth the razor blades for carriers.

  • To everyone who is trying to discern the identity of the Macalope…

    Perhaps you should wonder what a drunken blogger would do when he goes too far and pisses off the majority of his readership by reporting bugs in Apples web browser which in turn crash said browser whenever someone visits his blog?

    Perhaps he starts up a new blog, with a secret identity, in the hope that people will forget his previous indiscretions and garner a new readership. He may have given up the drinking but the tone and analysis is the same.

  • GadgetGav:

    I love the way Kanellos mentions the ‘some’ thought the iMac price increase (in 2002) would drive other computer prices higher. This pearl of computer industry wisdom that he’s referring to was just another opinion piece BY HIM..! How’s that for conceited. Not only that, he’s using is own WRONG predictions to try to bolster a new prediction. His last one was way off, so why should this one be any better..?
    In all, the whole piece goes nowhere. I think it was probably driven by the fact that, as he said, it was his birthday and he probably spent his time doing other things and then realized he had to send in an article.

  • swissfondue:

    “Steve Jobs”: That is exactly why I never visited that frigtard drunkenblog again. But I come here often.

    By the way, I like your diary.

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