Simple answers to stupid questions

Question: Is Apple scared of RIM? (Tip o’ the antlers to the Rat Boy via email.)

Answer: No. (Tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball.)

Still not thankful for ZDNet.

Speaking of professional trolls, ZDNet’s Robin Harris provides a veritable omnibus of stupid. An omnishortbus, if you will.

The title?

Apple’s new MacBooks: flop or fiasco?

What prompts this bon mot? What appears to be an unattributed report saying Apple has cut MacBook orders by 20-30% in DigiTimes, the outfit that said Apple would offer an AMD-powered laptop.

Mmm! That’s good troll! The Macalope has always said that troll is always better when it’s fresh. But remember to eat it before the sun comes up or it turns to stone.

Harris wonders why Apple can’t be more like HP and pump out low-margin laptops that drive market share and revenue. HP’s laptop business is, unarguably, doing well from a revenue perspective, but Harris’ numbers are a little out of date. HP’s laptop revenue increased 26% in the third fiscal quarter (announced in August) as Harris notes, but that fell slightly to 21% for the fourth quarter (announced yesterday).

Meanwhile, Apple’s year-over-year increase in laptop sales revenue for the third calendar quarter (announced last month) was 17%. Not as great as HP’s, but still nothing to cause investors to demand the head of Steve Jobs on a festive platter surrounded by Thanksgiving-themed garnishes.

Harris asks:

When was the last time you picked up your notebook and thought “I wish it weren’t so flimsy!”

Funny you should ask, because it was literally last night.

The Macalope switched from a PowerBook to a MacBook earlier in the year and, while he’s been pleased with the unit and would make the same decision again if he had to, the build quality is disappointing compared to the Pro. The plastic bends and separates at the seams and Mrs. Macalope’s white MacBook has even slivered at one edge.

The new design specifically addressed these concerns. Harris must be used to a different standard.

Steve Jobs is a design geek, which is usually a Good Thing. But he over reaches regularly and the results hurt.

Yeah. Hurts like a fox.


Harris’ examples of Jobs’ painful overreaching? The swing-arm iMac, the G4 Cube and the NeXT Cube. Even if you buy Harris’ claim that these were all very costly flops (which is a joke), that’s three flops over a 30-year career in technology. By any standard, that’s a tremendous success.

Steve’s history of putting form before function – or price – comes at a particularly bad time.

Stop. The phrase is “form before function”, which is really something Apple hasn’t done since the hockey-puck mouse. At any rate, the new MacBooks are both formtacular and functacular. If you want to say Apple puts form before price, just say that. Because what you wrote is simply not true.

Netbooks are moving prices into iPod Touch territory.

And, with the App Store, the iPod touch is moving functionality into netbook territory (certainly for gaming, anyway).

And with Moore’s Law pushing performance up more people will buy them instead of standard notebooks.

Will they? Or is the netbook as currently defined a niche product without an audience? Does everyone want an underpowered (remember, it’s all relative, Robin) device with a tiny screen? Sure, you might want a netbook if you’re backpacking across Europe, but do you want to give up on performance when you’re just going to the kitchen for a snack?

By investing in a costly feature no one asked for Apple is stalling its rapid growth in notebook marketshare.

You keep saying that no one asked for this but the fact of the matter is customers expect a higher quality product from Apple. While the Macalope doesn’t agree with his Macworld compatriot Cyrus Farivar that it’s a foregone conclusion that Apple won’t release a netbook in 2009, Cyrus is spot on noting that market share is generally not the company’s primary concern (certainly when it comes to Macs at least).

Remember what the entire premise that the MacBook is either a flop or a fiasco is based on. The Macalope knows business is tough these days, but would someone tell ZDNet that having a blowout sale on stupid isn’t really going to improve their bottom line?

Credit where credit is due

The Macalope has long wondered aloud to random passers-by “Who the hell pays for Rob Enderle’s consulting? And why?”

Well, Dell at least pays for Enderle’s consulting and, after many long, long years, the Macalope has finally seen one instance where that money was well spent (tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball) but, thanks to the incompetency of Microsoft, for naught.

Acting on Dell’s behest, Enderle pressured Microsoft to forego the lame duck Windows Home Edition and offer a more full-featured version of Windows to home users. Enderle was right and had his legs cut out from under him by Dell, but still pushed the point to the extent that it ruffled the feathers of some Microsoft executives. Good for him.

The Macalope has always maintained that much of Enderle’s opinions on Apple as recorded in the press are shtick. He is the go-to guy for an anti-Apple comment. If Apple announces a snazzy new touch-pad device that increases penis size and smells of fresh-cut sage, Enderle will provide a whiny quote about it not having backward-compatibility for Jazz drives. He does this to get into the press and it works. He is the lazy reporter’s best friend. Enderle probably considers it free marketing and a hobby.

Leopards and monopolies and DRM! Oh, my!

This week’s MacUser piece… which will be the last!

Because MacUser is moving to Macworld. Er… again.

Don’t worry, the Macalope’s going along, as long as they’ll have him. He’s just jerking your chain.

Corporate sales, Greek rumors and executive trades.

It’s Friday again, and this week’s MacUser piece hits the above.

Minis, MobileMe and morons

This week’s piece at MacUser is up, looking at Mac mini rumors, MobileMe and, oh, those analysts!