The Macalope takes a look at all the various Apple -gates in this week’s Macworld column.

The curation of all fears

This week’s Macworld column looks at Ray Ozzie, Apple’s quarterly results and the Mac App Store.

The device that dare not speak its name

This week’s Macworld column is up (early, and with 100% more disclaimers!) and looks at the mythical “media tablet” market and our friend the college journalist.

People in Glassgate houses

After Ryan Block’s “Glassgate” scandal-mongering last week, SquareTrade, a firm that provides warranties for a variety of devices, published a study of the more than 20,000 iPhones 4s they cover and found an 82% increase in broken screens compared to the iPhone 3GS.


Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hang on, Panicky McPanickman. Let’s read the fine print in that study.

Despite this troubling increase, it’s important to take the accident rate into perspective. Overall, the iPhone is still a very well constructed device, with a non-accident malfunction rate much lower than most other consumer electronics.

In SquareTrade’s previous study comparing smart phone reliability from November 2008, we found iPhones to be far more reliable than Blackberrys and Palm Treos. We will be updating this report soon, and we’ll have data on the latest Android phone models. It may yet be seen that even with the double glass, the iPhone has an overall failure rate that is still better than the competition.

Well, that’s really the important question, isn’t it? We already know it’s the best looking phone on the market. But how does that stunning good looks affect its reliability relative to the competition? SquareTrade doesn’t know.

Here’s the other reason this brouhaha chaps the Macalope’s furry hide: did people just suddenly notice after three months that the iPhone is glass on the front and the back?

See, even Adrian Kingsley-Hughes — who declares the front-and-back glass design a “FAIL” (caps and everything so you know he’s serious!) — knows that 1 + 1 = 2 and was thoughtful enough to ask SquareTrade “Does ‘screen’ mean front and back screen?” to which the answer was “Yes.” Which means that assuming breaks on both sides are approximately equal, the front screen is less likely to break on the iPhone 4 than the previous model.

It’s foolish to assume the iPhone 4 is just as solid as the 3GS. It’s not. But neither is it as fragile as a moth’s wings or Ryan Block’s feelings.

Besides general incredulity, I’m still waiting to hear a single response that credibly refutes this report. Gruber’s response, like the Macalope’s, was a total red herring; pretty much else has been ad hominem and/or stating I have no credibility for publishing something like this.

In the comments of that post, Ryan says “red herring” twice. Here’s the dictionary definition:

red herring: something, esp. a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.

The Macalope sometimes waxes poetic so maybe that was distracting for Ryan but Gruber’s comment seems fairly straightforward:

Color me skeptical too. Where’s the evidence that this is a widespread or even vaguely common problem?

To back his assertions up, Block links to — and here the Macalope must point out that he is not making this up — two online polls.

Web polls are obviously unscientific and strongly prejudiced by the audience at hand, but given the thousands of users claiming to have had this very problem, it sounds like it might actually already be a lot more widespread than even I had expected…

“Web polls are meaningless, BUT WEB POLL RESULTS LIKE THIS DON’T LIE (because they support my argument)!”

There should be a Godwin’s Law corollary for someone who relies on web poll results to prove their point.

When a commenter questions the wording of one of the online polls, Block responds:

I think I was pretty clear that I believe online polls are unscientific. The numbers still surprised me, though; I’d expected them to be even lower than they are due to how uncommon slide-on cases for the iPhone 4 are.

It’s weird how unscientific polls return odd or astounding results, isn’t it?! Why, in a recent online poll, 187% of respondents said there were frequently astounded by online poll results!

But let the Macalope try to be clear, here, Ryan.

  1. He believes you that a source inside Apple said this happens.
  2. He further believes that you got a third party case maker to back that up.
  3. He even believes it could happen! If you stuck a bunch of marbles in a titanium iPhone 4 case and then tried to shove the iPhone into it, yes, the Macalope imagines it might break.
  4. What he doesn’t believe — yet, anyway — is what Gruber doesn’t believe: that this is wide-spread. Or, apart from being wide-spread (which you suggest only isn’t happening because Apple’s “suppressed” the sale of slide-on cases), that it’s likely. Which is exactly his stance on “Antennagate”. Could it happen? Sure! But does it happen with enough frequency that it’s worth lighting people’s hair on fire with jerktastic terminology?
  5. And that’s the Macalope’s greatest exception to what you’ve written. Over and over and over again you say Apple is “suppressing” sales of slide-on iPhone 4 cases when what you mean is they’re choosing not selling them in their stores. Saying the company is trying to “suppress” sales of those cases inevitably leads people to think the company is trying to strong-arm other resellers into not carrying them. Is that what you’re suggesting? And don’t get the horny one started again on the “-gate” suffix.
  6. Added: Oh, and he doesn’t believe that Apple “has created a lab and large new test program specifically to investigate this further”. That just sounds koo-koo bananas. Are they looking into it? Sure. New lab and “large” test program? No. Maybe it’s happening, but a crazy claim requires more proof before people will believe it, Ryan. And, no, the Macalope is not asking for you to reveal your source as a commenter on your site suggests he is. He’s content to just go on not believing you.

Hopefully that’s less obtuse.

If you had written a piece that says “A source at Apple says these cases might cause the iPhone 4 to scratch or break in certain circumstances and, consequently, Apple appears to have chosen not to carry those cases in its stores.” we wouldn’t be here. Instead you chose to throw around loaded words like “Glassgate”, “suppress” and “block” and come up with fanciful scenarios where you “might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own.”, as if it would happen that easily with one right out of the box. And then you lament how people have “misinterpreted” your story.

This is what leads us to think you’re trolling for page views. It’s not that we don’t think there might be some truth to your story, it’s your overblown approach. As the Macalope noted last week:

Is a glass phone more likely to break than a plastic one? Sure!

But resorting to online polls? Blogger, please.

Finally, a good Microsoft ad

A couple of years ago someone was impersonating the Macalope on Twitter before giving up shortly after the horny one opened up his own account. The impostor’s last post was this:

Wow. New Microsoft ads are very good. I’m scratching my antlers trying to think of something negative to say.

First of all, you don’t scratch the antlers. Antlers don’t itch. Second, haha, it’s funny because the Macalope is just a Microsoft nay-sayer blah blah blah. Third, those ads — the “take back the ‘I’m a PC guy’!” ads — were truly horrible and the Macalope easily found something negative to say about them.

Fast forward to this year when the brown and furry one has been positive about Microsoft’s efforts with Windows Phone 7 and really likes the first ad.

It may not be perfect as John Gruber notes, but it’s a) a funny jab at how much time people spend on their phones and b) a suggestion that you can do what you want to do on a Windows Phone 7 faster and get back to your loved ones.

Is that true? Maybe. It’s certainly what they tried to do with the phone, we’ll see if they pulled it off. Seems like it’s going to be a little hard without multitasking and cut-and-paste at least.


John Gruber on Ryan Block’s innocent turn of phrase:

What other meaning does the -gate suffix have than “scandal with coverup”?

Well, maybe Ryan’s right. Maybe “Glassgate” is exactly like “Antennagate” — an otherwise modest problem that a bunch of jerkweeds are going to try to make into a big deal.

Just like Watergate.


Scandal-making for dummies

iPad competition sucks, looks like we might get a Verizon iPhone in the new year and “Glassgate”? C’mon. All in this week’s Macworld column.

Separated by a common language

This Guardian piece by Charles Arthur is just confusing.

I suspect that for Apple to do well out of iPads, it actually needs those competitors to do well too.

“Do well out of iPads.” Huh. Typo, poorly constructed sentence or Britishism? YOU MAKE THE CALL.

The Macalope’s going to assume it’s a Britishism. He’d call Nessie to try to confirm but it’s such a pain getting a hold of her. The Macalope can never remember how to dial internationally and have you ever tried to get a reclusive mythical beast on the phone? It’s not easy. He’ll just be further charitable and assume what Arthur means here is that competition spurs innovation.

There’s nothing worse for a company than to try to create a market, only to find yourself the only one in it.

Really? Why? If they’re selling a crapload of units, why do they care? It might not be good for the consumer, but it’s not a bad thing for the company.

My own feeling? This is going to turn into an iPod-like rout of rivals if they don’t do something better than the 7″in models on offer.

Wait, are you saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing? Because that rout was pretty darn excellent for Apple. What Arthur’s probably trying to say is that if the market doesn’t attract competition, it’s probably not a good market to be in. But what if it just attracts a lot of bad competition? It’s up to the other tablet makers to execute. Just because they suck so bad doesn’t mean the market isn’t there.

Bad movies

Three surveys this week drive the Macalope to drink and think of bad movies. All in this week’s Macworld column.