techsnark

another tech writer joining the noise of opinion

Not even @gruber can argue this one

People that write for a living have some great comments on yesterday’s iPhone announcement. Specifically, check out John Gruber’s post, MG Siegler’s post, and arstechnica

Many smart people can agree that thus far the “Steve Jobs wouldn’t have let whatever happen” comments have been stupid. There’s no way of knowing! However, I’m pretty sure we can all mostly agree that Steve Jobs wouldn’t have allowed this:

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The way the iPhone wording is hidden behind the plastic to spell out ‘hon’ is amateur. It would have been cute had the ‘n’ at least been fully visible. Not even John Gruber can find a similar non-sensicle design while Steve Jobs was the CEO of Apple.

Great announcement, though. I have a feeling that, despite the stock-price dip, Apple is going to sell a boatload of iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. Let’s face it, this is just the first stage. Next year, the 5C will come free or free-ish with contract and everything will change once again.

 

Ballmer’s Most Moronic Answers

Ballmer continues to embarrass himself with the lack of understanding. zdnet posted an interview conducted with Ballmer, and while most of it was rather uninteresting, here’s a few good tidbits: 

And nobody has ever managed to figure out how to build a device for a user that was just enterprise or just consumer.

By using the word ‘just’, Ballmer does make himself technically correct. However, more to the spirit of the question and the answer, the iPad is mostly a consumer device. That’s the magical answer that Ballmer doesn’t seem to get. Sure, iPads are also used for business, and they’re definitely more than just consumption devices, but their primary target is consumers. 

In the same way, it is true that Apple’s Mac lines are not selling heavily into the enterprise markets, but that’s more likely because of price and legendary support structures rather than desire. 

What Ballmer is really saying is that Microsoft has done one thing really well; built a product that sells into large enterprise consumers. And since Windows is the only real solution for OEM manufacturers, Windows is also the default OS on consumer electronics. Default, but not desired. 

Ballmer definitely has a very grandiose opinion of himself and Microsoft

I would say a billion plus people and now more with phones, even if they’re not all our phones, I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished there.

Yeah. Sure. You were right there with innovation. 

Moron.

Steve Ballmer’s Retirement – What We Know & Opinions

Last Friday, Microsoft announced the retirement of Steve Ballmer. He’ll continue to serve as CEO until a replacement is found with a timeline of 12 months. This happens just a month after a major reorganization initiated by Ballmer. It’s been pointed out that this departure sudden and against Ballmer’s wishes.

That’s not a surprise. Ballmer has been the CEO for over a decade, and he successfully pushed out any potential competitors for the position. The board needed to make it immediately obvious that Ballmer’s power is being cut, so that they can set the next thing in motion. 

There are a few apologists, but many agree this was a long-time coming. As noted by AllThingsD, Ballmer made almost $800 million because of the jump in the stock price when the retirement was announced. Asymco notes the innovator’s curse

Ballmer was a ballsy sales person that never quite understood innovation. I really can’t picture him making much use of the products Microsoft designed. It’s been mentioned before, that Microsoft’s fixation on the Windows brand cut its ability to innovate. 

Basically, Ballmer needed to be paired with a technology person in an equal or near-equal partnership. Gates was the reason Microsoft succeeded, and when he left, there was no equivalent replacement. 

That’s unlike Apple. With the death of Steve Jobs, Apple has Ivy. Microsoft never did find a Gates, or someone near Bill Gates’ capabilities. 

Krugman Dislikes Apple’s Closed Ecosystem

Krugman gets much of everything right about the economy, but he’s not correct about Apple. In his On The Symmetry Between Microsoft And Apple post he gets plenty wrong. John Gruber touches upon a few clear points. Furthering Gruber’s point, Krugman has a belief that because his old school way of doing things doesn’t work with Apple, it’s a closed off ecosystem. 

In general, the thing about Apple is that it reflects the spirit of Steve Jobs, who knew what was good for you — and left you no way to do things differently. And if you are an atypical user, you end up putting a lot of effort into fighting iOS in order to do simple things.

The assumption that most users fight with iOS is clearly incorrect. There are two types of users – those that used smartphones before the iPhone, and those that used the iPhone as their first smartphone. Back in the day when I used Palm OS, there were a lot of root-level things I could do with it. I don’t miss having to work at my portable device one bit, but clearly Krugman does. His example:

Case in point: as regular readers know, I really like watching live performances on YouTube; and I want the best of them available even when I don’t have access to broadband. So I download them onto my PC as MP4s — there are many add-ons that will do this.

But I actually want them on a tablet. To do this in iOS, you first have to import them into iTunes, then synch; not too big a pain, but still a couple of annoying extra steps. The big problem, however, comes when you want to organize your videos: how do I tell iTunes that, say, my 10 favorite Arcade Fire performances are a related set?

First of all, there are apps that do this for you (such as iFlicks). Secondly, how many people record YouTube performances? Not me. 

Krugman has old habits of the way he used to do things, and he’s applying them to Apple’s ecosystem. iOS can be considered limiting for high-tech users that have unique experiences, but generally speaking, for most people and most functions Apple’s implementations are fantastic. The limitation of iOS isn’t that it is closed off to the end-user; this works well for the key demographic. Most people can’t manage their own PCs, and removing user-error is a key part to what makes iOS work

You either appreciate this, or you don’t, but Krugman makes the mistake of taking an edge-case scenario and applying it to all of Apple’s customer base. Sorry, that’s just not realistic. 

ps Kudos for Krugman for being a techie edge-case! 

Business Insider – Mostly Talks Trash

Current actual headlines on the main Business Insider website. Business. Insider. 

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Fred Wilson Continues To Be Wrong

I love Fred Wilson. When the market goes left, he goes right. After Android’s quick run-up in global market share, there are signs things are slowing down. Android’s decline int he US is a huge indicator, and it predicts the future for Android if Apple releases a cheaper iPhone for growth markets. 

Fred Wilson has declared Android is finally winning based on one post from someone that switched to Android. Switching to Android is very 2012, people are heading back to the iPhone. Fred is now concerned that this is bad news for the development community. He’s now cheering for Apple. Everyone loves the underdog, but Apple is far from an underdog.

Billionaires Love Apple Stock Again

Times change. After almost a year of driving Apple’s stock price down for no apparent reason, some positive news:

Soros Fund Management picked up 66,800 shares in Apple (AAPL), the filings showed, just a day after fellow billionaire investor Carl Icahn revealed that he had built up a “large stake” in the tech giant.

Apple’s growth is slowing down, and that did impact the price, but considering Apple’s earnings it is still undervalued compared to companies like Microsoft and Dell (Note – Not a advisor, just my opinion). This big dollar investment position by the Soros fund and Carl Icahn is not good news for the stock, however. These guys largely invest in slow growth companies with consistent results. 

3Q and 4Q should be an exciting time for the company. 

The Apple and Amazon Comparison

Horace Dediu has a fantastic article about The Anti-Apple (in reference to Amazon). If I might summarize, Horace believes that there are two perceptions that are likely incorrect: First, the perception that Apple is fragile because it must continue to produce ‘hits’ to stay relevant. Secondly, that Amazon has an infinity to become profitable.

The latter assumption is especially interesting. Amazon has razor thin margins, but the stock market treats the company like a fantastic long-term play. The theory is that, while Amazon is buying up market share, it can turn on the profits whenever it wants. That’s really a poor assumption to make (i.e. dumb). 

What Horace didn’t mention is one key differential between the two companies: Apple can always increase revenue by sacrificing profit. The margin on iPhones is as high as 50%. If Apple wanted market share, it could slash that down to a slim 10% profit margin and own the market. Apple’s profit margin has been decreasing, suggesting just that. 

Meanwhile, Amazon is currently at absolute maximum performance at the moment. They can’t afford to go cheaper, or greater. If their prices are no longer the best, they’re no longer relevant. That, to me, is the key difference. Apple has plenty of growth left if they want to sacrifice profit, meanwhile Amazon’s growth is guaranteed to shrink if they decide to go for profit. 

Business Insider – Keeping it Classy

Writing shitty articles and getting hits for them is not unlike doing drugs. The first hit gets you high, and the second and third time you do the drug, you need more. We’ve seen plenty of “Steve Jobs wouldn’t approve” articles from Business Insider, but they’re clearing stepping up their game in terms of bullshit. 

Some Things Apple Has Done Since Steve Jobs Died That He Might Have Disagreed With is awesome. Really. First, it tells us how Steve Jobs often pivoted on ideas that he was originally against, thus making him a dynamic leader. So, to get this straight Business Insider, you’re admitting that Steve Jobs often changed his mind. Hmmm. And yet, you give us a list of things that ‘despite’ this quality, Steve Jobs might not like. 

Or, you know, he may have changed his mind about. But whatever. The title of the article is awesome! 

Android’s Market Share Declining

Signs point to Android’s net users are in decline. Horace Dediu’s write-up is US focused, but my guess is this will be a start of a global trend. Apple is succeeding with cheaper iPhones in the US. If the rumoured ‘cheap’ iPhone is rolled out globally, this trend will continue in emerging markets. 

Let’s face it, people buy Android either because they’re techies and what the freedom, or because they can’t justify spending more for Apple products. When the cost argument is removed from the picture globally, you’ll see Apple’s market share grow.

Of course, all this assumes that the iPhone 5C is a reality. I think it will be.

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