It was a good week for saying "I told you so" as the past proclamations of pundits proved particularly pernicious. Not for Apple--for them.
How'd that work out?
There might be bad news for fans of both Facebook and Android--other than being fans of both Facebook and Android, that is.
Facebook has long wanted to be a major part of how you use your smartphone. Now, it looks as if the company has all but abandoned one of its major strategies to do so.
No, it's not the strategy of trying to manipulate your feelings by messing with your feed! That's still on track.
The company has disbanded the team of engineers originally assigned to work on Facebook Home, its custom-made mobile software for Android devices, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Wait, Facebook disbanded the Facebook Home team instead of Apple disbanding the iPhone team? That can't be right, because the Macalope distinctly remembers hearing last year how Facebook Home would "screw" Apple. Hmm, where is that ...
[pretends to shuffle papers]
Ah! Here it is! Here was Mike Elgan's take after the Facebook Home announcement:
Apple is being publicly insulted and used by Facebook.
Indeed. It is a terrible slap in the face to come out with an Android-only interface that jacks your whole user experience and ... well, then let it wither on the vine and probably eventually die a quiet death because it never took off. There is one thing all reasonable people can agree on:
There is no way Steve Jobs would have put up with this kind of humiliating abuse.
Indeed. Well said.
First, Amazon gained the upper hand with it's [sic] Kindle Fire products.
Here's another thing we can call Elgan on. Jeff Bezos actually slipped up at the Fire Phone announcement and obliquely revealed some sales numbers. Shocking, the Macalope knows, but according to him there are "tens of millions" of Kindle Fire owners. There are hundreds of millions of iPad owners.
Now, Facebook has gained it with Facebook Home.
He's like a perpetual wrongness machine. This is not surprising "analysis" coming from--yes, the Macalope's going to bring this up again, because it's never not funny--the guy who said the Zune scared Apple "to its core." That was doubly egregious, as it was both laughably wrong (even at the time) and a pun. That's just not the kind of thing that you can say and not have haunt you for the rest of your life. Look, the Macalope didn't make the rules, he just enforces them.
The real question is why anyone would employ Elgan to write analysis on a site that is ostensibly about covering Apple. It's probably just a glitch that now prevents this piece from loading on Cult of Mac's site, but if so then it's a fortunate one.
Right effect, wrong victim
Harken back, if you will, to a time long since past, a time when Apple and only Apple faced a deadly threat from China. And by "long since past" the Macalope means April and May.
Yes, it was just a couple of months ago that pundits were seeing DOOM for Apple in the rise of Xiaomi. Forbes contributor Gordon G. Chang (the G is also for "Gordon") warned in April, "Apple, Be Afraid: China's Xiaomi Going Global." Then, in May, Seeking Alpha's Chris Neiger found the same guns-and-multiple-wives-in-a-compound religion and railed about "Apple's Growing Problem In China."
Xiaomi, the private tech company that sells smartphones and now tablets, has its sights set on Apple--and it's paying off.
And what did the Macalope say to both? "You misspelled 'Samsung.'"
While Xiaomi is doing good business by trying to copy Apple, it's still selling cheap Android devices. Who does that undercut more, Apple or Samsung?
Fast forward to the present as Business Insider's Jay Yarow reviews the surprising results.
"EVERCORE: Apple Is Now Selling Phones At A Faster Growth Rate Than Samsung" (no link for Business Insider but tip o' the antlers to e.w.parris).
The deuce, you say! Unpossible! Get out of the incorporated limits of this town!
This is a giant flip for Samsung and Apple compared to a year ago. Last year, Samsung was on fire, taking over the world. Apple was perceived to be slumping because ...
Because Business Insider.
... its sales were significantly slower.
So, what changed? Chinese smartphone companies got better.
Oh! You mean smartphone companies like Xiaomi, the Apple killer. But a funny thing happened on the way to all the Apple-killing. Well, not funny if you're Samsung, because it was the one who got hurt. Which is super-shocking if you run a linkbait-driven site that makes everything about Apple. So super-shocking that even Yarow's boss hasn't gotten the message.
"Look Out, Apple! The 'Apple Of China' Is Already Selling Almost Half As Many Phones As You Are!" (tip o' the antlers to @JonyIveParody).
Well, in Henry Blodget's defense, he is an irrepressible troll who knows that nobody's going to care about an article about Samsung being threatened by Xiaomi. You have to make everything about Apple if you want to bait those links.
The Macalope's not sure how that's exculpatory but it's true.
Over the past couple of years, the growth rate of Apple's iPhone business has tanked (see below), which has caused Apple's profit growth to slow. Sales growth has slowed because developed markets have matured, and Apple has not had a phone priced to sell well in huge emerging markets like China and India, where growth is still rapid.
Dude, read your own crappy publication.
If you can't beat 'em, grouse and complain about 'em.
Writing for Seeking Alpha, Markos Kaminis says "Barron's Rated Apple As America's Most Respected Company - I Beg To Differ."
Barron's says that what matters most is that the company displays strong management; that it practices ethical business; it should have a sound business strategy; displays a competitive edge and shows product innovation. I think we can make a critical argument against each of these factors in Apple's case.
Critical, sure. Logical? No.
... Apple has dominated the list for four out of the last five years. Do you agree that it should have ranked so high each year? I do not.
OK, these lists are kind of dumb. But Apple is a very large and hugely successful company with a customer satisfaction rating that is the envy of any organization, including the major religions. If not Apple, then who?
At the end of last year, I asked a question I think many of us have contemplated but been afraid to ask ...
"Why are all the children in the pretty pictures on the walls screaming so very loudly?"
Actually, that would have made more sense.
... Is it Time for Tim Cook to Leave Apple?
This is not the kind of analysis one should be hanging his underwear on, let alone his hat.
First, while Apple's growth has slowed, it's still growing and is doing better than its major competitors (see above). Second, the company's share price, which had been its only falling indicator, is again on the rise as well. Finally, who the heck would you replace him with who could do a better job? Asking that question now looks even dumber in every measurable way than it did at the end of 2013. And it was pretty dumb then.
The second factor Barron's surveyed was whether the companies in question practice ethical business. And yes, Apple has come under scrutiny for alleged unethical practices. A year ago May, some in the Senate alleged Apple could be guilty of tax avoidance in the U.S. ...
Well, Markos, if you want to make every corporation that's tried to use loopholes to lower its taxes ineligible then good luck finding any corporations. Apple was targeted because it's large and recognizable, not because it's the worst offender.
Of course, over the years, labor practices at Apple suppliers in China have also come under great scrutiny due to deaths and suicides.
And Apple does more about this problem than any of its competitors.
Barron's was looking for the best companies in terms of sound business strategy, competitive edge and product innovation. Now, Steve Jobs' Apple would without any doubt deserve top ranking here. However, does today's Apple seem like a reach to more than just me for the top spot of all, ahead of Google and others?
"Whoops, we spent $12.5 billion on Motorola and now we're unloading it for $3 billion" Google? That Google?
When I read the news these days, I take note of the innovation efforts of other companies, including Apple competitors like Samsung and Google.
Innovation for Apple means shipping an industry-altering product. Innovation for Samsung and Google means cobbling together some loose prototypes that a handful of people buy before they fizzle and you move onto something else. Probably a market that Apple's defined for you.
Is Apple on the kind of upswing it was on just after the launch of the iPad? No, no one would argue that. But it still plays the best game in town.