Apr 282011
 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Google’s Android OS for mobile devices will doom Apple’s iOS soon. Witness the impending savage brutality:

The analyst’s conclusion: Android will overtake iOS by July of this year. Looks pretty obvious from this graph, right? Not really.

 

1. Where did you people learn statistics?

Wanna hear something awesome? I will be a millionaire by the the time I retire and I have the statistics to prove it. You see: I found $100 bill on the street today. If you assume that I will find $100 on the street every day for *cough* *ahem* *cough* years, and allow for compounding at a modest interest rate, I will be a millionaire around 65. Screw the IRA!

Distimo used the February-March 2011 month-to-month data to project the June numbers. I know this because they say so in their write-up. Taking month-to-month growth of an app ecosystem and extending a line from it is as meaningless an exercise as taking any 2 short-term data points and extending a trend line from the segment formed. And speaking of drawing…

 

2. Where did you people learn to draw?

Maybe it’s me, but do you see the line come off a little “flat” for iOS in March and get a little goosed for Android around mid April? You guys know something we don’t? Wanna let us in on it?

 

3. Try looking up “ringtones” in the Android Market.

Wanna guess how many of these apps are conduits for pirated, copyright/trademark-violating properties? If you guessed “a shit-ton”, you’d be correct. People used to joke about how many fart apps were in the App Store. The Android Market wishes it had apps as valuable as the worst fart app ever put up. Distimo does note that Android now has more free apps than the App Store. Nothing screams “make money here!” to app developers as effectively as having more stuff not worth paying for in your market.

 

4. So I guess the iPad doesn’t count now?

We’re comparing OS markets, but we’re leaving out devices that make up part of the market ecosystem. I guess if you want a graph that fits well in landscape orientation, you have to cut some corners. Like not drawing our lines straight. Or making that ziggy line on the y-axis between 50,000 and 100,000 on a graph that spans 0 to 400,000. Hallmarks of a company that should be taken seriously.

 

If you’re banking on Android overtaking iOS in the near future, you’d feel a lot better if you sought out analysis that actually makes sense, as opposed to getting it from another no-name firm with zero track record looking to make a quick buck by using shitty statistics poorly.

Apr 282011
 

Google has come to fancy themselves as sophisticated manipulators of the media, which isn’t saying much since the collective media hivemind is about as sharp as a sack of wet mice. Witness the “user study” released by Mountain View today touting how awesome location-relevant mobile ads are. Given that this report uses data from the end of 2010, one would wonder why Google chose now – almost 5 months later – to release data about the effectiveness of mobile advertising?  The obvious motivation is the last clause of the topic paragraph:

“71% of smartphone users search because of an ad they’ve seen either online or offline; 82% of smartphone users notice mobile ads, 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping, and 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.” (emphasis mine)

 

Let’s connect the dots. Yesterday, Apple responded to frothing media and political questioning about a .db file that contained what (to some) looked like a chronicle of user locations. Apple debunked the “tracking” myth by explaining that the locations discovered in the file were actually the locations of all nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers “to assist the iPhone in rapidly and accurately calculating location.” In a phone interview with Ina Fried, Steve Jobs also went on record as saying that Apple would be certainly be appearing before Congress about Apple’s practices that he would be interested to see how “lazy” the press would be in pursuing other location data collectors (i.e. Google), intimating that others might not be as “hands off” with location data.

 

I will bet anyone that this “Mobile Movement” Survey will be cited no less than 743 times by Google representatives during congressional testimony.

“So why is it that you need to actively track location and have that information sent back to Google on an ongoing basis? Apple doesn’t need to do this.”

“Apple and Google have very different business models. Consumers query Google using their mobile devices with an expectation of receiving location-relevant results. As we discovered in a survey we released earlier this decade year, an overwhelming percentage of people click on search results that are geographically relevant. In order to maintain these high quality results, it is necessary to track users wherever they go.”

 

The timing of the release of this survey was anything but arbitrary. It’s laying the groundwork for a more invasive level of user tracking and will serve as a justification for how “up in your shit” Google is when Congress calls them out.

Apr 272011
 

Compare:

“Today at Where 2.0 Pete Warden and I will announce the discovery that your iPhone, and your 3G iPad, is regularly recording the position of your device into a hidden file. Ever since iOS 4 arrived, your device has been storing a long list of locations and time stamps. We’re not sure why Apple is gathering this data, but it’s clearly intentional, as the database is being restored across backups, and even device migrations.”

 

With:

“Apple is not tracking the location of your iPhone. Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.

The location data that researchers are seeing on the iPhone is not the past or present location of the iPhone, but rather the locations of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding the iPhone’s location”

 

But I’m sure you sold out the talk no one would otherwise give a shit about by proffering completely incorrect information. Shame on O’Reilly for giving these asshats a stage. That name used to mean something in tech.


Apr 262011
 

Remember that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the French begin to arbitrarily fire livestock at King Arthur’s knights instead of actual ammunition? On the face of it, that’s what Samsung is attempting to do to Apple.

After Apple busted out 16 claims spanning patents, trade dress, and trademark infringements, Samsung said that they would “…respond actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property…”. Instead of “responding”, Samsung grabbed a bunch of patents they had lying around and said “we have those too!” claiming that Apple is infringing on 5 patents that have nothing to do with Cupertino’s claims.

I’m not an intellectual property litigator, but doesn’t it look a little hokey when you’re called to the carpet by a company for infringement and you counter by producing patents that have nothing to do with the claim?  I hope Samsung defended the IP it’s claiming Apple violated against other manufacturers or has some kind of licensing agreement with them. It’d be nice to have something that would explain why these claims are being made now, especially when the tech press keeps calling it a “response” to Apple’s action. Unless “respond” means “caught dead in the act”. Then it makes perfect sense.

Apr 252011
 

It’s getting so that I don’t even have to mark the date Apple announces its quarterly earnings on my calendar anymore. Every quarter, the retarded tech press does it for me by “supermodeling” (a.k.a. binging-and-purging) a sensationalized anti-Apple story that either is hyped exponentially beyond its intrinsic value or regurgitated news with a new spin. I imagine because Apple was due to announce the utter destruction of all estimates on Wednesday (even more so than usual), we managed to get a story that was both hyped exponentially and regurgitated. The story? Apparently, there is a file on your iPhone that tracks your general location, and has been doing so since the upgrade to iOS 4.

/cue sinistermusic.aif

The internet is more efficient than technology reporting is thorough, so the anatomy of all “I knew it all along, you Apple scumbags” stories take some time to come full-circle. Your average timeline looks like this:

00:00 – The story breaks from the source. In this case a discovery that was leaked by two researchers from O’Reilly.

+00:00.000014 – Every news outlet, blogger – basically any human being who was ever written about the technology space – cuts and pastes the source’s press release in the hope of monetizing some of the hatred that people are drawn to comes to Apple. Comment sections fill up like the Port-a-Sans at a St. Patrick’s Day parade with “AHA!”/demands for official Apple fanboy responses/pantomimed hand-wringing posts. Jacqui Cheng gleefully gets to exercise the “aggressive” half of her passive-aggressive relationship with Apple and post 500 words of complaint.

+01:00 Some camera hogging politician will hold a press conference, write a letter, or hold a press conference about the letter they wrote attempting to grill Steve Jobs on the topic. Apparently Chuck Schumer was either relinquishing his well-known role, on vacation or in the hospital because Al Franken actually scooped Schumer on “Datafilegate”.

+06:00 Apple never says squat in reply to stories like these, so it’s left to other people to get to the bottom of it. After about 6 hours, the first rational people who know what they’re talking about step in and qualify or otherwise debunk the Apple claims as either irrelevant or sensationalized. Everyone starts to get back to their knitting, the torches are extinguished and the pitchforks are put away. The first article TMA saw came from Alex Levinson and basically said the file is not transmitted to Apple, has been around forever and would appreciate it if the researchers would credit other people’s work on the topic. Then it came to light that Apple actually addressed elected officials’ concerns a year ago when they replied to a letter sent by two senators. Apparently Franken couldn’t be bothered to read a document that would’ve answered 90% of his questions. I can just see Schumer giving Franken a sincere congratulations on getting in front of this important story. And doing it using his best Stuart Smalley impression. Apparently Al has a little bit to learn about pandering to the camera on popular issues.

TMA isn’t naĂŻve, but the only thing marginally bothersome about this whole charade is that the location file on your iPhone is unencrypted, which I guarantee will be resolved with an iOS update. Unless somebody physically has your phone, or has access to your computer and you didn’t encrypt your iTunes backup, there’s no chance of getting at your information anyway. TMA calls this the “Pwn2Own Phenomenon”: every year when neckbeards mockingly decry OS X’s browser as “insecure”, they don’t make a lot of mention that the person has possession of your machine when he’s “hacking” it. Possession is 9/10 of the law whether you’re talking about the hundred dollar bill you dropped or the information contained on my consumer electronics device once you lose it. Somehow that still comes as a shock to some people. It also comes as no surprise to TMA that Android devices send location data back to the mothership approximately 500 times a day. But no one ever had an 100,000-hit day on their website bashing Google. And Google does a pretty good job hiding unflattering press about itself, but that’s another post…

Oh–and I hope those researchers didn’t do anything stupid like short Apple stock in anticipation that their “breakthrough discovery” would have some effect on its price: it’s still up over $10 from before the call.

Apr 202011
 

So TMA was heading into this afternoon’s Apple earnings call with a little bit of – ¿cĂłmo se dice? – swagger?  How did the predictions stack up against the experts?

-Actuals courtesy of Apple’s investor page (I’m noticing some small discrepencies between it and the numbers presented on the call)

-“Consensus” averages courtesy of the good men and women at the Fortune Apple 2.0 blog

 

Not bad, eh? Probably should have deduced the iPod numbers, but then again, no one else did. The biggest eye-popper, however, is the iPad column – what the hell is happening there? Even the partially-evolved “professionals” couldn’t lowball it enough. Apple’s supply chain’s got some ‘splainin’ to do!

In closing, TMA presents an open letter to the firms currently making up the “professional” consensus:

Dear J.P. Morgan, Oppenheimer, Deutche Bank, Piper Jeffray, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, et. al:

If you are interested in the services of an independent analyst who doesn’t make your firms look like a bunch of complete tools when making predictions about the financial performance of Apple, Inc., I will be entertaining offers, starting at $750,000 annually (plus benefits). I can guarantee you that I will embarrass you no less than the people passing for analysts at your firms do now.

As they say on eBay, bid with confidence!

Sincerely,

TMA

Apr 202011
 

A lot of people roll their eyes when they catch wind that Apple is suing someone over “look and feel”.  And when TMA says “roll their eyes”, he means “holler soprano through knotted panties”. To wit:

“This just in.. Ford sues the whole motor industry for copying the Model T. 4 wheels.. Check! Steering wheel.. Check! Combustion engine.. Check! I know.. Crazy huh?”   –Some Engadget douchebag

“Clearly subjective. The “user interface” is nothing like IOS outside of the square app options. This suit is rediculous and I hope Steve Jobs dies already.”   –Classy Gizmodo commenter (currently “unstarred”, but with SJ comment and rediculous spelling, it’s only a matter of time)

So why does Apple continue to fire lawsuit salvos from behind its “walled garden”?

Because you didn’t design the iPhone. Neither did Samsung (LOL@the Samsung fantards, BTW). Apple did. And the way the intellectual property protection system works in technology, if you invest in something, you patent it. It could be highly technical and difficult to reverse-engineer or not so technical and trivially easy to rip off. Sometimes, the “easy to rip off” stuff is harder to get right than the components that support it. The particularly uninformed have a hard time grasping this. Someone had to do more than think of this stuff. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t you. That’s why you’re not bringing products to market and “trade dress” is a part of what’s protectable.

*ahem*

Like any system designed to protect, the trademark and patent system in this country can be abused. TMA isn’t claiming to agree with the specifics of every Apple claim with regard to “look and feel”, but the overarching rationale behind them is hard to knock. This isn’t about Apple trying to extort annuities in the form of licensing agreements from companies, a strategy that dying whales like Microsoft and Nokia are clinging to. This is about protecting the enormous investment Apple made in developing a product that was unlike anything before it, but is serving as the copy-glass original for everything since.

Apr 192011
 

One of TMA’s favorite posts involves swooping in after Apple has kicked the crap out of analysts’ estimates for earnings and pointing out how little financial firms know about the company. There’s also usually a shot about their performance being symptomatic of the country’s financial collapse as well as some vague ponzi scheme references. Good times.

But it’s also kind of unfair, right? I mean – shouldn’t I be exposed to some of the scrutiny I inflict upon others? That’s debatable, but because I’m resistant to most forms of shaming, I’m going to give this prediction thing a shot. Based on the metrics listed in Fortune’s Apple 2.0 poll categories, TMA humbly submits his predictions for Apple’s performance:

So TMA responds to the weary analysts’ cry of “Fill yer hands!”. The “TMA” row on Fortune’s Q3 prediction spreadsheet is all but assured.

Apr 142011
 

Despite Andy Rubin’s harsh words for fragmenters of the Android smartphone operating system, HTC decided to announce that the latest version of “Sense”, the UI overlay HTC uses ostensibly to differentiate itself from other Android phones, won’t work with anything but the newest dual-core processor shartphones.

HTC is the largest manufacturer of Android phones. Not only did they pfffff Rubin’s strong words about fragmenting the Android experience, they’re going to fragment their own fragment. Sounds like they didn’t exactly hear you, Andy. Better get back on that soapbox!

Apr 132011
 

A long time ago, a small Cupertino company discovered that the more elements of the computer (and later the consumer electronics) experience they controlled, the more people would be willing to pay for the fruits of their labor. They developed their own computer, smartphone, media player and TV set-top box operating systems, designed the boxes they came in, strongly controlled the components that made them up, and dominated their purchasing experience. The company enjoyed decades of nosebleed-margins, accolades from followers, envy from producers of lesser goods, best-in-class reviews and were the darlings of customer satisfaction surveys across the land. Their products were held up as examples of what technology could be.

One day, the company decided to get into the television manufacturing market, a low-margin commodity good that had dozens of major brand competitors that had been in the market for decades. The Cupertino company already made a modestly-successful and arguably best-in-class TV set-top box that allowed viewers to rent, purchase or stream media. Some of their would-be competitors were already working with another major tech company on an operating system that provided similar, but inferior capabilities. Others manufacturers had their own deployment of integrated “apps” from providers of video and music streaming services – both paid and free. Despite all this, the logic of “we have a buttload of cash from doing all things that aren’t this successfully – what else are we going to spend it on?” proved too compelling for their normally shrewd and trend-leading CEO, so they plowed headlong into one of the most established markets in consumer electronics, second only to radio.

One of the paragraphs in this story make sense. One of them is the analyst’s equivalent of petroleum jelly and a JCPenny catalogue lingerie section.

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