Aug 312011

When Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of Apple, you could almost tap out the beat (…2, 3, 4) before the first career hit-mooch would take to his keyboard and announce that the spell had been broken – that the “reality distortion field” that causes all Apple product users to make irrational purchasing decisions – had dissipated. I had a short list of pundits who would pick up this mantle, and I’m happy to say one of them came through. It’s long past time he was duly honored for his body of work.

Joe Wilcox is a garden variety anti-Apple troll who ambidextrously fluffs both Microsoft and Google at Apple’s expense. Like all DBR inductees, he’s also incredibly shitty at what he does, if you assume that thing involves “intelligently talking about trends in technology”. How bad is he? Let’s allow Wilcox to shine the light of his intellect on a couple of major technology stories and see where he comes out.

On Steve Ballmer’s leadership of Microsoft   

After firing a number of long-time senior executives at Microsoft, Ballmer’s actions justifiably came under fire from the tech press as short-sighted sacrifices made by an incompetent CEO. Not according to Wilcox: Ballmer’s doing it to show everyone who’s boss. Joe took to his favorite venue, Betanews, to set the record straight. From the section of the piece titled – I shit you not – “Captain, My Captain”:

Ballmer has something to communicate here to other Microsoft executives, employees, partners, Wall Street analysts and investors: He’s in charge and will do whatever is necessary to make Microsoft more competitive in the decade 2010.  No Microsoft leader is sacred enough; anyone can and will be sacked if they put personal agenda or perceived Microsoft agenda ahead of the company.

It’s certainly a good thing Ballmer chose the decade 2010 to jam a rocket in his ass, because the last one didn’t look so good. Here’s Ballmer’s “decade 2000” from an investor’s perspective – compared to another tech company with modest growth:

Yes, those are thousands of percent

That blue line should look familiar to anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. When you’re looking for vital signs, it’s what you see when something’s dead. But that was “the flaccid 2000’s”. How about the first year of that rocketship decade?


OK: so maybe Wilcox isn’t so good at spotting great leaders. Let’s try out some good old fashioned prognostication. When the tech press buzz was building about the rumored product that turned out to be the iPad, how did Joe feel about its prospects?

“The world doesn’t need an Apple tablet, or any other” By Joe Wilcox

I know what’s going on here. This is one of those “Brutus was an honorable man” articles – you know: the ones that throw you with the title but conclude 180 degrees away from it?

“So I’ll assert what should be obvious to anyone thinking rationally and not emotionally: Tablet is a nowhere category. For all the hype about an Apple tablet , it is at best a niche product. The world doesn’t need an Apple tablet, no matter what the hype about rumored features or regardless of what actually releases (if anything).

/prints out picture of Wilcox

//laughs maniacally in photo’s face

To his credit, Wilcox did publish an article in June of last year – after 6 months of the iPad kicking the shit out of his “nowhere category”. Of his original claim, he says “Yes, I was wrong. I admit it. Flail me in Betanews comments or other blogs. Surely Macheads will peck away even my bones. Go ahead. I won’t often give you such opportunity.” Then he went and published “iPad Cannot Win the Tablet Wars” a year later, asserting that Apple could not possibly keep its edge on Android’s offerings, while also proving that he can indeed provide future opportunities to be flailed – on the same topic no less. Of course, for people who have no shame about how fucktarded the things they say sound, opportunities for flailing also provide opportunities for pageviews. Turns out there are some people on the internet who love telling misinformed people how wrong they are. Go figure.

Which brings us back to Wilcox’s induction-tipping article “I Lost My Passion for Apple”. Let’s take her for a spin:

“Earlier this month I sold my 11.6-inch MacBook Air (using Samsung Series 5 Chromebook now) and iPhone 4 (switched back to Google Nexus S).”

I can almost fathom Wilcox getting a Nexus S to prove how thoroughly un-Apple he is despite having used their kit, but he’d have us believe he traded an Air in for a Chromebook? The hardware universally panned as too big and too expensive to make a decent netbook powered by Google’s wet fart of an OS?

Without Apple Chairman Steve Jobs driving innovation or inspiring passion — the oft-called “reality distortion field” — my Apple enthusiasm is gone. Perhaps it’s return to sanity.

Jobs retired on August 24. Wilcox wrote his article three days later. Is he claiming that “innovation and passion” is now retroactively missing from products released when he was still CEO? Was his returning the Apple products some sort of protest or does he honestly believe that every Apple product contains a whisp of Jobs’ soul – as long as he’s CEO, that is.

But on reflection, I now see how much simplicity, one of Apple products’ best attributes, is giving way to complication creep. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and iTunes 9 and 10 are glaring examples of increased complexity, as are iOS 4 (and soon v5), Safari 5.1, iLife `11 and most other Apple software.

More specifically…

Oh. I guess Wilcox doesn’t need to be any more expository than putting a bunch of Apple products in a list. What the fuck is “complication creep”? How piss-poor of a writer do you have to be to run off a list like this and not even drill down on one item on it? Wait: you do have an example, Joe?

Still, where Steve Jobs’ influence still touched so did simplicity remain, which iPad 2, MacBook Air and Mac App Store imbue. But other recent attempts at simplicity have failed, with Final Cut Pro X example of increased complexity coming from an attempt to make video production simpler. Many of Apple’s elite customers complained about the product, and there was even a petition to bring back the old version! Could such a thing really have happened with Steve Jobs hands-on at Apple?

So, aside from nonsensically returning a product he claims is still “imbued” with Jobs’ characteristic “simplicity”, Wilcox cites people complaining about a new version of an Apple product as evidence that Jobs no longer cares. Maybe Joe doesn’t peruse the Apple Discussion Boards, like say someone who was preparing to write something about which they wanted to appear knowledgable. How about the clamor over the introduction of glossy screens? iMovie ’08? As an Apple product user, I can attest that there are no bitchier end-users on the planet. Final Cut is just another example of Apple doing something that some users don’t like. If anyone’s attitude towards change has been “not a big deal”, it’s been Jobs. If anything, knee-jerk responses to every user gripe would be characteristic of Apple without Jobs, not the other way around.

Apple feels quite different to me now in 2011 than it did in 2008. It’s all corporate now.

How exactly does that feel, Joe? Does it feel like someone has pulled a Ziploc over your head while your hands and feet were bound, because for some reason, that image of you is really sticking with me.

 Just dollars and cents on a ledger.

And ubiquitously best-in-class products and services, as reviewed by every respectable outlet in existence, but go on…

What Jobs imbued already is gone, at least for me.

Except for the MacBook Air, but I returned it anyway, because my writing has the continuity of someone still learning cursive.

I predict it will fade for many technophiles.

And I’m awesome at predicting things.

But not anytime soon for the mass market of buyers, who are more influenced by what their friends and family use than by the aura of Steve Jobs. His legendary “one more thing” was one last thing long ago.

I confess I don’t even know what that closing means, but the trickle of blood from my left ear suggests I should leave Wilcox’s prose before one of my anterior lobes implodes.

So: Joe Wilcox. Stunningly ignorant blatherer of things anti-Apple, relentlessly incorrect interpreter of technology trends, clueless prognosticator, archetypical hit-whore: welcome to Douchebag’s Row. There is no one who writes so much about Apple that knows as little as you. In the rare air you now share, that’s saying something.

 Posted by at 12:33 am
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