Jun 222011

I’ve probably covered the formula for hit maximization here before, but to restate the model:

1. Employ outrageous headline which, if true, would totally change the way the reader thought about entity x

2. Write topic sentence to echo the scandalous sentiment of the headline and alert the reader that he needs to buckle up for a damning piece of Pultizer-grade shit.

3. Use the body of the article to explain why the outrageous claim may or may not be true.

4. Close with “guess we’ll have to wait and see”.

5. Profit

This week’s asshat puts a spin on the tried and true TechCrunch/Gizmodo/Engadget monetization model. In “Is Apple’s iCloud Music Match a Possible Honeypot?”, which is also a nominee for the Titular Irony Award, Daniel Nolte not only hits the gas after stating the premise obviated in the title, he dismisses the logical counterargument. The premise: that Apple’s iTunes Match service is the perfect way for the RIAA to know you’re pirating music. What everyone thought for a millisecond when Jobs announced iTunes Match is now a feature-length article picked up by Slashdot and dumped into my inbox. Here’s Nolte’s logic, for the two people reading this who don’t know how song metadata works:

-music has a digital fingerprint which, if not outright damning, can circumstantially prove whether or not you were the person who purchased that music

-Apple’s iTunes Match uses some of this information to determine which of the songs in your possession it needs to provide to you on other Apple devices you own

-Apple could hand this information over to the RIAA

So why was it left to the dude from “48 Hours” to articulate what the rest of us knew was a possibility? I’d like to think that it’s because people in general aren’t retarded. Nolte acknowledges this:

“Some people I have mentioned this concern to have essentially accused me of heresy and paranoia because “there is no way Apple would do that to their users”.  Apple would not have to.  They would simply have to comply with an information demand from the RIAA, who has had no problem with being seen as the bad guy in hardball enforcement against file sharing.”

Leave aside the gratuitous heresy jab (it’s a requirement of shitty Apple-trolling blogs to make one religious reference when mentioning people who enjoy using Apple products) because the answer to the question of “why wouldn’t Apple do – or be a party to doing – this?” is right there in quotes. There is no way Apple would do that to their users. To other companies, this sentence is invoked only by people naive about profit margins and quarterly earnings. Everyone knows companies will throw their customers under the bus to further themselves, right? Not if the business model of the company is based in large part on the trust the users feel in the brand. If you think Apple’s history of negotiating deals with music labels to help them monetize music and providing the best-in-class portable media experience was constructed just so they could hand users who pirated music over to the RIAA, you’re trolling or stupid.

I’m assuming by the mostly-proper spelling and grammar (also known as the “Thurrott Test”) that this isn’t the case with Nolte.

“Moreover consider this:

  1. Apple is the largest music retailer on the planet.
  2. Apple believes, possibly justifiably, that it loses billions of dollars annually to illegal music file sharing.
  3. The easiest way out of the legal jam over challenged content in your iCloud storage would be to convert the suspected iCloud music by buying it from Apple.  Apple becomes almost like a white knight in the process.”

OK: I take it back. He’s both.

 Posted by at 8:45 am
Jun 012011

TMA is writing in to Merriam-Webster that the word “Greenpeace” be added to the lexicon.

Greenpeace \ˈgrēnpēs\ transitive verb: to use a popular brand as a scapegoat for a cause. Popularized by the shameless environmentalists, Greenpeacing involves taking a platform and stapling it to the most notable for-profit entity possible in an attempt to garner maximum media saturation for said cause.

Apple gets Greenpeaced all the time. Greenpeace booed them for their lack of environmental awareness in 2006, but they’re currently off their shit list, ranking 9th out of 18 large electronics manufacturers for “eco-friendliness”. No one seems to understand their methodology for the ranking, but you appear to get as many points for promising to do things as you do for actually doing them. Rest assured that Apple doesn’t give a shit about where it appears on Greenpeace’s rankings, but that doesn’t prevent Greenpeace from riding Apple like a rented mule.

Another organization that apparently got a look at the “ride the brand playbook” is US Uncut, a group that wants U.S. corporations to stop the nefarious practice of sheltering their earnings by using other countries’ more lenient tax structures as opposed to America’s onerous 35% tax rate. It’s a very common practice, and Apple is not the most egregious abuser by far. By US Uncut’s own admission “Unlike General Electric or Pfizer or Verizon, who pay zero taxes, Apple is not a total tax sleaze.” But they’ve got the most recognizable brand and a massive retail presence, so they get US Uncut’s attention.

The group is organizing protests at Apple Stores to wag their judgmental fingers at Apple’s “bad enough” abuse of the tax structure and to raise awareness about a proposed tax holiday that would limit corporations’ liability to 5.25% for 2011-2012 instead of the usual 35%. According to a statistic cited by US Uncut, this would result in a $80 billion loss in tax revenue in the long term. That seems like a lot to TMA, since its predicated on companies declaring at the 35% rate, which I would argue they’d have zero desire to do sans holiday, but what do I know?

TMA (over)pays his taxes, so I get what the raised feathers are about. What I don’t understand and openly mock are groups like US Uncut that would rather protest a minor player with a big name instead of hating on more obnoxious abusers or, better yet, hating on the game. Companies can do this because the tax laws allow them to. But slogging through tax code and lobbying lawmakers isn’t as sexy as showing up at an Apple Store and pretending that you’re moving the needle.

 Posted by at 10:41 am
May 252011

In a way, you have to feel badly for Steve Ballmer. As svelte technology companies continue to run circles around Microsoft, slowly bleeding it of market presence, Balmy continues to chortle and guffaw at any suggestion that Microsoft is losing relevance. Earlier this week at a developer’s conference in Japan, followers of the company were treated to a little inside information about the next generation of the Windows operating system straight from the horse’s mouth:

“And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

This transcript comes directly from Microsoft, which is funny, because this morning the company retracted it, saying “It appears there was a misstatement…To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”

Could you imagine the cacophony of gut-splitting laughter you’d hear across the Internet if Steve Jobs misspoke so fundamentally about one of his products? Could you then imagine Apple coming out the next day and saying, in so many words, “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”? As CEO, you represent the company; you are the company. How can this clown possibly get so far off script, and how much worse does it look to have your PR flacks negate the words of its leader recorded in its own transcript?

Just another day in the Bizzaro universe of Microsoft.

 Posted by at 10:25 am  Tagged with:
May 182011

Ed Bott is a garden-variety ZD Net Windows shill that TMA has run into before. His speciality is one common among Windows enthusiasts. As John Gruber illustrates, it involves periodically talking up a Mac virus threat that never seems to materialize. Ever. Well now Bott has incontrovertible proof of an impending outbreak.

He spoke to an Applecare rep.



Nevermind that the “infestation” that Bott is going on about is a trojan horse that explicitly requires you to input your administrator password. It’s not a virus – you know – those thousands of different things lurking in every registry that costs Windows users billions of dollars a year?

Now, even for a shameless hack like Bott, recounting a conversation with a nameless “Apple rep” is thin. But reading his “interview” is downright laughable. I won’t give Ed the link because of TMA’s “No Linkbacks for Hitwhores” rule, but trust me when I say the melodrama is as thinly veiled as his receding hairline.

The best thing that could happen to bottom-feeders like Ed Bott would be for viruses to run amok in the wild on the Mac platform so they can finally, after decades of assuring Mac users it was a certainty, be right. If only the facts would cooperate.

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