May 042011
 

Observe the haymaker-inducing smirk.

Apple is a company that brings out the worst in some people.  Whether they be fanboy-bashers or CEOs of bloated software juggernauts, there’s something about Steve’s condescending little smirk that drives people absolutely batshit.  I get it.  I really do.  For most of these individuals, the knowledge that I work with a superior OS is satisfaction enough.  But for a select few, the magnitude of their assholery cannot be dismissed by that melodic C Major chord.  These are the members of Douchebag’s Row.  This series is designed to honor those who, through word and/or deed, have distinguished themselves as something more than mere assholes.

Let’s begin, shall we?

In TMA’s informal query – or the factual equivalent of the average analyst’s survey – Wall Street criminals rank 1/2 notch above pedophiles on the “most loathsome creatures on the planet” list. And much like pedophiles, many Street analysts no longer get to do the thing they love the most because it’s thoroughly illegal. Take the case of Henry Blodget.

Young Henry made a name for himself pre dot-com by predicting that Amazon would reach $400 a share. According to an article in Forbes, that prediction alone landed him a gig at the now-beloved Merrill Lynch, where he proceeded to spew prognostications for internet start-ups that were all over the map. He predicted big things for eToys, only to have them fold 3 years later. His “stopped clock analysis” continued garnering attention despite its pretty dismal track record. Leading up to the dot-com bubble burst, not everyone was chalking up Henry’s schizophrenic recommendations to the fact that he didn’t know what he was talking about. Turns out Blodget didn’t necessarily believe everything he was saying publicly about the companies and that’s kind of a no-no. The Securities and Exchange Commission got a whiff of Merrill’s – and Blodget’s – “inconsistencies” and launched an investigation. In 2003, Merrill settled with the State of New York for $100 million. The SEC fined Blodget $4 million and banned him from the securities industry for life. From the SEC’s press release:

“Blodget, of New York City, issued fraudulent research under Merrill Lynch’s name, as well as research in which he expressed views that were inconsistent with privately expressed negative views. Blodget’s conduct constituted violations of the federal securities laws and NASD and NYSE rules, which require that, among other things, published research reports have a reasonable basis, present a fair picture of the investment risks and benefits, and not make exaggerated or unwarranted claims.”

Understandably Blodget doesn’t talk a lot about the settlement. And he gets a little annoyed when he’s forced to. I’m sure he thinks he did nothing wrong. If you shell out multiple millions in order to not have to go to trial, not only are you guilty, you’re probably guilty of 500 times more shit than you’ve been accused of. Did you want exoneration? Then you should have gone to trial. GUILTY.

After the SEC told Blodget that he couldn’t get a job talking up the value of something worthless and profiting from it, he no doubt spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of gig would allow him to take his finely-honed fomenting skill and make money with it. Where else could one use a background in technology to disingenuously misdirect people and profit from it? I’ll leave my readers to reconcile the SEC directive that Blodget be “banned from the securities industry” with Blodget’s current title of “Co-Founder, CEO, and Editor in Chief of The Business Insider, a blog about internet business trends”.

So what pearls of wisdom has Henry bestowed upon the technology community? Most recently, he’s been butchering the “OMG Android will so crush iOS any day now” riff  worse than the intro to “Smoke on the Water” at an Intro to Electric Guitar class. But Blodget persists, despite the fact that several smart people have made rational arguments as to why the claim is little more than rhetorical masturbation. In his own words, here are some of the precocious one’s most valuable gems:

About the aforementioned Android market share: “As we’ve said before, Apple is fighting a very similar war to the one it fought–and lost–in the 1990s…Importantly, it’s not a question of which platform is “better.” (This is irrelevant.) It’s a question of which platform everyone else uses.”

On “Locationgate”: “Apple built a system into your iPhone that secretly tracks and records everywhere you go.  This system records your exact location and the exact time you were there–down to the second…Please explain, with a straight face, how that could possibly be a ‘mistake.'”

Henry Blodget is a valuable lesson to all of you career-minded individuals who have been dealt a setback – say, a $4 million fine – that challenges you to reinvent your most valuable asset. One day Blodget was fellating value onto something worthless to make money off idiots who took his advice; now Blodget is fellating value onto something worthless to make money off pageviews from people who want to tell him how much of an idiot he is. Now that is making a silk purse out of sows’ ears.

So it is my distinct pleasure to welcome Henry McKelvey Blodget to Douchebag’s Row. Although he is its youngest member, he has provided us with one of the earliest examples of why we currently hate traders slightly more than lawyers. Equal parts dishonest broker and spin doctor, Blodget has shown us that the mantle of douchebaggery can be carried proudly by my generation.

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 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 122011
 

Gartner is one of the most recognizable names in IT research. TMA doesn’t concern himself with most of what they do, because all consultants are useless people you pay to tell you what time it is by having them look at your watch.  If their smartphone market predictions are any indication, you’d be better off throwing a dart at a board. Seriously: it’s like their firm is populated by Scott Moritz clones.

Anyway, Gartner’s most recent forecasts for Apple’s iOS devices are a lot like their past predictions. Let’s take a look:

Continue reading

Apr 082011
 

One of TMA’s major gripes about Apple’s media coverage is how really horribly malformed the technology press landscape is. If you combine the high-turnover nature of the consumer electronics industry – where major product announcements happen literally every day – with the general decline of journalistic standards for reporting them (another fine benefit of the pageview model of monetization – big ups, Google!), you can find yourself quickly immersed in an environment that makes you stupider with every word seared onto your retina.

Some habits are more awful than others. As a consumer (and sometime regurgitator) of copious amounts of bad tech writing, TMA has distilled the five most blood pressure-challenging writing habits in tech:

The “What company x can learn from company y” article

When a technology company does something right, it’s only a matter of time before some master the obvious points out that a company that does something poorly could benefit from doing that particular thing well – as if it were some transferable skill for which the failing company could go to night school. The reason so many people writing about technology companies don’t work for them – or for any company for that matter – is that they don’t understand what it takes to change behavior on a company-wide scale. Thank goodness they can oversimplify it and provide facile recommendations in their blog.

The interrogative headline

What does it mean when you read an Apple headline that ends with a question mark?

More than half the time, some asshole is trying to keyword his post in an attempt to drum up page views, yet cannot commit to a declarative statement in the headline. It’s almost like the writer thinks he’s invoking some trick of the trade designed to protect him against a lawsuit from Apple if he did, in fact, make an outrageous claim. These articles without exception are absolute crap. When I encounter a title in my RSS feed that contains a question mark at the end, I quietly answer “no” and move onto the next one.

What Apple needs to do with their cash on hand

There’s no more predictable activity for an Apple beat analyst than to call for Apple to do something with their cash reserves the day after they announce how much they have. I’m starting to think Apple may actually keep so much in reserve just to host a quarterly company-wide drinking game based on all the stupid suggestions that invariably come out of the woodwork. Here are some of my favorites:

  • “Apple will buy Time Warner Cable” by Robert X. Cringely. Rest assured, Cringely: you’ve already got one of those “Reserved” table placards to hold your seat for the inevitable induction into Douchebag’s Row. Quick visual aid: what does this website header make you want to do?

If you answered “throw haymakers until I pass out from exhaustion”, you are correct.

Nice PS2 keyboard, BTW.

Douche.

  • “Apple is in late stage negotiations to buy Twitter and is hoping to announce it at WWDC in June” according to “a normally reliable source” by Mike Arrington. TMA has no doubt that the source was Google Analytics, who had notified him that his site hadn’t produced any eyeball-catching excrement in at least 14 minutes.

Here’s what Apple will do with their cash: continue to secure components like Flash RAM and LCD panels in bulk, which will allow them to beat competitors on price and help freeze the development of copycat products for a couple months. Oh- and they might buy TiVo.

Anecdotal sample sizing

Picture the image of the journalist from 20 years ago: determined, resourceful and quoting studies that are statistically significant. Possibly donning a cool fedora that didn’t make him look like a middle-aged man who for some reason started wearing a fedora (I’ve been seeing these people everywhere in NYC lately). Now contrast that with your average tech blogger: high word count, Wikipedia-driven and content to ask their three best friends’ opinion to substantiate a pivotal point in the article. Nothing says “I suck at journalism” as efficiently as the use of “everyone I asked” and “numerous people I talked to”. You’re writing about an industry made up of precision instruments – stop supporting your claims like someone who freelances for the National Enquirer, not that the two are mutually exclusive .

Asinine predictions to drive pageviews

If I could use one phrase to summarize the state of Apple’s coverage in the tech media, this would be it. I suppose it’s the biggest downside of being simultaneously super-successful and uber-secretive: every asshole’s sensationalistic projection for your products has a chance of seeing the light of day. Whereas Microsoft uses this tactic to play sites like Engadget like a fiddle to stifle competition with a product they have no intention of releasing, the constant generation of unrealistic expectations for companies that actually ship things could eventually lead to consumer disappointment. Thankfully, no one really listens to them. The sources of these predictions are usually “one and done” analysts/bloggers with a “strong connections to a reliable source” but many of them *cough* Scott Moritz *cough*remain bulletproof after several incorrect guesses fall squarely on their faces. Some of these asinine mouthforms are actually antithetical to their corresponding real-world events. Yet they persist. Guess TMA will have to keep writing.

So those are your top 5. I’m sure you can think of your own. I’d love to hear about them in comments as I’m in the market for a new drinking game.

Mar 012011
 

As many of you know, there’s little love lost between TMA and the community of tech rag bloggers. Take Preston Gralla. The man gets nothing right, but persists in his word count. To look at it more generously, Preston does bring a contrarian viewpoint and some writing credits for books about Windows XP and Android to the table, whereas TMA might be considered a sellout in that he has critical reviews, sales figures, company performance and the market on his side.

At the risk of having you stop reading now, for those of you who don’t know, Gralla writes for Computerworld, which is the technology equivalent of cage-liner. A day prior to what will likely be Apple’s announcement of the iPad2, Gralla managed to get his latest shot across the bow of logic and overwhelming contrary opinion, “Eight reasons the Motorola XOOM beats the iPad” published just before Apple snuffs any legitimate point the author was hoping to make (read: approximately none).  His XOOM rhetoric does remind me of the lofty stuff he showed us in his now-legendary “Five reasons why Vista beats Mac OS X”, which unfortunately couldn’t rescue that turd either. Just because Gralla’s endorsement doesn’t bode well for a product’s future doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with Preston. Let’s dissect this masterpiece.

More powerful hardware

You can tell out of the gate that this is a Computerworld review of a product pitted against an Apple offering from its masturbatory frothing of the device’s requisite components. It culminates with “It’s also capable of playing 3D games”, which is hilarious in that none exist for the XOOM and that approximately 20,000 do for the iPad.

“Higher screen resolution”

“The Xoom’s 10-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800, and is widescreen, so it’s great for watching movies and videos” and also how the device demands to be held. Try stretching your thumbs across the onscreen keyboard and typing on it.

“Front and rear cameras”

“With the Xoom, you get front and rear cameras, for taking photos and videos, and for video chat. With the iPad, you get no camera. Two trumps none.” For those times you want to hold your lunch tray in front of your face and shout “Cheese” or “Look natural!”. Also a “feature” whose advantage disappears in about 24 hours.

“A better browser”

“The Chrome browser built into Xoom is far superior to the iPad’s Safari. It does tabbed browsing, and like the PC and Mac versions of Chrome, a single box does double-duty as a search box and for typing in a URL. And it will also automatically sync your bookmarks with Chrome on your PC and Mac.” Tabs. A box to type search into. Sync. I have all of those now, though. Must be that cohesive development environment I keep hearing about that generates scores of alternative WebKit browsers.

“It will play Flash”

“Flash wasn’t quite ready for the Xoom launch… (Ed: Pfffff…lolololololol)…but it will be available soon. So the Xoom offers you a greater choice of content than does the iPad.” To be clear: that “greater choice of content” currently consists of jack and shit. Hey Motorola: don’t feel badly. You’re not the first sucker Adobe has strung out with this “Flash for Mobile” yarn. Any day now…

“No Big Brother”

“When you get an iPad, Apple determines what apps you can download and what apps you can’t — and it uses a heavy hand.”

It must not be a very coordinated hand because 60,000 apps managed to slip through it. Contrast this draconian mitt to the barely-perceptible hand of Google lifting your personal information as fuel for its entire revenue model. Information it’s also offering publishers as a magnet for their “One Pass” paywall. It’s hilarious how even a hit-piece like this tripe can be so oblivious to its own stench.

“Better built-in apps”

“Google’s built-in apps, including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Calendar, beat anything built into the iPad.” Totally objective. One thing that is correct about that list: it represents just about every app available for Honeycomb in total. Google better hope they’re good.

Aside from being everything wrong with tech journalism online, I have to admire Preston Gralla’s willingness to step into the face of sanity for the sake of some fanboy rageclicks. If people like Gralla didn’t sacrifice any possible integrity from readers looking to them as a source of information, TMA wouldn’t have so much to write about.

Update: Now that the iPad2 announcement has come and gone, I thought it’d be fun to see how Apple’s new offering stood up to Gralla’s scathing take-down of the original iPad.

Good thing Preston got that article out of his “draft” folder before today. Man, would he have looked silly.

Update 2: I actually saw this referenced earlier this afternoon on Daring Fireball, but I thought Gruber was behind on Gralla’s antics and not that he was actually restating his position regarding the XOOM’s superiority after the iPad2’s introduction. TMA’s policy of no linkage for hit-whores still stands, but in summary: he’s blown right past heavily-biased Hitwhoria to full-on batshit Thurrott’s Syndrome. I would recommend Googling it for the comments, though.

Jan 192011
 

As mundane as it’s becoming, I feel obligated to report on Apple’s earnings call last night, where they revealed yet another groundbreaking quarter. Holiday sales were huge, driving profits to a record high.

More details from Macworld’s consistently great reporting and something that has become a personal favorite of mine: Philip Elmer DeWitt’s report card detailing how horribly the Streets’ analysts performed versus people who actually know Apple as a company.

Jan 192011
 

Out of respect for Steve Jobs’ announced leave of absence, Fake Steve Jobs pen and honored denizen of Douchbag’s Row Dan Lyons has announced that he will no longer be writing in FSJ. He goes on to deride the inevitable flood of scumbag journalists who will ignore SJ’s request for privacy as people who “hunger for unique visitors and pageviews ahead of a man’s right to privacy”. This is clearly not the same kind of scourge as “letting hunger for unique visitors and pageviews” come before “facts”, something you can witness clearly by searching for “Newsweek”, “Lyons” and “Apple”.

The more successful parasites go out of their way not to permanently harm their hosts. Looks like someone knows where his dinner hangs.

Dec 012010
 

Paul Thurrott reminds me a lot of Charlie, the main character from “Flowers for Algernon”. If you’re one of the 8 people who didn’t have this short-story-turned-novel inflicted on you in the 7th grade – or never made it to 7th grade – the story is an allegory about how life is enriched through the acquisition of power (in this case intelligence) and its subsequent decline when the lights go out. Through an experimental operation, Charlie temporarily acquires super-intelligence, transforming him from retarded (the technical term, not the nonchalant descriptive term TMA uses to describe Windows UI elements) menial worker to someone with an almost godlike level of consciousness. Written as a series of journal entries, Charlie’s progress is tracked from retarded to super genius – and back again – after the effects of the augmentation procedure dissolve.

The thin analogy here is that Thurrott’s entire career is derived from Microsoft’s artificial ascendancy through its theft of intellectual property and abuse of monopoly power, followed by an inevitable and seemingly never-ending fall. As long as Microsoft’s star shone brightly, Thurrott’s career blossomed. He was a speed dial call for several tech news outlets, enjoying numerous television appearances, paid speaking engagements, podcasts – you name it, Thurrott did it. But as the source of his prolificacy was exposed again and again as a company as likely to produce cold fusion as anything remotely attractive to customers in a competitive market, his defense of Redmond  became evermore nonsensical screed, sounding more like it came from someone who needed to wear protective gear to keep from hurting themselves than from a respected member of the tech journalism community. Some selected gems from the mouth/fingertips of Charlie:

“The New York Times asks, “With so much going for them why, eight months after the iPad’s release, is the design of so many of those apps so boring?”
To which I answer: They’re boring because the iPad is boring. Rather than create an environment that was specially tailored to the unique iPad form factor, Apple instead chose to simply stretch the iPhone UI out to meet the size of the new device, making only small changes to accommodate the additional onscreen real estate.”

“When you go out and about with just an iPad, you’re sending a message that you’re not going to contribute. You’re just there to consume. This is why the iPad is, to my mind, uniquely unsuitable in the workplace. Knowledge workers don’t just read documents. They comment on them, edit them, send feedback. They contribute…The iPad is not a business tool. In fact, for most people, it never will be. (And those who contort their workflow to make this possible are, of course, simply trying too hard to justify their vanity purchase.)” Ed. The use of the ellipse here is not to hide the part of the quote containing its compelling logic, as is the case in most tech blogging, but simply an attempt to staunch the hemorrhaging stupidity.

“There’s been a lot written about Apple’s iPad, but little of it, to date, has reflected the very real problems with this device. I’d like to correct this, not because the iPad is horrible, but because the iPad is simply good. And this is not what those in the lamestream media would have you believe. Instead of actually reviewing the iPad objectively, they have opted to ape Apple’s marketing mantra, calling it “magical” or “innovative” or, worst of all, “a game changer.” It is none of those things. It is just good.”

This is all on one topic. Paul’s entire body of mystifyingly bad analysis is probably the largest on the internet.  You might be tempted to feel sorry for Paul, much like the sympathy one would have for the intellectually challenged protagonist in Keyes’ book.  It’s much more likely, however, that Paul’s position as the last person religiously fluffing Microsoft and bashing Apple is nothing more than garden variety hit-whoring schtick as opposed to the expression of below-average intelligence. OK: well below average intelligence. The tip-off is that he spells most of his words correctly.

And so concludes TMA’s induction ceremony for our third member of Douchebag’s Row: Paul Thurrott. Welcome to your place among the internet’s elite FUDruckers, Paul: you should feel right at home.

Oct 192010
 

Both people who read TMA understand how much I love the tech press, whose thorough and groundbreaking reporting provides an evergreen opportunities for  snark. One of my favorite MOs is the “Ridiculous Hypothesis Phrased as a Question” headline. This vehicle allows the tech writer to assert something brain-dead retarded in the headline – assuring that some suckers will actually click through to their tripe and grant them the ever-valuable pageview – and then spend the body of the article disclaiming the inflammatory headline. As a service to the tech media, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to answer some of the question mark headlines taken from the aggregator that I can’t seem to get listed on: Apple Enthusiast.

The IPad Really the Savior Of the Newspaper Industry? -Mashable

Not as long as the newspaper industry doesn’t realize it needs to be saved.

Is Apple Running Scared of the 7″ Tablet?-VNU

Yes, They’re absolutely petrified that after 2 quarters of not being able to make enough iPads, a form factor that’s too small to be a tablet and too large to be a phone, which will be running some bastardized version of Android that Google wants nothing to do with will run them out of business. Idiot.

What Will Apple Announced Next?-Forbes.com

A new MacBook Air and a preview of OS X 10.7 Lion. Tomorrow.

Costco Dropping iPods after Tiff with Apple? -CrunchGear

74.5 million people streamed through 317 (and counting) Apple stores last year. Target and Walmart are selling them. Put succinctly: Who cares?

Is the New MacBook Air the First Apple Netbook? -Technologizer

If by “netbook” you mean underpowered, underspecced, sub-$300 piece of shit, no (even though it has been fun to put “Apple” and “netbook” in the same headline since the build-up over the iPad).

If by “netbook” you mean the smallest laptop Apple has ever made, then quite possibly.

Apple in the Enterprise: Do the Extra Costs Justify the Value? -ZDNet (shudder)

I guess “value” is a matter of perspective. Even though end-users that, you know, actually use the products would doubtless find a lot of value in bringing Apple to the enterprise, I don’t think the drones that read your spray would think that being unemployed represents “value”.

Flush With Cash, Will Apple Go Shopping? – NY Times – Business

They are as likely to go shopping as they have been for the last 9 quarters that analysts have been 1. Noticing that Apple has a large amount of cash on hand and 2. Incorrectly speculating about what Apple should do with it. Stop trying.

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