Apr 262012
 

I’m married, so that means I’m never right. It was one of the subliminal vows I took at the altar. Thank God I have a blog.

When Verizon announced their intent to carry the iPhone, I made a prediction about what that would mean for Android. I was pretty aggressive about what the market would look like a year after the announcement, once a substantial number of peoples’ 2-year Verizon contracts expired.

Gave RIM WAY too much credit

Back to my being right, the market share numbers for the first quarter were released and – wouldn’t you know it – the iPhone holds a 59% share. I’d say I should work for Gartner, but I think my being right about things would wreck their curve.

Apr 262012
 

Writing in his parislemon blog:

Probably around late summer every year going forward, iPhone sales will dip ahead of the expected new device and some Android manufacturer will find a way to capitalize, rising the entire ecosystem’s share as a result. But it will always be short-lived. The new iPhone will come along and crush it.

I also said that Verizon was the only thing keeping Android competitive in the U.S. When you looked at markets where the iPhone was on more than one carrier at the time, it was obvious.

People are over Android, and Android’s ecosystem has as much to do with this as the quality of the iPhone’s offerings. Google can’t push its latest operating systems to devices even 6 months old, their market is a malware minefield, and their manufacturers offer undifferentiated hardware and software that only differentiates itself from the next guy by the way it worsens the user experience compared to stock Android.

People are over the gimmicks like HDMI out and Beats(off) Audio. Consumers never gave a shit about “free and open”; when they were stuck on Verizon’s network, they settled for a phone that was pitched as being just like the iPhone. They no longer have to settle for “just like an iPhone.”

Between Oracle and Apple, Android is starting to look a lot like the middle segment of The Human Centipede.

Nov 282011
 

You see the latest ad from Samsung knocking all you fanboys standing in line for the 4S? The one that touts the Samsung Galaxy S II Xtreme Beta 9 as the phone the 4S wants to be? Here’s a snippet:

I lied. That’s not the actual dialogue from the commercial. The actual script touting the Galaxy (ii) IV The Voyage Home contained sick jabs about the iPhone 4s’s “spotty battery” in almost the same breath that one actor expresses joy over her knock-off’s 4G coverage without her head exploding from the ironic shearing forces.

Rumor has it that the sequel to this commercial will focus on the line for the Galaxy S II – the return line.

Oct 282011
 

Imagine my semi-surprise when the “market research firm” Strategy Analytics released its numbers for global smartphone vendor shipments and stated that Samsung had shipped a whopping 370% more smartphones this past quarter (3rd quarter) than they did in the same quarter in 2010. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because these statistics are as impossible as “market research firms” are credible.

Samsung actually produced a useful document which seriously calls into question this wonderful 370% number: its financial reporting presentation for this past quarter, which I pulled from their “Investor Relations” webpage.

Quick aside – check out the Samsung Investor Relations website landing page:

No, take a good look at it:

It must be oddly comforting to Samsung’s investors that the same shitpile design aesthetic was applied to both Samsung’s web presence and their shartphone operating systems.

Back on point. According to the 2nd slide labeled “Segment Information”, 3rd quarter sales (in trillion Won) only increased 37% YoY.

Created in Windows Paint

So Strategy Analytics is saying that the number of smartphones shipped is greater than the increase in sales by a factor of 10 when compared to Samsung’s own information. Where’s that skeptical baby .jpg?

There he is!

Of course it’s entirely possible that Samsung shipped every one of those alleged 28 million phones in the 3rd quarter and most of them are still hanging out in the channel. The strategy, sometimes known as “stuffing the channel” is what I call “beating off into a dirty sweatsock”. It feels good when you do it, but it kind of sucks when you have to dispose of the evidence. Let’s see how Sammy deals with that in the 4th quarter.

Jul 252011
 

Handicapping Apple products is now considered to be a national past time. Unfortunately for the overwhelming percentage of prognosticators, they don’t know how badly they suck at it. Because a new wave of asinine Apple product rumors roll in every new moon, it’s tough to dissipate the stink from the last one before the next is upon us. As much as I’d like to think tech bloggers and analysts are that stupid, it’s far more likely that the culprits are playing loyal enthusiasts (and the freetards who hate them) as part of the quest for the almighty pageview.

As someone utterly immune to and sometimes inspired to respond to such ridiculousness, I’ve decided to call out some of the latest rumors casting stinklines across the interwebs and drag them into the light of logic – well, my logic anyway – in the hopes that you, dear reader, will find the moronitude of said rumors to be self-evident.

A New iPhone to Address the Pre-Paid Market

Because I’m a U.S. consumer and purchase my phones with a fat brick of a contract that brings the up-front cost down, I’m not sensitive to the fact that most other countries don’t operate that way. The truth is that the pre-paid smartphone market is both growing – because more mobile phone purchases are smartphone purchases – and largely unexploited. This would appear to be an opportunity for someone like Apple to significantly grow their global market share – you know, that number that means a lot to Android users – by producing a lower-cost version of the iPhone.

The thing is: Apple already makes a lower-cost version of its current smartphone. Every generation of iPhone provides a buying opportunity for prior generation hardware. As of now, you can get an iPhone 3GS for around $450. That price will likely go down when the iPhone 5 is announced. So it’s entirely possible that Apple will make the 3GS more widely available as a cheaper alternative for the pre-paid phone crowd. But there are also some problems with thinking the 3GS is going to be Apple’s global pre-paid phone. First, it assumes that Apple will continue to produce them in mass quantities. It also assumes they’d be willing to drop the price of the phones below $300 or so. Both of those strike me as cutting into the possibility of it happening significantly, but I think the most biggest detriment to the argument is that the 3GS will be 2 generations removed from currency, which I don’t think would reflect well on the Apple brand. So why not the possibility of Apple releasing a “stripped down” version of the iPhone with – or about the same time as – the iPhone 5? No friggin’ way.

For this to be the case, there has to be failure on one of two axes that make successful Apple products: price and features. A”stripped down” version of the iPhone 5 is what? The iPhone 4? If that’s the case, there’s no way Apple offers it for below $300. Does it share the form factor of the iPhone 5 without some killer feature? It’d have to do without a shitload of killer features to bring the cost below $300, at which point it’d again reflect poorly on the brand.

Earth to pundits: Apple makes healthy margins on excellent hardware vertically integrated with a superior platform. While I’m sure the pre-paid market is a goldmine for some companies who can subsist on razor-thin margins, Apple is not – nor do they want to be – that company.  And speaking of non-margins…

The Apple-branded television

I honestly can’t understand the resilience of this one, but it’s an absolute zombie (a plodding Romero zombie, not the wicked-fast Return of the Living Dead kind). I tried taking apart an enthusiastic analyst; I even tried smug allegory. Apparently there are those who still believe in it, so I’m going to boil my objection down simply: what advantage does Apple gain by having a TV with an apple on it versus any TV hooked up to an AppleTV? Margin? If Apple releases a 42″ TV at an Apple margin, the cost of a Vizio + an AppleTV is guaranteed to be hundreds less. So what does Apple do then? Discontinue the set-top box? Not likely. For pundits who don’t “get it”, Apple’s success in studio and broadcast media is and will continue to consist of 9 parts media, 1 part hardware. The value of the hardware has already been captured in a set-top box; further integration would only add a cost barrier while decreasing consumer choice. The only way to add value to the proposition is to add content, which is where Apple will focus, but not by…

Purchasing Hulu

I’m inclined to think this one sprang from a collision of the “Google is rumored to be talking to someone, so Apple must be talking to them too” and the evergreen “Apple has so much cash; they have to spend it on something” streams. Aside from Apple already hosting a bunch of Hulu’s content, Apple already has a model for a streaming media relationships. Look at what Apple did to Netflix on the AppleTV. They managed to keep all of their content, but Netflix didn’t even get their splash screen on the AppleTV interface. That’s the kind of relationship Apple will have with Hulu, if it even has one. Personally, I don’t think Apple’s interest in a catalogue consisting of 90% decades-old TV shows and movies I’ve never heard of is that high.

Update: Macworld’s Dan Moren wrote an article on why Hulu would be an attractive partner for Apple. Even though I agree with very little of it, it does present the most compelling argument I’ve seen on the issue. The best part: Macworlder Chris Breen takes his coworker’s argument apart in the comments section.

So there’s the view from my comfortable naysayer’s perch about things I feel have little to no chance of happening despite the increasing number of articles appearing to the contrary. Comment are open to those who think I’ve grown too pessimistic about Apple’s ambitions (as well as to those pointing out my poor spelling and/or diction).

Jun 212011
 

It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that the market share bottlerocket jammed up Android’s ass would cool down once Apple made its iPhone 4 available on Verizon’s network, despite the fact that a new Android phone is released every other day. It may have taken a bit longer than I predicted, but Android’s growth has finally capped: it recorded its first market share fall-off this past quarter. The iPhone was up 12 and a half percentage points while sad sacks Nokia, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile OS’s continued to hemorrhage share.

People will no doubt be jumping on the “fluke” bandwagon, stating that iPhone 4 could never sustain this kind of growth. The fact that a year-old smartphone is handing Android its ass alone is worth a chuckle. Even if there is the customary fall-off in adopters prior to the release of the iPhone 5 does happen, Google may want to take a look at the slope of the BlackBerry downswing to get a sense of what iPhone 5 + iOS 5 + both major carriers is going to do to its share.

I’m sure it was nice while it lasted.

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.

Feb 152011
 

I remember my first generation iPhone, newly minted from Apple for the super-reasonable price of $599. I marveled at Apple’s native apps, messed around with some pre-SDK web apps. The iPhone was obviously so much better than anything before it, its shortcomings were camouflaged by a backdrop of Apple ease-of-use. Having every third call drop in the metro NYC area was a small price to pay for privilege of having access to the next generation of mobile computing.

Every iteration of iOS came with some set of features that distracted me just enough from the reality that my carrier sucked. First came native apps, then cut and paste, then multitasking. Even as AT&T’s network continued to burn while Ralph de la Vega played his violin and asserted that data-hogging iPhone users were the reason; even as tethering and MMS remained absent while every other smart (and dumb) phone user laughed at me, I stayed loyal to Apple, which meant being tied to AT&T. When the legitimate Verizon iPhone rumors surfaced, it took about 14 nanoseconds for this particular AT&T customer to make the decision to switch. There are some memories I’ll always cherish, though:

Remember that time I dictated 3 pages of inspired prose into Dragon Dictate and your network – without my moving an inch – passed me from 3G to EDGE and I lost it all?

How about that time I was on vacation and couldn’t get to a computer and you dropped 5 consecutive calls to the bank, then choked on the purchase of their 12 MB banking app that would have saved me a hunker of a late fee on my credit card?

Or the times you were showing me 2 or 3 bars, but couldn’t complete a phone call for 20 minutes at the train station, right before my battery ran out?

Yea, good times. It’s with a heavy heart that I take delivery of my new Verizon iPhone 4. Yes, I know there will probably be an iPhone 5 in half a year. I don’t care. When you do manage to find a decent connection on the mean streets of Manhattan, you don’t even have the faster data rate you brag about. I’m sick of knitting every 3rd word of a conversation into a sentence and habitually jamming my finger in my ear to have the best chance of doing so. My new iPhone and I have many more good times to look forward to. Don’t think of my defection as a snub, Ralph. I’ll be one less data burden dragging down your otherwise super-robust 3G network. So in the end this is really a win-win.

Jan 202011
 

If you want an indication of how obsessed the tech media is with Apple, take a look at some of the things they pick up as news. Apparently, Apple has been seeding a new type of screw, dubbed the “Pentalobe”, into its hardware, ostensibly to deter people from messing around with the guts of the iPhones and MacBook Airs. Keeping people from monkeying with Apple’s user experience is not exactly a new development, but it you look at how eagerly an iFixIt video bitching about the issue was picked up, you’d think it was. To give you a flavor for the latest scathing controversy, and to give into my temptation to send-up this retardery, I’ll excerpt a piece written by the Register with my comments. Trust me when I say it’s a par hole.

“And now, says Wiens (owner of iFixit), iPhones are getting (non-standard hardware) too – a “diabolical” move, he says, because pentalobe screwdrivers are few and far better (sic), though he has managed to source some and will sell you one, and a pair of replacement philips screws, for $10.”
Good to see that someone is making money on this diabolica.
Wait a minute…

“…pentalobe tools, which have been creeping into the Apple product line since 2009…but didn’t become widely used until the new Air debuted in 2010. Now the iPhone 4 has them, it seems highly likely that so will the upcoming iPad 2, and probably future Macs as well.”
So the screw’s been out there for 2 years. And they won’t come to Macs. Apple has Knowledge Base entries on how to upgrade various components in Mac. There’s a conspicuous lack of such documentation for iPhones.
“Wiens beef with this is that the use of obscure screws makes Apple’s machines less easy to repair. That, in turn, reduces the hardware’s longevity, ensuring that more machines will end up in landfill.”
Less easy for iFixit – who probably makes 20% less than Apple but still a metric shitload of money – to repair. And lack of access to screw that’s been available for 2 years (and one which Wiens will sell you for almost no outrageous markup) is what will put Apple products in landfills.
“In fact, Apple machines – Macs particularly – (which the screws are not in) are notoriously long-lived, with owners passing them on to friends and relatives after new models have been bought. But eventually they will be binned and recycling will be harder (unless they’re not used in Macs, which, again, they are not).”

“Botched upgrades can lead to costly technical support, but other firms seem less concerned with this risk. Most of Apple’s rivals don’t feel the need to block tinkering to such an extent – Wiens maintains Apple has adopted pentalobe specifically to stop its gadgets being opened.”
Or maybe it’s because Applecare is approximately a billion times more comprehensive than the bullshit warrantees that come with your Toshiba? Maybe Apple doesn’t want to be saddled with repairs that users – and iFixit – shouldn’t have been attempting in the first place? Maybe Apple should just tamper-protect their screw holes so that any attempt to unseat them will invalidate the warranty/Applecare coverage. How would that solution sit with your business model, iBitchIt?

“Apple clearly thinks its kit shouldn’t be opened or changed in any way that doesn’t involve its mediation. While it continues to think that way, there will be plenty of people, like Wiens and like the coders dedicated to ‘jailbreaking’ iOS, to opening its products – physically as well as metaphorically.”
You forgot the “making a metric shitload of money doing it” part. They always forget that part.