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  • The Night Owl Examines Some Time-Wasting Headlines

    March 30th, 2009

    You no doubt heard the report the other day, about someone cracking Apple's Safari in just a few minutes and taking home $5,000 for their efforts. What you didn't know, until you read the fine print of course, is that this particular person spent weeks investigating possible security flaws, and, no doubt, rehearsing the routine so it would go off without a hitch in a public presentation.

    Since all software has potential security lapses, about the best you can say for this sort of exercise is that the performance was good, and maybe there ought to be an Oscar for so-called security experts who can demonstrate their skills in public with the appropriate level of bluster and efficiency.

    Not mentioned in those headlines is the fact that Microsoft's browsers also succumbed to security breaches in short order, but then you expected that right?

    So, no, you don't have to order some security software to protect your Mac. At least not yet. What is unfortunate, though, is that by crying wolf on a regular basis for the past eight years, if and when a real threat does arrive, few will believe it's for real. That's the real tragedy of all this headline-grabbing behavior.

    The other recent headline concerns some new online ads from Microsoft, in which they send someone to an Apple Store in search of a 17-inch notebook for $1,000. Now of course they know that there is no such animal, and that the buyer would end up in a regular consumer electronics store where they can buy a piece of junk that meets this singular specification.

    It is very much akin to the request to purchase a new 2009 car in the U.S. for $10,000, sans rebates, incentives and other dealer or manufacturer bribes. Yes, you can find something at that price, but when you begin to examine the options chart and add the things that you really need, such as a radio an air conditioning, you'll find that the price begins to rise real fast.

    And, no, I'm not going to discuss that $2,000 mini-car from Tata Motors of India. Once it is upgraded to U.S. safety and emissions standards and given a reasonable number of options that would be acceptable to Americans, the price would also rise to a level way above that level. Then again, the chances that it'll ever see American shores, except for auto shows and other demonstrations, is probably real slim.

    In any case, Microsoft wants you to think that you have to be "cool" to want to pay the alleged Apple Tax when you can get a perfectly serviceable HP notebook for 25% of the price of the 17-inch MacBook Pro. What they don't tell you is that if you actually went so far as to equip an HP to match a Mac, and not saddle yourself with a paltry 1600 x 900 screen resolution (Apple's product gives you a native resolution of 1920 by 1200), the real prices would actually be extremely close.

    What Microsoft is basically doing is akin to the car maker that entices you to visit the showroom to buy that awfully cheap vehicle, only to find that it's either not in stock, or requires expensive upgrades to make it suitable for regular people. Either way, the salesperson would be only delighted to steer you to the vehicle they really want to sell you.

    I suppose, then, that Microsoft should classify themselves as bait and switch artists of the first order, because they'll been playing that game for years. Ask a Microsoft executive sometime about the fate of Cairo and other technologies they touted years ago that simply never appeared in real products. What, for that matter, about the new file system and other components cut from Windows Vista that are not going to appear in Windows 7?

    That takes us to the industry analysts who tried to tell us that Apple couldn't possibly succeed without Steve Jobs at the helm and that the road to hell remained ahead of them if he didn't return as promised in late June.

    Now I don't know anything about his present condition or if he will extend his sick leave, quit the company, or amaze us all and show up for an unscheduled WWDC keynote in early June. However, so long as he is still breathing with or without assistance, I expect he'll be busy working with Apple's leadership to formulate strategy. If he is destined never to return, no doubt there are plans in place already that would cover Apple's product and marketing plans several years out. You see, unlike far too many companies in this business, Apple doesn't believe in short-term knee-jerk behavior. It's not just today's balance sheet that matters, but the ones five or ten years from now.

    This is not to say that Apple doesn't do foolish things, release products too early, or build gadgets that don't really catch a breeze and succeed beyond anyone's wildest dreams. They should be taken to task for their failures, but the real ones, not the imaginary ones that are strictly designed to look good in print.



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    5 Responses to “The Night Owl Examines Some Time-Wasting Headlines”

    1. hmurchison says:

      Just follow the money and you get your answers.

      Everyday I log onto Macsurfer and I just laugh at the dumb article titles. I don't even click'em
      them anymore because I know the article is likely going to suck based on the hyperbolic title.

      Big offenders are often your Zdnet, CNET and other established and well funded sources. But even many small
      guys that should be employing cutting edge computer coverage have allowed themselve to devolve into the morass that is out there.

      I'm to the point where I constantly add to my RSS feeds hoping to cull the huge list down to some reputable writers. The problem is everyone and their mother thinks they should be able to sit back and publish a blog and cash google add checks. That's when our relationship ends. Put as much advertising on your page but once you start advertising distracting crap in your feed I'm done with you.

      So my point is all this crappola bloviating is simply just a sirens call for you to pop in and add another penny to their google advertising cache.

    2. Yacko says:

      Yeah, it's gotten so bad with so many pundits, especially the stock and financial analyst 'tards, that when one gathers and rates the articles, Dvorak and Enderle are no longer high profile culprits. What is the world coming to? Maybe I need to check my Mayan calendar?

    3. DaveD says:

      Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD)

      Microsoft has proven of its mastery of the use of this "gotcha" technique.

      Security exploits on the Macs are example of this technique in action by others.

      Apple make great strides to avoid doing this by leaving to the rumor sites. However, I enjoy reading "new rumors." Especially, when Apple Legal made a request to take it down. H-m-m-m...

    4. David says:

      All the same there are a lot of people for whom $1000 is the upper limit of what they can afford. In that case they either have to be satisfied with a MacBook or a Mini or they have no choice but to go with commodity hardware, most likely running Windows.

      Until we get resolution independence I don't want 1920x1200 packed into 17". I use an older MBP at work that does 1680x1050 and find myself bumping up font sizes or moving windows to an external display to read them. My 40 year old eyes simply don't like such tiny print.

    5. It'll be great when someone checks in with Lauren in six-twelve months to see how her purchase is doing.

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