Getting it All Wrong

April 22nd, 2016

There are a number of online pundits who evidently believe they know what Apple is up to, and they also know whether it’ll be a success or failure. They are widely quoted, often without question or comment. Well, except for a few realists who actually do a little fact-checking or research the predictions to see if any actually came to pass. Unfortunately, far too many so-called reporters are just too lazy to actually report.

The end result is that there is a lot of misinformation about Apple or its policies and history. It may not materially hurt sales, but it materially hurts the public’s perception of what’s really going on.

Some of the misinformation consists of exaggeration, taking a known set of facts and inflating them out of proportion, or overlooking context. So consider when Apple released a flawed update for iOS 8 in 2014. The 8.0.1 update fixed bugs, of course, but it also bricked the iPhone 6 family. Apple realized it goofed and withdrew the update within an hour or so. The fixed version came out the very next day, but not before the media grabbed ahold of the story and implied that extremely large numbers of users were impacted (the actual estimate is about 40,000), or that it took a while to fix the problem.

Apple doesn’t always help. So an Apple executive blamed the flawed update over something called a “wrapper,” which basically means little or nothing to someone who isn’t a programer. Not explained is how this update was allowed to be posted without a final check to make sure the installer worked properly.

Some of the misinformation overlooks the company’s history. So there are occasional suggestions that Apple would really increase Mac market share by licensing the OS to PC makers. Yes, right. Well, Apple actually tried that in the mid-1990s. Existing companies and new companies came out with Mac OS clones in cheap PC cases that undercut Apple with lower prices. It might have killed the company, but Steve Jobs managed to disengage Apple from the agreement after he took control, in large part by changing the system version from Mac OS 7 to Mac OS 8. Evidently most of the contracts didn’t cover a major new version of the operating system.

Nowadays, Apple gives away the OS. It’s all about selling premium hardware, and Mac profit margins generally exceed that of PC makers. While PC companies are by and large suffering from reduced sales — which is why Intel us cutting 11% of its staff — Mac sales are pretty consistent, with a very slight decrease or increase. Apple will release March quarter sales on April 26th.

Now when it comes to Apple critics, one of the worst offenders is Rob Enderle, a so-called industry analyst whose clients include some of Apple’s competitors. Now this fact ought to be mentioned in any story in which he’s quoted, but that doesn’t happen all that often. It reveals a built-in bias, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that he’s generally wrong when it comes to Apple, and he’s rarely called out on his false or mistaken claims.

I caught a few examples that are worth mentioning, just to demonstrate where he’s at.

So in October 2003, he announced that, “the biggest long-term problem with moving to an Apple platform is that the company is in decline.”

Take a deep breath and we’ll go on.

Do you remember when Carly Fiorina had her failed stint at HP, where she made some unfortunate decisions that seriously hurt the company before the board gave her walking papers? Before you feel sorry for her, she had a lucrative golden parachute, so she made millions as the result of being fired for incompetence. Clearly I’ve made some really bad decisions over the years. Whenever an employer told me to leave, I was lucky just to get a final check.

In any case, while she was at HP, she made a deal with Steve Jobs to sell a rebranded version of the iPod. So Enderle predicted, “the expectation on the iPod is that HP’s version will probably outsell Apple’s version relatively quickly.”

I don’t know whose expectation, but it wasn’t one that had any factual support to it. What’s more it didn’t happen. HP didn’t even get to rebrand the latest version, and it was an abject failure. The public wanted the genuine iPod with the Apple label, even if it was the same product. Yes, Jobs really snookered Fiorina with that deal.

Over the years, Enderle has joined with other ill-informed so-called pundits in predicting that the iPhone would be a failure, that the Dell Streak would smoke both the iPhone and the iPad.

When it comes to Tim Cook, “when you make Jobs’ polar opposite the CEO, it’s probably not going to work out well.”

More recently Enderle suggested that one of Cook’s next moves will be to discontinue the Mac. That one’s hardly worth a response. Why is this guy taken seriously?

Now if Enderle had any integrity at all, he’d admit that he was wrong, and promise to do better. But it never changes for him and other Apple critics who value ignorance and fear-mongering over doing their homework and engaging in fair commentary.

Apple is far from perfect, and I have offered plenty of criticisms of them over the years. But I try to express my comments on a foundation of facts. I mess up from time to time, but I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

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4 Responses to “Getting it All Wrong”

  1. DaveD says:

    “Now if Enderle had any integrity at all,” is a thought that other so-called tech journalists never asked themselves when using him as a reference for a subject about Apple. There have been a few times after pulling an article, reading a few sentences and finding out it was written by him. What a nasty surprise. Just a little research on his extensive body of bad works would make any writer who value good journalism run far, far away from Mr. Enderle.

    There plenty of good writers that put forth criticisms that are constructive and a hope that Apple listen to them. I would like to see the bad ones find another job in garbage collection.

  2. Peter says:

    When it comes to “dropping the Mac,” my favorite quote comes from an Apple employee at WWDC who, while I’m sure has no secret information or anything like that, summed it up in one sentence:

    “Do we really want people developing iPhone applications on Windows?

    Yeah, I don’t see it happening, either.

  3. jScottK says:

    Enderle should get a job as a stock market analyst. He’s already wrong enough to be qualified and it makes a whole lot more money. He can join the chorus of analysts claiming today that slow consumer adoption of Windows 10 is hurting Windows revenue. (Really?!? Exactly how fast must Windows 10 sell to increase revenue when it costs consumers exactly $0 to buy?!? $0 times infinity is still $0.)

    • gene says:

      True so far as it goes. But Microsoft still sells annual support contracts with the enterprise that includes Windows updates. The freebie is more consumer-oriented.


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