More Apple-Bashing Nonsense: Since Microsoft Was So Bad, Shouldn’t Apple Be Stopped?


Previously I wrote that the trolls are out for Apple, and to expect more ridiculous articles. Well, who better to supply one than Paul Thurrott, that constant source of Microsoft disinformation and FUD? Occasionally Thurrott reaches a new high in low, and did so with his post on Apple’s “culture of lies”. His ranting in this piece rivals that of Jason Calacanis’ recent nonsensical babbling about Apple; it’s that bad.

So Many Words, So Few That Matter

The only two things worth noting in the entire screed are these:

As I write this, Apple doesn’t quite have a monopoly in any given market

Yep, thanks, that covers Apple.

Microsoft got into antitrust trouble because they behaved in a manner that was illegal, but only for a company that holds monopoly power.

This is Paul’s way of admitting that Microsoft was operating illegally. Though he normally spends most of his time ignoring their history or re-writing it, today he’s coming clean. He added the last bit to setup the real purpose of his piece, which I’ll get to shortly. The bottom line is you can’t abuse a monopoly unless you are a monopoly, and simply becoming a monopoly doesn’t mean you’ll abuse it.

If you read the piece and think the above two quotes aren’t the only ones that matter, I suggest you check your driver’s license to see if your name is Ed Bott, or Randall Kennedy, or Mary Jo Foley, or Rob Enderle, or… well, you get the idea.

Why The Confession?

What it boils down to is that Microsoft is incredibly abusive. The Microsoft Tax was real, stolen code was real, back door deals and threats of retribution were real. There are thousands of pages of sworn testimony and emails from numerous court cases attesting to this. Microsoft is a text-book monopoly abuse case. (Just like past abusive monopolies, when cracks in the armor appeared the founder ran off and began his philanthropy.)

So why is Paul copping to Microsoft’s true history now? Simple. If he claims Apple could become the same thing, maybe he can get the public and government to do what Microsoft and their partners can’t: Put a dent in Apple’s growth and prevent them from stomping most everyone in the marketplace with their superior products.

Apple Abuse?

But to suggest potential abuse by Apple down the road is kind of silly. What are they gonna do?

  • Threaten the non-Apple 90% of PC manufacturers that they must bundle iTunes on their PCs or Apple will crush them? Heck, iTunes isn’t even bundled now, customers have to download and install it. There is a bundled media player, but that would be Microsoft’s.
  • Sell music tracks with DRM tied only to their own players with no way to defeat it? No, that was Microsoft. Apple never did, and ultimately removed DRM on music altogether.
  • App Store rejections? Compared to the ~70,000 apps approved, the percentage is tiny, and many were reconsidered and accepted. Most have shown to be a misunderstanding, or telling only one side of the story, or simple PR. Apple has admitted they’re working on the acceptance process, that’s not abuse.
  • Refuse to let iTunes “see” third-party devices? Nope. The devices are seen as external storage free to drag tracks onto. They don’t use Apple’s wonderful “sync” because Apple made that an advantage of their software. Other companies are free to do the same.
  • Refuse to let other companies write sync software for their devices? Nonsense. As I’ll discuss later, RIM already has.

Where is the abuse when there are no barriers of entry to compete with Apple? Microsoft’s proven this time and again as they continue to enter contestants (that keep getting clobbered). Google entered the fray with Android and nary a ripple from Apple. RIM made the Storm and Apple couldn’t have cared less. Palm did their Pre and, except for their pirating iTunes software by hacking, Apple doesn’t care. Further, any of these guys can write their own desktop software for their own devices to compete with iTunes any time they want.

The reason companies don’t want to write their own software now is because it takes time and effort, and they’re already so far behind they want to take shortcuts, including hacking into Apple’s good work. Wah! We didn’t have Apple’s foresight and vision, so they must let us use their stuff! It’s like the squealing two little pigs banging on the door of the house of bricks.

“I Know You Are But What Am I?”

For a while now, Microsoft and their press buddies have utilized a campaign to make Apple out to be just like them. They do this because they know they’re hated while Apple is not. Windows 7 is a service pack? Yeah, well so is Snow Leopard. Windows 7 leaves XP users in the dust (upgrade to painful)? Yeah, well Snow Leopard doesn’t work on non-Intel Macs. Windows is strewn with viruses? Hey, the Mac had a Trojan Horse so it’s just the same.

It’s odd that no one at Microsoft questions this strategy. I mean, when the worst insult you can hurl at your competitor is that they’re just like you, it reflects more on you than the competitor. It’s an acknowledgment that you suck, but the competitor rightfully says “No, we’re not like you, but thanks for admitting you suck”.

What Thurrott Really Wants

The real purpose of Thurrott’s piece is to get somebody, anybody, to stop Apple. So he threatens us with the only “weapon” he has, which is to claim Microsoft’s been a tyrant for 20 years and, gee whiz, let’s not let Apple be the same. He admits Apple isn’t there, but apparently Microsoft was so bad that we shouldn’t even wait this time! Let’s stop Apple before they’re guilty of anything. Wow.

There are just a few things wrong with Thurrott’s plea:

  • Exclusive phone deals were (and are) commonplace, and he never cared until Apple did it with a vastly superior smartphone, crushing Windows Mobile in the process.
  • Zune’s software works with Zunes and not, say, the Palm Pre, but he never cared about this type of software being “open” until Microsoft’s failed while Apple’s remained successful.
  • Microsoft’s Plays For Sure partners were completely screwed when the exclusive Zune came out, but he never cared about that.
  • Every company is free to compete with Apple with their own software without any retribution from Apple or demands to “knife the baby“. But Thurrott didn’t care that they foolishly chose not to until it was obvious they missed the boat and have a lot of catching up to do. Catching up Thurrott apparently feels won’t happen.
  • Even the mighty Google is free to put Google Voice on their own mobile OS (Android) and compete in the marketplace — which Apple reminded them they should do. But Thurrott doesn’t care because, like Google, he knows it’s not compelling enough for people to consider as an alternative to the iPhone.

This is the most ridiculous plea Thurrott has made since he begged those who value “your very livelihood” to band with him in demanding that Microsoft “respond to the challenges”. Well, now we see how they responded. Too bad it’s in the form of shameless rhetoric, not in the market place.

Thurrott’s apologies in the past, and rant of the present, seem to indicate that a free market and competition are foreign to him. He simply can’t imagine any company doing business without either being an illegal bully, or bullied by some other company or government. The whole concept of actually earning your place by making game-changing products that work as expected and are backed with stellar customer service completely eludes him. It eludes Microsoft as well.

Is There No Alternative?

Of course there is. For example, Research in Motion gets it. They stayed true to their successful BlackBerry devices while toying with an iPhone competitor in the Storm. They’ve also brought their own desktop software to the Mac. They didn’t whine or cry like Microsoft or Palm. They’re not trying to hack into Apple’s technology and leach their hard work and foresight. They’re building their own.

Instead of crying for help, they focused on their own core strategies and business plans. It’s clearly paid off; they’ve been as successful — maybe even more so — in the iPhone era as they were before it. And if their new stuff isn’t quite up to snuff yet, at least it’s a start, and they’ll make it better (witness the Storm 2).

But Apple Must Be Evil!

Thurrott’s shameless begging for someone to stop Apple from something he admits they’re not even doing reminds me that there are only two possible reasons for which these types of articles are written:

  • To stop Apple, or slow them down, in any manner possible except via the marketplace, where attempts by all comers have failed. In short, the articles are propaganda. Thurrott’s piece, and those of the rest of the Microsoft shill choir, fall into this category.
  • Page hits, tied to ego and self-importance. Face it, if you write a “Microsoft is Evil” piece, no one cares. Everyone already knows it; it’s nothing new. But if you write an “Apple is Evil” piece, people flock to it wondering if there’s some smoking gun. Instead, it’s just self-serving FUD, innuendo, and speculation. Arrington’s recent ravings, as well as the aforementioned Calacanis crap, fall into this category.

Both categories contain nothing but garbage.

TAB – The Palm Pre is an iPod? Yes, But We’ll See How Long That Lasts

A big story recently is how the Palm Pre syncs seamlessly with iTunes. It does so by making itself appear to be an iPod to iTunes.

Further details came out during an interview at the All Things Digital conference that indicate only non-DRM music and photos can be synced. It’s unclear whether non-DRM videos sync, or whether it syncs other iTunes data (bookmarks, contacts, podcasts, etc.).

Even with those restrictions, the ability to plug in and use iTunes to sync music is a pretty big deal. How can Palm do this? Why did they do this? What, if anything, should Apple do?…

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>

TAB – Microsoft: We Couldn’t Kill the iPod, Maybe We Can Kill the iPod touch

You’ve got to give Microsoft credit. Having failed at making the Zune an “iPod killer,” they’ve given up and are trying to make it an “iPod touch killer.” Why go after big brother when little brother has kicked your butt for two years? Beats me; you’d have to ask Microsoft. All I can do is look at the Zune HD and see what it’s about…

Read the rest of this article on theAppleBlog >>

Apple’s iMac and New Nano: Separated at Birth?

OK, with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the likes of Thurrott, Enderle, and analyst Shaw Wu about yesterday’s Apple announcements (I think these guys are wrong), I thought I’d lighten things up a bit with something that struck me about the new nano design.

First, they all have a black band around the screen like the iMac.

The silver one takes the iMac cues further, not only by matching its color (duh!), but also by having a black scroll wheel (except for the black nano, the others have a white wheel). I find the silver nano’s black wheel stands out like the Apple logo on the iMac, making quite a family resemblance.

See for yourself:

Windows Supersite Blog’s Complete Misunderstanding of the New iPod Announcements.

As usual, Paul Thurrott gets most of this wrong

Incremental. It’s official, folks. The iPod market is now mature. There wasn’t a single major announcement at today’s event

Which is what most who knew what was going on suspected. And yet there was actually great stuff there if you cared to pay attention.

If you think that’s bad, though, look at the Zune: They had Apple right where they wanted them (i.e. with nothing cool to announce) and couldn’t even pull a new device out of its hat.

Let’s take a closer look at the Zune announcement. They have WiFi to use at home and maybe the office (where you don’t need it because you have a computer), but not in public hotspots that require a browser that the Zune doesn’t have. It’s an embarrassing joke. What’s amazing is that Steve Jobs stated WiFi in most CE devices doesn’t work because they have no browser, yet MS did their stupid marketing bullet-point update anyway. The rest of the Zune announcements went downhill from there.

“New” iPod nano. Or as I call it, the second-generation iPod mini. Or the second coming of the first generation nano. Or Apple’s version of the flash-based Zune. Whatever you call it, one thing is clear: Last year’s “fattie” iPod nano was clearly not the success they were looking for. Back to the drawing boards. Oh, I do like the colors though. And the accelerometer is interesting. Why isn’t it in the classic?

Is putting the word new in quotes supposed to fool us? No one can compare today’s nano to the last generation and not see that it’s indeed very new. As for slamming last year’s model, I didn’t see any dip in iPod sales for the holiday season or the rest of the year. Still 10-11M a quarter. Not bad for something supposedly not a success.

Back to the drawing boards? Apple simply utilized the very design they perfected along with an accelerometer they helped to popularize. This was a natural progression.

Oh, and an accelerometer isn’t in the classic because there’s little reason to rotate it (rotation’s mostly for wide-screen video) and because you probably don’t want people shaking your hard-drive based player.

“New” iPod touch. OK, they lowered the price. And they added back iPhone features like a speaker and external volume toggles that quite frankly should have been there in the first place. Do we salute Apple for that? No. No, we don’t.

Again with the quotes. This is where Paul is the most lost. Then again, he needs to be because the touch is where all of Apple’s competitors are so far behind it’s laughable.

First, at the time of the touch introduction the iPhone dropped to a new price of $399 and required a two-year contract. The touch was $299 with no contract. Do you think your extra $100 and two years of data/voice plans couldn’t buy you a little something like hardware controls and a speaker? The idea that the touch should have had these on Day 1 at its price point just goes to show how suckered Paul is by Microsoft’s belief that you should sell your hardware at a loss.

Now, with millions of iPhone and touch sales Apple can get more aggressive. They added the #1 most requested feature, and also a speaker (which was my #1 requested feature), made it lighter and better sculpted for the hand, refined the interface and dropped the price of the 8GB model by $70, and the others by $100.

I don’t salute Apple for anything, but those are terrific improvements to the touch line and, as I wrote about earlier, the most important update of the day in my opinion. Anything Apple does to get its mobile OS into more hands is great news.

Finally, while we’re on the subject of the touch, there is nothing out there that can even touch (heh, pun intended) the first generation units. Not only the hardware, but Apple’s multi-touch interface and mobile OS X, the iTunes integration, the beautiful screen, and the app and WiFi stores (with WiFI you can actually use). Nobody has anything even close. And yet, today, Apple just rendered it old hat. Remarkable.

NBC shows are back. I love this one, and it’s another example of Apple being the bad guy. A year ago, NBC left iTunes because Apple wouldn’t give them the variable pricing they wanted. Apple claimed (and its closest iCabal fanatics parroted) that NBC just wanted to sell TV shows for more than $1.99. But that wasn’t true: They wanted to sell older shows for just 99 cents per episode. And longer, mini-series-type shows for $2.99. Now, in the words of the New York Times, “both sides now say they got what they wanted.” Put another way, Apple caved to NBC’s reasonable and customer-centric demands and NBC got what it wanted. Bravo.

This is utter nonsense. First, if NBC was “customer-centric” they wouldn’t have pulled their content from the #1 store on the market. In the middle of the season, no less! They gave their customers a big “FU” and now Paul tries to re-write it as some sort of act of courage? The fact that they pulled everything tells you that this was an act of pure greed, stupidity, and hubris on NBC’s part. Much like the record companies providing DRM-free music elsewhere, NBC thought they could put a dent in iTunes’ universe. They were wrong.

What you saw today, Paul, but will not admit because you’re a FUD-spewing Apple basher, was NBC acknowledging defeat and coming back to a store they never should have left in the first place. It hurt them. It hurt their customers. It may even have hurt their stockholders. They’re back now because they know they’ll make $$$, and also realized their little temper tantrum and ego trip did them no good.

The NYT is right, though. Both sides did get what they want: Apple held the line on pricing, and NBC is now back on the #1 online video store. Smart move by NBC to swallow their pride, but they should have done it six months ago.

Oh, and one more thing. There was no one more thing. And that stinks. Because these announcements don’t amount to much more than a cheerleading session for continued dominance.

Stop acting as if the mainstream iPod (the nano) has to sing and dance at each announcement. It simply has to offer the strongest overall product in its category (it does), provide great value (it does), and keep improving (it did). Thinner, longer battery life, accelerometer, improved interface and features, beautiful curved design with great colors, and twice the memory — all at the same price point. Why would anyone pay the same price for, say, a year-old Zune design with WiFi you can’t use and an online store with half of iTunes’ content and horrendous DRM on each track? Not to mention paying for those tracks with “points” that Microsoft collects up front. As for the touch, Microsoft and others are years away from getting there…

The new nano and new touch are incredibly strong announcements, and position Apple very well not just for the holiday season but beyond. The touch, especially, is untouchable by the competition.

A Few Quick Thoughts on the New iPods.

I haven’t had time to parse everything, and I’ll play with iTunes and give my thoughts on it later, but here are a few things that struck me — in no particular order — from today’s announcement:


Lots of radio channels, music clubs, online music stores, etc., do this sort of thing, so it really made sense to bring it to the iPod. I’ll have to play with it, of course, but in my experience as a serious music listener these things never really get it right. Any time they say that since you like [artist name here] you’ll also like [another artist name here], it’s “wrong” as often as it’s right.

Like I said, a good and obvious feature to add, and making playlists out of it is a nice variation, but I don’t get too excited about canned recommendations. The demos they gave didn’t seem very good at recommending things any differently that what I’ve seen before.


Makes sense to save a few $$ and discontinue all but one model. With 120GB they’re at a point where they can pretty much satisfy the high-end user. My 80GB unit is almost full, so this will be where I go next.

In Macworld’s live blogging event one of them wondered if this would be the last Classic update ever. I hope not. I see no reason why they cannot keep a hard-drive player in the lineup for at least one more round of updates. Some people need the room.

[UPDATE:] While the Genius feature is on the classic, I notice that the new center popup menu is not. Not installing an accelerometer on a hard-drive based model might make sense (don’t want it shaken so much), so I don’t bemoan the lack of “shake to shuffle”, but not implementing the center popup seems silly. In fact, that lack of effort makes me wonder if indeed this is the classic’s last year. By next year I think the touch will realistically only be at 64GB, which would put Apple’s highest capacity player below 2005 levels. Ouch! I’m curious to see where Apple goes with the classic…


I thought they’d kill the 1GB model. I have a shuffle and really like it, so I’m glad they still start at $49. The new colors are the best yet, in my opinion.


I had no problem with the older generation, but I do admit to preferring the taller model. This thing looks beautiful. I like the colors as well.

Landscape on the 2-inch screen is great, and I think this thing is going to be as big a hit as ever.

I wanted shake to shuffle so bad, but now am disappointed. Those who think exercising or jogging will “trigger” the shuffle are not giving enough credit to just how “violent” an action shaking is. It’s trivial for the accelerometer to know the difference between a shake and any exercise you’d care to perform with one of these things strapped to your body. I’m disappointed, though, because I assumed the shake would turn shuffle on/off. Instead, it appears to instigate a shuffle every time. I’m completely spoiled by the ease with which I can toggle shuffle with the iPhone, and wanted something as easy on the nano. Bummer.


Though not as “brand new” as the nano, this is the killer upgrade in the lineup. Adding the speaker is a HUGE improvement! You also get a microphone using one of a couple new pairs of Apple headphones (more below). Outside volume controls were also badly needed, and they’ve dropped prices $70, $100, and $100 for the three models.I don’t believe Apple does loss-leader stuff, but they are really coming down to get these things off shelves for Christmas.

Some people wanted GPS, etc, but I really think they put in by far the most important hardware improvements and lowered the price significantly. This is a great update.

It’s also the most important update of the day, in my opinion, because Apple wants OS X mobile in as many hands as possible.

New Interface

Better cover flow in the nano is nice. Love the center button popup menu, but why the heck isn’t Search one of the options? Arrrgggh! Am I the only one who actually gets a song in his head and wants to hear it without having to browse to the darn thing? I can search on the nano, but it’s kind of clumsy and a shortcut to get there would have helped greatly.

iTunes 8

Again, Genius doesn’t impress me much but I’ll have to wait to see if it’s any better than the myriad recommendations scheme I’ve seen before. Grid view appeals to me greatly, and I’m really interested in trying it. But it looks like they removed the old “list with album art” view. If true, that could be a shame because it’s the view I use most often.


I’m not a TV guy, but there’s no denying it improves the value proposition for the iTunes Store. Further, since it’s a buck more per show (which I think is reasonable for now) it also got NBC back, which is a biggie as well. Good move all-around, I’d say.

As a bonus, in addition to NBC it adds other NBC stations such as the USA Network, NBC Sports, etc. Further, NBC is kicking in $0.99 episodes (not HD, of course) of some “classic” TV shows.

This is really a win-win for everybody.

New Headphones

Adding the mic and play/volume controls to the nano, classic and touch is GREAT! However, I think the feeling during the event was that these ‘phones came with the new iPods. I do not think that’s the case. Their special features are only compatible with the new models, yet they sell for $29 at the Store. I think you just get the same ol’ headphones with the new models, and have to pony up if you want the remote controls.

Apple’s value for the new models is excellent, so I suppose they just couldn’t swallow the new ‘phones as a freebie as well. Still, it’s kind of a shame.

Oh, and I like the in-ear ‘phones with remote for $79. Better quality with the remote capability. I use expensive over the ear ‘phones for serious listening, but for more casual stuff I can see me getting these when I get a compatible iPod.

2.1 Software

Not available until Friday so there’s not much to say. Steve says it’s bug fixes and stability. If it speeds up my iPhone and backups I’ll be a happy camper.


All in all these are solid announcements. And it’s a great iPod lineup for the holidays. A new iPod nano at 8GB for just $149, and the much-improved touch at the same capacity for just $80 more. Wow!

Dear Apple: Please Make the iPhone’s Native Interface Like the Remote App.

Apple’s iPhone Remote application is great. It’s so convenient to control an entire iTunes library — and any AirTunes speakers — from any iPhone or iPod touch.

But instead of telling you how great it is I’d rather take the time to request that Apple add the Remote app’s interface improvements to the iPhone’s native iPod interface. In my opinion, the native iPod interface on the iPhone/iPod touch no longer makes it the best iPod ever. The Remote app’s interface supersedes it. Let’s take a look.


Below are listings of playlists from the native interface (top) and the Remote app:

The latter is more useful. Not only because it displays the number of items in each playlist, but also because it displays the lists’ icons. Currently, when you sync a playlist to an iPod it doesn’t retain the icon for being a folder, smart playlist, etc., but I find it useful to know this information.

Song Listings.

Below is a song listing for a selected playlist in each interface:

What a difference. Two changes make the latter much more useful.

  1. The artist is listed below each song. This is huge for me when I’m in a playlist and want to scroll to a specific artist. The way I do it now is by recognizing artist’s song names to see where I am in the alphabet, which is cumbersome.
  2. There is a line of dots along the right side for quick scrolling. You can scroll the usual way, of course, but now can also run your finger up and down this line for rapid movement. Wonderful!

Some of my playlists are quite large, and these easier methods to keep track of the artists and scroll in a playlist are incredibly useful to me.


There’s another great new interface improvment in the Remote app:

Search! I’d love to have this on the iPhone right now. Hit the button, type in your artist, song, or whatever and you get the same live updates as you do in iTunes on the computer:


I strongly suspect these interface improvements are because the Remote app was designed to navigate an entire iTunes library. The native interface would fall well short of that function for anyone with even a moderately-sized library. In other words, the improvements were necessary to make the Remote app a lot more useful than it would have otherwise been.

However, having created these interface improvements, I hope Apple brings them to the native interface as well. My iPhone has only 750 songs (8 GB, but I use high-quality encoding for larger files) and I could still make full use of these. I’m already frustrated by their absence when using the iPhone’s native controls. And if I hold out for a 32GB iPhone — which I’d like to do — I’ll have four times the music and the current interface will be even more of a hindrance.

Truth is, after using the Remote app for only two weeks the iPhone’s native media interface looks almost primitive to me.

The iPod Touch Needs a Speaker: What To Do With An Old iPhone.

I wrote earlier about why I’m not upgrading to and iPhone 3G at this time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t given some thought as to what will become of my beloved original 8GB model.

After working with the 2.0 software and App Store for the last few days on my iPhone and my daughter’s iPod touch, I think I know.

Yes, I could sell the original iPhone for a nice sum. After all, it’s easily unlocked for other carriers so I think its value remains high even in the face of the new iPhones (subsidized price notwithstanding).

However, games on the iPhone are just flat more enjoyable with the sound coming out of the speaker than on the touch. Sure, you can use headphones on the touch, but that’s kind of a pain for casual gaming.

I showed my daughter the silly but kind of fun Phonesaber application and we thought it was fun. Yet on the touch what’s the point? No cool light saber sound, and headphones there are a weak option, since you need to move the phone around a lot. And how do you show any of these apps off to friends without the sound?

The bottom line is the touch needs a speaker. Badly. Perhaps Apple will add one to the next generation, but the old iPhone will make a great new touch for my daughter. In addition to the speaker, there’s a microphone to make use of great apps like Shazam, and voice recording. Then you figure the built-in camera is just icing on the cake.

Finally, down the road when I’m ready to cough up for a data plan, the phone can be enabled so she’ll have the full-fledged device (at her age I’m not ready for her to have any phone other than a “free” one on the family plan, more or less just to help keep track of her).

I just think that while I could sell the phone, I ultimately get much more value with it being a replacement for her 8GB iPod. It’s the iPod that will be sold.