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  1. WWDC 2012 Predictions

    June 07, 2012

    As Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference draws nigh we’ve seen a veritable explosion of rumors regarding what Apple will announce during the keynote presentation. Of course rumors always run rampant before an Apple event, but this year the sheer volume of crap that the rumormongers expect Tim Cook to announce has long ago left the ream of the sane and entered into a new and disturbing land of fantasy.

    In order to help make sense of this insanity I’m compiling a list of WWDC predictions and my estimation of their likelihood. Note that I’m only counting things announced *during the keynote itself* press releases and website updates don’t count.

    Software

    • iOS 6 announced & previewed - 90%
    • …featuring Apple powered mapping system - 75%
    • …featuring a public API for Siri - 50%
    • …featuring significant changes to the UI (Springboard, Multitasking, etc) - 10%
    • …featuring end-user access to the file system - 1%
    • …developer preview available by day’s end - 90%
    • OS X Mountain Lion demoed - 90%
    • …featuring significant changes from the current Developer Preview - 10%
    • …new Developer Preview available by day’s end - 90%
    • …Gold Master available by day’s end - 25%
    • …available for purchase immediately - 1%
    • Apple TVOS mentioned at all - 10%
    • SDK available to developers - 15%
    • TV “App Store” announced - 15%
    • Any other Apple software announced (iLife, iWork, Aperture, FCPX, etc) - 0%

    Hardware

    • New iPhone announced - Fuck you
    • New iPods announced - Are you high?
    • Apple HDTV announced - sigh 2.71828%
    • Mac Pro updated - 75%
    • MacBook Pro updated - 40%
    • …with RETINA display - 90%
    • …with Retsina display - I wish
    • MacBook Air updated - 40%
    • …with RETINA display - 90%
    • iMac updated - 10%
    • …with RET…oh fuck we get it, high DPI is the shiznit
    • Mac Mini updated - 10%
    • …with RETINA display - wait, what?
    • iPad announced - I hate you people
    • Airport Extreme, Airport Express, Time Capsule, iPod Socks etc. announced - Sure, at this point why not

    There you have it people: my official list. We’ll tally the results after the big show. The great thing this year is, the rumormongers have gone so completely off their nuts that you could predict the resurrection of Steve Jobs and sound sane in comparison.

    Later bitches!

    post edited to include the Retina display jokes I forgot to make


  2. Sites That Trade in Apple Rumors Are Nothing More Than Gossip Rags

    May 23, 2012

    Harry McCracken, while commenting on serial Apple product rumor shit-stirrer Digitime’s response to his earlier analysis of their shitty track record, makes a point that I’ve been trying to articulate for some time:

    In a strange way, Digitimes also reminds me of the Dear Abby and Ann Landers of 1990s pseudonymous tech rumormongering, InfoWorld’s Robert X. Cringely and PC Week’s Spencer Katt. (Spencer Katt seems to have gone to the great litterbox in the sky, but yes, I know that there are still no less than two writers still plying the Cringely trade. Both of them are among the numerous Cringelys employed by InfoWorld when it was a dead-tree publication; neither of them, however, is a gossip columnist of the sort that Cringely once was.)

    Back in the day, Cringely and Katt cheerfully repeated gossip they’d heard and didn’t deny that it was gossip. Here, for instance, is a Cringely — not either of the two current ones — in 1997, blithely reporting that sources at Sun say Apple will move the Mac to Intel processors. It didn’t happen — well, not for another eight years — but that was okay, since the tidbit began and ended in as a one-paragraph Cringely item. No other news source would have dreamed of putting the rumor on its front page based on Cringely’s word.

    McCracken gets straight to the heart of my complaints about the current state of the Apple rumor mill.

    Once upon a time speculating on Apple’s future plans and products was a fun little diversion for those of us who followed the company. In the end, though, we didn’t take the rumors any more seriously than we would stories about Bat Boy. Somewhere along the line that changed. Now even the most ludicrous Apple product rumors are bandied about with utter credulity as “reports” by a tech press that is increasingly desperate for page-views.

    The thing is, when these rumors are treated with the same gravity as actual sourced reporting it causes demonstrable harm, both to Apple and to Apple’s customers. Apple is harmed, obviously, by the insane backlash from the blogoratti when a newly announced Apple product doesn’t live up to each and every bullshit rumor published about it (the iPhone 4S being the canonical example). Apple’s customers are harmed when they make purchasing decisions on “reports” based on nothing more than pure speculation and the wisdom of the Mystic Orient™.

    Ultimately what I and many of my fellow travelers are advocating for isn’t the eradication of Apple product rumors. We’re simply asking that sites that do report rumor and speculation properly frame those stories as such. Speculating about new Apple products can be fun. Arguing over who has divined the exact pixel count of the next iPhone’s screen is a tedious bore.


  3. Taxing My Patience

    May 01, 2012

    Apparently The New York Times has decided to run with the Tellarite1 inspired strategy of increasing traffic to articles about general corporate behavior by focusing on Apple. Thus we have How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes; a startling exposé on how Apple—and Apple alone—uses armies of ninja accountants and shadowy off-shore lairs to evade the taxes it rightfully owes to state and municipal governments.

    Oh wait, the voices in my head are telling me that this article is actually just a report on the practices that pretty much every large corporation uses to “evade” taxation. Of course there’s no sizzle in a headline like “The U.S. Corporate Tax Code is Bollocks” So The Times needed to go in [another direction][geekculture].

    But it’s really not The Times’ malfeasance that has me annoyed. What annoys me the most is one particular response to those who would point out that what Apple is doing is a) common and b) perfectly legal. It’s one of the same responses that was trotted out when (sane) people pointed out that pretty much all consumer electronics products are produced in China; mostly under conditions that make Apple’s Foxconn factories seem like a dream. The response goes something like this:

    But is Apple not special‽ Should we not hold them to a higher standard than all others‽ Do they not have a greater responsibility to sacrifice on behalf of my middle-class entitled guilt‽

    While there was some room for debate on those questions in regards to The Passion of Mike Daisey, there is little room to debate here. No, Apple is not under some moral obligation to avoid legal means of reducing their taxation rates. In fact, as a publicly held corporation Apple has a legal responsibility to maximize shareholder return. A duty that includes tactics such as reducing taxation expenses.

    Before I continue let’s get something completely clear. I am no pro corporate, anti-taxation advocate. I am a huge fan of taxes. I think they are the entry-fee for living in a civilized society and, if anything, I’d prefer to see Apple — and the rest of corporate America taxed at rates that would probably cause Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer to piss blood.

    Nonetheless I cannot find fault with Apple for doing all that it can within the existing legal framework to pay as little as possible in taxes; any more than I would find fault with a factory worker for taking advantage of every possible tax exemption and deduction on their personal income tax. It is not the individual’s responsibility — whether they be corporation or pipe-fitter — to make up for the deficiencies in local, state and Federal tax codes.

    This is where I find fault with the common responses to articles like this one. In their sad attempt to gin up page—-views by inciting the Apple haters and loyalists they ignore the actual problem. In this case, I’m sure we’ll see at least one call for a boycott of Apple products and a pointless Change.org petition calling for Apple to mend its evil ways. What I’m certain we won’t see is a rational discussion of corporate tax policy.

    I’ll conclude with this: If you read The New York Times article and found yourself outraged at Apple, take a step back and realize that being angry at Apple does nothing here. Instead focus that anger toward electing representatives — at all levels of government — who are not beholden to corporate interests. That’s where the real change will come from.

    *Note: I don’t intend for this to become a general debate about tax policy — corporate or otherwise. Comments that insist on doing so will be treated…harshly.*


    1. This is a reference to ZDNet’s David Gewirtz, who is famous for this tactic. Pageviews will not be granted. [geekculture]: http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/1684.html