The Macalope Prediction

If anyone here doesn't read the Macalope, they definitely should. It's hilarious sarcastic Apple punditry at its best. I'm from Melbourne Australia and recently read this article in an Australian newspaper:

http://www.theage.com.au/executive-style/culture/is-shiny-apple-rotting-at-its-core-20130522-2k05a.html

I knew the Macalope would love tearing this to shreds, so I sent him a link to it on Twitter. Sure enough today the Macalope comes out with this piece:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2039775/macalope-weekly-business-time.html

analysing the article I sent to him (he 'tipped his antlers' to someone else who linked it to him, not me).

Anyway, a few days ago (before the Macalope's analysis came out), I decided to have my own go at analysing this piece, except I sent it as an email to the journalist himself Steve Colquhoun. I got back a response from him which surprised me.

Here's what I sent to him:

Hi Steve, my name's Alex, I'm a 20 year old student from Melbourne. I recently read your article on The Age website: "Is shiny Apple rotting at its core?", and thought it was interesting. So, here's my overly long, slightly sarcastic analysis of it. I hope you take the time to read it:


Let's start with your headline. Putting the name of the "world's top brand" in your headline and making them sound negative is sure to attract a bunch more clicks! How's that ad revenue on your site coming along? I'm just glad you covered your tracks by questioning yourself, because in 3 years if Apple is still in business and this article is completely irrelevant, you will be safe knowing that you only questioned their "rotting", you never stated it. Are you so unsure about the details of this piece that you decided to put a question mark in the headline just to be on the safe side? This basically tells the reader that not even you believe in what you've written, so why should we?


Ok, now your sub-heading "Tech giant tops brand survey again but could be teetering on brink of irrelevance, expert warns." "Tech giant tops brand survey again" Fact. "could be teetering on brink" Hmm... maybe, probably not?
"the omnipresent technology giant is losing touch with its Generation Y heartland.".
Meanwhile out in the real world at university's everywhere, there's iPhone's, then there's everything else. Also, when did Apple ever reveal its "core" market to be younger people? Apple designs and markets their devices to be easy to use and intuitive, something which I know the older generations find far more beneficial than the quick-to-learn youth.


This 'social researcher', Mr. McQueen then said: "The next 12 months will be absolutely critical for them, whether they can release another game-changing product like they did with the iPhone and iPad. It's been a long time between drinks for them," Implying that Apple hasn't released anything game-changing in a while.

Ok let's make a quick timeline of Apple's recent "game-changing products":

2001: iPod 2007: iPhone 2010: iPad 2013: Now So, 6 years between game changers, then 3, now it's been another 3. Jeez Steve, if Apple doesn't release something quick they're surely doomed! They've only completely re-defined 3 markets in 13 years! They should get back to work! I was eagerly waiting for the words 'Steve Jobs would've released something by now.' That would've been hilarious.


Next up, Apple isn't innovating and is dropping in the charts. They went from 5th to 26th in the Forbes ranking in one year. "the rising profile of portable device competitors such as Samsung is creating "a subtle shift in what's now cool."
By "the rising profile" McQueen is saying that Samsung is somehow innovating more than Apple. Let's just observe the double standard here. In the past year, all Samsung has 'innovated', is making their screen bigger, and adding a bunch of software features such as those new air wave gestures for the Galaxy S4 which have been widely regarded as gimmicky and useless. So for Samsung to be innovative they have to make a bigger screen, but for Apple to be innovative, they need another "game-changing product". Because they've never had one, so they need one really fast, right now, because those smart guys over at Samsung are going to keep making those screens bigger! Apple sells 5M iPhones in 3 days, headlines say it's "disappointing". Samsung sells 10M Galaxy S4's in 30 days, headlines say it's "strong". http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2013/05/17/apple-iphone-samsung-galaxy-2/


"The key would be to recalibrate - who they are, why they exist, what business are they in."
McQueen you genius, why doesn't Apple listen to you!
If only Apple was making a lot more profit than anyone else combined in the industry by doing business the way they have been for the past 15 years, then they wouldn't have to recalibrate... If only!


Next, he speaks about 'the intoxication of success' and how Lego almost went broke in the early 90's. Interesting, can anyone else name a company who were "big for so long, they became close-minded, arrogant, complacent," Anyone? Any company who almost went broke in the early 90's, I think they rhyme with chapel?
The next sentence almost made me fall off my seat with laughter: (About Lego) "they were in serious trouble, now they're in everything. It's a brilliant company." Hmm, what other company had massive turn around success from the early 90's to now? Must've been a company who knew how to do some serious "recalibrating", that's for sure...


The next point he tries to make is that staying the same is a big telltale sign of this intoxication.


"The minute you look around at your team and everyone is of similar age, of similar background, you're in trouble. At Daewoo, up until they collapsed, up to 70 per cent of their management team went to the same high school."
"So you've got this culture that forms that attracts people who are like what the culture already is. Anyone who comes in with a different mindset is ejected, like a white blood cell."
"Organisations often can't see themselves and you look from the outside and say 'you guys are so stuck in the way you do things, nothing has changed in the last three years, and you all look the same', which is a big telltale sign."
You know McQueen, I'm sure you're right, Apple would have no talent scouting department in place, they're just going to keep going with the staff they have until they all die, and that will be the end of Apple!
Apple is never open to new ideas with the terrible company culture they have. Except that time when they went from being broke to being one of the biggest companies in the world in 15 years. That culture over there must be terrible.
McQueen nailed it here. The real problem is that Apple has no experience with looking at itself and saying "you guys are so stuck".
Totally, zero experience in that department.
Especially that point in the 90's when they looked at themselves and said 'we're stuck' so they decided to change everything. But other then that one time, which didn't really mean much, McQueen is totally 100% right.


Isn't it convenient that when "nothing has changed in the last three years" you're in trouble? Because if I'm counting correctly, that's the same amount of time since Apple released their last "game-changer"!
So that means in 2004, 3 years into the 6 year gap between the iPod and the iPhone, Apple was totally screwed! Apple shouldn't even be around right now! Companies need to change every 3 years to stay alive!
Wait a second, what's the name of that insignificant soft drink company who has been selling the same cola flavour drink for like 120 years now? They've dodged death 40 times now! Must be taking advice from McQueen...

"McQueen says there is no way to accurately predict how many companies may unknowingly have passed their peak and be heading into a period of decline."
But I thought he said:
"Apple is "past the turning point"
So there's no way for him to accurately know if they're past the turning point? It's just an inkling he had. He woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and quickly scribbled it down, it was genius.


"it's those staff who know because they talk to customers, and customers are saying 'you're overpriced' or 'your systems are outdated', but it's not filtering to to the top,"
Nailed it, Apple's stuff is overpriced and old, that's why no one buys it. I don't know anyone who buys Apple stuff.

Next up, McQueen speaks about these 'pulses'.
"You can have a really good audible pulse and all your outside indicators look good but your 'silent pulse', which measures how relevant you are and what your momentum is, can be way off. That might not show up for another two or three years," he says."
Well McQueen, in the style of Steve Jobs himself I will create this query.
Wouldn't it be great if we could accurately predict and measure if a company is knowingly past their peak, not in tune their silent pulse, and heading into a period of decline?
Oh wait, not even you can do that. So I guess we'll just have to take your word for it. Apple's screwed everyone, this guy knows what he's talking about.


"There's some good news for companies that can identify their impending decline and act to arrest the slide. McQueen says IBM dragged itself back from the brink in the late 1980s and early 1990s with an exhaustive company-wide review, and that Sony is currently doing something similar. "It's not too late, but it will be hard for them," he says."
Once again, Apple's never had any experience with dragging themselves from the brink, and because of their inability to make an phone with a bigger screen, their inevitable doom is coming quickly.

This entire piece was literally just McQueen explaining how he came up with a bunch of subjective measuring devices.
His 'relevance curve', his 'intoxication of success', his 'silent pulses'.
What a load of bullcrap.
I appreciate the poll you put at the end:
"Do you consider Apple's current products are still relevant to you?"
The poll wasn't interesting, instead I was more interested in the disclaimer underneath it:
"These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate."
You should've put that as a disclaimer at the start of the article and changed a couple of the words, because it applied to this whole piece.
Have a nice day.

And here is the response I got back less than a day later:

Hi Alex

I'm impressed that you took the time to assemble a reply that is substantially longer than the story itself. Your argumentative skills indicate should have a promising career ahead of you - corporate law, perhaps?
Thanks for the feedback. I think you perceive that either I or Michael McQueen may have an axe to grind with Apple. I can't speak for Mr McQueen but nothing could be further from the truth in my case; at last count I had seven Apple devices in my home and I stand to lose substantially if their technology is superseded! Having been a journalist for more than 25 years, though, I know a good story when I see one and this one certainly hit the spot with more than 125,000 online views yesterday.
Regards, Steve Colquhoun

I didn't really know how to react to that response. If I try and read between the lines I feel he is saying "I realise what I wrote might not be 100% accurate, but I did get a lot of page views."


Not sure how to take his response, just thought it would be interesting to post up my attempt at a Macalope analysis, especially because 'it' also wrote about this article.