Rob Enderle Simply Has To Be The Worst Tech Analyst
December 10th, 2003

Rob Enderle has built his career, in part, on being wrong about Apple. Mr. Enderle is an analyst who used to be with the Giga Group, which was then purchased by Forrester Research, and he now heads up his own one-man firm called the Enderle Group. During at least the last year and change, Mr. Enderle has been loudly and often predicting the death of Apple, that Apple will have to move to Intel or die, that Apple is in "decline," that Apple will have to split itself into two companies or die, etc. (read about all his Apple Death Knells in our Apple Death Knell Counter).

Today I am not actually bringing you a Death Knell, but Mr. Enderle has been talking some smack about Apple and Steve Jobs. As the analyst that many Mac users have begun to love to hate, his newest editorial at TechNewsWorld bears commenting on, even though doing so has become somewhat formulaic of late. From that column, titled "Linux, China, HP, Apple and Other 'Outside the Box' Stories:"

Apple: Good Products, Bad Company

Speaking of losing one's job as a result of a vendor choice, some of you might recall that the only IT department I've ever seen fired was fired as a result of choosing Apple. I've been getting a lot of feedback from Apple supporters, and many seem to agree with my position that you can love the products but hate the company. This attitude seems to permeate experienced IT buyers, who seem to have a good memory of how they were abandoned by Apple a few short years ago without so much as an apology.

Currently, folks seem particularly upset that they are buying brand-new machines and then still have to pay for an upgrade to the latest version of the Apple operating system. Apple's closed nature isn't being missed by many: More and more seem to realize that iTunes only works with the iPod, making it likely they might have to, at some future point, repurchase all of the music they have already purchased online through iTunes should they ever want to use that music on something else.

This impression that Apple is out to lunch from an open-systems perspective is enhanced by Steve Jobs publicly saying that the Tablet PC is a niche product. This is sadly ironic, given that Apple gave up the PDA market to Palm and Microsoft as a result of one of his decisions. Like a lot of CEOs, Jobs seems to think it is more important not to admit he was wrong than to correct a mistake. If Bill Gates had done the same thing with the Internet, we likely would be looking at a much smaller and weaker Microsoft today.

Right now, Apple has nothing like the Media Center PC and nothing like the Tablet PC. The iPod is terrible as a PDA, the company has no smartphone, and you'll find more cool stuff in a Gateway store than in an Apple store today -- although I still think Apple does a better job of presenting what it does manufacture. I'm thinking that maybe it's time, given the failed switcher campaign and the mass move of PC vendors into the consumer electronics segment, that Jobs stopped sitting around milking his installed base and started thinking outside the box.

Read the full account at TechNewsWorld, or don't.

Let's see, he's right about Apple having given up the PDA market. Then again, let's look at the two leaders in that market, Palm and Microsoft. Palm is going on hard times (both Palm entities), while Microsoft doesn't seem to be turning a profit on the Pocket PC, either.

You can number most of the staff at TMO among those who would really like to see a Mac OS X-based PDA, but the reality is that Steve Jobs' prognostications on the PDA front have so far proved far more accurate than Mr. Enderle's own track record. Mr. Jobs may (or may not) have killed the Newton more from a dislike of its main proponent, former Apple CEO John Sculley, but he's so far been right that PDAs would go the way of the dodo-bird.

So what was that you were saying, Mr. Enderle?

Moving on the Media Center PC and the Tablet PC, neither product is a success, and neither has sold in great quantities. Wait, that's much as Steve Jobs has said would be the case. Mr. Enderle seems to be relying on the idea that if Microsoft invents a product category, then it surely must be a category that everyone should offer, whether or not anyone is buying it; but why? Microsoft makes money with Windows and Office, and most, if not all, of its other divisions lose money, including the Media Center PC and the Tablet PC. So why is Apple wrong about not following suit?

There's just nothing of substance about Mr. Enderle tirade concerning Apple. If you read this latest piece carefully, you will note that it's mostly a string of unconnected and/or completely unsubstantiated slams at Apple. The one thing we agree with is that Apple's Panther upgrade policies for those who recently bought new Macs is unfair, but even then there's no evidence of folks being "particularly upset" about this. Indeed, I have found my own complaints on the subject of Panther upgrades to be in the minority. Where's the movement that Mr. Enderle hints at?

It's just not there, just as abandonment issues are not why Apple has a hard time in IT (which is increasingly not the case anyway), why there is no movement of people concerned about the closed nature of the iTMS and iPod, why we haven't heard anyone other than Rob Enderle say that Apple is "out to lunch," and why there is no factual basis for suggesting Apple has to have a Media Center PC or Tablet PC (I'd still like to see an Apple tablet, BTW).

Instead, we are in the midst of Apple's best quarter in years, the iPod is still the #1 selling MP3 player, the iTMS is the only (legal) music download service that can be even vaguely considered a success, the G5 is a hit, and the rest of the industry continues to play follow the leader when it comes to Apple.

In short, Rob Enderle has to be the worst analyst attempting to cover the tech industry.