Rabid Anti-Apple Commentator Loves iBook, Pro-Apple Analyst Doesn't Get It

The sky is falling. No, seriously. The sky is falling. And hell, itis freezing over. I just know it. There can be no other explanation for David Courseyis editorial on the new iBook Apple introduced on Tuesday. Mr. Coursey was trained at the John Dvorak School Of Inflammatory Editorials. He particularly likes to get Mac users all riled up by doing things like criticizing the old iBook, saying that there is not enough Mac software, or saying that the iMac was going to be a "flash in the pan." Better yet, he said only a few months ago that the iMac had actually been a flash in the pan! Grrrr... You see? He gets us all riled up, and does it by design. I am feeling the same angry feelings that you probably are feeling at the shear audacity of him calling one of the most popular personal computer models ever a flash in the pan. Heis good at doing that sort of thing. So why is he now complimenting Appleis new iBook? From an editorial that ran yesterday (Wednesday):

If you equate Microsoft with all things evil, hereis something you can do to help settle the score: Buy the new Apple iBook. This is probably the single best move you can make to keep a real alternative to Microsoft alive--and youill be getting a great computer as part of the deal. The new iBook beats a carry-around Linux machine in any number of ways, and youill be the envy of your friends without losing your connection to UNIX, since the new iBook runs Mac OS X.

AS FOR THE MAJORITY of people who actually like Microsoft, the new iBook is for you, too. Youill still get to use Microsoft Office, making you the envy of all your friends without giving up application compatibility.

The new iBook is simply the best consumer laptop on the market today. Dell, Compaq and the others should be ashamed they havenit come close to building a laptop this cool and this price. Yet, Apple seems to do the amazing--thereis that word--as a matter of course. This is a loss for Windows users, but itis also what keeps Apple alive.

What? Whatis this little piece of paper floating in my Diet Coke? The colors! Theyire awesome! OK, maybe reading his comments isnit similar to an LSD trip (never mind that I have never done LSD), but it was definitely a strange experience. The above quotes are one of the most profound endorsements for an Apple product I have encountered in a long time. Heck, he even includes the fact that Office exists on the Mac! Sure, he takes a crack at Apple in the end by saying that the sale of 23,000 iBooks to one school system showed they were on crack (a rather loose and inaccurate paraphrase by me), but that was only meant to rile us up again. Then again, maybe he is really shifting his opinion of Apple. After all, he said he might actually buy a Titanium PowerBook too.

Mr. Courseyis strange changing of the hearts is even more strange in light of another Apple watcheris thoughts on the company. Merrill Lynch analyst Steve Fortuna said yesterday that the new iBooks were nifty and all, but it wonit have much of an impact on Appleis bottom line. According to a CBS Marketwatch article:

"While the new iBooks were certainly necessary, we do not believe that they will have a significant impact on Appleis financial performance this quarter or on the companyis outlook due in large part to the weak economic environment," Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Fortuna said in a research note.

Tell that to the kids attending Henrico County public schools. The sale of 23,000 iBooks to that school district alone amounts to 41% of all iBook sales in the entire March quarter. Hereis a buck Mr. Fortuna, go buy a clue. The new iBook, which was practically tailor made for education, is going to be a huge hit in that market, and that is going to mean a gain of market share, increased sales, and increased profits. I am not suggesting that every school district in the country is scrounging around in the teachersi lounge sofa for enough loose change to plop down for a few thousand new iBooks, but this sale is not going to be an isolated incident either.

Individuals are also coming out in droves saying that they too wish to buy the portable. With such obvious signs of product-lust coming in from all sides before Mr. Fortunais comments were issued, I just donit get how he can fail to recognize the huge impact that the new iBook is going to have.

Of course, in early December, Mr. Fortuna was doubtful that Apple could achieve profitability by Q2 (the company beat estimates by 10 cents a share and turned in a profit of more than US$40 million for that quarter) . Mr. Fortuna also said that Appleis biggest area of growth was the emerging Internet Appliance market. Whoa, two good calls there, sir.

Thatis just it, too. Mr. Fortuna is an analyst who "likes" Apple. Though he is not always right, he has regularly made bullish calls on the company during the last few years. By way of comparison, Mr. Coursey regularly ridicules and lambasts Apple. How strange I feel, therefore, to be toasting Mr. Coursey from one side of my mouth while issuing prayers that Mr. Fortuna will be proven to be rather short sighted from the other.

We have a thread in the Apple Finance Boards on this issue, or you can add your comments below.