No New Apple Death Knells, but Ignorance Abounds

The Dunce CapI don’t have any new Apple Death Knells to report, but that doesn’t mean the Internet is safe from stupidity, ignorance, and outright writing shenanigans. We often chuckle about a few articles here and there in the plush offices inside TMO Towers, but I saw two articles today that were just so plain stupid I decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be).

The first is a piece from Zack Whittaker titled “Is Apple still (or was it ever) in the netbook game?”

Bryan’s first rule of thumb for titles is if the author has to ask a question in the title, it’s probably not going to be answered in the piece. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time an place for questions-as-titles, but most such titles come off as contrived crap (to me). Such is the case with this one. It’s not only a bad title, it’s a stupid question in the first place.

Still, I clicked! What was I thinking? I can’t tell you, but then I saw the opening paragraph, and I quote:

The MacBook Air is the jewel in the crown of Apple’s ultra-light, portable notebook devices. Or is it?

Believe it or not, that bold question at the end is bold in the original piece! This is for ZDNet, for goodness’ sake! Throw in a musical “Duh-duh-duuuuuhhhhhnnnnn” and you’ve got all the makings of some quality junior high school drama. Also, it is once again a stupid question, and whie I’m at it, it’s a stupid central thesis for an article.

Mr. Whittaker then goes to say that the MacBook Air has been “relatively popular, with over 1.1 million units bought in the last quarter of 2010, accounting for 40% of Apple’s netbook business.” All of two sentences later he poses another rhetorical question to his readers by asking, “Maybe Apple’s tablet venture is masking seemingly poor MacBook Air sales?”

Did he not read what he had just written?

Of course, between those two incredibly contradictory sentences was the surprise note that Windows-based netbooks “had huge sales in comparison to MacBook Air.” Who knew?

There are other absurdities in abundance in the piece, but my favorite might have been, “The MacBook Air is nearly three times the price of an average netbook, absent of an optical drive and less powerful than its 13-inch ‘better’ model.”

Guess what, Einstein, a 13” MacBook Air is still a MacBook Air. It’s like comparing apples to apples. Or something.

Anyway, that piece was sloppy, with sloppy writing and probably sloppy direction from ZDNet’s editors. On the more malicious side, I saw a piece at TheStreet by Scott Moritz that strikes me as an attempt to rain on Apple’s parade.

Titled “Apple’s June Showcase to Lack Jewels,” Mr. Moritz argues that the rumors of a new MacBook Air this summer (the same rumor that may or may not have spurred Mr. Whittaker’s confused piece) mean that Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) won’t have anything big to showcase.

His argument appears to be that Apple isn’t going to be introducing a new iPhone at the event, and that this should scare investors out of their wits. This is why I call Mr. Moritz’s piece malicious.

For one thing, Apple has already indicated that this year’s WWDC is going to be centered on software, not hardware, and the company has been saying loudly and clearly for weeks that Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” and a new version of iOS (likely iOS 5) will be the centerpieces of this year’s event. When the company announced the event, Apple VP Phil Schiller said, “At this year’s conference we are going to unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS.”

My friend Jim Dalrymple put it quite well back in March when he wrote that, No iPhone, iPad or Mac hardware coming at WWDC. Making that a given (I believe it to be the case), how in the world do Lion and iOS 5 fail to qualify as “jewels?”

Mr. Moritz, however, sees this as a disaster for Apple. His conclusion is that Apple has nothing for WWDC (he never once mentions Mac OS X, “Lion,” or iOS), and that, “Minor tweaks to the iPhone 4S and reheated MacBooks aren’t likely to mollify investors.”

He added, “Apple shares, which surged 60% last year, have gone almost nowhere this year. Wall Street continues to see a yellow light with Apple. While hopeful for a major new product, investors are also braced for bad news about Steve Jobs’ health and his future with the company.”

Of course, Apple’s stock has risen 5% this year (the stock closed at $323.48 on December 31st and closed Wednesday at $339.87, for a gain of $16.39, or 5.1%), and that’s with recent losses related to macroeconomic issues (according to an analyst I spoke with on the issue). Mind you, that is slightly behind the 6.6% gain of the S&P 500, but in the world of stocks, a 5% gain entirely does not qualify as “having gone almost nowhere this year.”

His statement about Wall Street continuing to see a “yellow light with Apple” is also belied entirely by the facts. 91% of analysts have a “Buy” rating on Apple, and the consensus price target for the company’s stock is $446 per share, representing more than a 30% premium on today’s price. Where’s that yellow light again?

Mr. Moritz isn’t just making mountains out of molehills with his angle, he’s piling up the dirt, pretending it’s a natural molehill, and then standing on a soapbox to proclaim that the molehill is a mountain that threatens everyone living in its shadow. Doom, I tell you! DOOM!

No, these aren’t Apple Death Knells, but they are appalling examples of journalism, be it through sloppiness, ignorance, or maliciousness. I think both of these guys might need some quality time in the corner with the dunce cap.

Photo provided by our friends at iStockPhoto.