Dan Lyons strings together the most misinformation of his career to besmirch iPhone 5 launch
September 12th, 2012
Daniel Eran Dilger
In a stunning effort to express how uninterested he is in the new iPhone, Dan Lyons has compiled for the BBC what appears to be the longest uninterrupted series of false statements ever.
That’s saying something because we’re talking about Dan Lyons (still clinging to his 15 minutes of playing Fake Steve Jobs).
That’s right, the person whose entire career is based on exactly one memorable accomplishment is attempting to denigrate Apple over the sixth launch of the most successful product in history in as many years.
The company did this while at the same time also keeping its 30 year old desktop platform fresh and relevant and then introduced a new tablet (something Microsoft and Google have both failed miserably at attempting) as an encore.
So Lyon’s entire premise is that Apple bores him. Hmm, that’s original. I’ve never heard Apple haters express the opinion that the latest Apple stuff fails to excite them or the general public.
Oh wait, they always say that. Especially about how Steve Jobs would be personally saddened by today’s Apple.
And that’s of course how Lyons begins his rant. “Somewhere up there, I can hear Steve screaming,” he pens. Yes, because Jobs screamed a lot. And he was really upset about the direction of Apple in taking over the world.
And he was primarily interested in impressing critics rather than bringing advanced technology into the mainstream with a genius simplicity. Lyons, you know Steve Jobs so well. You should base your entire career around mimicking him.
Impossible to be new!
But wait, that’s not all. There’s simply nothing new potentially new about iPhone 5, nor can there be!
Or as Lyon next says, “Word is it will look a lot like the last two versions of the iPhone, except a bit thinner and a bit taller, with upgraded guts and a refreshed operating system.”
It’s a smartphone. You can change its physical properties, you can upgrade its hardware and upgrade its software. Therefore, it can’t really be new in any meaningful way. What interesting logic.
I wonder how this three part “no surprises possible” test works on other hardware, say when a new Android phone (most of them, actually) ships without a “refreshed operating system,” say with Android 2.2 or 2.3 from 2010, as a large percentage of them do. Is that more exciting?
Conversely, Lyon complains, “This is the sixth version of the iPhone, and the user interface still looks almost exactly like the original iPhone in 2007.”
As opposed to Android, which has morphed completely from being an Blackberry clone to being an iPhone clone. And which supports a variety of new tablets that not only look completely dissimilar, but can’t even run the same apps. Now that’s innovation! Thinking outside the platform.
To prove his point, Lyon makes up a fun fact: “The hardware on the iPhone has been the same for two years, since the iPhone 4 and 4S were virtually identical.”
Because “hardware” means “physical appearance,” if you don’t count things like the CPU, GPU, baseband, memory, cameras, noise cancelation circuits and other wizardly inside the phone. The iPhone 4S was far faster, smarter and more capable than its predecessor released the prior year by any measure of its hardware.
Apple never does any thing new!
Rather than inventing another fun fact, Lyon next takes a well known metric and turns it upside down.
“This is what happens when a company is too cheap to invest in research and development. Did you know that Apple spends far less on R&D than any of its rivals – a paltry 2% of revenues, versus 14% for Google and Microsoft?”
But tell us Lyon, how much does Microsoft and Google spend on new smartphone hardware R&D as a percentage of their revenues? Or right! Neither actually develops smartphones, nor do either of them earn any smartphone revenues (oh snap!) .
The closest we can say is that Google’s Motorola subsidiary spends some amount of money developing smartphones that don’t make any money (it loses money, what a novel concept in business). That makes such a comparison to the most profitable hardware and software company in the world somewhat difficult, doesn’t it?
I could open up a lemonade stand this afternoon and I’d spend more of my revenues on R&D than Apple. I’d likely spend my entire proceeds just looking up how to make lemonade and going to the store to get stuff, because I’m not a very efficient manufacturer, marketer, or all around business person. Just like Motorola Mobility.
Or Microsoft. Please Lyons, let us know about all the new stuff Microsoft has release recently. I can only seem to recall one product in the smartphone space, and it just killed the remains of Nokia, which not too long ago was the worlds largest phone maker. That’s pretty innovative stuff. Good thing Microsoft’s shareholders are seeing such a large chunk of its revenues going down the R&D drain.
More selective metrics
“No wonder the Android platform, where new models appear every week, now represents 68% of the smartphone market, up from 47% a year ago, while Apple slid to 17% over the same period.”
If only Apple could release a new model every week! Then Lyons could actually afford a fact checker, because he’d have regular work as a “why Apple is failing” pundit. Imagine a weekly gig explaining why Apple’s latest phone of the week isn’t worthy of the headlines it’s getting.
But oh, that’s right, nobody writes about those Android phones of the week because they actually aren’t newsworthy. I mean who wants to write about stuff running Android 2.x from 2010?
And what about tablets? Lyons doesn’t say anything about that, but Google itself just admitted that less than 1% of its activations are tablets. In other words, after devoting 2011 to getting Android 3.0 Honeycomb represented on tablets, Google hadn’t made any progress at all.
Again, the only moderately successful Android tablets are loss leaders running Android 2.x from 2010.
When they do upgrade anything, it’s bad!
“Worse,” complains Lyons, “despite all its bluster about innovation, Apple has become a copycat, and not even a good one. Why is Apple making the iPhone bigger? To keep up with the top Android phones.”
Yes, because while Apple has patented the rectangle and round corners, Android was the first to think of increasing screen sizes. Remember how Apple never increased the size of the Macintosh beyond its original 9 inches?
It literally took three decades for Android to provide leadership in screen size innovation. Apple can now make slightly larger smartphone screens, too.
But of course, big screen Android phones are not a slightly taller Retina Display (oh wait, I didn’t mean to slip out the R word!), they’re huge low res panels intended to make up for low efficiency first generation LTE chipsets, which wouldn’t fit in a smaller phone.
Some people like these phablet phones, but they’re not outselling the iPhone by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, all of the LTE phones on Verizon put together have failed to match the sales of the iPhone 4S over each quarter of the past year.
That says something given that Verizon is the world’s largest LTE provider and pretty damn desperate to monetize its new network with LTE device advertising and promotion. Lyons doesn’t note this because he’s a huge liar pushing a bullshit premise that he knows is completely dishonest in every respect.
He does however say that Samsung’s biggest new product launch is outselling the year old iPhone 4S in some counties, at least on some providers, particularly if you count providers that don’t carry the iPhone.
Lyons Fake on Steve Jobs
Lyons then throws out the same complaint about the unannounced, unreleased “iPad mini,” writing, “Apple also has become a copycat in tablets. Jobs once said the iPad’s 9.7in screen was the perfect size, and smaller tablets made no sense.”
Jobs didn’t say “smaller tablets made no sense,” he actually said (of 7 inch tablets like the Galaxy Tab) in 2010, “This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps,” and added, “no tablet can compete with mobility of a smartphone. Pocket size tablets are tweeners.”
Apple isn’t making a pocket sized tablet like the Galaxy Tab. And Samsung hasn’t sold many has it? It lied about selling 2 million in 2010, and it really hasn’t sold very many at all since, as sales number revealed in the trial indicated.
Jobs also said, in 2010, “our potential competitors [in tablets] are having a tough time coming close to iPad’s pricing. iPad incorporates everything we’ve learned about building high value products. We create our own A4 chip, software, battery chemistry, enclosure, everything. This results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof will be in the pricing of our competitors’ products, which will offer less for more.
“We think the 7 inch tablets will be dead on arrival, and manufacturers will realize they’re too small and abandon them next year. They’ll then increase the size, abandoning the customers and developers who bought into the smaller format.”
The truth is that 7 inch tablets were DOA in 2010, they failed in 2011, and have still not gained any real traction in 2012.
Sure, Amazon says it has 22% of the tablet market, but Amazon won’t back up its claims with unit sales, and clearly isn’t making any money on its Kindle Fire. It has admitted as much. So it’s being about as honest at Samsung was.
If Apple releases a mini tablet, it’s not likely to look anything like the wide 7 inch tablets that have sold so poorly for every Android licensee who has tried to sell one.
But remember too that Jobs’ comments were also made in the context of a lot of other stuff that was also 100% accurate, including the fact that there would be few Android tablet apps because of Google’s poor handling of the app market.
There’s no way to suggest that Lyons was more correct than Jobs when he criticized him in 2010, and Lyons only looks like more of a tool two years later. What has Lyons ever predicted? Or built? That’s right: his solo accomplishment has been pretending to be Steve Jobs for a few months.
Rapid misinformation time
At the end of his rant, Lyons strings together so many false ideas that it hurts the brain. Siri was a failure because it “still doesn’t work” (but go figure, it’s the main reason the iPhone 4S sold as well as it did, and has captured the public’s attention over the past year).
“The oft-rumoured Apple TV doesn’t exist yet,” Lyon complains, failing to mention that Apple also hasn’t delivered that oft-rumored headless iMac, or the iCar, or a yeti riding a unicorn. Apparently they’ve been working on a stupid tablet and smartphone and computer platform instead.
“The big $1bn (£650m) patent ‘victory’ over Samsung made Apple look like a bully, and also raised awareness of how good Samsung’s latest products are,” Lyons wrote. Well, it wasn’t a victory it was a jury verdict.
And I’m sure Samsung is really happy to have lost for all that great publicity it’s getting. Imagine it it hadn’t ever been sued! Nobody would know who makes the most smartphones on earth, even if it makes half the profits Apple does selling twice the phones. And Apple would have been so much better off not winning.
And yes, Samsung and Google aren’t being investigated by the governments of the US, Korea and the EU for being “bullies” because they are seeking to block sales using standards essential patents. It’s criminal patent abuse / market manipulation / anticompetitive investigation.
Saving the stupidest bit for last
“To use a car analogy, six years ago the iPhone was like a sexy new flagship model from BMW or Porsche. Today it’s a Toyota Camry. Safe, reliable, boring. The car your mom drives. The car that’s so popular that its maker doesn’t dare mess with the formula.”
Well 6 years ago was 2006, before the iPhone launched, but who’s counting?
And yes, BMW and Porsche make such amazing new cars every year that the global media stops what they’re doing to ogle them and discuss what’s new this year.
Actually, the truth is that both makers design a new vehicle platform and then tweak it very conservatively for about 5 years before making significant changes. Anyone who has ever shopped for cars knows this.
BMW’s X3 didn’t appreciably change for 7 years between 2003-2010. What’s the difference between the revamped 2011 and the next 2012 BMW X3? You’d have to be a pretty plugged in Bimmer fan to know. Most people don’t know what an X3 is.
Most people who aren’t actively shopping for cars couldn’t even name 3 different models of BMWs, nor tell you what changed on any of them in the last year. I bet that’s not the case with Apple.
In fact, my mom knows that the iPhone 4S came out last year with Siri, and not because I told her. And she can’t tell a black BMW from a black Camry.
And really, if we’re going to do a car analogy about western luxury auto makers with famous, original designs that are slavishly copied by rather boring Asian car makers who target buyers looking for a cheaper, fatter lookalike, it’s a bit ridiculous to try to call Apple the latter rather than the former.
Such an asinine end to a predictable rant from a broken record like Lyons isn’t really all that surprising at all. “Apple has become boring,” he wines predictably.
That’s what we expected from him. Lyons hasn’t become boring. He’s never really been interesting apart from the few months where he pretended to be another person who had real character, moxie and thought differently. Who said fresh things and was always right. Who could say controversial things that changed the way people thought. All Lyons can say is what Apple critics want to hear.
Lyons is everything he pretends to hate about Apple. Boring and unoriginal. Good thing everything he says is absolutely wrong.