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ATPM 10.06
June 2004


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by Wes Meltzer,

Wishful Thinking

If you saw an ad for an eMac for ¥2,787, you would be awfully suspicious, wouldn’t you?

My professor in History and Issues of Journalism during my freshman year of college here at Northwestern always said, be skeptical, because it’s all you’ll have as a journalist. I took that to heart.

So let’s say you’ve been trained in the Journalistic Skeptical Method. You know that the eMac retails for $799—less if you’re an impoverished college student—and that the yen is usually about 115 to the dollar. (I remember seeing an ad in an economics textbook for a Mac SE/30 for 200,000 yen or so once.) ¥2,787 doesn’t sound like all that much. It’s about $25, to be precise.

Now, do you think you would place an order for that $25 eMac, or would you assume that something was wrong?

Well, apparently 20,000 or so people saw an ad from Catena on Yahoo! Japan for that ¥2,787 eMac and placed an average of 5,000 orders each. Or 100 million eMacs. Hmm.

Asahi Shimbun says (in English, thankfully) that Catena meant to list the price for a five-pack of recordable DVDs instead. The listing was removed at 11 AM the next day.

Sandy McMurray says that neither company has offered to fulfill the orders. Gosh, I can’t imagine why! Can you imagine how much space 5,000 eMacs take up in the UPS truck? Think about your electrical bill, too. You don’t really want all those eMacs.

Unsurprisingly, Jack Miller at As the Apple Turns was funnier than, say, Macworld or even Asahi Shimbun. Miller says that even if the orders had been fulfilled, Paul Thurrott and Rob Enderle would have been insistent that the eMac was overpriced, so it’s not all that important that Apple’s market share for the quarter would have been 90 per cent if all those eMacs actually did ship.

So, how about those 100 million eMacs? Can you say, wishful thinking?

That’s this month’s theme: unskeptical and wishful people who sincerely believe something and shouldn’t, either because it’s not going to happen or because it can’t happen. In the past 30 days, I have done more forehead-slapping than I knew possible. Come on, people! These are just some selections:

Now You Can Stop Slapping Your Forehead

There was also some genuinely interesting news in the Mac blogosphere this month, and I don’t want to ignore it or make these souls feel marginalized. They deserve credit. Read them!

  • Drunken Batman describes and analyzes more or less the entire history of independent development with Cocoa and Carbon in the context of OS X. Unfortunately, the article is controversial from an argumentative standpoint—independent development seems to be stronger now, and it’s unclear that a solution to Apple’s problem is a port of the Cocoa toolkit to Linux and Windows—but from a historical standpoint it’s certainly worth a read. There are some (mildly inflammatory) corrections and clarifications to consider as well. I write about this stuff all the time, and I never knew about three quarters of this history, so you might not either.
  • Palm may not, in fact, be abandoning the Mac. My head is swimming with the complexities of this. The Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal reports that Palm is really insistent that all it’s doing is forcing its users to do what PocketPC users do, which is buy third-party software to sync. Huh. Well, at least it’s not pledging to do everything in its power to stop third-party clients from working with Palm (like AOL and OSCAR). But if you’re tired of a PDA that actually works and/or really like Windows, HP is running a promotional trade-in for Palm users and PocketMac piggybacked on to it with a discounted license for Palm Switchers.
  • John C. Welch advocates liberating iSync from the confines of the iApps’ databases. This would mean that rather than demanding that all applications use Address Book for contacts, programs could take a Eudora-like approach in which they suck data out of Address Book but still maintain their own database. Useful and flexible. Very Mac-like, right?
  • Evan DiBiase is documenting his expatriation to the Mac and back again at MacAndBack. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your fist at The Man for making poor computer users suffer through XP, and then you’ll add his XML feed to your newsreader. Kirk McPike chimes in, saying that Windows lacks polish among its various flaws, and that he still prefers the Mac. Mike Fullerton doesn’t think the Mac is at all worthwhile. But fear not, gentle reader: I concur with Kirk’s remark that he’s clearly confused his opinions with those pesky facts.
  • We all know that Word 2004 is out because of that ridiculous Trojan. But what about Word? Well, Rick Schaut says he’s finally got styles in Word that don’t suck in terms of user interface or concept. Three cheers for that! If only I had $150. Or were gullible enough to download a 100 KB installer. Kirk McPike (again!) notes that even if Word’s OS X versions did suck, it wouldn’t matter since the competition is at least as bad.

  • Mac Night Owl argues that the Mac OS today is not fundamentally different in its interface than the first Mac OS, and suggests that Macs, and computers in general, need a completely new interface Has the time come for rethinking our desktop metaphor? Maybe. Should the computer “speak your language”? How do you imagine interfacing with your computer, in a world in which there are no technical limitations, and how would it differ from the present desktop metaphor? I dunno. But it’s certainly an interesting question, isn’t it?

Well, then. It felt good to end on a positive note, didn’t it? Just remember: be skeptical and you will go far in the Mac world. Especially when it comes to 100 KB installers for 400 MB application suites and 3,200 percent markdowns on computer hardware.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (1)

RB2e · January 30, 2005 - 03:12 EST #1
I am getting very old. I did not understand one bit of what was said. .

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