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The Last Inquiry Unicorn.

Rob Enderle.

Rob Enderle opines: Changing of the guard: Sony waxes while Apple wanes

Wouldn't that be "Re-changing"? And wouldn't that also be a load of crap?

OK, Rob Enderle has been skewered to death (sadly, not literally) by many an Apple blogger, but sometimes it's nice to fall back on a classic. Something tried and true.

Sort of like returning to an old friend.

Just one that you hate vehemently.

Enderle, as is his wont, throws about 150 unrelated items up on the wall in the hopes enough of it will stick to form the pattern of a frowny face. Which is what makes his bio slug so amusing.

Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them.

Wow. He sure is boss, isn't he?

In the portable music player market, Apple is weakening...

Rob's definition of "weakening" is "a couple of anecdotes I strung together to create the impression of a problem."

Even after the iPod launched, anyone suggesting Apple would reach the dominance they now have would have been branded an Apple Zealot and discredited. Yet, they would have been right.

Unlike Rob. But did you know he's of the last Inquiry Unicorns? Analysts. Whatever.

The Macalope is starting to wonder if the Inquiry Analysts are such a dying breed because they keep getting their heads stuck in those plastic rings that hold six packs together or keep getting hit by cars trying to cross the freeway or something.

Before anyone gets too excited...

Well, Rob, you do have a reputation for excitement.

...I'm looking at a set of trends which may or may not pan out.

Mmm. If it's anything like the rest of your Apple "analysis", Rob, the Macalope's guessing, um, not.

The Macalope would be inclined to give Rob some props for at least caveating that this balogna sandwich he's about to feed us may have rotten mayonnaise on it, but for Rob it's just an excuse to be lazy. And he does this all the time. He's constantly stating something as if it's conventional wisdom when it is neither conventional nor wisdom.

There are articles on why you shouldn't take the latest iPhone patch, on how to recover a "bricked" iPhone (bricked is not a good thing), on how Apple's PR department was under siege, how the iPhone battle was unwinnable and would destroy Apple?s reputation and most recently a $1 billion lawsuit against the iPhone.

"There are articles". In the realm of measures such as market share, stock price, units sold and cash on hand, "there are articles" doesn't strike the Macalope as a great bellwether.

Rob then offers his opinion that HP's eating Apple's lunch in the cafeteria of marketing.

Rob's been hot on HP for a while now. Why, back in 2004, Rob said it was all but a foregone conclusion that the (now defunct) HP-branded iPod would outsell the Apple-branded iPod.

But with Rob, every day is Groundhog Day.

I don't recall a time in my life when I've been able to argue HP is out marketing Apple.

OK, HP's campaign isn't bad (although the Macalope finds it somewhat disconcerting to get a sales pitch from a headless celebrity) and Apple really has been relying on mostly the same ad for several years now. But, gee, maybe that's because it's worked so darned well to date.

Apple has also made what appear to be major mistakes with a number of key products.

Oh, Rob, honey, don't.

The AppleTV didn't go anyplace...

Well, it's gone someplace, but certainly it's a missed opportunity.

...the iPhone's price was initially outside of the market...

Which explains why no one bought any iPhones.


...and AT&T as a launch partner was a really bad choice...

Oh, geez, are you still on about that?

...and they've created some nasty product conflicts and made one ugly design choice in the latest iPod line.

Do. Tell.

The iPod Nano was the best looking product in the line prior to the refresh and now it looks chubby (even the Apple folks use that term to describe it) and competitively unattractive (though, in use it really is rather nice).

Rob wants to hate the nano but having held one he can't.

They've created a bad choice between their flagship iPod Touch and Classic products in that if you want capacity you can't have the cool new interface and if you want the cool new interface you can't get capacity and battery life (even according to Walt Mossberg) isn't very good (which means the Touch?s battery is also likely to fail relatively quickly).

Well, let's just see how many iPods touch (that's the Macalope's preferred plural for the device) sell this holiday season, shall we, Rob?

In their flagship all-in-one product the iMac, Gateway just brought out (you should see it in person) what appears to be a better designed and more advanced offering.

The Gateway machine does look nice, if you liked the 20th Anniversary Mac. Now just hop in your car and head to Gateway Country and... Oh, that's right.

Finally, there was an interesting move by Apple's top attorney who ran for Qualcomm after only a few months and was replaced by Oracle's top attorney who is likely the leading expert on getting CEOs out of really bad difficulties. This last suggests Apple is girding for war on the stock option scandal and that, at the very least, will be a rather substantial distraction.

"Who is likely the leading expert on getting CEOs out of really bad difficulties"? What does that even mean? The fact of the matter is that Donald Rosenberg is an antitrust expert. He left Apple to join a company that is currently dealing with antitrust claims in the U.S. and Europe. Apple quickly hired a new attorney from Steve Jobs' buddy Larry Ellison.

Jobs is not currently under investigation in the options scandal.

It's funny that Rob can be so down on Apple and never once mention all the problems HP's executive team has had in the recent past.

Maybe that's just how Inquiry Unicorns roll.

Ride on, magic unicorn! Ride on.