There’s no denying that Rob Enderle lacks any semblance of intelligent thought when the topic turns to Apple. His track record of impressively atrocious predictions and illogical analyses is both extensive and well documented. In many ways, Enderle is sort of like a little kid. Every now and again he’ll say something ridiculous, and you just look at him and laugh with amusement.
But Enderle is far from a little kid. He gets paid a lot of money to write about technology, has done consulting work with large companies such as Dell, and is inexplicably quoted quite frequently in the mainstream press as someone with a firm grasp on the technology landscape.
So while we’re used to Enderle spewing utter nonsense from time to time, he’s really outdone himself with his latest column where he argues that the recent failings of companies like Palm and Microsoft are the direct result of a “secret 5th” column from Apple. A 5th column, just to be clear, refers to when a small group of people work secretly to undermine a larger group from within. In other words, Enderle believes that missteps from Apple’s rivals aren’t the result of, gasp!, managerial mistakes and ineffective execuction, but rather that Apple has folks working on the inside who effectively sabotage what would otherwise be successful initiatives.
Yep, you read that correctly. Apparently deep within the bowels of 1 Infinite Loop, there resides a Black Ops team of highly trained operatives capable of penetrating the highest echelons of companies such as HP and Dell.
I watched what appeared to be a similar lead on the killed Dell MP3 player. Information got leaked, and Apple’s supporters turned perceptions of the product so negative that Dell never released it. There was no hard evidence of Apple’s direct involvement — but when taken on top of the HP event that Apple did directly manipulate, the apparent connection was hard to disregard.
The fact is that Dell didn’t begin working on the aforementioned Dell MP3 player until mid-2008, well after the iPod was already king. There were no leaks about the product, aside from Enderle’s own ramblings about how Dell, with his help, was ready to finally deliver a true iPod competitor. It’s funny how Enderle blames the axing of the Dell MP3 player project with Apple supporters, yet ignores the foolishness of a company trying to take on the iPod in 2008, a good 7 years after the first iPod debuted.
In the case of Palm and the Palm Pre, the firm had largely been rebuilt with ex-Apple employees. The Palm Pre was received with iPhone-like raves, yet it was systematically attacked — not by Apple, but by Palm employees who crippled every aspect of it. Individually, each item seems random, but collectively and in hindsight, each looks as though it was planned.
The raves about the Palm Pre largely occurred before the device was even released. And as for the conveniently vague nonsense that Palm employees crippled the Pre, who the hell knows what Enderle is on.
Next, Enderle points out a few missteps from Palm. One, he writes that they screwed up by signing an exclusive deal with Sprint. Two, he writes that Palm’s advertising campaign was ineffective. Taken together, Enderle suspects that these mistakes were carefully orchestrated and influenced by Apple.
One or two mistakes, sure. But when a firm screws up everything — a firm made up of people from Apple who should have learned from Jobs the right way to do things — you begin to wonder if there was a plan, and whether Apple was behind it.
Enderle, showing the intellectual tenacity of an ant, goes on to speculate if Apple has undercover agents working behind the scenes at Google, while also arguing that Microsoft’s failures relating to the Zune and its Media Center were also the result of meddling from offices in Cupertino.
In total, that’s an impressive number of accidents, which suggests to me they might not be accidents. What do you think? Is Jobs that good? Steve Ballmer has stepped in personally, and as Windows 7’s success would indicate, he can do impressive work when focused — but does Steve Jobs have other folks in Microsoft working to ensure Ballmer fails?
Is Jobs that good? The real question is if Enderle is that f’n stupid. And the answer is yes. Yes he is.