Sometimes I Wonder Whether Rob Enderle Is Just Pulling Our Legs

I could call “Jackass” on Enderle just about any time he mentions anything regarding Apple, but he’s really on a roll with his iPhone “analysis”. In this piece, he starts by claiming the LG Prada phone is “better than the iPhone” by talking about everything other than the software; the software, of course, being the whole point of the iPhone.

Next he claims that some company called Ruckus, which I’ve never heard of, is going to take down Apple’s iTunes Store by 2009 because they’ve worked out deals with universities to offer students “free” downloads laden with Microsoft’s “Plays for Sure” Windows Media DRM — which not only doesn’t work on iPods, but doesn’t work on Zunes, either. Hint to Enderle: college students have had all the free music downloads they want for years, and the songs they download don’t use DRM.

Lastly, and this is really what puts this piece into the Jackass Hall of Fame, Enderle claims the iPhone form factor and UI are rip-offs of some pie-in-the-sky concept designs from Philips back in 1998:

Take a look at these pictures of Philips prototypes and ask yourself, did Apple do the Xerox PARC thing again and simply swipe an idea from a company unable to bring it to market themselves?

Please do take a close look at these prototypes. I’ve seen potato chips that look more like an iPhone than these things do.

Not to mention that the whole “Apple ripped off Xerox” thing isn’t true. Someone please explain to me why anyone takes this guy seriously.

Occasionally when I mention Enderle, I get an email or two saying I should eat some crow regarding this piece from back in 2003, wherein I mocked Enderle for: his 2002 claim that the Mac was on the verge of “obsolescence” and would be forced to switch to Intel processors by the end of 2003; that Apple would announce a video iPod in January 2003; and that the new “smaller, cheaper” iPods in January 2004 would be based on flash memory.

That these things eventually came to pass does not make Enderle right. Apple didn’t switch to Intel processors until 2006; they didn’t release flash-based iPods until the Shuffle in January 2005 and Nano in September 2005; and the first video-playing iPods arrived in October 2005. The “smaller, cheaper” iPods announced in January 2004 were the original iPod Minis, which used hard drives.

If I predict today that later this year Apple is going to ship an iPod Nano-sized iPhone that gets 10 hours of battery life and supports 3G data networks, it wouldn’t make my prediction correct if such a device were to debut in January 2009.

Two years in the future is, and feels, a long way off. Hindsight, on the other hand, has a condensing effect.