Full disclosure time: I have been a fan of the Apple iPod line of products since the iPod Mini. After a time, I received a Nano and then recently a Touch. I do like these products and enjoy the hours of entertainment each has brought. I have also enjoyed the weather of media offered through the Apple iTunes Store.
Now for full disclosure 2: I know nothing about antennas, radio waves and how it all comes together for a cellular phone. My phone is the Motorola MotoKrzr, which is the means by which I text, talk and take the occasional photograph. Alright, more then the occasional photograph.
I didn't watch the press conference, but I have followed it through news reports and blogs. What I have noticed there are two distinct themes going through it. The first theme was, there is a problem and Apple plans a work-around until its fixed. The work-around includes a free case and the opportunity to return the phone should the owner simply not want it anymore. Both are laudable and should have dealt with the immediate problem. Apple had to move on this, it was be reported in the media and it was now becoming the butt of jokes:
He goes before the media and gives an apology and a promise to do better. That is good, however, he had to go weasel on us, and this is the problem.
Let me give a few points on the Job's weasel imitation:
1) the iPhone parody song:
A parody pokes fun and I'm sure many would think so, but a careful listen to the lyrics gives a bit of a different spin. The message if you don't like it, don't buy it or return it. In other words, the message from Apple is, 'we don't really care about your problems or complaints. You don't like it, get lost'. Not bad for a company that says it wants its customers happy. The second is the whole 'death grip' comment. Consider this, the 'grip' that caused the problem is not a death grip, but the standard and natural way people hold their cellphones. It's how its held and although Steve Jobs said it should be held differently, that hold is the standard, there is nothing wrong with the way its hold, the problem is the location of the antenna.
The third problem and this is vintage weasel is that Steve said Apple is not unique with this problem. In fact most smartphones have this problem. Jobs said:
What we have learned is smartphones have weak spots, not unique to iPhone 4. All smartphones have weak spots and you will drop calls. AppleCare data shows that 0.55 percent of all iPhone 4 users have called about antenna or reception. If you read all these articles, half our customers have called and are angry. One half of one percent — 0.55 percent! Historically, this is not a large number. Doesn’t jive with what you read about this problem.
Of course this got under the skin of some smartphone manufacturers, who had a slight disagreement with Mr. Jobs assessment:
However, RIM's co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille said over the weekend: "Apple's attempt to draw RIM into Apple's self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple's claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public's understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple's difficult situation."
Mr Jobs has apologised to disgruntled Apple customers and promised to give away a free case with every iPhone 4 sold until September.
The RIM executives added: "One thing is for certain, RIM's customers don't need to use a case for their BlackBerry to maintain proper connectivity."
Nokia has also launched a strident defence of its phones. The company said: "We prioritise antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict."
Now Apple wants to point a finger and say, 'look, everyone else has the same problem, why are you picking on us...' I like what one person commented on the GigaOm website:
Wow, so to apple, who made this video before the press conference, it’s just a big joke to them that customers are having a problem? So, they say, we made lots of other stuff and nobody complained so we can never be accused of making a mistake, … Ever.
I can see BP adopting this tactic. Hey, what’s one little oil spill? We drilled thousands of wells and so one of them leaked. Don’t swim in the oil if you don’t like it. Only, like 1% of our customers world-wide are affected by that well.
BP could adopt this strategy, and the US government would be including a few more zeros on the fines to be levied.
Then what really got to me was the reaction of the fanboy element. This is always Steve Jobs secret weapon, his cadre of fanatics who will go out of their way to demean and discredit any and all critics of Apple. PCWorld had an article entitled:
"Apple must kill the iPhone 4", and it drew the response of the fanboys:
Not surprising considering the source. The most one sided subjective biased opinion on the matter. And of course it's from "PC WORLD" why would they want it to be objective? The don't.
How's this, I think PC World should kill PC WORLD, the sooner the better!!
If Steve Jobs had said to the crowd: "go and burn down the PC World offices", it would have been destroyed. In fact had Jobs told the assembled to hunt down and destroy the .01% who criticized the iPhone, there would have been a lot of dead bodies out there.
What also got to me was a comment Robert Scoble left on the website Cinch. He had a comment he entitled; "Arrogance or Artistry at Apple". His comments included things like "why is the media piling on at Apple?". Probably because the media has been piled on by the fanboy when they have dared made a negative or questioning comment towards Apple and Steve Jobs. He kept saying its the best phone ever and that Steve Jobs is an artist and the iPhone is a masterpiece. Sure, stick it on your walls, because you may have problems with it as a phone.
With all this, would I purchase an iPhone 4? Hard to say, I still have a little over one year left on my contract and I'm not sure I'm going to change carriers when its all over, or I could go back to Virgin.