19
Jul 10

Antennagate: the finale?

I wouldn’t exactly put Apple’s Friday press conference on par with cold fusion, but it was something I never really thought I’d see in my lifetime. Who would have imagined Apple could ever get itself into the position where it had to call a press conference on two days’ notice?

So now we’ve had some time to absorb the event. Here are some Monday-morning reactions — hopefully not duplicating what’s been said already:

The feisty factor. At the time, I was a bit surprised at Steve’s demeanor. But I liked it. I’m sure many Apple detractors wished to see Apple’s tail between its legs, and that didn’t happen. Apple’s goal was to explain the situation, not apologize for it, and then set things right. Though Apple was by definition on the defensive, Steve was just being honest that this thing has been “blown out of proportion.” I have to agree — though it’s not like Apple is without blame.

The quick fix. Bumpers make everything okay. Kinda. As stated before, I’ve never had a problem without the bumper, and neither have the vast majority. But the bumper does solve the issue for those who have an issue. The only downside is the perception that it’s necessary for normal functionality. This is what’s out there in the world, and that’s a problem.

The permanent fix. I was surprised that there was none. As the press conference played out, I thought it was all going logically: first the background, then the temporary fix, then the permanent fix. That final step never came. This guarantees that the issue is not fully defused. But wait…

A new theory. There are only two possible reasons why Apple didn’t announce a permanent fix. One is that a fix is not feasible, given the current iPhone 4 design. The other is that Apple simply hasn’t had the time to engineer and test the best possible solution. I buy the latter. This could well be why free bumpers will only be given out until September 30th. By that time, the new iPhones may be modified with something as simple as an antenna coating. If it goes that way, the fix can be announced as an improvement along the way, rather than an emergency response to a crisis situation.

Feel the love. Steve’s badly-kept secret to effective communications is his ability to stick to a theme. He gets the theme out early and repeats it often. The theme for this event was “we love our customers.” By my count, he used the L-word 12 times. It might have seemed too sugary to some, but love being such an emotional word, it allowed Apple to put hard facts in a softer framework.

The new web page. Apple’s new Antenna page is an interesting development too. Gives everyone a chance to see that Apple’s competitors face the same issue. In this case, Apple seems to be of the belief that the best offense is a good defense. Maybe so.

The competitors. Marketing can be a chess game. Steve’s made his move, now his competitors get to make theirs. “Them’s fighting words” for these guys, and they’ve already had some nasty things to say about Apple drawing them into its “self-made debacle.” Careful with this one, boys. You may protesteth too much. More and more stories are beginning to appear confirming that this really is an industry-wide problem, and other phones do suffer from a similar death grip.

The missing fix. Steve pretty much deflected any mention of the iPhone proximity sensor problem (causing some calls to be ended when cheek touches screen) with a quick “we’re working on it.” Honestly, this seems like a more serious problem in everyday use than the antenna. I’m surprised more critics haven’t jumped on this one, and that Apple hasn’t fixed it more quickly.

Idiot alert. Every so often, someone says something so colossally stupid, it merits a mention here. Jeff Bertolucci of PC World wins the honor for his post-press conference article. In a nutshell, he says iPhone 4 is so tainted now, Apple must kill it immediately and remove every trace of it from their stores. I won’t dignify stupidity with a link (seek it out if you must), but it’s scary that articles like this exist. If natural selection hasn’t filtered out people like this by now, I fear we’re all doomed.

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  • sarumbear

    “If natural selection hasn’t filtered out people like this by now, I fear we’re all doomed.”

    There is a place in the word for morons too Ken. Your words should be targeted the editor or publisher of the magazine, not to the writer. They are the ones who hired the moron and allowed the article to be printed.

  • The proximity thing is quite irritating; I’ve hung up with or dialed another number with my face several times, but I’ve never seen the antenna-gap problem. (I was having problems placing calls in LA last week, but that seems to be a general problem for AT&T there, I was told by friends down there.)

    As for PCWorld, it’s link bait, pure and calculated. The editors run articles like that to get eyeballs. It’s so moronic that a lot of people read it.

  • ken segall

    @sarumbear:
    I’d hate to let the author off scot-free, but you’re right. The editors should be ashamed.

    @Glenn:
    Yeah, you’re right too. Link bait.

    See how easily I get agitated?

  • Marian

    “Idiot alert. Every so often, someone says something so colossally stupid, it merits a mention here. Jeff Bertolucci of PC World wins the honor for his post-press conference article. In a nutshell, he says iPhone 4 is so tainted now, Apple must kill it immediately and remove every trace of it from their stores. I won’t dignify stupidity with a link (seek it out if you must), but it’s scary that articles like this exist.”

    He can’t be that dumb, just like his buddy John Dvorak (“Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone” – March 2007). They are shills. The “PC” in the name of the magazines they wrote for is a good hint for whom they’re trolling.

  • ChuckO

    This whole situation has been kind of surreal. The over-reaction to the problem snowballing to the point where the press conference was necessary. The press conference might have been a genius example of tight rope walking with Job’s having the Jesus phone take refuge in the crowd of other “good” smart phones with the same problem. That was just a bizarre and potentially dangerous attempt to have your cake and eat it too.

  • Your blogs continue to amaze me and remind me what an insightful and great writer you are. Good stuff Ken!

  • I think I’m becoming quite a fan of your blog – you allude to natural selection filtering out people affiliated with PCs… I find myself automatically convinced of your keen wisdom and somehow all of your opinions have instantly become more credible.

  • Murasaki Schwartz

    First time reading your blog. Your comment about the “arrogance” of Apple is brilliant.
    Now this piece. The idiot alert is the topping on the cake because it is SO true. Link baiting should be illegal.

    Except when it’s true.