Nov 10

iPhone sleeps a little late

You’ll have to forgive that disheveled guy who stumbled into the office late this morning. It was his iPhone’s fault.

He was just one of those poor unfortunates who didn’t get the message last week that the newest iPhone software is a bit time-challenged. The system recognized the end of daylight savings time, but repeating alarms did not. (iPhones in the U.K. and Australia recently had similar issues coping with local time changes.)

This is a particularly interesting bug, because (a) Apple customers aren’t used to this type of thing, and (b) Apple has a distinguished history when it comes to time-consciousness.

Remember, Macs were immune to the grand-daddy of all time-related glitches, the “Y2K bug.” Corporations agonized (expensively) for a year leading up to the year 2000, trying to protect themselves against that little glitch in Windows that threatened to cause a global meltdown when the new millennium arrived.

Apple so enjoyed the PC’s predicament, they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell the world that Macs were better designed than that. They ran the the HAL commercial in prime real estate on the 2000 Super Bowl — right after kickoff.

Douglas Adams penned the headline, the agency took it from there (click to enlarge)

Lesser known is the Y2K ad you see here. It was designed to be a full-page newspaper ad, but I believe it only appeared on the Internet. This is a personal favorite, because the headline was actually written by the late Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He thought it was worthy of sharing, and we thought it was worthy of using. I was demoted to copy-boy on this one.

In just a few words, Adams did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of Apple. He found a way to be both boastful and self-deprecating. It was human, a trait that historically separated Apple from other technology companies.

That “we may not get everything right” part of Apple’s personality is still there today, though it isn’t nearly as cute as it once was. (It was trotted out repeatedly at the Antennagate news conference.) This, of course, is a by-product of Apple’s runaway success. It’s hard to be folksy when you’re #1.

Today’s iPhone glitch is small in the scope of things. It’ll be forgotten tomorrow. Still, one does have to wonder how it happened in the first place. It’s not like we haven’t been using our iPhones for three years without having this problem before. Somehow, that little gremlin sneaked in there unnoticed.

Maybe Apple just needs that grand stage to do their best work. They do better with centuries than they do with hours.

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  • Cory

    Here’s my question: how far in the future does OSX work, did Apple already tackle their Y30K issue (29,940)?

  • ken segall

    Excellent, insightful question. Exactly the kind of curiosity we like to see around here. I’m sorry to say I haven’t a clue if Mac OS X takes us any farther. I’d be disappointed if they didn’t squeeze another century or two in there.

  • Jimi

    What I find a bit strange is that they couldn’t roll out a quick 4.11 release to fix this for you guys. Our daylight savings changed a month ago, and they’ve at least known about it since then… They could have put the work experience kid on it or something…

  • ken segall

    I’m totally with you there. I can’t understand why they would warn. Then again, my non-coder brain can’t understand why it’s a problem in the first place. One would imagine that the alarm function would be triggered by the system clock. But I guess not…