29
Sep 14

The joy of Apple-slamming

Now that the Bendgate uproar is subsiding (personally, I much prefer the name “Bendghazi”), I think it deserves a moment of calm reflection.

To me, the story isn’t that Apple created a sub-standard product. Because it didn’t.

The real story is that all these people were so quick to believe that Apple had screwed up in such a monumental way — and then joyfully helped blast this “news” into the public consciousness.

It all started with the notorious bending video.

Honestly, the first time I saw this, I thought it was pretty moronic. The guy’s hands are literally trembling from the force he exerts in his attempt to bend the thing.

I don’t doubt that one could bend an iPhone 6 Plus if he had a mind to. Just as I don’t doubt that one could bend tableware if properly motivated. But the idea of an iPhone bending in real life, in normal use, is no more likely than my fork bending during dinner.

Having received my iPhone 6 Plus on opening day, I was curious to at least give it the ol’ bend test myself, despite my distinct lack of muscle.

I didn’t get the slightest feeling that it could be bent at all. Certainly not in my everyday use. I’ve never worried about an iPhone bending before, and I found no reason to start worrying about it now.

But it did get me wondering. How on earth could this become a story in the first place? Why would any intelligent person look at that video and be even remotely concerned that the iPhone might somehow bend in their pocket?

Obviously, there are a large number of people who jump at any chance to “show Apple for what it really is.” In addition, there are a lot of people who just like to see the big guy get his nose bloodied.

And then there are all the world’s comedians, who live for stories like this because, well, they’re so damn funny. These are the kinds of things that people pass around, adding even more fuel to the fire.

It’s just a sad statement that the reflex reaction of so many people is to jump on the bandwagon, rather than see what is right under their nose — a badly presented case for a problem that barely exists.

None of this is to say that Apple hasn’t had some real problems — or that it isn’t perfectly capable of shooting itself in the foot.

The Maps fiasco was for real. The iOS 8.01 update fiasco was for real. (And utterly inexplicable.) These are things for which Apple was properly slammed, and has most likely learned from.

But Bendgate was a crisis in search of relevance.

We now know that only nine bending complaints have been registered at Apple after more than 10 million new iPhones were shipped. We’ve seen Apple’s testing labs, and the stress testing that was done on the new iPhones. Surprisingly, we’ve even seen Consumer Reports chime in that iPhones have no serious bending issues — even though that publication has in the past treated Apple unfairly.

While bending iPhones were on the public mind, we got to see a bit of Apple’s character in the way it responded. We also got to better understand the character of a particular Apple competitor.

Samsung tried to gain points by mocking Apple’s failure.

Samsung of all companies should have recognized the lack of substance to this story. They demeaned themselves by jumping on what at the time was highly unsubstantiated rumor. There’s an art to leveraging the news to propel one’s own product — but this wasn’t exactly art. It was more like ham-fisted arrogance.

If you’re familiar with this blog, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance Steve Jobs placed on getting customers to love Apple. He wanted every part of the customer experience to strengthen that love — from the advertising and in-store experience to unboxing, enjoying the product and getting support when needed.

By doing so, he would ensure that customers would (a) buy more stuff, (b) evangelize to others and (c) stick with Apple when unforeseen problems arise. He understood that such things were inevitable, even for a company like Apple.

History proves that Steve was 100% correct. Despite the intense media blasting, Apple customers did not defect because of Antennagate or Mapsgate. It’s pretty obvious that there will be even less damage from Bendgate.

Apple’s resilience isn’t a fluke, and it doesn’t result from some kind of mind control over sheeplike customers. It’s the result of a purposeful, wide-ranging effort that’s gone on for at least 15 years.

Building customer loyalty as Apple has done requires vision, talent, investment and determination.

For many companies, a Bendgate-style story could cause incalculable damage, whether or not it is based in fact.

Because it’s worked so hard to earn customers’ love, Apple has a built-in defense system. Stories like this may get millions of views — but they do virtually no long-term damage.

However, since human nature won’t change for a few million years, let’s be prepared for the controversy that will likely accompany Apple’s next big product.

Already there are reports that those Apple Watch bands will bend under pressure…

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  • Have you seen these idiots in an Apple Store (UK)… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9U-NmsgCO8&list=UU_d1WU7QXE_28Fjo1p9fO9A

  • Roland

    Well said Mr. Segall: ‘Bendgate was a crisis in search of relevance.’

  • Roland

    Well said Mr. Segall: ‘Bendgate was a crisis in search of relevance.’

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  • dr.one

    Ghazi means muslim fighter against non-muslim.

    You would thing US media would look up this before running with it.

  • dr.one

    “since human nature won’t change for a few million years”

    So you think humans are going to survive more than 500 years.
    I guess you don’t believe in Global Warming which is to wipe out 90% of all life in mere 5 century. It all depends on how much more oceans can absorb CO2.

    Anyway Human nature is controlled by Evolution. Man has no say on it one way or the other. No they have no say on Climate either.

  • Mr Broken Laptop

    Really? Does this make customers love Apple?

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4766577?start=8500&tstart=0

    570 PAGES! No acknowledgement from Apple that this is a problem.

  • Alex Eisenberg

    Hi Ken, my money for the next “sky-is-falling” moment is on how much a screen replacement will cost for the (invevitable) shattered screen pandemic of 2015.

  • isitjustme

    Just curios, as you stated 570 pages but how many participants are there.

  • danieleran

    Actually Benghazi is a city in Libya that most Americans had never heard of until Fox News turned it into a sound bite to blame the US President for a problem created by Republicans who defunded US security abroad.

    The fact that an ancient Muslim city derived its name from a religious idea is not really relevant, because “#Bendgazi” is a reference to two parallel examples of horseshit propaganda pushed by liars, not to a portion of the literal meaning of a city’s name.

    Philadelphia has a literal greek meaning too of “the city of brotherly love,” but that doesn’t actually a Philly Cheesesteak has something to do with “love” between the cheese and meat. It just comes from that location.

  • Starman_Andromeda

    I too, was skeptical of it all. But, after seeing the Bloomberg News video interview with the bender–who’s neither a flake nor a publicity seeker–and with a lead engineer from Consumer Reports, it’s pretty clear that there is a problem. (CR’s test was on the middle of the phone not on it’s structurally weakest point!). The interview is worth watching. (BN’s interviewer is poor in one area; his repetition of his non-denial denial point–he’s trying to score points and is wrong rather than interview at those points.)

    I’ll wager that Apple ends up tweaking its manufacturing within the next 6 months, adding a piece of reinforcement behind the volume buttons.

    Note: I am not saying that this problem is major, or one that prove disastrous for most users, or is unique to Apple. But it is sufficiently real and serious enough that Apple will address it quietly, without any announcement!

  • Frank C. Siraguso

    Maybe they really should make a flexible phone.

  • tedcranmore

    If Apple can make a small change in structure without changing the weight of the phone, it is possible. The numbers of bent phones would determine whether that happens ever, in an interim update, or will wait for the iPhone 7.

    However, I think Ken’s fork analogy is perfect. You can bend it if you try, but would you want a heavier fork simply to prevent something that happens very rarely?

    Metal does not bounce back like plastic, but it a much more pleasing material for a phone. Should Apple move to plastic large phones? To heavier more reinforced phones? I think not. I’d prefer a metal phone that requires regular care than a reinforced unit that it less pleasing to touch/hold and heavier. In addition, if I really want the largest iPhone and somehow are exposed to very harsh bending conditions, I believe an OtterBox (or other strong case) would be a solid option for me to consider that would erase my risk and still leave the 6+ as a light and desirable large phone for the rest of the population.

    The real question isn’t whether you can bend a phone in your hand, or even whether 70lbs of force bends an iPhone 6+, it’s whether the force in a front pocket from a person taking average care of their electronics will end up with a curved iPhone.

    I intend to get a 6+, and will be sure to take it out of my pocket before sitting if I have jeans that are that tight.

  • hannahjs

    What is most alarming to me is the uncritical reliance of mainstream media reporters on tech buzz on the web, as if such topics were not worth their time to investigate, or as if they had skipped the science course in their journalism curriculum, or as if they understood their professions had gone back to the colour yellow and little help for it. They mainly amplify signals without processing them in any way.

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  • Bloodymer Zkizzoid

    Well said.

  • Ryan Simmons

    Slogan – “It’s bendgate all over again. The new, flexible iPhone 6s”.

  • To say nothing of the fact that many reporting on bending iPhones likely had an iPhone Plus within reach. Perhaps there even a Plus in their pocket or bag.

  • the_other_stevejobs

    maybe instead of referencing an incident where 4 people were brutally murdered because of incompetence in the Department of State (putting aside any or all conspiracy theories, exactly 0 people argue that 4 people were brutally murdered at the Benghazi embassy and their bodies were abused)…

    could we instead call it Bendfurgeson?

    I mean, only one person died in Ferguson.

    No?

    Of-fscking-course not!

    Its the definition of douchebaggery to reference *any* horrible incident involving the deaths of innocent people for something as petty as this.

    Don’t be an asshole douchebag, Ken. You’re way better than that.

  • Hogwash. The guy doing the bending was a bozo, considering the force it took to do the job. But the author’s point is bigger than that. I could quote the tech insurance company SquareTrade who’s business model is based on their judgment. And they judged the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the most durable phones They’ve tested.

    And you have to read CR in a quite skewed way to interpret it as “pretty clear” there’s a problem. There is not – yet. Only time will tell.

  • websnap

    If you follow the conversation, the issue was understood to be either a soldering issue for the discreet card or a logic board issue. If apple didn’t acknowledge it, it must have been a low number of people dealing with it.

    A) The discussions pages are for Users to trade info with other Users (hence, Knowledge Base), not a direct line in to apple.

    B) If you have a physical issue with a device, go to the store. It’s one of the few product lines on the market that have a dedicated team to diagnose a hardware issue for free on demand. I had a similar issue with a ’08 MBP’s logic board 5 years after I bought it and they not only diagnosed it, but repaired it for free. I though it was a goner.

    That’s why customers love apple.

  • John Brave

    ‘Jihad’ means Muslims fighting against non-Muslims.

    ‘Ghazi’ literally means ‘Invader’ or ‘To Invade’.

    Benghazi is just a city name.

  • There already is titanium reinforcement behind the volume buttons. And along several other stress points.

  • Prof. Peabody

    Great article … except the offensive “Bendghazi” remark in the opening paragraph. The association it creates with lunatic, rightwing/tea-party supporters destroys your intellectual credibility somewhat.

  • Gary Deezy

    Why would a news agency report such a thing without proper vetting?
    1) Creates a headline that generates clicks, which equals more revenue from ads or more newspaper / magazine sales.
    2) I am convinced there are parties who use these issues to manipulate stocks so they can temporary drive the price down and swoop in for a buy.

    That being said, we have not yet heard the last of this issue. See the recent YouTube video of two British teens who video taped themselves walking in to an Apple store and bending up a few iPhones….

  • Nick

    I think he wasn’t the one that coined the firm. Its one of the two or possibly more tag lines that was passed around to label the ‘incident’

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  • JKL

    The earths atmosphere, in the past, has had over twenty times the current level of CO2 aka plant food in it, without any mass extinctions. Still who needs facts when believing in fiction is so much more fun.

  • JKL

    Stop confusing him with reality!

  • Samson

    Maybe you should get a life.

  • crateish

    See Samsung’s ‘Gapgate.’ All the press is covering it 24/7.

    Kidding. Samsung invests 10x what Apple invests in advertising, so ‘Gapgate’ will never be a thing.

  • Namelesscoward

    To add, the bend video has more issiues. The phone was already damaged, I say this because it wasn’t a curve, but more of a sharp angle eminating from the volume buttens where the phone gave away to applied force. He did this before recording, this did not happend in his pants. Secondly, he then again applies force not in the middle but towards the edge where the buttons are.
    I understand energy will follow the path of least resistance. In this case it was directed to an already purposfully weakend point, not emulating commn use wherby the whole structure absorbes force more evenly.

    Theres more correlation between benghazi and bendghazi than most would care to consider. Ask Lt. Colonel Tony Shafer.

    Peace

  • namelesscoward

    Mainstream media called aTyphoon a Hurricane just the other day. Yeah critical thinking is only for critics its seems.

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  • Shamelesscoward

    Can’t you see there is no true left or right in politics? They play together toward a common goal. Hitler came to power and started WW2 by blaming opposition for: setting fire to the reichtag government building – which he did himself – invading Poland because polish guards killed a few Germans – actually Polish gaurds were dressed up Germans all of the were german prisoners to be dispelled. I can go on to recent time, even Benghazi. Case in point aciont reaction, fight or flight thinking is one dimensional. They like it like that. Stupid and dumbed down.
    Your lordand saviour precious Barrak Hussein Obama is a traitor and decievor of anti Christ proportions.
    Almost all presidents of late were, this one take the cake and coke, because hes black. So he can do no wrong. white privelige goes a long way and so does white guilt. Bet you mostly prefer to hang out with white ppl, know white ppl. But feel good to vote for a black man.

  • coward

    I wholly agree with your bystander views having no partake in nothing what so ever.

  • Nameless Coward

    And also the sun warming the earth by day a multitude degrees more than night is more than C02 admittedly ever can isnot considered nor in the global warming scare eqations. Nope, keep kalm move on.

    Nah. I’ll stop at another thought. Volcano’s! those mythical mountainous fire and C02 spewing terrorists, killing us daily all over the planet. Yeah, not so mythical at all there all over place terrorsing mostly Al Gore form the firm Gore & Blood – not making this up – not paying carbon credits to save the earth. Earth mind you, not us. They eruptions release more C02 than we did the last century..

    Funny thing is, or not, these Toyota Prius driving liberals never kill them selves first. Always drive to the front of a traffic jam via the exit lane, fuckers. Selfrightious evil ilk voting for Obama trying to impose carbon credits on Afrika so they will never industrialize due to carbon emission restrictions.

    Im al for humanity but the jibbering hipster chicken neck would never survive without deligated powers bestowed upon them can go first.

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  • Jim McPherson

    I think the name fits. Fanatical obsession over a non-issue.

  • Jim McPherson

    Wait.. wait, wait, wait.

    They’re bending it wrong?

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  • art hackett

    This same method applies to all “news stories”. Apart from natural disasters, pretty much any item on the “news” is distorted, biased, under researched, not fact checked and generally designed to manipulate or mislead. It’s the classic illusionist method of “look over there” while the manipulation is happening. Your pockets have been picked and you’re blaming the fall guy as intended. The stock market is a casino and the house (Wall street) always wins. This is probably the reason Wall Street (inc) hates apple as they don’t play the game. Sure they make a few tens of billions, but this is in spite of thirty years of hate from The Street and their minions, and chump change compared to the untold trillions stolen from the public (remember the GFC?). The government is just the Punch and Judy show to entertain you while your pockets are picked, and I bet you the jihadists are financed by arms industry (and set up by your favourite “security” agencies) since the commies were thrown out by the people running their oil and gas, nothing to do with any so called arms race.
    The “jihadists” are a much better choice of enemy anyhow, as there are potentially billions of them, making it easier to justify spying on you and making it a capital offence to try and stop them.

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