Stop the Noiz

5 Myths About the iPhone 4 and 'Antennagate'

Frank Fox - 2010.07.26 - Tip Jar

Some people just hate Apple no matter what they do, and like a certain conservative blogger, they will go to great lengths to prove their point. I think it is time to come clean about five myths related to Apple's iPhone 4 press conference.

Steve Jobs Invented the Term 'Death Grip'

The one problem spot for the iPhone 4 antennaI've seen this mentioned by Seth Weintraub on the Fortune website and by JR Raphael on pcworld.com, people claiming that Steve Jobs used the term "Death Grip" to throw people off the real problem - that it's only a single spot on the iPhone 4 that's to blame for the antenna issue.

I guess they either don't remember what was happening a few weeks ago or that they don't know how do a Google search. I do, and I found this article from June 28 (just four days after the iPhone 4 was released), Nokia Mocks Apple iPhone 4 Reception Issues. It talks about the "Death Grip", a term Nokia says was coined by iPhone 4 owners.

As great as Steve Jobs is with finding the right of words and redirecting attention, he didn't invent the term "Death Grip".

Apple Should Have Left Nokia, RIM, and Others Alone

I have a basic rule about fights: If you don't want to get involved, stay out.

Did Nokia, RIM, and others stay out? No, they loved seeing Apple get dragged over the coals.

Nokia's official blog posted How Do You Hold Your Nokia? on June 28, bragging about all the different ways you can hold its smartphones without loosing any signal bars. Nokia knew damn well that your hand could interfere with the signal; they should have kept their mouth shut if they didn't want to have Apple challenge them.

And it wasn't just Nokia taking pot shots at Apple.

Apple Knowingly Sold Defective Phones

This is the claim being made in a class action lawsuit against Apple. Jobs addressed this directly by saying that nobody is perfect, phones aren't perfect, and neither is Apple. Apple made a mistake by viewing this issue as less important than it has become.

Apple has a reputation of selling products that are intuitive (a.k.a. idiot proof), but the iPhone 4 antenna design missed the mark. Apple's engineers knew that the external antenna was better most of the time and that 80% of buyers were going to put a case around the phone. They trusted this to greatly offset the issue. They failed because it wasn't idiot proof - any idiot could put his hands in the wrong place and see the bars drop.

Apple did screw up, but I believe it had no clue it was selling a bad product. Apple, with its multimillion dollar test facility, missed the seriousness of the problem. They may have discounted it as just one of those things that happen with mobile phones.

I doubt that the engineers studied the problem, or else Apple would have been ready with answers earlier. I believe that Apple in good faith tried to make the best phone it could, but it missed the importance that this issue would have.

Steve Jobs was honest when he said Apple, the iPhone 4, and cell phones in general weren't perfect. Apple might have been better off delivering poor antenna reception rather than create an opportunity to have idiots screwing up the iPhone 4's signal at will. But instead of sticking with an existing design, Apple tried to improve reception - and let a weak spot through in the process.

Consumer Reports Forced Apple to Have the Press Conference

Consumer Reports is a great organization. I've been a subscriber many times. They have pushed important issues of safety to get products recalled. But seriously, folks, Apple is facing a couple class actions suits over this issue. Complaints have been rolling in since June, and the news has been all over the Web.

Do you believe that Apple could ignore all of that pressure, but Consumer Reports was too much?

Apple was doing tons of work to present the best answers to the issue. Sure, Apple could have offered free cases weeks ago, but it threw out the software update first, which fixed the inaccurate signal bar issue. Apple didn't have enough bumpers at the time and had to stall until it worked out deals to offer other cases.

Whatever. Apple took the time to solve as much of the issue as it could all at once instead of more wasted efforts like the software update.

Apple Never Said It Was Sorry

When someone breaks something of mine and all they offer is "I'm sorry", sometimes that isn't good enough. I teach my kids that you have to try to make up for things, especially when it is important.

Maybe Steve Jobs didn't gush with apologies, but he did offer free cases or a full refund to any iPhone 4 owner who wants it. To me that is at least as important as a lot of wordy apologies. LEM

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