Alright so I know everyone has been talking about this and it has been debated and criticized ad nauseum but this latest press conference was nothing short of a joke. For those of you who are unaware of what happened, let me start from the beginning.
Apple released the iPhone 4 and dubbed it as the best smartphone ever. It was the best smartphone Apple had ever built, it was the best smartphone on Earth and… “there’s one more thing… look at the rim. This is also the antenna and is part of some brilliant engineering.” (this is more or less what Steve Jobs preached at the iPhone launch). When making this presentation, little did Jobs know (or didn’t he?) that this antenna design was going to backfire so gracefully, like a Russian Roulette player who’s about to fire the gun against his head for the sixth time in a row. And it did fire.
Jobs can bullshit us all he likes, with statistics and with supposed facts that the iPhone 4 only drops 1/100th more calls than the 3GS but fact remains: the iPhone 4 has a massive flaw that was overlooked by Apple’s engineers. This flaw hit all sorts of media. It was on technology websites, on mainstream newspapers and it even hit some TV channels like CNN. Moreover, Consumer Reports in the US went from recommending the iPhone 4 to NOT recommending it at all when they found out (and tested for themselves) about this issue with the reception. After all this bad publicity, after AAPL’s shares dropping roughly $30 per share, Jobs knew something had to be done. And so he did, he called for a press conference and they approached the issue of the antenna… in one of the worst ways possible.
At the conference, Jobs’ claim was that all smartphones have this issue. Conveniently, they played videos of other phones being grasped firmly in a hand and of how the bars would go all the way down. Conveniently, they were videos. They weren’t showing it live, the tests weren’t even being done in one of the anechoic chambers that Jobs’ claimed to have spent $100 million on to test their phones; it was just someone, holding a series of phones, connected to God knows what operator, and showing how the bars go down. What Apple failed to address however, was the fact that you don’t need the so-called ‘death grip’ to get the bars to drop. All you need to do is bridge the two antennas on the bottom-left corner of the phone. Place your finger on top of it and your call quality will drop dramatically, to a point where the call might disconnect and to a point where you’ll have no reception at all. Apple’s response, in sum, was: all phones have this problem, the iPhone is not perfect, but here’s a bumper anyway to keep you quiet.
Jobs. If you are so confident that the iPhone 4 has no problem at all, why are you giving your customers bumpers that fix the problem? What, wait. But there is no problem, is there? Is there a problem that affects all phones and thus you are appeasing the customers with a solution or is there no problem at all. I’m confused now.
In any case Jobs, I understand you. After the shit’s been done you really can’t admit to it anymore. You’d take another massive hit to the shares of AAPL and that’s bad for business. You also can’t do a global recall because that would mean replacing every single iPhone 4 by new models without the issue and that would mean catastrophic losses plus a massive stain on Apple’s history. So all in all Jobs, well done. You took the sensible way out. Not the way out that truly has your customers at heart but the way out that is best for everybody.