You know, I was planning to completely avoid a post mortem on the Apple iPhone 4 antenna issues circus. I really was. Until I stumbled onto this hyperspinning blog article and its incredible follow-up comments.
The little journalist in me lost his lunch on the ride.
It may come as a surprise to some that I’m allergic to marketing bull. Yeah, I do occasionally dip into it here but it has to be worth the inevitable rash.
I’m also a devoted fan of hardcore journalism. The kind that defrocks pedophiliac priests and dethrones corrupt kings. Which makes me an antifan of Apple’s approach to communications. The iPhone 4 debacle is a textbook example.
Of course if I’m going to explain further, it’s helpful to detail the chronology. That means going back to April, 2010. I’ll even spread the source love around:
April 19: Apple iPhone 4 leaked by Gizmodo
Gizmodo staff subsequently banned from WWDC 2010. My take: I can’t really blame Apple there.
April 23: Police raid home of Gizmodo editor after iPhone leak
Does this come under journalism protections? My take: a device was essentially stolen, so, no.
May 14: Cnet reports that Apple urged police action in Gizmodo case
Apple attorney George Riley reportedly said, “People that would have otherwise purchased a currently existing Apple product would wait for the next item to be released, thereby hurting overall sales and negatively effecting Apple’s earnings.” My take: total crap, George.
June 7: iPhone 4 formally launches to expected fanfare, with some glitches
Steve appealed to the audience to turn off wifi devices, and got jeered for it. My take: Jobs may lack serious tech savvy, but he probably had a point (read on).
June 25: Steve Jobs addresses reception issues
His take? “You’re holding it wrong.” My take: what a load, Steve. You deserved all the flack you got for that flippant tripe. And quit dragging other phones into this– unlike your competition, you guys chose to go with an external antenna for aesthetics. Now you deal with the consequences.
June 28: Nokia pokes fun at the iPhone “grip of death”
“How do you hold your Nokia?”, they ask. My take: the most comfortable way possible, and I expect reception!
June 29: iPhone 4 wifi issues at launch event due to multiple mifi devices in audience
See? Jobs was actually right! My take: mifi is going to be a big pain in the butt some day.
June 30: Class action lawsuit filed
(added after initial publication). My take: expensive exercise in futility. More where that came from.
July 13: Consumer Reports confirms iPhone 4 external antenna is flawed
CR likes the iPhone 4 overall, but can’t give it a recommended rating due to antenna issues. My take: agreed.
July 15: Anandtech analyzes the situation
iOS 4.0.1 now reports fewer bars in more places. My take: better to under-represent than exaggerate…
July 16: Apple announces their corrective action
In typical breezy fashion, Jobs both denies and admits there is an antenna problem. Solution: accept a free bumper (or refund) or return phone in 30 day window. My take: a phone condom is a solution??? So much for the external antenna aesthetics…
July 16, part 2: MarketWatch echoes the Wall Street Journal’s report that Apple knew about antenna issues early on
Well, that makes sense. After all, Steve did say there were numerous scientists working in a state-of-the-art facility for this project. My take: Apple stock should suffer, but won’t.
I was already taken to task over my opinions on this by one talk.maemo.org member, so let me be completely clear: assailing Apple does not directly translate into defending Nokia. Indeed, my record there is plainly balanced. I will offer praise where it is due, and criticism when it’s deserved.
Now, I’m nowhere near the first to opine on the Jobsian Reality Distortion Field and surely won’t be the last. And even as I can reluctantly admire its effectivity, I’m still sickened by the mechanism.
The more I hear from Steve Jobs the more I am reminded about the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes“. Jobs’ disingenuous spiels indicate he could really benefit from more mirrors and fewer sycophants.
To me, Apple exemplifies everything that’s bad and getting worse about American business (and government). A willful resistance to intellectual honesty. Treating customers with contempt while pretending to respect them. Employing The Big Lie to make a few (billion) bucks.
I chastise Apple for the same reason that hardcore devotees defend them: the sneering, arrogant yet highly-adept reality manipulation of Steve Jobs. I won’t apologize or make any excuses for that opinion. Objectivity is great– until it runs up against Orwellian messaging.
Someone has to point out the emperor’s lack of clothing.