Let them have bumpers!

On Friday, July 16, in the Year of My Lord and Maybe Yours But Possibly Not So Don’t Get Offended 2010, the mighty Steve Jobs strode into a press conference and announced that Apple Inc. would solve a technological issue related to its new iPhone 4’s antenna by covering it with rubber.

Huzzah!

Yes, after a crazed three weeks, which saw the iPhone 4 debut to mass consumption at the rate of three million units sold along with tales, videos and Unsolved Mysteries-style reenactments of dropped calls due to holding the phone at a certain point, the hysteria was finally over. The proletariat sated. The press could finally get back to important things like Obama’s golf game and Lilo’s inability to hire a lawyer or appropriately bedazzle her SCRAM bracelet. And all it took was the promise of free bumper cases for all, and to all a good night.

Seriously, can we all just calm down now? I realize the antenna issue is real and valid. I understand that Jobs’s alleged response of "don’t hold it that way" was akin to a doctor telling a man with a broken leg to simply hop on the other one. But the hew and cry that arose from technoverse was, let’s be honest, a tad silly. After all, if the problem annoyed a person so much, said person was more than welcome simply to return the phone. Which 1.7% of iPhone 4 purchasers did for various reasons. This rate of return, by the way, was less than a third of the 3GS’s.

The issue, it seems, is that people put a little too much faith in their magical pocket phone computer cold fusion device. When said device was found not to have literally been handed down from on high as some sort of immaculately conceived chunk of technological salvation, some people felt cheated. I can understand that feeling. I assume that when I buy something, it’ll fulfill the purpose for which it was intended. Like making a phone call. But if a problem arises and the fix is as simple as putting the phone in a case—which most people do anyway—I tend to get on with my life. And, in fact, most iPhone 4 owners have done just that. Of the eight or nine new iPhone 4s floating around my office (I still do not have one—PayPal donations accepted), the grand total of complaints I’ve heard about it is zero. Most people (and by "most people" I mean "my boss") just wander around taunting non-iPhone 4 owners and rejecting my ideas. Bastard.

Some people thought Jobs would announce a recall. Seriously? Even if a recall was/is needed, I can’t fathom a company—even a company like Apple—being able to engineer a solution and means of fixing three million phones in just three weeks time. And what’s with all the press surrounding Consumer Reports’ "can’t recommended" edict? How many sales will Apple actually lose from that report? Five? Even my mom knows better than to turn to Consumer Reports for advice on technology. That’s why she had me.

Anyway, if you’ve got an iPhone 4, I hope you enjoy your free bumper or third-party case. If you’re still not satisfied with that solution yet refuse to return the phone, I’m thinking Radio Shack will be happy to sell you some solder and an iron. Go nuts.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    It’s Apple, it is supposed to just work! Like magic and unicorn!

    Seriously, when the marketing went too far and people’s expectation didnt live up to hype.. this happens.. people feel cheated and let down.. also, they have a lot of haters and fanboys.. fanboys worship it’s every function, haters pick the tiniest detail to find flaw..

    p/s: Honestly, I felt that this post have strong intent to back up Apple… It’s like you’re so worried that this incident will led to Apple’s bankruptcy…

      • dashbarron
      • 9 years ago

      ^this. I agree with you Fox, but it seems that when the press, marketing, and the elite of the elite Fanbois are pumping up a product to be God-like, then this sort of reaction is expected to happen. It’s kind of the company’s own doing that they have such a crazed reaction: they made the craze to begin with, and like keeping the excitement high. When things go wrong, even simple things, expect the hounds to go nuts.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    Sometimes I feel that I am the only person who finds smartphones just aren’t good enough to actually use properly as anything but a phone.

    I have a regular phone and a nettop.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    “some people felt cheated”

    Look at the overall amount you have to pay for a 2-year iPhone contract, and then tell me that you wouldn’t also feel cheated.

    Most $30 pay-as-you-go phones work /[

    • link626
    • 9 years ago

    apple earnings soar again, even with Steve’s douchebaggery.

    free bumpers, and all is well again, and the stock market is happy

    • MrJP
    • 9 years ago

    The irony for me is the that the iPhone 4 was the first Apple device that seemed so attractive on paper that I was considering overlooking my long-term distaste for their nauseously smug marketing. Now this has all blown up, and not only is it clear they’ve botched the product by putting form entirely over function, they’ve also demonstrated that the idiotic smugness extends well beyond the marketing department. Nice job, Apple.

    • tfp
    • 9 years ago

    Waah waah waah…

      • aatu
      • 9 years ago

      Unfortunate for the TR reporter, but honestly, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Jesus is a fair enough benchmark for measuring time on the large scale, but if he’s also “your Lord” then I wonder what role you cast for God.

      • glynor
      • 9 years ago

      Paul Thurrott (a Windows fanboy if there ever was one, and not really one to be too worried about being “fair” to Apple) has publicly stated that he doesn’t have an iPhone 4, and hasn’t actually tested one.

      For the record, mine works better than other phones I’ve tested.

        • Sahrin
        • 9 years ago

        Err…you don’t need to be a Shaman Third-Order in the Church of Steve to see the logical fallacy in Apple’s comments.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        Actually for a ‘Windows site’ owner he’s pretty fair. He has both praised and criticized Microsoft and Apple (and other companies) appropriately and with well thought-out reasoning. Even if one disagrees with his conclusions he’s not some kind of rabid Windows-loving Apple-hating fanboy.

          • tay
          • 9 years ago

          You assume mac opinion pieces on a hypothetical macsupersite.com would be unbiased?

            • MadManOriginal
            • 9 years ago

            I never said any such thing and talking about hypotheticals when it comes to websites that have opinions pieces is beyond meaningless. Care to try another logical fallacy?

            • tay
            • 9 years ago

            I think the bigger logical fallacy is believing someone who operates windowssupersite as unbiased towards MS/Windows. You don’t go to /. for objective Linux reporting, or <insert mac fan site here> for reasons to get a mac. But hey Fox News – “We report -[<(selected slanted facts)<]- - you decide"

            • Sahrin
            • 9 years ago

            This is among the most asinine comments I have ever read.

            You INVENTED a hypothetical website, accused it of bias and then tried to link this hypothetically biased hypothetical website to the “actualitical” winsupersite – based only on the name. At no point did you discuss content (hypothetical or otherwise) – the person you replied to did.

            One of you is examining reality and synthesis thereof; one of you is examining a straw man.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    q[

      • hapyman
      • 9 years ago

      My thoughts exactly. You can’t have over-the-top marketing and then not expect over-the-top backlash when things go haywire. Also this happens to more than Apple in the tech world. In fact it happens all the time but Apple seems to be the largest example now.

      Next up Crysis’ new AI… lol.

    • blitzy
    • 9 years ago

    Its good to see Apple finally being treated like any other company would be in the given situation, instead of being treated like some kind of deity that the media was beholden to.

    It wasn’t a massive issue, but they made it one by treating their customers like they’re chumps. Unlike say Nintendo with a similar egg-on-face problem with their controllers being dropped and hitting peoples TVs. Even though it wasnt really Nintendos fault, they still did the right thing by their customers and did a fix. I don’t recall them rubbing their customers noses in it like Apple did.

    Between the antenna problem and Jobs’ tantrums over Flash it really does make him look like a control freak douche. Our proprietary stuff is okay, but thou shalt not hold thy own walled garden. Oops people got Flash working on jailbroken iPads anyway

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    The sh!t storm over this has been absurd, but kind of amusing in a weird way. The Apple haters have been stewing for years and they think that if they can all simultaneously direct their hate at Apple over this issue that the incomprehensible (to them) success of this annoying company and its smug fans will finally end. Sort of like the health care haters from last summer (seems like the haters always get revved up this time of year).

    Enjoy your summer of hate, folks.

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 9 years ago

      Hatred of the health care bill was and still is appropriate; any other feelings regarding it are naive and irrational.

      The antenna issue was a big “who cares” to me because I had a smartphone and rarely used any of its features other than text and calling and have little interest in this area of tech.

        • blastdoor
        • 9 years ago

        So… NOT *feeling* hatred is “irrational”? Spoken like a true hater.

          • SPOOFE
          • 9 years ago

          Yes, it is irrational to not hate getting screwed.

    • Captain Ned
    • 9 years ago

    July 16. A memorable day in human history. It has nothing to do with Apple.

    • scpulp
    • 9 years ago

    Jason, the problem is that Apple has handled the issue as gracelessly as humanly possible. We have a leaked statement from an engineer saying he explicitly warned Apple about the antenna problem, which of course Apple denies.

    Of course, if Apple is right and they were never warned, then certainly the $100 million they spent on dudes with doctorates and their seventeen anechoic chambers would’ve caught a problem that became so painfully obvious once the device was released into the wild.

    It’s been lie after lie after lie, constantly deflecting blame. It is business as usual for this company and finally, FINALLY they’re being taken to task for it. The press conference was a farce, with slides that actually say “we love our customers” and “we want our customers to be happy,” slides that compare signal attenuation based entirely on the number of bars that show up on the display. We even have Steve griping that his vacation in Hawaii was interrupted.

    This is a company that has been screwing its customers and lying to them for years, and finally has to pay the piper for it. That’s what this is about. Arrogance getting the best of them. I’m really hoping this, if not the beginning of the end of the Cult of Apple, is at least a severe dent in it.

    • cegras
    • 9 years ago

    The whole raison d’etre behind Apple’s existence is that it provides a solution, an alternative to Microsoft that works straight out of the box, with NO exceptions. As long as you listen to what Apple says you will get a 100% satisfactory experience, every single time.

    Unfortunately that is now not the case. The problem with the iPhone4 is not the antenna issue, but that no Apple no longer has a 100% track record.

    Which is what it stakes its entire existence on.

      • scpulp
      • 9 years ago

      The track record has never been 100%. And frankly in my experience, Windows Vista (after a few patches) and 7 actually tend to work better and run more stable than Mac OS X does. Apple is operating on a closed platform while Microsoft has to somehow make their operating system run on an astonishing number of different configurations.

      So what’s Apple’s excuse?

      Apple products don’t “just work” any more than anyone else’s do, and if you really believe they do I have a bridge to sell you.

        • cegras
        • 9 years ago

        Whether they work or not is not exactly the point. The point is that Apple CLAIMS that if you go with them, you get a black box solution that will work 100%, with no fiddling with hidden menus and ‘for idiots’ functionality. Unfortunately, that reputation is simply broken now. Now, instead of people going ‘it’s a new Apple product, MUST HAVE’ they will instead second guess themselves.

          • Thrashdog
          • 9 years ago

          Afet spending two days wrestling with Apple’s implementation of Exchange on an executive’s shiny new toy iPad, I have sworn that I will shoot the next person who tells me that Apple products “just work.” Apple’s stuff goes wrong just about as often as anybody else’s, and the happy-fun-time interfaces lock away the solutions from the user.

          Frankly, anybody who buys into the “just works” line needs to spend a little time outside of the RDF.

    • Dashak
    • 9 years ago

    We /[

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Funny thought I had while reading this article:

    You are in front of Steve jobs, asking him about the antenna problem.

    Steve: You are holding it wrong. Don’t hold it that way.

    You: Okay then, how am I supposed to hold it?

    Steve: Like this…

    *Steve gingerly holds the hands with his two fingers and this thumb, only touching the top half of the phone.

    *you slap Steve’s hand and the phone falls to the ground and cracks the display*

    You: There’s a reason people don’t hold their phone like that.

    Yeah just a funny thought, I don’t know exactly how Steve would say you are supposed to hold it.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      Steve doesn’t hold his phone. He has people that hold it for him.

        • 5150
        • 9 years ago

        Dr. Zoidberg perhaps?

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        Really? I thought it just sort of orbited in his gravitational pull.

    • Jambe
    • 9 years ago

    The issue is probably overblown, but that doesn’t mean Jobs hasn’t handled it like a hifalutin jackass.

    I like the new phone, and I like Apple’s build quality, UI’s and software polish in general… I just don’t like how Steve patronizes all of us.

    Regards calming down: I haven’t really experienced much fervor or excitement over this issue in “the real world”. The only people getting worked up about it, apparently, are media figureheads and PR agents. Most actual users I know don’t care a whole lot; those that do are a minority.

    I have to say the solution to this is sort of lame, though:

    /[<"Sexylicious stainless steel aesthetics!" "Requires a neon phone-condom to function reliably."<]/ ... yeeeeaaah.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    “Scotty! I need full emergency power to the RDF – now!!”

    “Captain – I’ve given her all she’s got! Any more and she’ll blow up!”

    “Then blow her up! I don’t care, Scotty – take it from life support if you have to! Not mine, of course…. But everyone else’s! I need more power /[

      • zamb
      • 9 years ago

      I laughed when I read it!

      Thank you!

    • atryus28
    • 9 years ago

    I always love watching people stuck in a RDF (regardless of company) constantly making excuses for things they jab and poke at other people for.

    The problem is that Steve (hand)Job is a flaming douche about as cool as octomom. When you constantly tout how awesome and innovative you are, that your stuff “just works” (pfft if it’s made by humans and electronic that’s just hysterical propaganda) and that you have some asstounding new antenna design that actually sucks, you deserve all the monkey poo tossed in your general direction.

    Ever since my Grandfather bought an overpriced iMac and time machine, I get phone calls about problems that phone support and the “genius” bar can’t help him with. Drives me crazy since I do not own a Mac and so now I have to figure out how to fix a system I don’t care about.

    Though I have been contemplating getting one so I can make money off the morons that own one and enjoy paying too much for less stuff just because it says X brand and X celebrity has endorsed it.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    This is a pretty strange blog post, Fox. It seems to be pretty hostile towards anyone who wasn’t pleased with the way this went down. I’m just wondering why so hostile?

      • Dooby-Doo
      • 9 years ago

      ‘This is a pretty strange blog post, Fox. It seems to be pretty hostile towards anyone who wasn’t pleased with the way this went down. I’m just wondering why so hostile?’

      I think there are 3 types of people. Apple haters, Apple fanboys and normal people. I am in the latter category.

      I look at Apple and think, OK, technically the IPhone is the best phone (even consumer reports admit it), but they cocked up a bit with the antenna. Oh well, will it be THAT HARD for me to not hold the phone in the ‘death grip’. Of course not, so it’s no big deal. Less than 0.5% of their customers return the phone, so it can’t be as big a problem as people make out.

      The Apple haters seem to think this is the magical time where they finally have a REAL reason to criticise Apple, other than ‘they are good at marketing’ – and are over exaggerating it in a sea of hate which makes them look pretty small.

      The Apple fanboys seem to be satisfied that nothing was wrong and accept everything jobs says as gospel.

      If you ask me – this article was aimed at the haters, trying to add a little perspective.

        • scpulp
        • 9 years ago

        I’ve thought you were a questionable writer for a while, but your questionable logic here clinches it.

        Because here’s the essential problem: the thing doesn’t work. It has a design flaw Apple refuses to cop to, the figures that Jobs presented during his conference were an absolute joke. We’re accepting bars as an authentic unit of measure now?

        When other vendors produce smartphones that don’t have an easy-to-mess-up deathgrip the way the iPhone 4 does, it’s a real problem, but instead he just deflects and deflects. But here, we’ll give you a free bumper.

        …the phone was not designed with the bumper. If you have to add something to it in order to make it work, it is a flawed design, and their ardent refusal to cop to it is damning. If Apple haters of the world unite under this particular banner, it’s only because we finally have a mistake big enough for everyone to point at and see.

        This is the company you want to support?

          • derFunkenstein
          • 9 years ago

          Sounds like you’re replying to Dooby Doo as if he were Jason Fox, which he isn’t.

    • Silus
    • 9 years ago

    Hmm…no. Just no…

    When a company doesn’t acknowledge a problem in one of more of their products, goes as far as insulting every one of their customers by saying “You’re holding it wrong”, suggesting that they go buy a case to solve the “non-existing” problem, on top of the money they already paid for the phone and the plan that comes with it, then yes, they deserve all the flak they are getting and all the media frenzy about it.

    I don’t care if they do a recall of the phones or not (even if that would be the only thing to solve this mess completely), but the way they handled this whole situation is absolutely ridiculous and it’s amazing that there are still people praising them for the free case…which wasn’t free 2 weeks ago, when the problem was already more than known but, according to Apple, people were just “holding the phone wrong”.
    And they also went on to say that this design problem, could be fixed by changing the algorithm that calculates that number of bars that define the signal strength……….which I’m sure many Apple fan boys/girls accepted as a solution…

    Then, Jobs goes out of his way to do some PR to downplay the issue of their design, mentioning other smartphones that suffer from a similar problem, which is totally bogus. Most other smartphones don’t have the antennas in the same place as the iPhone 4 does, which is the cause for all this mess.

    Apple is and always was the master of PR. Most of their products are average at best, but they tout their design so much, that most people will want one, exclusively based on the “looks” and for that, I’ll have to take my hat off to them. But a line is crossed, when customers that payed their money for this product, are lied to, offended and given false information, to cover for a very clear design problem.

      • WasF
      • 9 years ago

      +1
      Thanks for writing down my thoughts.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    So if your car starts to make strange noises and your mechanic prescribes ear plugs so you wouldn’t hear the sounds anymore, will you be happy?

      • Dooby-Doo
      • 9 years ago

      ‘So if your car starts to make strange noises and your mechanic prescribes ear plugs so you wouldn’t hear the sounds anymore, will you be happy’

      1 – Ear plugs don’t prevent the noises occuring. The case DOES stop the signal problem.
      2 – Ear plugs are inconvenient and look silly, a mobile phone case is neither.
      3 – In your analogy, what if the driver was planning to wear ear plugs anyway? Such as is the case with people who planned to have a case all along.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    l[http://www.anandtech.com/show/3821/iphone-4-redux-analyzing-apples-ios-41-signal-fix/3<]§ Skyring is on point. Steve Jobs is and always has been a douche, but it's newsworthy now because it only took people 20 years to start noticing. Guess the RDF is wearing thin, and people are starting to realize the emperor has no clothes. Maybe he needs to insulate his antenna?

    • Skrying
    • 9 years ago

    Has any of the complaints voiced about the antenna issue been related to the bumper fix? I haven’t seen that. It’s more along the lines of Steve Jobs being an absolute jerk and Apple censoring their forums when customers are voicing valid complaints. It’s not the product itself so much as the fashion in which Apple operates. Do you ever get the impression Apple is happy to have such loyal customers or customers at all? I don’t. I get the impression that they’re of the mind that owning anything less than an Apple product makes you an inferior being not worth thinking about and even if you own a Apple product you’re nothing more than the junkie.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      +1

      • Rakhmaninov3
      • 9 years ago

      This is why I’m not going to buy anything Apple. I’ve never been able to stomach the disrespect and snobbishness with which they conduct all their business and abuse their customers; compared to this and how they handled the test phone that got away from them, the quality & attractiveness of their items are small beans.

      • blastdoor
      • 9 years ago

      If you ever had contact with actual Apple employees, either at their stores or through AppleCare, you might have a different impression (or maybe not — perhaps you’re impervious to facts). My experience has been that Apple really does value their customers and when dealing with them one-on-one treats them very well. And every customer satisfaction survey I’ve ever seen suggests this is a common experience among Apple customers. Perhaps what you’re reacting to is how Apple approaches the media, Wall Street, and pretty much everyone else who isn’t an Apple customer. To the rest of the world, Apple definitely adopts a “go f*** yourself” attitude.

        • Skrying
        • 9 years ago

        You’re completely right. Forge was totally treated like a valued customer. Oh look, someone else’s claim versus your’s. Look at how unproductive that was!

        The latest customer survey report I read shocked me with how well every company did. Does Apple have some “unique” “features” with their customer support? Sure, I can travel to a Apple store (I’m going to guess the closest one to me is over a 120 mile drive, but I’m not sure if an Apple store is even located in Kansas City or St. Louis) and get service. I’m treated like I would be expected. But then again, if my Dell XPS broke tomorrow I could have a Dell technician at MY location tomorrow.

        Again, the public image Apple willingly trumpets is one that is anti-consumer. It’s not simply their technical support that I’m talking about. It’s choices like censoring their tech support forums when customers voice valid issues. It’s using ridiculous “standards” such as MiniDisplayPort for no reason other than to charge for a dongle. It’s changing the iOS developer license to be anti-developer and in turn hurt customers.

          • blastdoor
          • 9 years ago

          If I see TR continuing to post apple-hater click-bait front page stories about some idiot who knowingly, intentionally voided his warranty, I’ll be done with this site.

            • Skrying
            • 9 years ago

            You’ve done three things with your comment.

            1. Called someone an idiot for no good reason.
            2. Behaved remarkably like Steve Jobs.
            3. Missed the point entirely.

            I’m fine with Apple not replacing Forge’s melted iPad. I’m not fine with the way he was treated. Which if you take notice *[

        • eitje
        • 9 years ago

        q[<...perhaps you're impervious to facts). My experience has been...<]q An anecdote is not necessarily a fact.

      • bfellow
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah people at Foxconn voiced complaints then were led off the roof!

      Was that too soon?

      • Rectal Prolapse
      • 9 years ago

      +1, that’s exactly the reason.

      • Welch
      • 9 years ago

      +1 Skrying!

      Anyone who can defend Apples stance on this issue is plain out not demanding enough of the $1000 +/- they spend a year for their phone plan with an Iphone. If I had gotten a phone that had a hardware issue that prevented me from using it how it was intended, I’d return it. And in-fact I did….. My Moto Back-flip (only android I could get in Alaska without going with a local provider) would crash when opening up either the camera mode or video camera. I was ready to bring it back but they released an update to fix the issue and no problems since, the phones been great. This was software and knowingly fixable, and they did.

      In the case of the Iphone, they know that its hardware and in order to fix it they’d have to recall the phones if they were to TRULY and permanently fix it. So….. you provided a piece of rubber, F that. It would be akin to a car salesmen selling you a car only to find out that the paint on the edge of the hood started to peel off, and offers you a “free” front “Bra” kit as they are called that will cover it up…. it hasn’t solved your issue, only hidden it. What if I “Love my Iphone” so much that I was to see the “Amazing.. Awe-Inspiring” glass that they made the phone with? I can’t if I want to hold the phone in my left hand (Note: I’m left handed, so that matters to me).. What a crock Jobs… what a crock.

      • Mithent
      • 9 years ago

      Agreed. Even for Apple, I couldn’t believe that Steve Jobs’ response was “We knew about it but didn’t think you’d make it an issue, but as you all insisted on making such a fuss we suppose we’ll have to placate the masses by giving you these bumper cases. Oh, and it’s all in your mind. Oh, and all phones do it.”

      While it’s true that all phones have reduced signal levels when held, they don’t all have antennas on the outside that you can touch, so it’s not really the same thing. If the bumper cases fix it, then other phones wouldn’t (and don’t) have the particular problem the iPhone 4 has.

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