Tuesday, July 6, 2010

24. iphone's antenna issues - motorola with the burn, new york times with the assist.

apple iphone 4
in what seems like the eternal saga of apple and google's android (for my younger readers, it's kind of like edward and jacob, just for phones), the war continues to play out in the media.  generally the two tech giants have been playing nice, trying to talk up their own product with little to no insult of their competition.  until now.  the most recent shot was fired by team verizon against their, well, fruitier opponent in a recent edition of the new york times.  anyone who opened it up on june 30th saw a full page advertisement (click below for full size), in color of course, of motorola's upcoming droid x mobile device, which will descend upon the public on july 12th.  in this ad, the core features and selling points surround a large image of the device itself, following a traditional "here's why we're awesome" approach.  until the very end:

"and most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design.  the kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls."

the ad that launched 1000 burns
BURN.  if apple and google were playing battleship, the appropriate response here would be "hit."  i wonder if this ad ran on the new york times ipad edition.  hmm.

verizon / motorola / google put a spotlight on apple's most recent public problems.  the antenna in question was to revolutionize (surprise, surprise) antenna design, by having it external, and integrated into the unit's casing.  holding the phone in the so-called "death grip" (tightly on the outside rim) in this configuration visibly causes signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have) to decrease and cause calls to drop.  spencer webb, an an antenna consultant working for apple, says differently - that short bars don't mean dropped calls, and that "full bar" and "short bar" calls are the same in call quantity.  apple claims that it's just a software calculation issue, there is no signal strength issue, and that users will be able to see a fix in the visual problem in the next iOS software update, 4.0.1.  another test run by anandtech did some more quantitative testing on their own, and calculated a difference of 24dB when the iphone is tightly held, which is enough to drop a call if you live in an area where you have consistently 4 bars or less.  if you have 5 bars constantly, then don't worry about it.

by itself, that should have been the end of it, but it was only the beginning of the complaints.  it turns out that a $29 "bumper" is available from apple, and it's almost required to minimize the death grip induced antenna fail.  some users became so irate that ultimately class action lawsuits (this is the first one, but there's more) have been filed against both apple and at&t for this plus a number of complaints, all the way up to intentional, negligent misrepresentation and fraud.  are these lawsuits bordering on the ridiculous?  sure.  i don't see how some of the claims really stand.  do i think that users deserve compensatory damages?  well, yes.  exactly what they paid for the iphone to begin with.  it's called a return policy.  and given that most iphone 4 purchases are upgrades, if they charge you a restocking fee then that's your penalty for blind loyalty.

apple and steve jobs have remained pretty silent on the issue, not addressing customers' requests that apple provide bumpers at no charge to alleviate this problem.  big steve's expert advice is to buy their bumper case or "just avoid holding it in that way."  but every photograph or television spot shows users and steve jobs himself holding it the "wrong" way!  i mean what is a loyal apple head to do??  don't believe me?  check out the compiled gallery here.

i know, i thought the same thing - absolute wonderment.  in addition to all of this, the folks at boy genius report have gotten their hands on apple's troubleshooting procedures on this issue.  reading them over definitely shows a lack of concern for their loyal customer base.  in my opinion, apple should at bare minimum send out free bumpers to current iphone 4 customers to rectify a problem they acknowledge exists.  gizmodo is of the same mind, and has started a petition to convince apple to come around on this one.  cases.com is sending out free iphone 4 "lifegrip" cases, for the cost of shipping, which is as low as $3.39 for first class mail.

this amid even more rumors about iphones for verizon wireless.  give it a rest, with android powerhouses like the htc incredible, motorola droid x (my next digital acquisition) and upcoming droid 2, my guess is that verizon will be trying to foster that partnership before renewing any interest in the iphone.  just doesn't make sense.

2 comments:

  1. However, Apple makes a huge profit from the iPhone. It profits from hardware sales, software sales, media sales, branded 3rd party accessory sales, and other ecosystem sales.

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