NYTimes 7/12 PM "Did Apple Make a Lemon?"

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by zub3qin, Jul 12, 2010.

  1. zub3qin macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/technology/13apple.html?src=busln

    NY Times 2 hours ago:


    SAN FRANCISCO — Did Apple make a lemon?

    On Monday, Consumer Reports, America’s trusted source of product reviews, said it would not recommend the iPhone 4 because of a hardware flaw with its antenna that sometimes resulted in dropped calls. The independent consumer magazine also cast doubt on Apple’s recent explanation that a software bug had caused the widely reported problem. Apple did not return requests for comment.

    Consumer Reports did not slap the iPhone 4 with a “don’t buy” warning, which it sometimes issues for shoddy or unsafe products. But it said that because of the design flaw, it would not recommend it as it did the previous version of the iPhone, the 3GS.

    The next question is, Will any of Apple’s customers even care?

    The various versions of the iPhone have been panned a number of times for myriad problems, real or perceived: slow network, cracked screens, dropped calls and no support for a popular Web video format. But iPhone sales have surpassed even the most optimistic forecasts and helped make Apple the most valuable company in the technology industry.

    And despite early reports of problems with the iPhone 4 antenna, Apple sold 1.7 million units in just three days, making it the best-selling new technology gadget in Apple’s history.

    “It’s iconic, it’s cool, it’s the ‘it’ device and people want it,” said A. M. Sacconaghi Jr., an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

    Still Mr. Sacconaghi and other analysts said Apple could eventually suffer from the bad publicity it had received over the antenna problems and for its seemingly contradictory responses.

    Apple has promoted the iPhone 4’s innovative design, including its antenna, which is built into a steel band that encases the phone.

    After users reported problems with signal strength and dropped calls when they touched the lower-left portion of the phone, however, Apple suggested that consumers hold the phone differently or use one of many bumpers to insulate the antenna. It also said that all phones suffered from similar problems when they were cradled a certain way.

    These comments were widely laughed at in gadget blogs.

    A week later, Apple said it had found that because of a longstanding software bug, the iPhone 4, and its predecessors, often overstated signal strength. The company promised a fix soon.

    In a blog post on Monday, Consumer Reports challenged those explanations.

    Michael Gikas, a senior editor for electronics, said engineers performed a series of tests on three iPhone 4 handsets in a lab. They found that when a person touched the lower left portion of the antenna, signal strength “can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you’re in an area with a weak signal,” Mr. Gikas wrote.

    Consumer Reports also said that it had tested other smartphones that ran on AT&T’s network, including the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3GS, and that none had the same problem.

    Mr. Gikas also wrote, “Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4’s signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software.”

    The review from Consumer Reports, which has eight million paying subscribers, comes 10 days after the magazine played down the problems with the iPhone 4 antenna. But in an interview, Mr. Gikas said the earlier report had been based on first impressions, not thorough testing.

    Mr. Gikas said the problem with signal strength could be fixed by insulating the antenna with a bumper or even a piece of duct tape. And he said that the phone, as many happy users have reported, is better than earlier iPhones on multiple levels.

    “The iPhone 3GS was always recommended. The iPhone 4 isn’t, even though it scores higher on a number of areas,” he said. “We think either Apple should supply free cases for the phone or come up with another solution. That’s why we are not recommending the iPhone 4.”

    In comments posted on sites across the Web, dozens of iPhone 4 users dismissed the findings as unimportant.

    But other consumers said the problems with the iPhone 4 and Apple’s response gave them pause.

    “I’ll buy it the day Apple fixes it,” said Bruce Namerow, the owner of a Web consulting company based in Washington. “I don’t see how they can sell a phone that you can’t hold any which way you want. That to me is unbelievable.”
     
  2. Steviejobz macrumors 68000

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  3. rotobadger macrumors 65816

    rotobadger

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    #3
    Man. It's becoming an onslaught. I wonder how/if Apple is going to respond.
     
  4. baller1308 macrumors 65816

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    #4
    I'm sure it's possible. They were using cases when field testing and I'm sure it was mainly used within California where I'm sure reception is pretty good. These are just assumptions.
     
  5. zub3qin thread starter macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

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    #5
    Apple today has refused to comment to any media source asking for a quote. They are in lockdown mode.
     
  6. Ferris23 macrumors 68020

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    #6
    I love me some Iphone 4 goodness, but holy crap I've never seen anything like this. I actually thought the dust was starting to settle then BOOM! lol

    I'd like to be a fly on the wall at Apple HQ.

    I don't even think the Xbox 360 RROD was like this, at least in regards to media.
     
  7. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

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    #7
    Avert your eyes, people, nothing to see here, there is NO antena problem. All these people are just holding it wrong. And besides, everyone should have a case anyway, it just makes sense! I have no issues, mine is perfect! And if they don't like it they can return it.

    There, now you fanboys don't have to post. :D
     
  8. reliantj macrumors 6502

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    #8
    ^^^ yeah
    more like "we're effed. we gotta come up with an excuse or money."

    i'm hoping for them to replace my ip4 even though it works fine just to have the satisfaction of knowing jobs is gonna take one up the ass for everyone he replaces. that arrogant *****.
     
  9. nfl46 macrumors 604

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    #9
  10. myphone macrumors 6502

    myphone

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  11. Fernandez21 macrumors 601

    Fernandez21

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    #11
    Seriously though, with all this bad PR, you think a bumper would smooth everything over? Or would they need to do something drastic like a complete recall?
     
  12. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

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  13. ijen0311 macrumors 65816

    ijen0311

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  14. zub3qin thread starter macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

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    #14
    http://www.cultofmac.com/pr-experts-iphone-4-hardware-recall-is-inevitable/50565

    PR Experts: iPhone 4 Hardware Recall Is “Inevitable”
    6:34 pm, July 12th, 2010, Leander Kahney
    The iPhone 4 "Death Grip" will force Apple to issue a hardware recall, crisis management experts told CultofMac.com.

    Apple will be forced to recall the iPhone 4 following Consumer Reports tests proving the “Death Grip” antenna issue is not software related, but a hardware flaw, PR experts say.

    “Apple will be forced to do a recall of this product,” said Professor Matthew Seeger, an expert in crisis communication. “It’s critically important. The brand image is the most important thing Apple has. This is potentially devastating.”


    Crisis communication experts contacted by CultofMac.com, including the “Master of Disaster” Chris Lehane, agree: the iPhone 4 reception issue presents a Toyota-style PR crisis for Apple, and the company must respond with a more meaningful fix than a software patch.

    Apple acknowledged the issue earlier this month but said the problem was caused by the way the iPhone calculates signal strength. The company has promised to issue a software fix shortly. Many critics viewed this response as attempt to spin the problem, which was compounded on Monday by a devastating report from Consumer Reports saying the reception issue is hardware related.

    Toyota has been severely punished for its foot-dragging response to concerns about the safety of the Prius. Toyota recalled about 10 million vehicles worldwide and its reputation has been seriously damaged.

    “Apple needs to put this fire out now,” said Dr. Larry Barton, a leading expert in crisis management and author of Crisis Leadership Now. “There has to be a military-like response to this issue. And we have not seen this kind of urgency.”

    Dr. Barton said Apple should quickly issue a statement that either strongly refutes Consumer Reports‘ tests; or admit the issue and detail some kind of hardware fix. Saying the iPhone 4 has a problem calculating signal strength doesn’t cut it, Dr. Barton said.

    “They’re response has been lackluster,” he said. “It’s been borderline irresponsible. They are in danger of betraying customers’ trust and hurting the brand, which is infinitely more valuable than any one product.”

    Consumer Reports is a well-respected publication with a long history of being impartial and fair, Dr. Barton noted. “Their advisory is a serious one.” he said.

    Dr. Barton is a former professor at Harvard Business School, Penn State, University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Boston College. He was Vice President of Crisis Management at Motorola from 1995 to 1999.

    Crisis communications expert Chris Lehane, the “Master of Disaster,” a nickname earned during the Clinton White House, said Apple dug itself into a deeper hole with its software fix response, which was obviously rushed.

    “It’s the ‘half-loaf’ approach,” he said. “Apple was under tremendous pressure to respond. They pushed out some information that wasn’t really baked.”

    Lehane said the statement only raised a red flag for organizations like Consumer Reports to take a close look at the issue.

    “They found themselves in a hole, and they dug a deeper hole,” he said.

    Lehane contrasted this to Apple’s response to the price drop of the original iPhone back in 2007. Faced with a backlash from early adopters, Steve Jobs quickly published an apology on Apple’s website and issued a refund.

    “You acknowledge it; you address it; you deal with it,” Lehane said. “Apple must protect its brand image, its crown jewels, at all cost. Apple has enormous consumer loyalty but it depends on whether people believe it’s credible.”

    To protect its image, Apple will have to recall the iPhone, said Prof. Seeger, who is chair of the Department of Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit.

    Prof. Seeger said Apple will likely delay a recall, and may issue a temporary “patch” such as free bumpers. However, a recall is unavoidable, Prof. Seeger said, to protect the brand, which is more valuable than the cost of a recall.

    “Apple lives and dies by its reputation,” he said. “We pay a premium for its products. We expect them to operate on a premium level. It’s very unfortunate, but they will have no choice but to mount a recall.”

    Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
     
  15. JoJoCal19 macrumors 65816

    JoJoCal19

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    #15
    +1. Just when I thought the storm passed and things were getting back to normal. Then this *****torm comes from outta nowhere.
     
  16. deimos256 macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    my ip4 is boxed up and ready to be shipped back to apple, now i think ill wait till the last minute in case apple has a moment of clarity and issues a recall
     
  17. JoJoCal19 macrumors 65816

    JoJoCal19

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    #17
    Oh that's nothing. It was all over CNBC and Bloombergs front pages today. It was all over most every financial news site. I never did check to see where AAPL ended but as soon as this broke they were down several bucks a share.
     
  18. zizo79 macrumors 6502a

    zizo79

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    #18
    Apple has to respond !! Thank God, these issues came out within the 30 day return period !! Can you imagine if it didn't ?
    I do have a good reception, replicate the death grip thing but my data speed has deteriorated really bad.
     
  19. zub3qin thread starter macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

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    #19
    Apple is clever. They will respond AFTER the 30 day period is over.
     
  20. mcdj macrumors G3

    mcdj

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    #20
    Like my annoying upstairs neighbor who stomps around her apartment constantly, fully aware that she makes my life a sonic hell, but refuses to do a thing about it, Apple too knows the score here, but like a spoiled bratty kid, they seem not to give a crap.

    This isn't about some tweak they made to the Finder that irked a few power users. This is about 2 million phones that weren't designed properly. This is a major production error, perhaps Apple's largest, and certainly its highest profile mistake ever. The repercussions of admitting to and rectifying the situatuon via recall/exchange would amount to millions in lost revenue, a sizeable stock hit, and perhaps the worst part as far as Apple is concerned, a nice fat scratch in their shiny polished image, right at the height of their game.

    Their silence is deafening. The longer they remain quiet (and by quiet, I don't mean concocting half baked scifi excuses for why calls are dropping...a 6 year old lies better than Apple), the more culpable they obviously are. But Apple is so used to controlling the flow of their entire machine, they don't know how to handle this. Like a fawned-over child prodigy who screws up for the first time, Apple is completely without the skills to grow a pair and deal with this like a grown up company.

    The iPhone 4 has pulled the curtains open on the wizard, but the wizard has closed his eyes and is pretending the curtains are still shut.
     
  21. zizo79 macrumors 6502a

    zizo79

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    I will definitely return my iPhone before then !! even if I don't want to lol
     
  22. PerfSeeker macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    You know the case thing is ********. Anyone I've ever met with an iPhone 3G never had a case on it. Aren't iDevices as much about the aesthetic principle as anything else? Apple never advertises it inside a case. :mad:
     
  23. samcraig macrumors P6

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    #23
    Interesting to read comment from both "sides." Several people argued that an article on X site or paper didn't mean anything. "2+ million iphones have been sold..." and the more articles that come out they hold their guns. They insist that any press is good press and that it doesn't matter - Apple is kicking ass in sales.

    Ego aside (sincerely) - since Day one and the email I got from Steve I said that this is going to be a PR nightmare. It doesn't matter one iota if there is or is not an antenna/design issue. If it in the papers, on the internet and on TV all the time - it is NOT good for Apple.

    While SALES might not have taken a hit - the Company's IMAGE has. And ultimately, the Company's image is of bigger important in the long run.
     
  24. zub3qin thread starter macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

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    GENIUS post!
     
  25. Tom G. macrumors 68000

    Tom G.

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    #25
    Consumer Reports -- The iP4 is better than the HTC EVO

    Who says so? Our host, Arn writes:

    Earlier today, a Consumer Reports post made headlines after they concluded that they simply could not recommend the iPhone 4 due to the widely reported signal issues related to touching the lower-left corner of the device. This single issue alone has prevented them from fully recommending the iPhone 4. However, their formal testing otherwise revealed that the iPhone 4 ranked the highest amongst all smartphones in their testing.

    AllThingsD (via LoopInsight) summarizes the report (subscription required).
    The [iPhone 4] scored 76 out of 100 points–two points ahead of its closest rivals, the iPhone 3Gs and the HTC Evo 4G.
    ...
    The product evaluation agency rated the iPhone 4 “Excellent” in its display, navigation, Web browsing, multimedia and battery life categories, “Very Good” in phoning and messaging and “Good” in voice quality.

    The iPhone 4 beat out the HTC Evo as well as all the other Smartphones and had the highest score of 76/100. The signal issue described is that holding the lower-left corner of the iPhone 4 can reduce cell phone signal and affect calls in areas with lower reception. The issue depends on your local coverage and can be alleviated with a phone case.


    So inspire of its issues it is still better than the iPhone 3GS or the HTC EVO. And this from Consumer Reports, if you accept the one part of the report than you must also accept the rest.
     

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