Two Thoughts About the CR Review

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by aggie03, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. aggie03 macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2009
    Some background: I am the farthest thing from an Apple fan boy, in fact, I am the son of an engineer who has been designing PCs for the last 30 years. It was completely "unacceptable" for me to own an Apple product up until about 5 years ago. At home I started making the switch to a Mac when Vista was released, and haven't found a reason to switch back. At work, I use a Dell laptop, and it does a great job for what I use it for. From a smartphone perspective I have owned an AT&T 8525 (HTC made windows based phone), a Blackberry Curve, the iPhone 3G, and now the iPhone 4.

    With that said, here are my thoughts about the CR article:

    1) I was a subscriber to CR for about two years. In those two years I took 3 product recommendations from Consumer Reports. The first was for a cordless home telephone, the second was for a lawn mower, and the third was for a refrigerator. Both the cordless phone and the lawn mower were two of the worst purchases I have ever made. I was honestly bewildered as to how CR could recommend such terrible products.

    2) Consumer reports as an entity has received more attention over the past 24 hours than the previous year in total. They had a complete incentive to make news by not endorsing the iPhone 4.

    I understand the issue with the antenna is real. However, people seem to want to deify CR as the be all end all of product reviews. In my experience they are more than satisfied with reviewing a product in a certain way to achieve increased popularity of their brand. Ask Isuzu about this.
  2. PerfSeeker macrumors 6502a

    Jul 10, 2010
    Agreed CR is a worthless publication. I trust youtube video reviews for more these days then some paid-for magazine. The whole "death-grip" issue is a tempest in a teapot affecting maybe 1000 users.
  3. GamecockMac macrumors 6502a


    Oct 20, 2005
    Columbia, SC
  4. bakertime macrumors newbie

    Jul 13, 2010
    I have had similar experiences with CR...I detailed cars for a summer and had tried a whole bunch of different waxes before setting on a favorite. CR released an article on the best car waxes, so I gave their #1 a was HORRIBLE. Caused streaks on dark cars, was 3X more difficult to remove, along with other things. I have lost just about all faith in what they have to say due to that, and things I've heard similar to your experiences.

    However, their reasons for not recommending it may or may not be brand-based, but I do sort of doubt that they would not recommend it for attentions sake. Like you said, the reason they gave IS a legitimate reason, and more than anything, we should probably be GLAD that they said what they said because it calls more public attention to Apple, which will hopefully yield a sooner fix.
  5. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    I think it's more users than that, but how much is uncertain.

    First CR makes a report without even testing the iPhone 4, but relying on other's information, and then they test THREE phones. Make of that what you will.
  6. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    "2) Consumer reports as an entity has received more attention over the past 24 hours than the previous year in total. They had a complete incentive to make news by not endorsing the iPhone 4."

    I'm not going to argue the merits of the review or not. There's an issue with reception in the iPhone 4. How pertinent it is is irrelevant to my point.

    And I am not advocating CR as a reputable publication.

    But - it is entirely possible that YOU and others here haven't noticed Consumer Reports reviews in the news over the past year because nothing they've published has been of interest of you.

    If you were in the market or just bought a new lawnmower - like you said and CR had come out with an article - about how one manufacturer was unsafe - you'd notice it. But if you weren't interested in lawnmowers - who is to say you'd notice the article or any commentary on it.

    You can not like CR or their reviews. But trying to add weight to that by insinuating that since YOU haven't noticed any other articles of theirs in the public light it means that they're just going after a headline or whatnot is just silly.

    As a review publication - it goes against their mission statement and common sense to have incentive to deliberately try and make news.

    CR didn't create the problem.

    Do you think Apple's letter about fixing the bars is legitimate, honest and without any deceit/spin? But you can ignore that?
  7. PerfSeeker macrumors 6502a

    Jul 10, 2010
    At the end of the day who is gonna come out smelling like roses - CR or Apple? I'd put my money on Apple. CR to go to no subscriptions in 3...2...1.. SPLAT :D
  8. aggie03 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2009
    Samcraig - I think Apple's explanation is laughable.

    I truly believe there is a problem with the design; I just think it is being grossly exaggerated.

    I also take issue with CR giving the phone the highest review of all smartphones, but then giving it the "cannot recommend" rider. If they truly believe that the phone is superior to others, understand that an easy (and wise) fix is available, then the review should have been, "buy the phone, but get a case to protect your investment".

    To me, Apple's should address this situation by admitting that the phone experiences higher grades of attenuation then other antenna designs, apologize to the consumers, and then provide a free bumper (or equivalent) to those consumers strongly affected by the defect.

    Unfortunately this isn't a cheap option. I have seen people on this board point out the fact that the cost to manufacture the bumpers is probably less than $1. I won't comment as to whether or not I think this is accurate, but I will comment on the fact that Apple execs won't look at this scenario by considering the straight cost of manufacturing the bumpers. They are going to be looking at the opportunity cost of not selling the bumpers at a price of $29. The gross margin on those things is absurd, and most likely far out-paces the actual phone itself.
  9. Vertigo50 macrumors 65816


    Apr 11, 2007
    CR's overall worth in the world is not really the issue. All of this is about perception. CR is perceived as a good independent testing agency of all kinds of products. Whether they still deserve their reputation is irrelevant, as I think the majority of consumers believe their tests are solid.

    Now, when iPhone antenna issues first started cropping up, there were a lot of videos of people losing bars, but a lot of videos of people NOT losing bars. The public perception was that maybe people were faking it, or overblowing the issue.

    When Consumer Reports came out with their lab test, showing with actual numbers that the phone has serious hardware issues, the public perception shifted completely. News organizations jumped all over it because CR is believed to be trustworthy, and this was seen as confirmation of the problem.

    So, is CR really trustworthy? The answer is: It doesn't really matter.

    The public relations nightmare has begun, and Apple has to do something about it fast, because their "software fix" now makes them look like a bunch of liars.
  10. Fernandez21 macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2010
    It's simple, CR sucks if they disagree with your product preferences and are the best if they agree.
  11. aggie03 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 13, 2009
    Two other thoughts:

    1) It will be cool to check out the Google trends of the phrase "consumer reports" over the next couple of days. I just tried to look at it, but the graph doesn't show enough detail for the past couple of days.

    2) 100% agree with the PR issue. I guarantee you Jobs is regretting his "Hold it different" response. Between the old "Think Different" adage, and the fact that the response was flat out ridiculous, the phrase will never go away. Never.
  12. brayhite macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    N. Kentucky
    For the record, CR isn't funded by anyone other than subscribers and donators. it's non-profit, so their only real incentive is (supposed to be) for themselves. Besides, they have to pay those who work and test their products, and pay for the products tested (I read that somewhere, but can't find a link). So I don't think doubting the incentives behind CR is worth noting.

    The real thing worth noting is this article published today:

    To summarize, they go on to further say that they couldn't give the recommendation tag, despite the iP4 ranking the highest overall, because the attenuation problem.

    I can't really argue that. You wouldn't test 5 televisions and, even though one set had the sharpest picture, best workmanship, most adapters in the back, etc., recommend it if the picture wasn't visible from a certain angle that wasn't uncommon to watch it from (let's say, from the left), would you?

    CR did their job: they provided an in-depth report and rankings, and gave a recommendation based on all factors of the product. One major factor is this antenna problem, therefore it couldn't be recommended. It's up to the consumer ultimately to read the full article and decided. Not everyone does that, but not everyone investigates just how much you get when paying $1200 for a MBP and assumes it's just an overpriced laptop. That could be said vice versa, but I don't care to catch flak for something that is meant to be a metaphor.

    Anyway, CR isn't at fault at all here. Apple clearly is, and CR is merely supporting what many people here have been saying. And now that CR is making it so widely public, it's a problem? Not at all. The problem always existed, and still does.
  13. Pattycerts macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2007
    I don't know why people need to convince themselves this iPhone 4 problem isn't real.

    If it doesn't affect you (like me), or you don't care anyway, then so be it. But you can't deny it exists.
  14. JoJoCal19 macrumors 65816


    Jun 25, 2007
    Jacksonville, FL
  15. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I recently read the book "The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History" by Jason Vuic. One of the key points it makes is that a terrible rating from Consumer Reports, which subsequently gained a ton of media attention, started the snowball rolling that killed the company. Now, obviously the Yugo was a crap car, but the power of CR to sway opinion is real.

    Of course Apple will survive this, but the point is that they can take a serious hit in public opinion if they don't "overreact to the overreaction" with some sort of definitive action that fully takes care of their customers, and then some.

    Just for the heck of it, I fired off an email to Mr. Jobs last night. I pointed out to him that last weekend I visited my mother, and when she my new iPhone she immediately asked about the "antenna issue". She knows almost nothing about technology. I am surprised she even knows what an iPhone is. Yet this news about the antenna has spread so far and wide that the first thing anyone thinks about when they hear the word "iPhone" is "faulty antenna".

    That's a problem.
  16. brayhite macrumors 6502a

    Jun 21, 2010
    N. Kentucky
    Not to harp on your point, but it seems like Yugo was the only car that the manufacturer was known for in America. Apple is known to make other quality products. Even though their revenue stream seems to depend heavily on the iPhone 4 as of late, they aren't going to be shunned and disband for creating a horrible product. Microsoft is still alive after-all in a post-Vista world, aren't they? On a sidenote, I just read this interview of the author of the book you mentioned. It's here.

    I do completely agree with your last two sentences. Not because I like Apple products, but for any product to have such a common, negative association. A company wants their slogan or a positive motto attributed to their name and product, not a design flaw.

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