Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone "industry" fires back

Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone "industry" fires back

Summary: RIM and other smartphone makers fired back after Apple tried to lump them together as all having smartphone antenna issues.

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TOPICS: CXO, Apple, iPhone, Mobility
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Just when Steve Jobs must have thought he'd addressed the public relations nightmare that's become known as "Antennagate" once and for all, along comes the backlash from Apple's smartphone brethren that Jobs tried to pull under the bus with him last week.

On stage at Friday's invitation-only press conference, Jobs didn't go right into his defense of the iPhone 4 and his dismissal of the hoopla as something blown out of proportion. Instead, he kicked things off by talking about smartphones made by rivals RIM, HTC and Samsung and how, as an industry, they all have antenna and reception issues.

I can almost hear the "What the... ?" from the offices of Research In Motion co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsille as they saw their product being put under the microscope by Steve Jobs. Here's the official reaction, posted on the All Things D Digital Daily blog:

Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.

Well said, gentlemen.

It was one thing for Apple to lower its standards to those of "the rest of the industry." As I said in a post on Friday, Apple has always taken pride in offering a premium product to customers willing to pay a premium price. That set it higher than the others. But clearly in the iPhone game - and now in the crisis management game - Apple is looking more like a rookie, instead of a global powerhouse.

Related: Did Apple iPhone 4 flap delay long-rumored Verizon Wireless debut?

I mean, really, did anyone there think that RIM and the others weren't tuning in to coverage of Apple's press conference and would just be OK with Jobs trying to shift attention away from the iPhone's woes by deflecting attention? Equally so, did Apple really think that the public was going to largely buy into its gospel about antenna shortcomings that it spewed on Friday? There are plenty of others out there - including the same rivals who responded to Apple's latest press event - who have studied antenna technology and can easily offer a counter-thought to Apple's statements. Nokia, for example, issued this statement:

Antenna design is a complex subject and has been a core competence at Nokia for decades, across hundreds of phone models. Nokia was the pioneer in internal antennas; the Nokia 8810, launched in 1998, was the first commercial phone with this feature. Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.

Former colleague and pal John Paczkowski at Digital Daily blog posted all of the statements from the companies if you want to read them in full. Some are softer - Samsung is also an Apple partner, after all - while others were stronger. HTC and Apple are across the table from each other in a patent legal battle, for example.

All the smartphone makers seem to know that there are challenges that come with antenna technology and that's why they choose to not put their antennas on the outside, especially in an area where it will be impacted by the way people hold the device. Just because Apple chose to put design first and is now seeing that decision backfire, that's no reason to try to mask that bad decision with a diversion tactic.

Everything else about the iPhone 4 may be better than anything else on the market. But that antenna makes the iPhone 4 a poorly designed device - plain and simple.

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Topics: CXO, Apple, iPhone, Mobility

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113 comments
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  • I disagree

    <i>Apple is looking more like a rookie, instead of a global powerhouse</i><br><br>I think Apple did exactly the right thing here. Giving free cases away was just right.<br><br>Steve Jobs, on the other hand, is the one that came away looking like the whiny little b!tch he is.<br><br><i>Waaaa, waaaaa, it is so unfair that they pick on my multi-national, multi-billion $$$/year mega-corporation just because we are successful. Waaaaaa.<br><br>Oh, BTW, did you hear that Windows crashes?</i>
    NonZealot
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

      @NonZealot
      "Oh, BTW, did you hear that Windows crashes?"

      LOL your killing me here... hahaha
      brad1000
      • Oh, BTW, did you hear that Windows crashes?

        @brad1000 Except for my 1 yr old Vista which hasn't crashed any of the 300 0r 800 times it has been turned on. Exactly WITF are you doing to Windows to make it crash? Or are you running Win 95? Or do you use Windows at all?
        richdave
    • Hey, and don't forget!!!

      @NonZealot

      Even though BP [i][b]finally[/i][/b] got the leak stopped, they now have to clean up all of the oil!

      (sadly, that is what all of us should have been more focused on this last month)
      SonofaSailor
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @SonofaSailor
        BP needs to hire Steve Jobs. Then he could just claim there's really no problem because Chevron and Texaco are spilling oil all over, we just don't know about it because we're too busy picking on his poor little company.
        garyleroy@...
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

      @NonZealot Agreed.

      [b]Oh, BTW, did you hear that Windows crashes?[/b] So far Windows 7 has not crashed on me once...
      athynz
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @athynz
        It will as soon as you turn it on.
        Serton
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @athynz haha
        I have win 7 at work and run ALOT of heafty applications. No crashes yet!

        I have win XP at home and have been running it for since release. Even win XP hasn't crashed on me!

        I think that crash issues are becoming something of the past....
        keitha73-23430377852780425463534611145075
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

      @NonZealot Yeah, well you are correct about Jobs being the "whiny little b!tch he is..." But you're wrong about Apple doing "exactly the right thing here." I will agree that for temporary purposes, a free case is the right thing, but to not offer a hardware fix for future sales and/or a total recall (no pun intended) is definitely the WRONG thing. With such hardware failure as this antennae design is, it's pretty pathetic to even attempt to compare other phones and how they drop bars with the Death Grip. The problem here is dropping CALLS, which these other phone do not with this Death Grip. The iPhone 4 is fundamentally flawed in its hardware and these other phones drop bars because of the basic principles of human signal interference. So Jobs' and the iSlaves aren't only coming out whining, they're coming out in the wrong by misdirection and misleading their customers by these moot, pathetic comparisons. Kudos for RIM, HTC, BB, Samsung for defending these blind attacks by FrApple.
      lividcreature
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

      @NonZealot yay ay.. the right thing to do. but not the right timing.

      Blaming AT&T, blaming software, denying there was a problem - all good diversionary tactics, but FIRST it would have been a mighty good idea to offer impacted users 10c worth of rubber (yeah I know the price tag says $30 but sales price rarely reflects manufacturing costs)
      redking44
    • Hubris

      @NonZealot I find it really disgusting to see a supposed adult, write about someone like S Jobs (the same would go for Gates or anyone of that importance) that he is a whining little bitch. I think whatever u think about him, you should respect what it represents (that is a big part of computing as we know it today) . The only consolation is that it comes from an anonymous nobody whose only occupation is being first to bash at Apple whenever a post is published...Shame really
      ∞Dilemma
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @InfiniteDilemma
        Yeah! I guess he could have called him "monkey boy" or "fartface" or some of the other monikers brandished about when talking about other executives. The only difference I see is no one called the others out for this. I think this is what my friend Non-zealot call cuing the double standard.
        eargasm
      • Your friend? - - lol... :D

        @windozefreak
        Why am I not surprised...
        ahh so
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @InfiniteDilemma If I made such a total screw up in my work, refuse to admit there is a problem for a month, then blame everything but my work, then try to drag my peers into the hole with me, then bitch about how everyone is attacking you. I'd expect to be called a whining little bitch.

        iPhone 4 is being judged on it's own merits. As a hand-held computer it's pretty awesome. As a telephone it's a piece of crap. If Job's can't handle the well earned criticism he should stay out of the industry.
        blakjak.au
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

        @InfiniteDilemma
        Geez, I remember the Apple fans at our company with their "Bill Gates is satan" posters spewing out hate all the time, and you get upset about your whiny little hero.

        No, actually Steve Jobs deserves all the empathy, respect and self-sacrificing consideration that he has given to others over the years. All we have to do is find someone that he gave it to. Well, let's see, probably his mom...no, maybe not...
        garyleroy@...
    • Apple "did the right thing" ...

      @NonZealot ... only to the extent that a free case is a legitimate (no cost to the consumer) way to mitigate the problem in the short-term. It is NOT a solution!

      If Apple's engineers are any good at all, they have already identified a permanent solution (such as a clear dielectric coating applied to the antennas before assembly which will keep human skin from conducting between them).

      Judging by the september end-date for the free bumpers, I am guessing that Jobs is gambling that he will sell all of the iPhone 4 devices already manufactured and in the pipeline before the deadline (and that all iPhones shipped after that date will have the permanenet fix applied).

      It's Jobs' unwillingness to come forward and fess-up to a very human characteristic - imperfection that is so annoying. Is he simply a COWARD or does he really believe this is not a design flaw and that everyone is out to get him?
      M Wagner
      • Maybe you should listen before you quote

        @mwagner@...

        In fact, if you LISTEN (that's what 2 ears are for) Jobs DID say Apple made an error in the software reaction to covering the antenna PLUS they tested every smart phone PLUS you can see this happening with every phone on YouTube.

        "It's Jobs' unwillingness to come forward and fess-up to a very human characteristic - imperfection that is so annoying."

        In fact, every early on he said Apple ISN'T perfect and that they DID find problems, just not the one the press and all you sheep out there THOUGHT they should have found.

        Proof is out there if you are willing to do a minute or two of research to get the TRUTH rather than just rehashing what some fool said somewhere.
        mlindl
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

      @NonZealot I agree with you here. Jobs and Apple SHOULD have said, "we overlooked this during testing and we are going back to the drawing board to correct it. In the meantime all current owners can return their phone for full credit or accept a case for free. We apologize."

      The end.

      But Steve Jobs has never been known for his modesty or humbleness.
      mridgesc
  • RE: Apple's iPhone 4 fallout: The smartphone

    To the senior editor at ZDNet: My observations of the past few days has shown that all the "rebuttals" posted on this topic by all the smartphone company representatives have never refuted the actual video results shown by Apple during the Job's press conference. If you have knowledge of any reported statements to the contrary, please state them now.

    If you cannot dispute those video results, than please refrain from posting Watergate era "non-denial denials" by yourself and other individuals in a sad attempt at displaying a rather hateful bias against a good faith attempt by Apple at explaining their position on this topic.

    This is not being an "Apple Apologist". Rather just show me one statement by RIM, Samsung or HTC that says .. Yep, those videos were bogus, fake or doctored with. Just one, please.
    kenosha77a
    • Nothing to refute

      @kenosha7777

      The bars depend on an algorithm. Apple just changed theirs on the iPhone. Hence you have no idea what the heck you were looking at. In addition, Apple could have tampered with the signal to make the effect more pronounced.

      Are you always this gullible? Unless the results came from and independent lab, they mean NOTHING. I only know one thing for sure: I cannot trust Jobs.
      Economister