Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

Summary: For early adopters, owning an iPhone 4S hasn't been a great experience.

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In case you haven't been paying attention, the iPhone 4S has been having more than its share of issues over the past few days. But should early adopters be surprised?

Here's the rundown:

First, the battery life. Dubbed "batterygate" the iPhone 4S's biggest problem so far has been characterized by inexplicably bad battery life. On Wednesday, Apple eventually dropped a few, mostly vague details on the causes of the issues, which the company ascribed to bugs in iOS 5. "A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices”, Apple said in a statement. “We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks.”

But that wasn't the last of Apple's problems. The latest set of issues involve Siri, the now-beloved voice assistant plugged into the iPhone 4S. Since 11AM on Thursday users have reported a pretty widespread outage of the Siri software. So far Apple hasn't said anything on the cause if the issues, - which isn't much a surprise considering it tends to be how Apple handles these sorts of things. Explained or not, the loss of Siri is a big deal for many users, many of whom picked up the iPhone 4S for that very functionality.
But in the midst of the outage it is easy to forget one thing: as robust as Siri currently is, the software is still in beta. Apple doesn't say this too loudly, of course.  Instead the company relegates the mentioning of Siri's beta distinction to a small bit of print on the software's page: "Siri is available in Beta only on iPhone 4S and requires Internet access." Perhaps Siri's current issues should be understood within that context.

Either way, the beta label is an interesting one and leads, somewhat inevitably, to the question of whether all new devices be given the same title. After all, less than a month has passed since the iPhone 4S was released. Shouldn't a few hardware and software hiccups be a given? Early adopters of the Xbox 360 and countless other devices have also felt the effects of buying into a new technology early on. It's called the early adopter tax, and is rarely ever a good thing. Then again, its just as easy to argue the opposite: Products that come to market should be complete ones, not bug-filled, semi-complete releases. Whatever direction a new product goes, its the early adopters that are hit with the bulk of the issues. And that's not an enviable position to be in.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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  • Apple apologetics

    From the headlne onward, this article reads like an exercise in defending failure, penned by an Apple apologist.

    Let's make this very simple.

    Apple screwed up.

    No consumer can be blamed in any way for this debacle.

    Buying an iPhone 4S is NOT early adoption, by any definition. These are loyal iPhone customers, who wanted or needed the next upgrade. The iPhone is a well-established product. Apple's corporate QA process should be, too, by now. There is no excuse for what happened.

    Can you imagine people offering this excuse to let Microsoft off the hook, even if it was a completely new product like Kinect or WP7? Such double-standards in tech journalism are what give Apple such an easy ride.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Tim Acheson Totally agree on this. It seems when Apple does something all we get is excuses and trying to make it seem like its not a bad problem. If anyone else has the same issues then they get slated for it.
      jhughesy
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

        @jhughesy No, you are BOTH wrong.

        First we need to clearly define the parameters of what we are talking about here.

        THIS BATTERY PHENOMENON IS **NOT** AN iPHONE 4S ISSUE. There, now that we understand that, let's call it what it is--a bug in iOS, that also happens to affect other, non-4S iphones that upgraded on release day.

        Now, Siri, a "beta" product by definition and clear announcement, is certainly going to have outages as servers are moved and load balancing takes place. That said, I find it to be very poor planning to have ALL voice recognition offloaded to the cloud--especially when the 3GS and 4 had speech recognition for commands that were processed IN-DEVICE. I hope they eventually see that as a step backward and not forward.

        Now, people want to compare this to things like the "red ring of death" from the X-Box? The two are hardly comparable.

        My iPhone 4S isn't having battery trouble, and if it were, I'd turn off the error reporting and contact syncing that is clearly causing the abundance the problems. But still, that in no way renders my device unusable, a la "red ring"

        I'm not an apologist. I'm a little annoyed with these problems from a perception point a view. But the device still ranks, and will continue to rank, as the highest mobile device--on record--in consumer satisfaction.

        This is tech, and things go wrong. These are small things, not halting usability.

        You want a REAL failure? A sense of scope? Just ask the Canadians, whose non-beta, "mission critical" email services went offline for almost half a week.
        lelandhendrix@...
      • There is **no** need for excuses: both mentioned problems are very small

        @jhughesy: ... very small number of people experience battery life issues, and Siri problems were also small. <br><br>To media, just few reports of problems always seem to be like <b>wall-to-wall failure</b>. However, this is just cheap tabloidish sensationalism.<br><br>Yes, problems are real, but this has nothing to do with any kind of general conclusions about "early adopters"; the problems are local to certain groups of users, not to general majority.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

        @dersss these are not small problems!

        The 4s and the 4 with iOS 5 appear to use battery at 2x the rate of the iPhone 4 running iOS 4. Yes it is a bug in the OS but that doesn't make it a small problem.

        Also, Siri was a major outage and it is obvious you're not using it because pretty much everyone was getting "I'm sorry, <insert name here> something went wrong." when trying to use the service.

        Now as for Beta, I have seen the videos advertising Siri and they didn't make it clear that it was Beta anywhere but on their website so don't blame The customers because Apple intended to defraud people into believing this feature was going organize their life as an always on assistant!

        You guys can say what you want, but Siri took a few sick days and the average customer that bought it had no Idea she had a pre-existing condition!
        slickjim
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Tim Acheson
      YOu make it sound like being an apologist is a bad thing...

      It does not mean someone is defending failure... and it doesn't even fit to the situation as buying a product isn't a religion... even if you incorrectly try to make it so.

      Did you read these problems? One.. the battery life is MINOR... people are over-reporting this... and blowing it out of proportion for page hits. The battery "issue" isn't even an iPhone 4S problem, but a iOS5 problem and is affecting more iPhones than the 4S. But its still a minor issue because its draining ever so slightly faster *if* you have many certain options enabled and set up certain ways.

      Second.. a beta service has an outage...? oh yes, lets get the torches and pitchforks and storm Apple...
      doh123
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

        @doh123 I'm sorry I know I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but if people are reporting it enough for the news, blog sites, and the company to admit there's a problem, then it's not a small problem. As a consumer, my thought is that yes maybe not everyone is having the problem, BUT I am and it's not fair that I paid so much for their latest and greatest only to find out that I can't take my defective one back and have to wait for some software engineer to figure why mine out of the many millions where sold doesn't work right.

        As for Siri ya it's a beta, ya it went down, but why not lable it BETA. Every Swype beta keyboard is labeled Beta, every app, rom, software, that is not ready for the mainstream public is labeled Beta. Even the Windows 8 developer preview clearly states Beta on the software itself, but yet when you open Siri there's no beta. The only indication of beta is on their website that was posted after it's release. So no I wouldn't say get the torches, but I do say own up to the issues and fix them for your consumers.
        shadeoblac
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Tim Acheson
      The difference here is microsoft doesn't try to hide the problem until it's out of complaint control and responds immediately. A lesson apple could well learn from but never does. Apple is so tight lipped about their new products and can be expected now a days to be somewhat buggy. They just don't like to put much out for beta testing except to a closed community.

      So lets step back to the last few years... iphone 4's come out.. hottest invention since fire to most and it has an antenna problem. Deny, deny, deny, oops quite a few are complaining now, deny more, now the complaints are to many to be deleted from the forums..

      MacDefender... Deny impossibility, deny, deny, oops now a few thousand, deny, deny, deny. Fix it.

      More malware on a MAC that even disables the anti-malware text file... deny, deny deny deny deny...

      Batterygate... deny, deny,deny crap out of control again..

      At least Microsoft has the decency to immediately admit the problem and fix it.

      With the stupidly immortal words of steve jobs, "it just works", I'm sure not very impressed so far.
      Nate_K
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Tim Acheson Ditto!
      adholt
  • What goes round comes around

    So, it's not just Microsoft who rushed their product out to market then!
    Zarniw00p
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Zarniw00p Where have you been the last half decade? iPhone 4 problems, 3GS problems 3G problems, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro problems, plastic MacTastic, sorry MacBook discoloration, iPod problems, iMac problems, OS Lion problems, OS X SL problems, OS X Leopard problems, OS X Tiger problems...

      And probably a lot more. Nearly every release has brought minor or major problems with it, whether it be a driver problem, causing Macs to crash (OS X Lion) or discoloured screens or cases (various iPhones, iPods and platic MacBook).

      Apple users are very vocal, when things go wrong, but they also seem to forget quickly, when the next release comes around.

      It goes something like: "Wahaa, my case has discolored! Darned Apple, don't they get anything right? ... Oooh, shiny shiny, must have..." Rinse and repeat.

      I've been through 2 iPhone 3GS during my contract and one of our users has been through 4 3GS and 5 iPhone 4 phones in a year!

      I like my iMac, even if it is getting incredibly slow, it has worked flawlessly since I bought it, but I did wait a month or two for the problems to be sorted out, before ordering.

      Apple aren't the worst offenders, but they are certainly a long way from perfect, when it comes to delivering reliably shiny shinies to the masses.
      wright_is
      • Every company messes up...

        @wright_is At the end of the day, the better company is the one that handles the screw up, well... better. Apple always provides exceptional customer service, and that's what makes a world of difference.

        No doubt, Microsoft also takes care of their screw ups. Example: Xbox 360, 3 year warranty.

        We can bitch and moan about who did what, and that's great. Flame wars make commenting worth while.
        General C#
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

        @wright_is

        +1

        I had an iPhone 3G and it was replaced after 90 days. Now, I have an iPhone 4 and it has problems as well. I upgraded to Loin and I have been working through several problems, but when I was running Snow Leopard, I had no problems. What happen to "it just works"!!!
        YouCanDoItAgain
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    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

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      TedZeck
  • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

    Summary: For early adopters, owning an iPhone 4S hasn???t been a great experience

    Seriously? C'mon! There have been some problems, for SOME people, but overall most people have not experienced any problems.
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Habiloso
      I agree... the battery life has simple work-a-rounds, and even if you don't do it, the battery life is not dismal.. instead of having 50% at the end of a day of heavy use it has like 30%... if I set options up more battery efficient it has like 60%. Its just a minor issue blown out of proportion like all problems with Apple, everyone takes minor problems and beats Apple over the head with them acting like they should be perfect. Any other company has a minor issue they are barely mentioned.

      besides the Siri outage that was slightly annoying, my 4S has been fantastic.
      doh123
  • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

    The only thing that "early-adopter" applies to in the context of the 4S is Siri. The phone itself is a Gen 2 product EXCLUDING all the prior iPhones to the 4.

    I'm glad I stuck with my 4 and will wait for the next truly all new iPhone. The 4S is a good product for those whose 3GS contracts are expiring now, and that's really about it.
    Playdrv4me
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

      @Playdrv4me
      This is a common misconception. Just because something looks the same on the outside, doesn't mean its the same on the inside...
      doh123
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S issues show the problem with being an early adopter

        @doh123

        What the heck? Who said ANYTHING about the damn thing being the same?

        I said that the 4S is a *GEN 2 PRODUCT*. This means that the 4S builds upon and improves the 4. However, I'll have quite the chuckle if you try to tell me that the 4S and the 4 are as different as the 3GS and the 4. The 4S and the 4 have the same epic display (the best thing about the entire device after the O/S), the same case, and the same amount of RAM. Sure the cameras are different and the 4S has a dual core processor, but I stand by my statement... It is a GEN 2 product and NOT "all new", so there's nothing "early adopter" about it. It's a good upgrade for 3G and 3GS users coming out of contract, but it is by no means a must have for 4 users.

        By the way, I'm not sure where the hell my original comment scampered off to. These commenting issues really need to be fixed.
        Playdrv4me