Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

Summary: If I were Glenn Beck, it'd make me cry.


Well, it's official. Apple has finally become Microsoft. With all the noise about Apple's market cap over the past few weeks, what most of us failed to consider (until yesterday) was what truly differentiated Apple from Microsoft: the demo.

Steve Jobs has always been a demo god. His ability to hold an audience is legendary. His timing is flawless. His uniform of black turtleneck and jeans is iconic.

Oh, and one more thing... wireless sucks!

Microsoft's demos are supposed to crash, not Apple's. Say what you will about those kids in Cupertino, they've always had rock-solid demos.

But even Apple's near-flawless demo prep can't hold up to the load of a crowded convention center. As my friend and colleague, the very wise Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols described it in Help! I'm out of bandwidth and I can't get my demo up! the problem isn't just the Apple demo. It's that the wireless infrastructure in the United States is inferior -- and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Some regions are talking about replacing wireless phone networks with variants of WiFi. But as Jobs so frustratingly demonstrated, WiFi is vulnerable to overload. So, if you're one of only a few going online, you're fine. But if you're in a crowd, you're scrod. Sjvn is right when he says it isn't just a WiFi problem. He says:

The root cause of all of our bandwidth woes is a lack of infrastructure.

Apple announced all sorts of video capabilities on the iPhone 4. If you think AT&T couldn't keep up before, wait until this sexy, new, surprisingly low-priced phone gets into real use. AT&T's network is simply going to melt down.

And what of our broadband infrastructure? According to Speedtest's Net Index, the United States comes in 26th in terms of broadband speed.

Let me put this in perspective. The Greatest Country in the World has broadband speeds slower than Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and even Estonia.

How can that be? Andorra, a country a smaller population than my home of Palm Bay here in Florida, has better bandwidth speeds than the United States. There's something wrong about that. If I were Glenn Beck, it'd make me cry.

So, go ahead and buy your new iPhone 4. You know you're going to do it. But don't use it, or, well, you might break the network.

Can you hear me now?

Topics: Telcos, Apple, Broadband, Microsoft, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • WiFi net overload has **NOTHING** to do with self-caused fails in MS demos

    WiFi network overload has *NOTHING* to do with own-caused fails in MS demos<br><br><b>So lets not start with this cheap FUD.</b>

    TO MAKE IT CLEAR: when (Wi-Fi) network close to its peak possible load the later inquiring devices may be left in network on/off mode, while those which were happen to log in into the network before may stay quite solid.

    That is why the older iPhone -- which was prepared for the show and connected to Wi-Fi earlier that Jobs tried to get access to the network with iPhone 4 -- was loading the site better/more consistently than the new iPhone.

    The same happened during Google's demo few weeks ago when they tried to compare iPad with one of their new Google-devices (iPad worked fine on Wi-Fi, and their device stumbled).
    • Agreed. But then again it appears alot of other people managed

      to access the wireless.

      Why couldn't the iPhone with it's innovative new antenna design?
      John Zern
      • iPhone 4 also loaded like 30% of the site, but then there was delay

        @John Zern: obviously there is no problem with the phone itself -- few million of units were produced already, and before than the phone was in the testing for like half of the year (since late last year).
      • Author sounded like ...

        it's the first time Apple had a demo failure. It actually happened a lot in the past, and nobody paid much attention.
      • Read much?

        @John Zern
        Read what you just replied to. They joined the network first. Apple's big "D'oh" moment was not joining Steve's demo unit to the WiFi <i>before</i> it got overloaded.
      • Also who managed the demo?

        @John Zern
        I would have setup the demo to run on its own network aside from the guest network?
      • It's not about demo management. It's about the 802.11a/b/g/n standards.

        @OhTheHumanity: This wasn't about sharing the same wireless network. This was about sharing the same wireless frequency with a reasonable portion of the 600 wireless connections sharing a limited number of channels.
      • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

        @John Zern Like he said. Devices that were already connected were getting priority. The iPhone 4 that jobs was holding was low man on the totem pole so it didn't.

        It has nothing to do with the antenna, everything to do with when you happened to connect the device to the network, in relationship to the other devices.
      • &lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;forums&lt;/a&gt;

        @John Zern I really don't mind Andorra beating us, or even Liechtenstein. Estonia, now you're getting into more touchy ground. [Drug usage is high out there btw, as the name suggests]. But the Republic of Moldova. For shame. That really highlights, as few things can, just how tawdry things have gotten.
    • Google had the same problem few weeks ago; David, where were you **then**?

      Google had demo.
      • But it's expected from Google

        but <font color="green"><b>never</b> from Apple as thier products don't do things like that, which is why they're better then everything else.</font>

        <font color="blue">Right?</font>
        John Zern
    • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

      Hallowed are the Ori
    • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

      AT&T'S network needs an overhaul. There service sucks. I travel 3 states and carry 2 phones to get good coverage in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. There should be a class action suite to get millions of users a refund on some of there monthly fee's over the last 2 years. Nick Reyes
      • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

        @NickReyes1 At least their grammar doesn't. ;),-Their-and-They%27re
    • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

      @denisrs Me thinks someone hit a nerve
    • BYO Wi-Fi

      Or you can get Froyo on Sprint and make your own Wi-Fi!
  • Did anyone else have an issue, or just the iPhone

    with it's re-imagined antenna?
    John Zern
  • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

    Any sufficiently hyped Apple product is indistinguishable from magic... well, to the Apple faithful it is.
    Hallowed are the Ori
    • Oh, THAT was good! (nt)

    • RE: Steve Jobs, demo god, crashes to Earth and Apple finally becomes Microsoft

      @James T. Kirk Now that was funny.