Posted by: Frank | July 18, 2010

It’s Not About The Antenna!

On Friday Apple held a press conference to address the issues being reported about the antenna on the iPhone 4 and the resulting loss of radio reception that can cause the phone to completely disconnect from the network. I covered the details about the press conference, which I did not attend but watched via GDGT’s live blog, in my post on MobileContentToday. As I have been thinking about the entire issue I conclude that Apple and all of its fanboys are missing the entire point. The reaction that I am seeing on the Internet is not with the problem itself as much as it is to the arrogance at Apple that has been growing ever since Steve returned to Apple.

Fans of Apple might not get what I am saying, so let me suggest that they stop for a moment and remember how they felt about Microsoft during the ’90s. How much they hated Bill Gates for stealing Apple’s ideas, and the arrogance of Microsoft. Let’s just say that what goes around comes around and now is your time. When you put yourself on the pedestal, like the I’m a Mac ads do, don’t be shocked (shocked!) when at the moment you stumble people pile on. For most kicking those who claim superiority while they are down is sport, and saying that is what is happening does not help.

The fact of the matter is, Apple has not denied that there is in fact a problem with the reception on the iPhone 4. They won’t admit that putting the antenna on the outside of the phone is a design flaw, yet they are providing free cases (or the bumper) that is a sufficient work around to the problem. If there is no problem, why does the work around work? To my knowledge no other mobile phone requires a case in order to work properly, despite the fact all mobile phones do have a reception problem.

Oh and by the way, I think most mobile phone users will agree that there are times and places where their phones lose connection. The difference is, the manufacturers of those phones do not have their CEOs go up on a stage and proclaim the antenna design on their latest phone is the best ever. If you own a mobile phone think of the times when your phone has lost a connection. (iPhone or otherwise). I bet 99% of the time you blamed your mobile provider’s network rather than the phone. The great irony of Antennagate is that Apple has turned what has widely been considered a carrier problem and made it their own. iPhone 3G and 3GS users constantly bashed AT&T for their poor network; now iPhone 4 users bash the phone itself. I imagine the happiest about the whole affair is AT&T as it has taken some heat off of them.

This brings me back to my point. The backlash is not due to the phone, its due to arrogance, and Apple did nothing but fan the flames of reaction to it on Friday. Rather then spending slide after slide trying to build the case of why there really isn’t a problem, and that the iPhone is no different than any other phone, Apple should have simply stated that they are sorry some people are not happy, tell them what they will do to make it right with their customers, and thank their customers for continuing to buy Apple’s products.

I don’t think Antennagate is going to go away. Apple’s smartphone competitors will be smart to keep it in the press, no doubt saying that people can use their phones without the need for a case. Giving away cases and offering refunds is only a short term fix that will only work until Apple stops providing them in September. In my opinion Apple needs to do two things at this point. First, work on a replacement to the iPhone 4 that provides a more permanent fix to the problem, such as putting some type of clear coating over the antenna and get it to market by September. Second, finally bring a non-AT&T version of the iPhone to the market in the U.S. and put the whole radio reception issue back on the carriers, where it was before the iPhone launched.


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