Consumer Reports and the iPhone 4: Not Recommended

It's official: the arbiter of all things consumer thinks there's a problem - make that confirms there's a problem - with the iPhone 4'a antenna

It has been absolutely amazing to watch Apple screw up the iPhone 4 antenna debacle. This is, arguably, the best marketing company in the world, and, wow, I can't believe how badly they have handled this easily-preventable situation in a manner worthy of the federal government. First it's the "if it hurts when you do that, don't do that" solution of holding the phone just so, generating significant ribbing and outright ridicule. Even Steve would have to admit there's no solution here. And then there was the signal-strength (histogram) software issue, which changes the number of bars displayed in particular circumstances, but most certainly does not change the electrical problem with the phone itself. The marketing here was equally ridiculous, as in "gee, we're sorry we misled you as to how much signal you really had, so now you know why your calls are dropping." C'mon, Apple. Behaving like Microsoft isn't becoming in the least.

Consumer Reports recommends using masking tape (or similar) to fix the problem. Wow, those great new stylistic lines ruined. I have a better idea: Apple should give away the $29 accessory Bumper, free, with each iPhone, and send everyone who's bought the handset to date a coupon for same. This thing must have a cost of goods of, what, all of a buck, so, granted, there's financial hit here of millions of dollars, but how much more do you want to lose, Apple, trying to sell a product with a clear defect that is so easily fixable? How much is what's left of your reputation worth? Hmmm? And if this mess proceeds to a total recall, you can knock 10% off your otherwise impressive stick price. It can take years to build a reputation, as Apple knows, but only mere moments to lose it. You can't, my friends in Cupertino, afford this problem any longer.

Why do "big" and "arrogant" so often go together, especially when commerce is involved? OK, dumb question, but Apple's response to this whole mess has been just that, arrogant. Engadget has reported that Apple is even censoring its support blogs to try (unsuccessfully, of course, the Web being big and all) to contain the damage. It's sad to see the company that so looked out "for the rest of us" behaving just like the rest of them. Sure, Apple's true believers will always resemble the mind-numbed audience in the original Mac 1984 commercial, but the rest of us are way smarter than that.

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