Putting Antennagate Behind Us

Apple's iPhone 4 antenna problem is solved - but will it return?

You've probably heard by now, but Apple is doing precisely what I and a few others recommended - admit there's a problem, and give away a free bumper case. Apart from a manufacturing fix - which will likely involve a thin, transparent plastic (electrically-insulating) coating on the antennas themselves, that should be the end of it - for Apple, anyway, and this time alone. But - will next time, for Apple or a competitor, be different?

Interestingly, Steve Jobs pointed out that other smart phones have similar problems. True enough. The design of all mobile devices, as I've said many times, involves compromise. Apple should consider itself lucky that the problem in its case was so easily identifiable and reproducible, and that no big engineering and/or manufacturing changes are required. Some analysts were estimating that a fix might involve a recall or otherwise potentially billions of dollars regardless. This is all just sheer nonsense; there is no safety problem (which might merit a recall), and the performance issue is easily fixed in the field by the user alone. The marketing damage, as I previously noted, was potentially far worse, but Steve Jobs' performance today was just fine, if not as humble as it might have been (enough said there, too).

But this whole affair should be a lesson to the entire industry - and beyond. When widespread reports of a technical or other performance problem surfaces, vendors should respond with concern, and not with dismissiveness. Don't try to change the subject with a "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" growl. Always assume the customer is right until proven otherwise. It's better to be able to say that the claim of a particular issue was wrong than the company was. And such wasn't the case here.

But, again, it's over. Let's move on. A pleasant weekend to all.

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