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High Ground Maneuver (Scott Adams on the iPhone 4 press conference) (dilbert.com)
227 points by salar on July 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments



I really do hate to admit it, but if BP had said "All of the easy sources of oil have been found fifty years ago. If the oil industry stops taking risks, many of you would be out of work in less than a decade. We all want a future of clean energy, but no one sees a way to get there as quickly as we need to. We will do everything we can to clean up the spill, and to make things right with the Gulf economy." then I think I would feel better about the company than I do now.


The core difficulty with that statement would be that it's wholly false. The cause of the loss of the rig and the ongoing spill was not due to unexceptional circumstances it was due to negligence on BP's part. BP management overrode the better judgement of Transocean personnel and they ignored the established operating procedures and best practices of the industry. Had those procedures been followed there would have been no loss of life, no loss of the rig, and no spill.

Instead, BP chose to cut corners in an attempt to save a tiny amount of cost on what was likely to be a hugely profitable operation regardless. There's no excuse for that.


Alternatively BP followed the lax standards required by the US rather than the stricter standards required in the North Sea. If it had applied all the extra european safety standards then somebody else could have extracted the oil more cheaply and would have outbid them for the rights. Then this would be a shell or esso or gulf oil disaster.

Blaming the foreigners for the US safety regs is like a country with no driving tests or traffic laws blaming Ford for car accidents.


What evidence is there that BP fully lived up to US safety regulations? I'm not sure that's the case but I don't have all the details.

Personally, I don't view BP as a "foreign" entity, they are a trans-national corporation.

Regardless, you do make a good point, if the US had as stringent of standards as required in the North Sea likely none of this would have happened.


I don't know, although there were items like a blowout preventer that would be required in other areas.

I also don't know what the contract was, was BP in day-day charge of the rig or was that the company the rig was leased from? The capping operation was apparently being done by Haliburton!

I do know that the US has 4x the industrial accident rate of Uk/Germany/Scandanavia and it's not due to foreign companies.


The same could be said of the iPhone 4 issue as well though. It was negligent. At least one Apple engineer warned that it would be an issue and they released it anyway. No it wasn't to cut costs but it was meant to improve the marketing of the phone.

Yes signal attenuation affects all phones if you hold them a certain way. But it's worse with the iPhone. So in that sense SJ is making the same kind of false statement that BP would have made with this response.


I'd say in the iPhone case, it's a design trade off. If you just look at the antenna alone, you might claim it's negligent but in the context of the entire device is just a minor design trade off. The idea that it's a major flaw seems pretty unwarranted. I've had phones with major flaws, this is nothing.


Not being able to use a phone to make phone calls, when held in a normal way, is a major flaw.

Other phones put their antennas in the base for a reason - the hand doesn't cover the whole area. Try as I can, I cannot replicate the problem holding an HTC Desire in a normal, comfortable grip.


Keep in mind that your anecdotal experience with the HTC carries very little weight; I tried covering the iPhone 4 gap with my hand in areas with one bar, two bars, and three bars of coverage, and couldn't produce a visible drop--and that was specifically using an abnormal, uncomfortable grip to observe the problem.


Sure, but the only unbiased scientific study is the Consumer Reports one.


But even Consumer Reports says it's their highest rated smartphone.


'BP management overrode the better judgement of Transocean personnel '

Got a reference for that? Since Transocean owned the rig, my understanding is that most of the responsibility for how to operate the rig lay with Transocean.


They could have said that, but ultimately it would have been a mistake, I think. Mostly because of things that have been alleged about the incident, their safety record, and the fact that the average number of barrels spilled by thousands of other Gulf platforms (including numerous deepwater wells) was on the order of 1000 barrels yearly.

No one would have felt small-minded to focus on those details, especially as the total number of barrels climbs toward 5 million.

Bottom line, you need to be near the top of the hill to take the moral high ground, and by all accounts, BP was near the bottom.


How is that different than me pointing out that Jobs had to ignore more than just one expert's opinion and delivered information that the phone was susceptible to this flaw?


Because you can't put the oil back in the Earth or bring back 11 dead men as easily as you can take back an iPhone.

They might appear to be logically equivalent[1], but one clearly has hope of gaining empathy from the public and the other does not, especially considering BP was already on the hot seat about their safety record.

[1]I don't think they are - Apple's design decisions are no where in the same league as BP's ongoing record of putting the health of their employees at risk. The only entity benefitting from BP's decision would have been BP, whereas the antenna design supposedly gives better reception when the signal is not being attenuated by the user's grip.


The discussion wasn't about the magnitude, it was about willful ignorance. It's actually worse. BP was taking a risk by being cheap. Apple knew that the decision they were making would have consequences rather than just a chance.


Yes, I understand this is ironic and also against the rules but come on, downvoting this comment? I know that HN loves its iPhone vs Android debate. I know "we" all love to downvote people on the "wrong" side but really, really?

And the only response was that it's on a different magnitude. The discussion wasn't about the magnitude, it was about willful ignorance. It's actually worse. BP was taking a risk by being cheap. Apple knew that the decision they were making would have consequences rather than just a chance.


I think casting the spill as the inevitable byproduct of oil exploration, and not the result of carelessness, would be far more harmful to the oil industry in the long run.


> far more harmful to the oil industry in the long run.

Given that this is a media driven news cycle type event, a short term fix may be the only thing that could work to deflect criticism. Besides, large corporations are not known for thinking in the long term usually, so your retort does seem a little odd to me.

That does raise a question… Does this industry need to be harmed to make further progress elsewhere? (I don’t consider myself much of an eco-sympathizer; I tend to look at oil politics from a more conservative “national sovereignty” angle.)


Besides, large corporations are not known for thinking in the long term usually

BP doesn't have to be thinking twenty years out to see the folly of admitting that there is an unavoidable risk in drilling.


Everyone in the industry knows they'll be transitioning off of oil in the long run. In the short run, this would take the fall off BP, and onto the oil industry, just as Apple moved the blame onto the phone industry.


Good. We can only hope that the oil industry is damaged by this already, but probably not. Most people just do not care about this stuff.


> then I think I would feel better about the company than I do now

I would adore BP if they said that. We all would. And then we'd suddenly be that much more motivated to support alternative energy.

That's why they didn't say it.


BP would benefit off of alternative energy as well. They do quite a bit of alternative energy research and investment. It just isn't where it needs to be yet.


I don't have dollar figures to back this up, but I'd be willing to bet that they spend more on hyping up a "clean" image than they do on actual alternative energy research.

Xerox never supported computers because they thought it would hurt their core business, even after they invented everything at PARC.


I came here to post the same thing. As much I as hate America’s current dependance on foreign oil (BP is foreign, despite the technically local well), so long as we continue to use automotive technologies the way we do, oil acquisition is always going to be a high-risk endeavor.

Here’s an ugly question… Given the choice, would you rather suffer a terrorist strike or an industrial accident to continue to operate some technical apparatus you rely on?


In this case I think domestic oil production serves as a failsafe against the doomsday scenario of a war in the middle east cutting off foreign oil imports. It's not nearly enough to meet our normal demand but it's enough to make sure thousands, maybe millions, of people don't starve to death when the trucks stop rolling. It keeps the military going so they can "stabilize" the situation. I'd argue the war in Iraq was for basically the same purpose. If that doomsday scenario happens we're going to look back at these events much differently.


The BP spill isn't the inevitable outcome of drilling offshore and in deep water. This could have been prevented had they been more careful. We're already getting reports of a hurried job that cut corners. As the investigation continues I bet more will come out.

The "risk" in drilling for oil should be empty wells, not massive uncontrolled spills. If BP did a proper job they probably wouldn't be in this mess.


Well, when you add offshore drilling, deep water, and a cultural determination to eliminate regulations as cases of "improper government interference in the marketplace" or whatever, it starts to look pretty inevitable to me.

Why should they do a proper job? Nothing had gone wrong the way they were doing it, it was fine, right?


> He spoke indisputable truth

Scott Adams' problem seems to be that he is living inside the reality distortion field. Part of the whole problem with Jobs' handling of this is that he has repeatedly failed to tell the truth (at very least not the whole truth, but arguably he has lied in an absolute sense). To be specific: Jobs stated that all phones have this flaw. But all phones do not have this flaw. The flaw is that the phone has an antenna that is shorted by the user holding it a normal way. No other phones have this flaw. It is an outright lie. Jobs himself made a big deal on stage about how no other phones have this kind of antenna when he was selling it as a good thing. Now he says that all phones have the same problems that are caused by this unique antenna design. No they don't. It's a lie.

The real tactic here is simply to gloss over the truth and hope you get away with it - at the moment I'm not sure whether Jobs has or not.


If you lose signal, does it actually matter if it's caused by bridging two antennas, or by shielding, or capacitive coupling, or whatever phenomena cause other phones to degrade in signal quality when held?

It seems like what really matters is not the specific physical process that causes signal attenuation, but rather (a) how likely are users to run into the problem, relative to other phones; and (b) how severe is the problem, when you do run into it?

Harping on the mechanism seems like a way to try to score gotcha points, rather than a genuine concern for users of the device.


From the Q&A session:

>10:43AM Ryan from gdgt: You showed people almost covering the entire phone in their hand, but on the iPhone 4 it can happen with just a touch. Can you explain that difference? Bob: When you touch the phone, you put yourself between the signal and your phone, so when you touch that spot you can attenuate the signal, and if you grip it with your whole hand, you can attenuate it even more. We don't build phones with an antenna on top...

>Hmm, that didn't really sound like an answer to us.


There's some Apple bloggers collecting evidence that this applies to all phones, with excerpts from manuals and such.

http://dontholditwrong.tumblr.com/

Interestingly almost all of them say "don't touch the external anntenna" (as in the old-fashioned stick out the top kind) yet no-one has connected these statements with the revolutionary design decision of making the external antenna into the part of the phone you hold.


Jobs stated that all phones lose signal when held in a certain way, he did not say "normally". Further, according to the only hard data I've ever seen (from Apple) it looks like less than 1% of users of the phone actually experience this issue. If what you say is true, how are the other 99.9% of users holding the phone exactly, if not normally?

>Now he says that all phones have the same problems that are caused by this unique antenna design.

That's a misrepresentation. He said they have a unique antenna, and he said that all smart phones have an issue when held a certain way. So you could interpret it that iPhone 4 has a superior antenna design, but it can be shorted by normal use so it ends up being equal.


    But the central question that was in everyone's head 
    before the press conference - "Is the iPhone 4 a dud" 
    - has, well, evaporated.
That was never the central question in anybody's head. No one thought the phone was a dud.

A more common question was, will Apple own up to making an avoidable design flaw? Look around the Web at the responses to the press conference and decide just what questions have evaporated, and what new ones appeared.


I disagree, you must have been reading different stories to me.

There was a lot of vitriol directed at Apple, and a lot of people were saying it was a huge problem for them. People are still saying it now. Check out the recent slate article posted here, or techcrunch, or response from HTC/ BB/ Nokia. A lot of people (in the media) do not see this as resolved.

I am slowly learning to hate the media all over again.


Why? It's a badly designed phone. There's a reason every other cellphone has an internal antenna. Good on people for calling Apple out over the lousy design, failure to test properly, and so far, the failure to take responsibility. If I had bought an iPhone 4, I'd have accepted a refund. Bumpers? case? eugh come on.


If the vast majority of the people think it's overall a much better phone than the 3GS, is it really a badly designed phone?

I don't own one, but the whole antenna thing sounds massively overblown by a press hungry for some controversy. Anandtech went so far as to say that the phone was better overall in marginal reception areas than the 3GS.


Mine was delivered Friday. One of the first things I did was to try the death grip. To get the signal to degrade I had to hold it in a position essentially embedding in the lower left corner of the phone in my palm while holding it unnaturally tight. Then there was only a single bar loss in signal. Holding the phone in a comfortable left or right handed position had no effect on the signal. If there would have not been the news around it I would have never noticed it. Even the technology press seems to be degenerating to Fox.


That's because you must be in an area with relatively high signal strength. The signal bars on the iPhone are very non-linear. If you had been in an area with marginal signal strength (but still enough to read 5 bars), holding your phone normally would be enough to drop several bars.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3794/the-iphone-4-review/2


This is fixed in the new update. The bars are now linear.


How can they be linear? There's an unbounded range of signal strength. Right next to a very high powered tower, it's going to get better signal strength than right next to a microcell, for example. My impression was that they were just shifting the scale so that more instances would be <5 bars.


That's a false dichotomy. It can still be better than a 3gs overall AND have a serious design flaw. Technology has moved on and made the 3gs obsolete in so many ways that it can easily move the overall experience to a new high watermark while still having a serious flaw.


If it gets better reception than the 3GS in some situations and worse in other situations, how is that a serious design flaw? What makes it a flaw rather than simply a design trade off?

I've had many high tech devices way more flawed than this and they didn't get 22 days of coverage, a press conference by the CEO, or some free fixes. Hell exploding laptop batteries got less coverage than this! I don't even own a iPhone (and don't intend to get one) but these comments are over the top.


The parent said it was a badly designed phone, I was just saying that since everyone seems to be much happier with it than the predecessor, even in the area of the flaw, it's not a bad design. I don't see a false dichotomy.

And the 3GS is not a completely obsolete phone at all, except by gadget addict standards.


Overblown or not, the product still have the flaw. I think what the media expected is Apple to admit the flaw, and not pushing the responsibility to customer by holding it another way or buy bumper.

In auto industry, Toyota, Honda and others admit their product have flaw, and do a recall.


In the auto industry, if they don't recall the product when there's a big flaw, people die. It's a bit different. This seems like the A/C buttons on a Toyota Camry being finicky and annoying. Not worth a recall, or the attention that's been paid to it.


Jobs admitted there was a flaw, just as there is for all phones. Perhaps they should recall all phones, and we can go back to having a pull out antenna, or large radio source closer to our heads?


The way I see it, they took a chance on a different design, that produces better results most of the time, but has an unfortunate side effect that it causes a problem when held a certain way.

The reception problem when holding a phone a particular way happends on lots of phones out there, this was just never relised before. If you were using a Nexus on or bb 9700, you would lose a call and blame it on the network or the lift. Now, you might check how you are holding the phone.


1) They’re offering refunds

2) How can you call it a “badly designed phone” when you don’t have one? I have one. It’s great. Give it up already!


Its not a bad phone. I have an iPhone 4, and I am really impressed with it, actually I can't put it down. It has really great screen resolution, is much faster than other phones I have seen and combined with iOS4, multi-tasking, etc it makes a really good phone. The antenna issue only shows up in certain areas of reception.

I for one, am not sending my phone back...


"There was a lot of vitriol directed at Apple, and a lot of people were saying it was a huge problem for them. People are still saying it now. Check out the recent slate article posted here, or techcrunch, or response from HTC/ BB/ Nokia. A lot of people (in the media) do not see this as resolved."

Vitriol? Sure. But are these articles and posts primarily saying the phone is a dud? Seems at least half the articles I read point out the massive sales of the device, despite any perceived flaws.


So you're suggesting that the story over the last few days was never about a legitimate gripe, but was all along just eager Apple haters slavering over the prospect of a prostrate Steve Jobs?


This seems an odd reply to me. I don't think the parent suggests anywhere that there aren't legitimate gripes about the phone, just that it isn't a 'dud'. A dud is something which completely fails to operate - a bomb that doesn't explode, for example.

The iPhone 4 has a significant flaw, but many (if not most) people have found it to operate perfectly well. If you look at the testing done at Anandtech, for instance, the new iPhone actually does a better job with a weaker signal. This translates into getting reception in places where it wasn't available before. Obviously, there is also a substantial design flaw in the antenna design, but the phone still operates properly for most people.

Even Consumer Reports, who obviously had serious issues with the antenna problem, still rank the iPhone 4 as one of (if not the) best smartphone on the market. That doesn't sound like a dud.

P.S. Just to clarify, I think Apple's response throughout this ordeal has been poor, and they obviously made mistakes in testing. But, like the parent post, I just wouldn't call the phone a dud.


I'm sure you got my point. The amount of press that this topic has generated is really only warranted if this flaw were a deal breaker, meaning the release was a dud. Given the uptake, and the fact that signal quality for the phone is higher, and the tiny fraction of users affected by this easily manageable quirk, we have to look for some other explanation for the outcry.

In the forums that I visit, I've noticed that usernames I associate with being anti-Apple are far more likely to be concerned with Apple striking a suitably guilty tone.


Ah, I see now. Apologies for the confusion, sometimes the tone of a comment goes straight over my head!


No.


No, I think the perceived question in the media and in the largely non-owners of iPhone was exactly whether iPhone 4 was a dud. If Jobs didn't defuse that question, the iPhone sales had a potential of peaking much, much sooner than it will now because new customers would be willing to sit and wait.


Something I think that needs to be mentioned is that what was happening to Apple in the media is similar to what happened to Toyota with their acceleration issue a couple of months back.

The number of complaints of "unintended acceleration" shot up after it was initially covered in the media. There was no real focus on investigative journalism, or analysis of the actual statistics by news organizations. There was also the whole rigged ABC News broadcast, which they admitted later to faking. Toyota's Recall became the top most reported story in Jan-Feb 2010. And IIRC, as the media hysteria was winding down, the NHTSA concluded the majority of unintended acceleration was driver error.

In Apple's case, they had made a weakspot into a visual accent. And Jobs mentioned their algorithms made things appear more dramatic than they were. Both of these things were probably dumb, but dumb-like-the-recessed-headphone-jack (gaffe), not dumb-like-the-Microsoft-Kin (flawed design). The software fix is already out and the hardware will probably get fixed next iteration (perhaps coated?) and isn't a big deal. Yet the media coverage greatly outpaced the issue, and again no mention of statistics or data.

There are a lot of parties interested in seeing these reputable companies take a dive. It's great for competitors; but more cynically - its great for hedge fund managers with certain short positions... Reporting misinformation and sensationalizing news for securities price manipulation isn't new, and it's been done to Apple before.

From 2006:

Aaron Task: Okay. Another stock that a lot of people are focused on right now seems to be Apple.

Jim Cramer: Yeah. Apple’s very important to spread the rumor that both Verizon and ATT have decided they don’t like the phone. It’s a very easy one to do because it’s also you want to spread the rumor that’s it not gonna be ready for MAC World. This is very easy ‘cause the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim that it’s credible because you spoke to someone at Apple, ‘cause Apple doesn’t –

Aaron Task:They’re not gonna comment. They’re not gonna –

Jim Cramer: So it’s really an ideal short. Again, if I were a short Apple, I would be working very hard today to get that. The way you would do that is you pick up the phone and you call six trading desks and say, “Listen, I just got off the phone with my contact at Verizon and he has already said, ‘Listen, we’re a Lucky G house. We’re a Samsung house. We’re a Motorola house. There’s no room for Apple. They want too much. We’re not gonna let them in. We’re not gonna let them do what they did to music.’” I think that’s a very effective way to keep a stock down.


NHTSA concluded the majority of unintended acceleration was driver error.

it didn't, that story was a hoax. http://www.autoblog.com/2010/07/19/followup-toyota-strongly-...


That article speaks of just allegations without providing any proof.


What? NHTSA went on record that they did NOT conclude anything. The story about NHTSA concluding anything was false. It was a hoax.


...the hardware will probably get fixed next iteration ... and isn't a big deal.

It is a big deal as people paid several hundred dollars for the device. If anything, the fact that people didn't return their iPhone 4s in large numbers is that they expected a decent response from Apple. I doubt that's what a lot of users feel they got.

My inclination is that this saga's real effects will be felt whenever the next iPhone is released: the initial sales will be a lot lower as people hold back being first adopters in case Apple screws up again.


Is there a list of other language "maneuvers" one can employ?


That's the domain of rhetoric. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhetoric



Here is a list of "debate tactics."

http://www.johntreed.com/debate.html


Over analysis. That might be part of authors line of work, but this reminds me of something my humanities professor talked to some of us, engineers about some time back.

Three doctors, a general doctor, an orthopedic doctor and a neuro surgeon are casually talking to each other outside a building. They notice a man walking abnormally, slightly dragging one foot. The General practitioner says, the guy must be shot on the left foot thus causing the behavior. The orthopedic doctor predicts, the guy was born with one foot longer than the other thus explaining the behavior. The neuro surgeon predits, the guy seems to have suffered a stroke in the past and this might be a result of that.

Now all of them are curious to know the truth and approach the guy in question. The guy just had his shoe damaged.


For an example of a backfiring "high ground" maneuver, take a look at Mark Zuckerberg's Hoodie.

http://www.switched.com/2010/06/07/mark-zuckerbergs-illumina...

Really, the message he wanted to convey included goals that sounded as lofty as Google's. In short, he seems to want to organize the world's connections in much the same way Google organized much of its HTML information.

Why did it backfire? Well, the intent was obvious to Mark, but not so obvious to the audience.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/il/hindsight_bias/

Also, a flop sweat during your interview/presentation is a big hurdle to overcome.


In the PR world, there is a saying that "all publicity is good publicity".

What about this antenna issue--is all the coverage a net positive for Apple or is this an exception to the "rule"?

Just curious to know what others here think.



I'm surprised he didn't mention the "Our phone doesn't have a problem," "All phones have this problem" combo as well.


Anyone else consider his response to be pretty much exactly the expected level of arrogance and disregard for customers from Steve Jobs?


I think it's supreme confidence in the product. Apple made some design choices to make the phone thinner and more attractive. They think that's what a lot of people really want. An extra dropped call here and there (+ <1 per 100 according to their numbers) simply isn't that big of a deal and they know it. They're daring people to return the phone -- that's how confident they are in its appeal. The sales, return rate and customer satisfaction numbers all back this up. People bought it because it's thin, beautiful, and has really good software. The antenna issue doesn't change that.


I believe I read (in a Slate article?) that the dropped-call rate for the 3GS is around 1 in 100. So an increase by another 1 in 100 actually doubles the dropped-call rate. It's a bit more significant when you look at it that way.


I think that was just an example they used to show the "+ <1 per 100" statistic was misleading. According to a ClearWave survey AT&T's average drop call rate is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5% so it'd be kind of shocking if the 3GS only drops 1% of its calls. So based on that the maximum increase in dropped calls should be 15-20% We don't know if it drops .9 less calls per 100 or .2 less calls per 100 or if the 3GS drops more calls than the AT&T average. It also disproportionally effects people who are in constant poor signal conditions. So based on this logic (which could be totally wrong I admit) it seems like most people aren't going to notice a dramatic difference in dropped calls. One extra dropped call per week, month? I guess there's no way of knowing.


Or you could say that the uninterrupted-call rate for the 3GS is around 99 in 100. So a decrease by another 1 in 100 reduces the uninterrupted-call rate by a tad over 1%.

Double of very little is, usually, still very little.


That's an interesting take and observation. It makes it seem as though the reality distortion field has actually failed in this case.

I say so because, from my perspective (as a barely interested outside observer), the iPhone 4 has nearly doubled the dropped call rate over a phone that already had a really bad reputation for dropped calls. I've heard the argument that that reputation is at least partly due to AT&Ts network, and that may be an entirely valid argument, though not a useful one since AT&T is the only option in the US, so iPhone+AT&T is the user experience you're going to get, and that seemingly includes a lot of dropped calls.

So, in short, from my limited view of the situation it looks like a reasonably serious problem that is going to go uncorrected. And, it looks like an arrogant response from a man who is making tons of money selling what seems to me to be a flawed product. If it actually isn't a serious problem, then I've gotten an unfairly negative view of things from the tech media...which is extremely rare for an Apple product. And kinda funny.


Out of curiosity, what should he have said to make it not seem like 'arrogance and disregard' to you?


Oh, I dunno...I've really gotta think hard about that...Oh, wait! I've got it: "We're sorry. We made a mistake. We've corrected the design, and will repair/replace devices of impacted customers at no cost."

Instead it sounds to me like he was really saying, "Other people make mistakes, and oh, I guess we're kinda like other people, so it's kinda like we might have made a mistake of some sort at some time, too, but not really. Those other phone makers make mistakes, though, you better believe it. Unlike us. We try to never make mistakes. Except maybe this one, whatever puny complaint you were talking about."

Seriously, you don't see this as an arrogant response to a legitimate complaint about a very expensive product that is marketed as a superior product? We're talking about a several hundred dollar device, that Apple makes a tremendous profit on throughout the product's life. A good company would take actual responsibility for a flawed design. Apple somehow manages to be treated like a good company, while consistently treating its customers poorly. It's an amazing trick. Maybe it really is hypnosis.


You appear to be operating according to this logical statement: "If it has a flaw, it can't be a superior product. It has a flaw. Thus it is not a superior product."

This is sensible if we define "flaw" to include only issues that cause serious harm in using the product: those that make it lose a large portion of its value. For the vast majority of people, this isn't a "flaw" by that definition: it's instead a weakness caused by a specifically chosen engineering tradeoff that, all things considered, appears to have been a good one — the phone is thin, beautiful, strong, and has great battery and reception in almost all cases. To satisfy those for whom the issue's severity does rise to the level of legitimately being called a flaw, Apple announced that they're giving everyone a free case, which remedies this condition. And reminded customers that they're perfectly willing to give a complete refund.

So what would have been better for them to do? Recall all iPhone 4s and replace them with a 3GS-style case that does better in that one situation but worse in essentially every other way? Most customers would pick the 4 any day of the week over the 3GS, "flawed" in one specific way or not.


iPhone 4 has a number of shortcomings compared to several other products on the market. But we're not talking about that. This is not its only flaw, but the tech media is presenting it as a serious one...and one that is worse than prior versions of the phone. iPhone has always had a reputation for poor call quality and reliability. This isn't my assertion, but that of numerous reviewers. iPhone 4 makes one of those problems worse.

If iPhone 4 doesn't drop calls more than other comparable smart phones, then I find it interesting that the tech media has suddenly gone rabid on Apple...it's rare for folks to criticize the quality of Apple products, even when there are valid criticisms to be made.

I find it interesting that my comments have gone from several upvotes to several downvotes. I suspect it is because yours and a couple of other comments have reinterpreted my intent in ways that kinda resemble Jobs' own response to the problem. Diverting from the point.

If there is an issue with dropped calls on the iPhone 4, the right thing to do would be own up to the problem. If there is no issue with dropped calls on the iPhone 4, the right thing to do would be to prove it, or at least give us a reason to believe that the people making the claims aren't credible.

"So what would have been better for them to do? Recall all iPhone 4s and replace them with a 3GS-style case that does better in that one situation but worse in essentially every other way?"

That's an interesting false dichotomy. The 3GS case is the only alternative case design possible for a phone? Was the 3GS particularly reliable with regard to dropped calls? (It's my understanding that iPhone has always had problems with dropped calls...but I don't follow this stuff very closely.)


How about this: I know about 20 people who have iPhone 4's. None of them have any issues with the antenna, no matter how they hold the phone. This issues is hugely overblown, demonstrated by elementary arithmetic. These issues exist in very few phones, or maybe with very sweaty hands.


A sample of 20 of your friends/acquaintances is neither statistically significant nor random.


And that'd matter a lot if people took product reviews from statistics. The iPhone is a phenomenon largely driven by word of mouth, and it always has been. Sure, it gets a ton of press and attention, but that sort of stuff doesn't move phones. If it did, many other phones would be moving more units. Look at how much money and time Verizon had to dump to make the Droid take off; we haven't seen a phone model even remotely as successful (as in units sold) from any vendor but Apple since that massive ad blitzkrieg.

You see someone using an iPhone, you like it, you get one. Now everyone asks me, "Do you have an antenna problem?" I say, "No, it's been working much better for me." Then they go get one. Similarly, when I was considering an EVO someone came up to me and said, "Don't get an EVO, look at this terrible battery life." I backed off.

Because phones play such a huge role in our daily lives, word-of-mouth and personal testimonial become very important. If Apple can preserve positive sentiment in its users, they will keep selling phones. Judging from their absurdly high sales numbers thus far, they're managing to keep the majority happy.


Many people do follow a statistical/empirical approach when deciding whether or not to buy a particular product. If no one did, review companies like Consumer Reports wouldn't exist.

The fact that many customers seem to drool over Apple products simply because of the Apple label is regrettable (for some reasons, not all), but not that surprising.

(Hell, I love my MacBook Pro, even though I only run Linux on it. At present it'd take a lot to convince me to buy a non-Apple laptop. I won't go near the iPhone for software reasons, but that's another matter.)


Wait, what? You're calling someone out on anecdotal evidence compared to your, what? Bunch of blogs on the internet? The only hard data I've seen was from Apple and that had the problem at less than 1%. Were you being ironic on purpose?


Hey now, please don't put words in my mouth. I never claimed to have any evidence of anything. I merely made a general statement about the lack of validity of a statistically-insignificant, non-random sample. Sounds like you have an axe to grind, or something.

But yes, I would trust a bunch of blogs on the internet (at least, the ones that have proven themselves over time to be reputable) over a random anecdote from a HN poster.


Not hypnosis, just your friendly neighborhood reality distortion field http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn-YesqzvNk&feature=playe...




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