Is the New iPhone Like the Gulf Spill?

 

Bear with me. Reports are now piling up that the newest generation of iPhone has…well, issues:

Multiple Apple- and gadget-focused websites are receiving reports that the iPhone’s much-discussed “Retina Display” is susceptible to a yellow discoloration, either as a thin line of yellow or as a circular tint. That’s not the only problem: There are now countless videos online that show how holding the new iPhone by its sides can decrease reception quality.

That’s what you get for being an early creator and an early adopter. There’s a crazy fatalism here — you work your brains out to create the most interesting and powerful device you can, and your customers beat down the doors to get it first. And you know that, one day, one way, there will probably be a mistake. More than a small mistake. A fatal error. It can’t be ruled out. It can’t be solved for. You do the best you can to keep the risk down while fighting like hell to blow the competition out of the water. 

I seriously doubt the G4’s issues, however “critical,” will do to Apple what the spill is doing to BP. But Apple is under constant pressure. You can watch the Droid nipping at Apple’s heels. You can hear the complaints about the closed universe and the big brotherishness. You can’t compete at the highest possible level unless your risk tolerance is huge. An economic system driven by that kind of mad power is usually going to flourish, but there will be sudden casualties and spectacular collapses. (Or slow, boring ones: Microsoft.) It’s true that big information-age failures aren’t as lurid and depressing as big industrial failures (like the one in the Gulf). But dependence on big information systems can be even more risky than dependence on big industrial systems. Paradoxically, the best hedge against the worst kind of failure is…maximizing the number of potential lesser failures.

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  1. Profile Photo Contributor
    @DianeEllis

    Steve Jobs responds to complaints that holding the new iPhone a certain way weakens signal.  His advice?  Hold it different, or use a case.  (h/t TechCrunch).

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MorituriTe
    Diane Ellis: Steve Jobs responds to complaints that holding the new iPhone a certain way weakens signal. His advice? Hold it different, or use a case. (h/t TechCrunch).

    It is standard procedure in any technology failure situation to offer a work-around until the problem can be permanently resolved. Reports I’ve seen suggest that perspiration from the user’s hand bridging the cellular and wifi antenna strips on the back of the phone is a key contributor to the signal strength issues. Adding a case or a skin (which many people do anyway) can keep moisture off the back and thus mitigate any ill effects. This strikes me as a reasonable short term response.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @

    The law of prototypes…

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @DianeEllis
    Daniel FrankIt is standard procedure in any technology failure situation to offer a work-around until the problem can be permanently resolved… Adding a case or a skin (which many people do anyway) can keep moisture off the back and thus mitigate any ill effects. This strikes me as a reasonable short term response. ·

    Mr. Frank — You’re absolutely right.  As fun as it is to pick on Steve Jobs, we at Ricochet know as well as anyone that it’s tough business to introduce a new product to the market.  I’m no expert, but I have a feeling that most great products start out with a few bugs and glitches — just part of the creative process.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Kinda seems to me like this is something that Apple was aware of before the launch.

    Funny that the only phone Apple has ever released where merely touching the side of it can cause complete signal loss, is also the only phone they have released a first party case for. Take a look at the ‘Bumper’ case being sold for the iPhone 4. Looked odd to me at first as it only covers the sides of the phone, leaving the back open. Makes a lot more sense now that touching the metal banding along the side destroys signal.

    I guess field testing this in a case so it wouldn’t be recognized was a bad idea?

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Daniel Frank

    It is standard procedure in any technology failure situation to offer a work-around until the problem can be permanently resolved.. ..This strikes me as a reasonable short term response. · Jun 25 at 11:30am

    I don’t think this is a short term response. I think “Get a case” is the fix. This is a hardware issue. The metal banding around the phone is the antennae. I don’t see Apple going back and redesigning this. I think they either found the defect too late in the process and the consumers are now forced to deal with it best they can, or whomever was in charge of the whole project refused to change the design when it was found (the latter is assuming it was discovered in early testing stages).

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong

    Apple never thought people were actually going to touch the iPhone. They thought we’d worship it, from afar.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @PJS

    Just for the record: my new iPhone 4 works fine.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @

    As the proud owner of an iPhone 4, I feel it is my duty to out the author of this post as an Android owner. As for the alleged reception issues, as Chairman Jobs so aptly points out, the problem isn’t the phone, it’s the way we’re holding it!

    • #10
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @

    The wisdom of the mighty internets comes to the rescue!

    • #11
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Cindy

    I was hoping to get a Verizon iPhone but it doesn’t look like that will be happening any time soon.

    • #12
  12. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos

    watchthebars.jpg

    Via http://jerrybrito.org/

    • #13
  13. Profile Photo Member
    @

    There are also software issues with the new IOS4.

    It is not as compatible with earlier iPhone models as stated.

    G3 upgrades are nightmares for many. Lost contacts and appointments.

    Incomplete syncing. IOS4.1 will soon fix this…I hope.

    • #14
  14. Profile Photo Editor
    @RobLong

    So what’s my problem? I still want one of these phones. I’m still basically a Mac addict. I’m starting to think it’s either some kind of diabolical zombie curse, or maybe it’s just a character flaw.

    • #15
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I want one, too. But I’ve always had luck with Apple products–and I currently have a G4 mini running in my office upstairs, a 15″ MacBook that my wife inherited from me when I decided I really, really needed a 17″ MacBook Pro, five iPods of various stripes, an 64 gig 3G iPad, an original iPhone, and a newish iPhone 3GS bought recently enough that I’m going to be stuck in iPhone 4 envy mode for the next year or so. My mother-in-law got my even older Mac notebook a couple months ago and this doesn’t even count the G3 and G4 towers that I have in my closet or the dual-processor G5 on my desk at work.

    Tell you what, though, like my faith, my political affiliation, my horrible cooking, and my Mark Lanegan obsession, I refuse to apologize for my love for Apple. I just accept the abuse from my friends.

    Full disclosure: My wife loves Verizon so I bought her a Droid. She still prefers my phone (and so do I), but the Droid is a really nice piece of kit. No regrets at all in that purchase.

    • #16
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