I grew up idolizing Steve Jobs. I admit it. He is an inventive genius whose contributions have shaped the course of world technology. He has no peer in his field. On top of that, his keynote addresses have long been held up as an example of how to make a technical presentation. Again, who bests him in this area? This is the Steve I have revered for years. But the iPhone 4 and his handling of the blow back, have me wondering what happened to that Steve of yore.
He approved a typically lovely graphical user interface (GUI) and hardware touted for its sharp industrial design. Very Apple. But he also allowed (or as Bloomberg puports ignored the warnings of) his engineers to make a ridiculous error in placing the antenna where it had to come into contact with the users hand, which would attenuate (screw up) the signal. To compound that the hot zone was placed exactly where nearly every user and every one, including Steve, that Apple portrayed using the phone, would hold it. Not cool. Not Apple. Where is my inventive genius?
In response to what some have called Antennagate, Steve made a defense. They do it, too. He correctly pointed out that other manufacturers also have hot spots. He just neglected to point out that they didn’t blatantly place them in a position that they would routinely come into play.
Steve said, “I see some of these people jumping on us now. It’s like I am not sure what you are after here. Would you rather we were a Korean company instead of an American company? You do not like the fact that we are innovating right here in America and leading the world in what we do?” (via Wired) The great presenter is whining because he can’t rest on his laurels?
Apple has painted itself into a corner with an inherently flawed design. It is not impacting a high percentage of its users. Apple points out that less than 1% have complained. However, I know some iPhone 4 users who have the problem but didn’t complain. I would guess the majority of those with the problem haven’t complained. So, their customers have the option of wrapping that sleek, billet-like, industrial design in a bubble-gum looking free “bumper” or getting their money back. That is reasonable.
Steve is not in a position where he can admit that Apple erred in their design choice. Sales and stock valuation would nose dive. But blaming other companies and whining because Apple was called out on a minor flaw only further tarnishes what had been a well-honed, shiny reputation. I just wish he had gone from stating that a small number of users had experienced issues to stating his proposed solution without the blame-shifting, finger-pointing, and whining. I expect more of Apple and more of Steve Jobs.
And for the record, I’m glad Steve Jobs and Apple are in the U.S. Their presence makes the tech world stretch for greater excellence or risk being left in Apple’s dust.