in live coverage of an apple press conference today by ars technica, steve jobs obliterated the entire antennagate debacle, making it very clear that the media has run completely wild with this non-issue.
if you aren’t already familiar with the iphone 4 antenna problem, its ok. apparently no one else was all that familiar with the reality of this kind of issue either. the iphone 4 has a unique antenna design that integrates the antenna into the case. the antenna is literally part of the iphone chassis, exposing it to direct contact with fingers.
given that there is wifi, bluetooth, and a host of other radio frequency bands, not the least of which are used for talking and 3g data, the phone has more than one antenna. since they are on the outer exposed edge of the phone, its possible to hold the phone in such a way that attenuates the signal and can possibly degrade it so much that calls and data get dropped or lost.
that sounds terrible and horrid and makes you wonder how apple could let something so massive slip through quality assurance, until you realize that every smart phone out there is subject to some sort of signal degradation if you hold it a certain way. that was demonstrated rather clearly at the conference today.
several other smart phones were put to the test, on stage, including a blackberry, an htc, and a samsung. they all lost signal either noticeably or completely, even apple’s own iphone 3gs.
wait, what? the 3gs too? why didn’t anyone complain way back then? probably because it is a non issue, and something like 80% of all 3gs owners walked out of the store with a case, mitigating any chance of signal degradation from shorting an antenna. given that apple decided not to release the iphone4 specs to the vendors early, because they can’t keep a secret to save their lives, people aren’t walking out with cases on their phones as much.
despite all of this, apple has cowboyed up and decided to give everyone a free bumper case who bought an iphone4. why? because steve wants you to know that they take care of their customers. not because consumer reports failed to recommend the phone to its readers due to the non-issue antenna debacle.
despite all the bad press, apple still manage to sell over 3 million iphone4 units in the first three weeks, and the return rate has been about half of one percent of all units sold.
what has all of this taught us? nothing new. blogs and e-zines and the rest of the media will always follow the scent of weakness when it emanates from larger prey. if you are a big company making incredible products and outselling everyone else, you will be hounded and pounded by the press. even if the chum they are slathering around is patently false.