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Antennagate Isn’t Watergate!

Steve Jobs has a PhD in the Science & Art of Stirring a Media Frenzy. He has a Masters Degree in Product Introductions & Demonstrations.  Apocryphal though those descriptions may be, Steve has become one of the best and most thoroughly interesting technology leaders I think we’ll see in our lifetime.

I’ve been in and around the technology sector since 1982 and ran Macworld Publishing for 10 years. From my perspective at least there has never been a more exciting time for innovation, loads of consumer energy anticipating new products and services and sheer demand for technology that brings us all closer together (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, video conferencing on your iPhone 4 and more). We’ve also seen that those with opinions have more places to disseminate their points-of-view (blogs, YouTube channels, Facebook Fan and Anti-Fan Pages, Twitter rants ad infinitum). What’s distressing to someone like me who comes out of a technology publishing background is that some of those in “the media” sector, especially those who opine on tech issues, don’t care if their perspectives are purely subjective, usually emotional and rarely backed up by the facts.

"Arrow" Marks the Weak Spot

This latest tempest surrounding “antennagate” is a case in point. By and large, most users seem to notice no issues in very good reception areas. If you are in a weak signal reception area, it’s possible that your palm touching one part of the iPhone 4’s outside case may create additional reception problems. But, those occurrences are rare and the media blowback over-blown.

While the “return rate” on the iPhone 4 is reported to be lower than Apple’s previous Smart phone models, some recent research indicates potential iPhone users who would upgrade are holding back that decision. Why? Well, they’ve read the output from both legitimate journalists and the others. What I also know is that many of my friends who have the new phone say “problem…what problem?” So, is this more about “reception issues,” or perception? And, if there is a real problem, do the media writers focusing on the technology issue really understand what they are writing about?

Apple’s proposed solution seems fair…though it is definitely the cheaper alternative to a complete product recall. What Apple DOES need is a quick manufacturing fix (if it’s even possible), and build that into a future product rev at their Asian manufacturing plants. Again, this assumes there is a permanent fix that will mitigate the issue so that the media intelligentsia are satisfied and will move onto bashing some other technology company (which they seem to enjoy!).

I don’t want to presume Apple’s innocence, although Steve made some pretty good points about the technical issues and Apple’s commitment to stringent product testing…just check out the online photos of Apple’s state-of-the-art anechoic testing chambers. I know that Apple has made mistakes in the past (remember the Mac Cube that “cracked”!), but it’s usually because Apple pursues some bleeding edge technology and manufacturing processes that really stretch what’s possible…especially while trying to maintain a Six Sigma performance (0.999997%) in manufacturing/service perfection.

Apple remains one of the most exciting technology companies in the world. All I want for Christmas is an iPhone 4 running on the Verizon Network. If Apple will deliver that solution, “antennagate” will be a long lost memory and we’ll all enjoy the fruits of their passion to build and sell products that everyone wants to own and use.