Monday, April 23, 2012

Don’t hold it that way. Apple’s “secret” problem.

I recently upgraded to an iPhone 4 (because I’m too cheap for a 4S) and so became one of the last people on the planet to experience “Anntenagate”. I’ve learned that to keep calls from dropping in my home I must not hold the iPhone 4 in certain perfectly natural ways.

The Problem

If your bare hand is touching the bare phone in a particular spot, the antenna weakens, as seen in this video. Problem is, touching that spot is a perfectly normal thing to be doing. It takes effort NOT to touch that spot.

Unveiling The Problem Behind The Problem

Everything about Apple’s new products is veiled in secrecy.

Within the company, nobody is allowed to see a new product unless they absolutely need to know about it. Even if you are allowed to see a device, perhaps because you’re writing new software to be released on it, you might not actually be able to touch the device—it may be delivered to you veiled in a locked case with only a single component, such as the screen, accessible.

A few people are allowed to take a new device off-campus, but only if it’s veiled in a case that disguises what it actually looks like (and, btw, prevents you from touching it in a certain spot).

I find it poetic that the first person known to have experienced the antenna problem was the very-secretive Steve Jobs, on stage during the product’s public unveiling, and quite literally because that was the first time the product had been used in public without a veil.

Public Unveiling - Oops

The Fallout

This is old news; you all know what happened. Apple denied the problem as long as it could, which wasn’t very long. It was one of the rare times when Apple just looked ridiculous. Since July 2010 Apple has offered a free bumper (poetically: “a veil”) to all iPhone 4 users, at an estimated cost of $175 million. As of a March 2012 Class Action Settlement, iPhone 4 users can receive a $15 cash settlement.

Today’s Takeaway: The people who use your prototypes have to be able to touch the things. Duh!

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