Sunday, July 18, 2010

iPhone 4 Antennagate or...

How to elevate a non-issue into a media scrum.

Apple's press conference and the media response is yet another demonstration of how easy it is to manipulate the media and how hard it is to get a reasoned and objective response when the media are only interested in hyperbole and sensation.

You can see a summary of the Apple press conference here and the video here.

To summarise their thesis is that all phones suffer from differing sensitivities when holding the phone in different ways and the iPhone 4 is no different. However in real world situations the iPhone has excellent performance and many are reporting better performance in low signal conditions that the previous models of iPhone. This is certainly born out by the reviewers who are mostly saying the the iPhone 3GS has more dropped calls than the iPhone 4. Indeed some are saying that the iPhone 4 is a far better performer, take for instance this Australian blogger who cannot replicate the "death grip" no matter how hard he tries.

Steve backs this up by quoting return rates on the iPhone 4 which are lower than for the iPhone 3GS at the same point. If there was indeed such a big issue surely users would be returning their phone in droves. This is not happening and indeed the reports from users such as the one above is that there is no issue. In one case the user returned his phone and the replacement fixed his problem (cannot remember where I read this but it was from a tech blogger). From AT&T data in the US the number of calls for antenna issues is 5.5 per thousand or about half of one percent. This is pretty low considering the publicity that has surrounded the issue. The actual return rate is one third of that for the iPhone 3GS. This hardly rates as a significant issue if people who are using the phone do not think it is an issue.

What about the media response. Well this article from the ABC shows how poor the state of real investigative journalism is in the world today. The headline alone shows that the author did not even bother to read the transcript or watch the video. The two sources she quotes are Gizmodo who has a vested interest and a lawyer who is binging a class action against Apple and AT&T. Gizmodo was prominent for obtaining a prototype of the iPhone 4 and tearing it down. They have since been precluded from Apple events and there is little love lost between the two. In fact Gizmodo has been leading the charge against Apple. Neither of the two sources for the ABC article could be considered to be objective observers. It seems to be that the ABC simply regurgitated the anti Apple slant from these sources and did not bother to verify their claims. Lazy journalism at its worst.

If you want to know the real story then listen to people who are using it on AT&T's rather dodgy US network not the ivory towered journalists or parties with a vested interest.

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