Sunday, July 18, 2010

Phones are not perfect. Neither some press conferences.

Apple press conference on July 16th, in response to the "AntennaGate", was not satisfying at all. Although Apple promised free cases,  and a full refund ( 2 out of the 3 steps suggested 20 days ago ) as a remedy, something is still missing. What is still missing is Apple confession that there is a real issue. Not a SW glitch, not a manufacturing defect, but a real design fault. The fault is that the iPhone 4 is the only phone that its user must physically contact its antenna directly when holding it. This is a major design decision, that benefited Apple with compliments for a sophisticated design, but now, when the same design backfires, it ignores the consequences of that important decision.

Lets go over Steve Jobs presentation at the press conference step by step. But before that, let me start with the obvious: Steve Jobs was at its best at the conference, as always in such gatherings. His presentation was flawless, sharp and well managed. I love to hear his presentations, no matter what the subject is. The problem was with the message he tried to convey. The message was wrong, and he was barking up the wrong trees.

Part 1 - Phones are not perfect

Jobs showed here 3 popular phone models from RIM, HTC and Samsung that drop bars when gripped in a similar manner, and said that phones, including the iPhone, are not perfect. Steve - those are the wrong trees! People expect to hear answers about your iPhone, not about other phones! Are you suggesting that the iPhone is just like any other phone in the market? What kind of message is that?
And when you put in the same bed RIM, HTC and Samsung, except to hear responses as sarcastic as RIM's, saying "One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity."

Spin failure #1.

Part 2&3 - AppleCare Data and Phone Return Rate

Jobs presented the number of  0.55% complaints about reception/antenna that was accepted at AppleCare. Plus, the phone return rate was 1.7% return rate. We can not argue with such numbers, but we can only ask: Does Apple document what is the costumer reason for returning the phone? it would be interesting to know how many costumers returned a phone due to a reception issue.

Part 4 - Call Drops

Jobs was not willing provide the total numbers of calls dropped in iPhone 4. He was only saying that the ADDITIONAL call drop of iPhone 4 compared to iPhone 3GS was  <1. When refereeing to delta numbers, and not absolute numbers, the immediate response  is try to guess what the original number is. Assuming iPhone 3GS has 1 call drop per 100 calls drop. If iPhone4 adds 1 more call drop, that's 100% increase -  That's an amazing number! 
But notice Jobs theory about it - the additional call drop number is due to lack of matching silicon cases/Bumpers. Ahh? Are you listening to yourself? Using the iPhone with no silicon cases results in increased call drop? That's how useful is the phone without a case? 

Spin failure #2.

Part 5 - Free Cases 

Jobs promised here a free case for each iPhone owner.
Listen Steve: You buy an apple iPhone because of its design. Because it feels great in your hand. If you wanted to hold a plastic feeling phone, you could have bought a plain old Nokia instead, at a fraction of the price.

To conclude:
I still think no recall is needed. The phone is useful, best in its class even according to the Consumer Reports magazine. In case you experience your phone to be dropping more calls, buy/get from Apple a bumper case. But I am sorry that such a great company as Apple, a company that invents neat and coll stuff, can not face the public and say: There is a fault in our design. Luckily for us, a silicon case solve it and no recall is needed.

There is only one simple truth: If there is no problem in iPhone4, why you need to deliver free cases?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No reason to recall

Consumer Reports review of the iPhone 4, which resulted in a "don't buy" recommendation, initiated a debate about a possible iPhone 4 recall. Consumer Reports argued that the infamous antenna issue prevents the magazine from recommending it to consumers. In all the other aspects that were tested by the magazine, iPhone 4 scored best. 

But no recall is needed. There is a much simpler solution, which is also cost effective. Each iPhone 4 owner should receive from Apple a silicon case at no cost. The same one Apple is selling in its online store for 30$. Apple should provide it in white, in black, just give it to them already!. But Apple will not do it. Since such an action will admit that there is a genuine fault with the product. The product that they praise so much. The product that has "changed the mobile game again". Not to mention that this silicon case will hide the outer design of the cell phone, the same design Jobs was to proud of in the keynote speech.

But how come such a basic fault was not revealed in early testing? Were Apple engineers not holding the phone the way a normal human being does?

I believe the answer is simple. We all know Apple paranoia from new designs leaking to the public, making Steve Jobs speech useless. But iPhone 4 must be tested. And it must be tested in real life. So how would you do that? Simple - you camouflage it. And the easiest way to do that is using a case. That's right. The same case the SOLVE the antenna issue.

Here is a qoute from there:
The case it came inside was a fully developed plastic case to house this phone to disguise it like a 3GS. This wasn't just a normal case; it had all the proper new holes cut out for the new switches and ports and camera holes and camera flash. But it looks like something from Belkin or Case-Mate. It's a perfect disguise.

Isn't that amazing?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There is an App Inventor for it

Remember Apple's "There is an App for it" commerciale?

Unlike Apple's walled garden approach, Google honestly believes software should be free, and accessible to everyone - even to the 10 year old who just want to have a picture of his teacher produce a fart noise every time you click on it. Thanks to Google's App Inventor, there is an App for it as well! 

Like MS-BASIC for the IBM DOS days and Visual Basic for the Windows days - App Inventor can play this rule for the SmartPhone era. One of the reasons that made the IBM based PCs so popular in those days was to ability to easily write programs using the BASIC programming language. Programs can be written relativly easy, and distributed freely. Same is true for Visual Basic - that revolutionized Windows application development.

Sure, there are many visual programming languages out there that make it easy to build small and colorfull projects - however, this time it comes to your PHONE. Just imagine the options which now become available: from coffee shops building an app for their menu, artists that can product a business card in the form of an Android app, or even start-ups for a product mock-up or demo.

Google's marketing effort to position this as a K12 learning tool is brilliant - Next time a kid asks his parents to buy him an Android smart phone, he must not forget mentioning its educational properties as well...

Google looks to fully utilize the phone capabilities with this tool. From early drilling into the product documentation it looks as most of the phone capabilities will be accessible: GPS, SMS, call creation and termination, web browsing, and so on. This is not just a tool that can create Apps to display nice pictures and sound, but something can be easily find legitimate business causes to use.

So Apple, what would be your reaction? Can you bit this brilliant move?