iPhone

Is the iPhone 4 becoming Apple's Windows Vista?

Between antenna problems and app store hacks, ZDNet's Sam Diaz thinks the iPhone 4 is starting to feel like an outcast in the iPhone portfolio - kind of like Windows Vista was for Microsoft.

This is a guest post from Sam Diaz of TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet. You can follow Sam on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines, or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The latest word out of Apple HQ is that the iPhone 4 software update that's on the way won't do anything to solve that little antenna problem that's been getting headlines in recent days.

Well, duh.

As Adrian Kingsley-Hughes pointed out in a post of his own this morning, the antenna problem on the iPhone 4 isn't a software issue. It's a design defect. And his advice is simple: either live with it or return it.

As the iPhone 4 bashing continues, I can't help but wonder if the folks in Cupertino are getting a little taste of what Redmond must have been feeling when everyone was bashing Windows Vista - stuck between a rock and a hard place because there's really no quick answer to give iPhone owners. Well, nothing beyond 1) scale down to a previous version, 2) buy from a competitor or 3) wait for the next update.

I understand the loyalty badge that Apple fans wear proudly. I've been wearing my "I'm a Mac" label for many years and would recommend Apple's computer systems to anyone. I own an Apple TV unit and can't wait to see what the company will do next with it. And I happily use Apple's Airport wireless networking products to transmit the Internet wirelessly throughout my house.

But I won't buy an iPhone - because I'm also a fan of spending my money wisely. Yes, it used to be an AT&T issue with me - why would I pay a monthly bill for phone service that's hit or miss, at best? But now, my distaste for Apple's iPhone has grown beyond that.

It's unfortunate, really. The iPhone was the pioneer, a company that redefined smartphones and single-handedly changed the entire ecosystem of apps as a business - just like Microsoft did when it originally introduced the Windows operating system to personal computing.

Like Microsoft, Apple may have fallen into the trap of thinking that, as the market leader, it was untouchable. But just as Apple recognized Microsoft's vulnerability as it tried to dig itself out of the Windows Vista fiasco, Google and others may be the ones who are watching as the iPhone 4 takes a public relations beating. I wouldn't be surprised if they were busy behind the scenes putting together a switch campaign of their own.

With all of that said, I can't help but wonder if we'll see iPhone 5 sooner than expected.

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18 comments
kcoreyedstrom
kcoreyedstrom

If you have evidence that the July 2 software cure is not going to fix the problem - you tout insider information that apparently CNN and tne New York Times, Apple Insider and MacRumours have missed, then you should break what would be a major international story. Until then, your reference to "The latest word out of Apple HQ is that the iPhone 4 software update that?s on the way won?t do anything to solve that little antenna problem that?s been getting headlines in recent days" is incredible and not credible.

Roger_Harmon
Roger_Harmon

Sam, Great job of selling content. Two people in our office have iPhone 4s, so far. It is superior to previous models. The antenna issue is not an issue. The new antenna design is better because it is outside the case. If you know that your hand will shield the better antenna, use a case. We require our employees to buy a good case before they are issued an iPhone. AT&T is a problem, however many are saying that the iPhone would have brought down Verizon's network. I would like to see the iPhone on Sprint's 50% utilized network.

Brendan P
Brendan P

This post should never have see the light of day. It is a poor analysis of the situation if you can even call it that. Reception is not a new issue with the iPhone and many other cell phones, and reviews including those of Cnet, Tech Republic, ect. do a poor job of measuring actual performance. The take away is that actual call acquisition and retention need to be measured for consumer reviews. "Bars", What does that actually translate to?

jefferyp2100
jefferyp2100

The problem with Apple is Steve Jobs. When Jobs is on track, Apple makes great products. When Jobs is wrong, don't expect him to ever admit it. Jobs is a visionary--don't get me wrong. Apple owes much of it's success to Jobs. But Jobs, like Apple, has control issues.

yobtaf
yobtaf

What are you trying to be? The FOX News of the internet? Try again.

harpu
harpu

Probably one of the most negative ever articles I've seen on TR...in fact, so negative it caused me to now just ignore it. Poor Apple...NOT. My iP4 has been workin' just fine here in North Texas.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Software - The instructions executed by a computer, as opposed to the physical device on which they run (the hardware). Hardware - The physical, touchable, material parts of a computer or other system. The term is used to distinguish these fixed parts of a system–[u]such as antennas[/u]–from the more changeable software or data components which it executes, stores, or carries. Definitions from FOLDOC. edit: format

nwallette
nwallette

What is software going to do about it? What COULD it do? That's like wondering whether the software update will make phone calls with your in-laws any less stressful.

ScarF
ScarF

"We require our employees to buy a good case before they are issued an iPhone." Now, this is some IT policy I haven't heard yet.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The new antenna design is better because it is outside the case. If you know that your hand will shield the better antenna, use a case." Then why didn't Apple just manufacture it with a case in the first place?

RipVan
RipVan

If that statement is somehow supposed to relate, I guess we are supposed to surmise that some people PREFER a cheerleading, pants peeing cardboard cutout-a-thon to reality...

dejeans
dejeans

For 10 years I have been with ATT, the last 5 years I have been using Blackberrys. I have never experienced the same problems with connection as any of the iPhone users. Even when I pointed out while they were complaining about their signal from ATT that I still had 5 bars they were in denial. I guess when you buy a toy, phone quality and connecting to the network must be secondary to being able to play music and games. Now the iphone 4 is just plain bad and instead of admitting it the fanboys and girl are in worse denial than Apple. Sent from My BlackBerry Bold

QAonCall
QAonCall

But my takeaway would be this.. 1) Vista was a public relations issue, not a technical failure. Vista works, and works well. It gave consumers what they thought they wanted, 'tighter security' and that reaction was driven by Apple to begin with. 2) This mess is of Apple's own making, and it has more to do with small build ups of anger over things that Apple has done to/with the iPhone. Their way out is simple, replace all the units. 'Make it right'. The problem is those units will cost millions, and frankly because Apple is a big company, with money to blow on spin, they will....tada...SPIN instead of making it right. I personally work with 2 partners who swear by their iPhone (not v4). They swear by them, even when we are all in a room, and I am the only one with signal. I think most have learned to get by with the issue. Sadly, Apple HAD to know this was an issue for a while. They did not just come to this revelation. Trust is important in the tech world. If your trust in Apple is rock solid, it won't be shattered by this, but if you were a company considering replacing your aging blackberry suite with iphones, this will give you serious pause. THAT will be the bite Apple gets (no pun). They have aimed for that niche in the enterprise, and the iphone was the tool, now that tools has some serious issues, and enterprises will consider this.

RipVan
RipVan

Like Microsoft, the product is tightly controlled with the most focus and consideration on the revenue stream. It doesn't matter if it is a good business plan or a bad business plan. Zombie count is where the rubber meets the road.

canuck82
canuck82

I am not based in the US - but rather I live in Australia. Here the Iphone 3GS is massively popular. I have resisted the Iphone craze because of what it is... A Craze. Iphone users seem to think that as soon as the Apple logo goes on a product it is flawless. For example Macs don't crash, freeze or get viruses - What the?! I recognise that Apple generally release well put together and MARKETED products, but no matter how much hype they give their products they will never be flawless and there have been issues with call quality and signal coverage on iphones for awhile - not just in the US but here in Australia. I hope Apple gets a wakeup call over the early release of the Iphone 4 - but then why would they when people will just blindly buy products that they stamp with their logo?

nwallette
nwallette

I agree with most of this. The antenna design was a good idea, but bad implementation. If the metal band had been a recessed strip between two pieces of plastic that couldn't be touched without squishing your finger in-between, it would have panned out differently. This should've been caught during prototyping. Better yet, the engineers should have seen it coming a mile away. The response has been disappointing for what could be fixed by a new shell wrapped around the same electronics. (Still expensive, but...) I honestly don't consider the bar-reporting issue a malicious attempt at masquerading signal strength. It's Apple, not AT&T, and they even came out with their tail between their legs when people aren't even demanding an explanation for disparity between actual and perceived reception quality. Finally, there's not much to gain by "lying" about it. The performance of the phone would speak for itself in low-signal areas. Most people don't have the engineering insight to recognize this for what it is. Algorithms that intend to represent something like signal strength or battery life are difficult to do. It's not a straight-up factor of percentage, not necessarily directly quantifiable in a consumer-friendly manner. There's wiggle-room for what you would consider "bad", "fair", "good", "excellent" and whatnot. Is -60dB weak or adequate? Maybe it depends on interference, reflections, the humidity.. Radio is complex like that. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on that. But the conductive antenna -- that was amateur.

bkn2000
bkn2000

Why the push to market so fast? We need to push ATT and Verizon on 4G networks first. The US lags pitifully behind in wireless and broadband. The internet providers are acting like the cable TV people, a ridiculously high price just to check email. Broadband users should pay like at the gas pump. You download / upload more, you pay more. As far as Vista is concerned, it was like changing your V8 and replacing it with a 2.0L 4-cylinder. My RAM usage went from 160 MB on a XP Home client to 800 MB. At least Apple does not force you to buy another computer just to work with Vista or now Windows 7. I will put off buying an iphone for now.

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