I think by now it should be pretty clear that rumor blog Gizmodo has a love/hate relationship with Apple. On the one hand, they love the page views that Apple-related stories bring in. On the other hand, they hate the possibility of facing felony criminal charges due to having purchased a stolen iPhone 4 prototype.
Given the latter half of the tenuous relationship, what’s a blog gonna do? Simple! Continue to write a truckload of articles about Apple every day, just without the fanboyish perspective that at one (pre-investigation) point in time permeated the vast majority of their articles.
And why not? Apple bashing is a lucrative industry—just ask Rob Enderle—and never more so than during new product release week. This time it’s the iPhone 4, and Apple handed Gizmodo a whopper: A phone which doesn’t work for some percentage of 1.7 million people…when held normally.
As others have noted, this exact reception issue seems to plague multiple smart phone manufacturers, including HTC and Nokia. Gizmodo even makes mention of this as part of their ongoing coverage of Apple’s more popular variation on the theme:
There is evidence other phones may have had problems when gripped a certain way. But none generated the number of public complaints or level of controversy associated with the iPhone 4.
As a naturally curious person, you may be wondering: “Why is that, I wonder?”
The first reason should be pretty obvious: Apple sold 1.7 million iPhones in three fucking days. The sampling rate for iPhones is larger. (Did Nokia ever sell 1.7 million E71-2 phones?) Thus, the fact that more reports of the issue are surfacing isn’t all that surprising. Or, shouldn’t be to anyone who understand the concept of much more and far less.
The second reason is a bit more chilling and requires more of an explanation.
I should warn you: The following is not recommended for the faint of heart. What you are about to read is a brutal and uncompromising look at various Gizmodo contributors flogging a story over and over and over, for almost a week, right up to the point of death, and then butt-fucking it for good measure.
You have been warned.
The post that started it all. Intriguingly, there’s a hint that Gizmodo might be gentle with the story. A false sense of hope that some sort of journalistic integrity might be applied, based on the question mark at the end of the headline. 50 updates later…
It’s true. Believe it or not, Steve Jobs did somewhat dismissively recommend that a concerned customer hold his phone differently to mitigate the problem. Gizmodo just wanted you to know that.
Not really, but Gizmodo hadn’t written anything negative about the reception issue for a few hours, so, they improvised. Ha ha!
In case you’d forgotten, the good people over at Gizmodo wanted to remind you that the iPhone you purchased is probably a defective piece of shit that you can exchange for something else, even another piece of shit defective iPhone 4!
Actually, it’s just a protective skin, but: “Hey, have you heard that Apple’s new iPhone 4 suffers reception issues when you hold it normally?”
“We know that the iPhone 4 prototypes were concealed because we bought a stolen iPhone 4 prototype and it was housed in a protective case that made it look uncannily like an iPhone 3GS. Uh, maybe that’s why they didn’t detect this issue? It makes sense that Apple wouldn’t have ever utilized an iPhone 4 prototype which was not wrapped in one of those stealth cases, right? Even when it wasn’t being tested off-site? Cough.”
(I prefer the conspiracy theory that Apple did in fact know about the reception issue and that the bumpers were designed to mitigate the problem.)
As of right now, it’s almost Tuesday and no update has been issued. They’re not even that good at rumors.
Because, apparently, the first article they published which involved 50 claims (often with videos) of users experiencing the iPhone reception problem in practice wasn’t enough to make the point that people were experiencing the problem.
Let the sodomizing begin! “One, two, three, four, fuck that story ‘til it’s sore!”
One solution involves using a rubber band to attach your iPhone 4 to the head of a douchebag.
In this video, an iPhone 4 owner demonstrates how the antenna problem also affects transmission in voice calls. Using only one finger, the voice quality degrades, even dropping completely. He explains the process:
The process involves using one finger. It’s all very scientific.
At this point, I’d say Steve Jobs is just mind-fucking Gizmodo with his responses. That may make what we’re witnessing consensual, in some weird way.
Presumably spent after posting a non-stop barrage of content on the subject of iPhone 4 reception issues, Gizmodo steps away from the limp body and lets Fake Steve Jobs have a turn. Good news, everybody! There’s a pretty good chance we’ll get to hear Adam Carolla’s take on the matter as well: Jason Chen loves that guy!
Gizmodo posts a goofy picture of Steve Jobs in an effort to keep the meme going and doesn’t even bother to credit the random commenter who they stole the idea from.
Exhanging piece of shit iPhones is so yesterday. Today Gizmodo is all about returning your new iPhone. You could even use the refund money to buy the Droid X that Gizmodo failed to cover in any real detail, due to their obsession with Apple’s newest product.
Except, of course, for those Nokia phones (like the E71-2) which were (under)reported to have the same problem as the new iPhone, information which Gizmodo didn’t feel the need to mention, either when it was a fresh issue or now that it might serve as a useful counterpoint to Nokia’s smug and seemingly inaccurate blog post.
“Sign here if you want something free or if you think internet petitions are useful.”
One week from product release to complaints to class action lawsuit. This will be great for consumers who will most likely get next to nothing even assuming these money chasing lawyers manage to take the claim all the way to a favorable verdict. They’d make a lot of money, sure, but you? You’ll get a voucher for a bumper you probably already bought. Gizmodo is happy to assist, though, and refer you to the law firm that hopes to
fight for your rights line their wallets.
Just kidding. And finally…
In which Gizmodo once again dips back into the well and posts yet another video showing something happening that happened in other videos they’ve posted. It’s worth noting that Gizmodo didn’t mention the comments of the guy who shot the video:
FYI: I did not make this video to dissuade anyone from buying the iPhone 4, but merely to record this phenomenon. If it’s a bug, it’ll be fixed. If it’s a defect, Apple will replace it. I’m very much enjoying iPhone 4.
It’s kinda fun, actually.
For what it’s worth, I couldn’t get it to reproduce in a cafe a few days later, so this could be a problem only in some areas.
Instead, they posted some information from “most” push polls without, you know, actually linking to the polls. As a fan of this method, I can say that—according to most web polls I’ve seen—up to 100% of respondents think Jesus Diaz is a dicknozzle hack who is more concerned with getting back at Apple than doing his job. As it turns out, he can also see the future, because he can say with certainty that this problem will “affect everyone at some point.”
Damn. And finally…
Gizmodo claim that a “source” inside Apple’s engineering department let slip that the internal battle between designers and engineers is leading to product defects that are just going to get worse and worse and worse. To prove this, they attempt to make it seem like Andy Hertzfeld contributed an article detailing the same issue from way back—once again due to Steve Jobs’s insistence on form over function—when really, they just copied and pasted one of Hertzfeld’s old articles from Folklore.org.
AHEM: AND FINALLY…
Gizmodo isn’t interested in this product, they’re interested in linking you back to an article which involved enough new news to actually justify an article.
Fuck it. There’s probably going to be more as the days go on:
News flash: Apple, like every other company, is trying to manage its message because sites like Gizmodo—but mainly Gizmodo—are parsing every single thing they say on any given issue, in an effort to find an inconsistency to write about.
This list was compiled by a tag search for “apple” on Gizmodo, so it’s possible that I missed a few articles. I also ruled out any article which wasn’t specifically about the reception issue even when the reception issue was mentioned as a snarky aside; the list would be at least five articles longer if I had been less particular. As it stands:
16 17 18 19 20 21 articles. (Articles about Apple, generally? A billion. Literally, a billion. Give or take a number.)
It wouldn’t really be fair to highlight Gizmodo without offering a comparison of similar content posted to a similar site, using the same search criteria.
Engadget is probably Gizmodo’s most direct competition as they tend to cover the same basic topics, so:
Same day, same basic starting point.
Steve’s pithy email was too good for either site to pass up. Understandable. When Steve says jump, most of these guys jump.
Snark, in picture form: Various people in Apple’s promo videos holding the phone the way that Steve Jobs recommends not holding it. Oh, snap! No word on whether these people have signed Gizmodo’s petition.
Weird. This article is about the reception issue, but it’s not really all that negative and is actually pretty informative. It’s as if all sides of an issue are being presented. I’m confused!
In other news, June 10 was my birthday, and you didn’t get me anything.
Remember how the book Wicked was basically a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, told from the perspective of the Wicked Witch? Similarly, this is the same smug Nokia blog post Gizmodo posted, told from the perspective of a website which seems to have some modicum of respect for journalistic integrity.
Spoiler: Engadget points out Nokia’s hypocrisy by posting an actual illustration from one of Nokia’s user manuals depicting the “don’t hold it that way” concept.
So, in the time it’s taken Gizmodo to add 4 new posts on the reception issue, Gizmodo has limped in with one. The newsworthy one.
The final tally:
6 7 articles. Six. Seven. One of the six seven wasn’t even negative!
Pathetic effort, Engadget.
It’s worth noting that Gizmodo has completely overlooked the two articles on the subject that seem to shed some intelligent light on what’s actually going on. Engadget linked the first of the two:
The second article, which is even better, really:
On that note, I’m finished with the updates. There’s a pretty good chance Gizmodo will keep fucking this story in the asshole until it’s a bloody blown out mess, and that travesty will have absolutely nothing to do with an honest desire to keep their readers informed—otherwise they’d have posted both of the above links (neither of which come across as favorable or fanboyish towards Apple) instead of the 18 or so worthless, smug, masturbatory wastes of time they instead chose to post, or at least in addition to the smug masturbatory wastes of time—their mission is very clearly driven by a complete and utter lack of professionalism due to having been stung by a company they used to worship. Why any outlet, mainstream or otherwise, would ever defend their journalistic credibility is completely beyond my ability to understand.
If Jason Chen’s or Nick Denton’s or Jesus Diaz’s argument is that what they do deserves protection under shield laws because they qualify as journalists, I would argue that anyone in any profession who performed their jobs as poorly as Gizmodo’s staff performs “journalism” would be fired and then shunned by their respective industry.
And then I would argue that journalism isn’t particularly respectable.
What a load of horseshit.
Yesterday, early adopter reports began pouring into gadget blogs concerning two separate problems with Apple’s not-even-officially-released iPhone 4. The Unofficial Apple Weblog was first to report issues with the iPhone’s new Retina Display in which faint yellow spots (or sometimes yellow lines) were appearing on the screen. That issue was quickly followed by widespread reports that some iPhone 4s suffer (at least the perception of) lost reception when held in the left hand.
What’s more annoying than spending hours lining up for a shiny new gadget? Learning that your precious phone can’t actually connect to the network. Well, depending on how you hold it — word has it that the iPhone 4’s bottom-left corner isn’t playing nice with your skin. If you recall from the keynote, that’s where the Bluetooth / WiFi / GPS antenna meets its GSM / UMTS counterpart.
In both instances, some users have the problem, and some don’t. At this point, the “lost bars” glitch seems to be the more widespread occurrence, even though accounts about what triggers the issue and even how it manifests are pretty varied.
Walt Mossberg’s pre-release review touched on the subject:
Yet, in some places where the signal was relatively weak, the iPhone 4 showed no bars, or fewer bars than its predecessor. Apple says that this is a bug it plans to fix, and that it has to do with the way the bars are presented, not the actual ability to make a call. And, in fact, in nearly all of these cases, the iPhone 4 was able to place calls despite the lack of bars.
As it to be expected, Gizmodo has posted articles about both issues, and I’ve seen a few people surmise that perhaps this is just Gizmodo being Gizmodo. Unfortunately, too many other blogs are reporting on the issues for that to be the case. These are real issues.
Still, these early reports may not be the end of the world for Apple, or for those still hoping to nab an iPhone 4. I’ve seen claims that a failure rate of 3 to 5 percent is acceptable in consumer products. This Daily Tech article about Xbox 360 failures, for example:
Asked differently about whether or not the Xbox 360 falls into the ‘normal’ three to five percent return rate, Holmdahl said, “We don’t disclose the actual number,” and “We don’t comment on that.”
I’m not sure where that range of percentages comes from, and haven’t located any study to corroborate the author’s claim, but looking at various articles about the failure rate of gaming consoles from Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, it certainly seems reasonable.
For example, the same Daily Tech article cites an astonishing 33% failure rate for the Xbox 360. 1/3 of every Xbox sold experiences a critical failure requiring a replacement unit. That number could even be as high as 54%, according to a blog posting on the Seattle PI website:
In fact, a Game Informer survey of 5,000 readers found that the Xbox 360 has an astounding 54.2 percent failure rate. That means 54.2 percent of Xbox 360 consoles fail in one way or another.
I’m willing to accept the 3-5% range because the same article touches on the failure rate of Sony and Nintendo’s consoles, as well:
That’s well above the reported failure rates of Sony’s PlayStation 3 (10.6 percent) and Nintendo’s Wii (6.8 percent).
So, if Apple sells 600,000 iPhones, they’ll need to get to 300,000 (or 200,000) defective devices before they match Microsoft’s undeniably shoddy record, 60,000 before they match Sony’s reported rate, or 15,000 before they even go beyond what is considered an “acceptable” failure rate. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Microsoft’s extreme failure rates haven’t ever deterred consumers from purchasing Xbox 360s. What the industry deems “acceptable” doesn’t seem to correlate in any meaningful way to consumer purchasing habits.
So: 15,000 defective iPhones would be a big number, and it would certainly lead to a lot of angry customers, but it’s (apparently) not unreasonable.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is the first completely redesigned iPhone in a couple years: This launch is likely to see a larger fail rate than (say) the 3GS because the 3GS didn’t really deviate from the hardware design of the 3G, which itself wasn’t a radical departure from the 1st generation iPhone. Apple’s manufacturing partners had likely worked out most of the glitches.
The iPhone 4 redesign not only involves completely new materials, but in the case of the Retina Display, it involves a completely new process in which the screen and the LCD are fused together. It’s also the first iPhone in which the antenna is a structural component of the device itself. (Indeed, there is some speculation that this could be the cause of the reception issue. If that turns out to be the case, the iPhone 4 will have to be seen as a monumental failure of pre-release quality control.)
Apple’s biggest and most immediate problem is going to be bad PR: For whatever reason, there are a lot of people who want to see Apple fail, and fail spectacularly. Consumers, for their part, don’t know anything about failure rates; a defective product is a defective product. Someone whose first experience with an iPhone is a splotchy yellow screen or an alarming reception issue won’t care (or won’t know) that the HTC EVO 4G and the Droid Incredible are suffering from embarrassing screen issues as well.
For better or for worse, Apple is the Goliath of the smart phone industry, and there are a lot of Davids who will be thrilled to play up even an acceptable failure rate, while glossing over the HTC display issues. (HTC glossed over the issues, why shouldn’t everyone else?) Couple that with the fact that consumers are more likely to report problems with new devices than satisfaction, and that blogs are more likely to collect and promote horror stories than success stories (this is where concerns about Gizmodo’s integrity become more valid) and this could become a massive PR nightmare for Apple, given that the iPhone 4 was already suffering from an unusually glitchy launch.
If, as Mossberg suggests, the reception issue can be solved via a software fix, Apple needs to post that fix sooner, rather than later. Today would be good—yesterday would have been better.
My guess is that the yellow splotches will eventually be tied to an isolated glitch in the manufacturing process; probably when the glass is fused to the LCD. Whatever the cause, so long as this issue remains relatively rare, and so long as Apple has replacement units ready, I don’t see this turning into much more than a hiccup for those unfortunate enough to be saddled with an affected unit.
Within a few days, I suspect Apple will release a software update for the iOS which will purport to correct the reception issue, at which point some will claim that the issue has been fixed while others will claim that they’re still seeing the issue. Supporters will assert that those people are simply confusing AT&T’s legendary reception issues with the (now fixed) iOS software issue and detractors will gleefully assert that this is the beginning of the end of Apple’s second coming. In support of the latter crowd, Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz will probably post a new article about Apple’s latest monumental failure, at which point his readers will claim that Apple sucks and that everyone should should have bought the more open, flash-enabled HTC EVO 4G instead of being a stupid fanboy and drinking the Steve Jobs kool-aid.
If all goes well, the fervor will then slowly die down and Apple will go on to sell a lot of iPhones to a lot of stupid fanboys including, in all likelihood, Jesus Diaz.
For the last month or so, I’ve been battling a unique reception issue on my iPhone 3GS. Everything works as expected until I lose service in an area with poor coverage. (My cubicle, for example.) When that happens my iPhone doesn’t seem to want to automatically reconnect to AT&T’s voice network, even if I move to an area where I normally get good reception. The data network works (I can browse the internet on 3G) but I can’t make calls and the status indicator reflects zero bars. Once I reboot, reception returns to normal. After a trip to an AT&T outlet and then an Apple Store (and after attempting the suggested fixes: A new SIM card and a hard restore without using my backup) an Apple retail employee finally relented and replaced my 3GS. Unfortunately, my new 3GS is exhibiting similar symptoms. I suspect there’s a software conflict and my experience is enough to lead me to believe that the iPhone 4 reception issue could, as Apple suggests, be a software problem, or even tied to a bug in a specific application that a significant number of people have installed.