No one could have missed Apple’s recent “woes,” with the release of the iPhone 4 – if a company over a million and a half units in their first weekend can have woes. Part of the cell phone debates that I wrote about in previous posts have centered on the problems in reception for the iPhone 4. So what’s Apple to do?
Slate’s Farhad Manjoo suggested that Steve Jobs apologize for the problems with the iPhone, as well as offer a more practical solution – a case to limit reception problems. And that’s just what Steve Jobs did, despite the New York Times’ earlier skepticism. But response to the press conference has been mixed: Manjoo remains unsatisfied with Jobs’ condescension, while the BBC reports technology reporter Maggie Shiels thought Jobs’ performance was “sterling.”
But even as Jobs apologized, he also attacked the media for what he termed unfair criticism of their product. Apple’s problems were certainly exacerbated by the Consumer Reports recommending against purchasing the iPhone 4.
So was this an effective response? Despite the mixed reviews, Jobs did offer free iPhone cases to help minimize the reception problems. But at the same time, he limited the effectiveness of his apology through his defensiveness and his attempts to minimize the problem. I agree with Manjoo – with a sincere apology, Apple stood to gain a lot of credibility. But by belittling those having the problem and making it seem like an unfair attack by the media, people will be much less inclined to offer Apple credit – no one likes being told that a flaw in something they are committed to isn’t that big of a problem. Apple has depleted its “reservoir of credibility” in this event, and they might find it difficult to rebuild. But at the same time, Matt at Gizmodo.com is right – it’s time to move on. iPhone users have to make a choice: accept a less-than-ideal solution or take advantage of Jobs’ offer to return their phones, while the rest of us can admire our intelligence in avoiding the iPhone 4.