The Macalope Weekly: Antennagate

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Some people just won’t let go of this iPhone 4 antenna problem. It’s almost as if they have a Grip of Death on it.

The Macalope’s charming and nimble readers will be glad to know that his personal time in the desert has finally ended. It took him two weeks and visits to stores on both coasts, but he now has an iPhone 4 of his very own and he doesn’t really see what all the fuss is about. He’d buy it again in a New York minute (SORRY, NEW YORK STORES ARE ALL SOLD OUT). And despite the furor, a poll on the issue proves remarkably inconclusive.

Ultimately the story’s not just about the antenna, though, you know. iPhone reception is a massive cover-up that goes back years! The Macalope’s back from vacation, kids! Adjust your tin-foil hats and dive in!

Only a giant overreaction will save them!

Over at PCWorld, Jeff Bertolucci thinks Antennagate means Apple must kill the iPhone 4!

Kill the iPhone 4?! But the Macalope just got his! According to Bertolucci:

The iPhone 4 is now tainted in the consumer’s eyes.

Really? Well, consumers sure must be hot for some of that tainted love since you still have to wait more than a week to get one of these “crippled devices.”

I’m not suggesting that Apple completely redesign the iPhone 4, which has gotten rave views for its high-resolution display and other new features.

Other new features that we could use right now but for the possibility that we might possibly drop a call if we’re in an area with a weak signal and hold it a certain way. Oh, well! KILL IT.

But the company must redesign the phone’s antenna to eliminate the Grip of Death problem once and for all.

Must it? And must all the other companies whose phones have the exact same problem? No, probably not, because people simply expect them to be pieces of crap.

A few minor cosmetic changes might be in order as well, if only to distinguish the new model from its dishonored predecessor.

Oh, you mean like a scarlet A (for “Antennagate”)?

Can you believe this? Histrionics on the Internet! Now the Macalope’s seen everything.

Dan Lyons is apparently making much the same argument as Bertolucci. One wonders how the Bertoluccis and Lyons of the world explain the conundrum that if you want to buy this tragically flawed phone you have to wait longer than it takes to get a machine gun.

Probably involves the words “reality distortion field.”

Read more…

Survey says

Is Antennagate taking its toll? In its quarterly conference call this week, Apple said it couldn’t really speak to the issue because it can’t find the bottom of this barrel full of people clamoring for iPhone 4s (iPhones 4?).

Research firm IDC, however, conducted a poll and found that a startling two-thirds of current iPhone owners would postpone upgrading because of the antenna.

IDC’s survey, which polled IT professionals last week…

Wait, what? “IT professionals”? Oh, come on. Those aren’t real people.

But still, two-thirds. That’s bad, right? Of course it is. Anything bigger than 50 percent is always bad. Everyone knows that. No, no, no, don’t do the math. Because then you’ll figure out that, if this poll is as representative as Computerworld and IDC want you to think it is, one-third times the number of current iPhone owners is still one metric butt-ton of people. Just accept the fact that it’s bad.

Even if it’s still inconclusive.

According to the IDC poll, 74% of those who do not own an iPhone, but plan to buy one, said that the antenna and reception problems would not delay their purchase plans.

Wait, wait, wait. So 74 percent of people who don’t currently have an iPhone said they wouldn’t let the antenna issue affect their decision, while only around 66 percent of people who already have an iPhone said that they’d think twice? And yet Computerworld, not surprisingly, decided to lead with the negative (journalamism!). At most you could say this is a wash. The Macalope (who is, admittedly, pretty good at this) could even spin this as a positive for Apple. Here, hold his beer.


Maybe the reason that people who have an iPhone are less likely to buy an iPhone 4 is because they already have an iPhone. Plus, the fact that a group of IT professionals—who are generally not pre-disposed to Apple fanboi-ism—is largely willing to overlook the issue is actually kind of amazing.

Don’t try that at home, kids. The Macalope’s a professional.

Joking aside, let the brown and furry one be clear here: people should consider the antenna issue before buying an iPhone 4. If you make a lot of phone calls, hold your phone with your left hand, don’t like cases or headphones, and live in an area with a bad signal, this may not be the phone for you.

That apparently doesn’t describe the bulk of consumers, however.

Stofega added that IDC’s research had revealed that the iPhone 4 continues to “sell like hotcakes.”

Wow, that’s some world-class researching there, world-class researchy firm. Why don’t you open a window and predict what the weather’s like outside right now?


If you follow only the Apple-friendly media, you may have missed the big news of the last few weeks. But ZDNet’s Tom Foremski knows how to read between the lines of Wired’s report of Apple and AT&T’s relationship. The real story isn’t that Apple pushed AT&T to fix its network instead of compromising on the iPhone’s design. No, no, true believer. The real story is that Apple knew in 2007 that AT&T couldn’t support iPhone features yet didn’t warn customers! Wake up, sheeple!

Um, note to Tom: if you read the Wired piece slowly you’ll notice that the meetings came after the iPhone shipped. So, don’t you think iPhone customers were probably already painfully aware of what AT&T’s level of service was like?

The point of the story was that AT&T realized it had problems and asked Apple to cripple to phone to solve them. Apple said no, fix your network. This is a business negotiation. The two companies signed a contract, AT&T failed to deliver and Apple’s supposed to pay for it by driving customers away from its own phone?

Frankly, the Macalope’s never really had too many problems using his iPhone outside of San Francisco’s Moscone Center. But keep in mind that AT&T makes $30 billion a quarter; if it wanted to, it could have given a bunch of those 3G microcells to customers in Manhattan and San Francisco instead of charging for them. Or said “First three years of service is free! Until we fix our network! Ha-ha! OH, GOD, PLEASE TAKE ONE!” But it didn’t.

Why is it Apple that’s always expected to conform to some magical set of rules other companies need not pay attention to?

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The Macalope’s painfully aware there’s a double-standard when dealing with Apple. It’s his raison d’être.

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