Friday, July 16, 2010

Results from The Revision - we're sorry and we'll make it up, but you're really really stupid

OK, that was fun.

After Apple announced that they were going to hold a press conference on the iPhone 4, I wrote The Revision on Wednesday, not only comparing the upcoming event to LeBron James' "The Decision" TV event, but also noting the following:

...there's going to be a lot of speculation over the next few days. I could go ahead and speculate myself, since my guesses will be just as uninformed as everyone else's guesses. Maybe Woz will do a dance routine. I don't know.

The following day (Thursday), Glen Campbell conducted a FriendFeed survey to see what we thought would happen.

Apple's iPhone Press Conference #1: Will Steve Jobs be in attendance? (yes/no only)

I said no.

Apple's iPhone Press Conference #2: Will Apple issue a recall for all iPhones? (yes/no only)

I (and everyone else) said no.

Apple's iPhone Press Conference #3: Will Apple give free Bumpers for all current and future iPhone 4 purchasers? (yes/no only)

I said yes.

So, for the record, I had a 66.7% success rate on Glen's first three questions (the fourth was open-ended).

The answer that I missed had to do with whether or not Steve Jobs would be there. I guess some can argue with hindsight that he HAD to be there, but that's based on the message that Apple wanted to give.

I didn't hear the event itself (I confess that this post was staged because I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to tune in), but I've read coverage from ReadWriteWeb, the New York Times, BusinessWeek, The Inquisitr, and AppleInsider.

Of those posts, the New York Times piece appears to have the blow-by-blow of what happened and when. It appears that Apple started with the Jonathan Mann music video (which I previously shared in my Empoprise-MU music blog after Jesse Stay shared a TechCrunch post). Then Steve Jobs appeared and talked about making the users happy. In essence, the two themes of the press conference had already been outlined:
  • We're sorry for what happened to our customers.

  • Our customers are very important to us.

  • Our customers, and everyone else, are a bunch of bozos.

The bozo implication comes because (according to Jobs) all smartphones have this problem, only 0.55 percent of iPhone buyers have complained, and the return rate for the iPhone4 is 1.7 percent - much lower than the 6 percent return rate for the iPhone3GS.

There was another comparison of the two phones, and it's either a positive or negative depending upon how you spin it.

The Inquisitr showed a picture of Apple's spin - a slide that stated:

< 1

Additional calls dropped per 100 calls
compared to iPhone 3GS

But the headline writer for AppleInsider saw it differently:

Apple admits iPhone 4 drops more calls than iPhone 3GS

It all depends on how you spin things.

After implicitly calling us a bunch of bozos (“This has been blown so out of proportion that it is incredible.”), Jobs then detailed what Apple will do. According to the Times:

Mr. Jobs notes that the company has already released a software update that fixes the display of signal strength.

Second, a lot of people told us the bumper solves the problem… So every iPhone user will get a free case. The company will give refunds to those who already bought one. Apple will revisit this in September to see if there is a better approach.

“We can’t make enough bumpers, so we will source other cases, and users will be able to choose which one. People can apply on the Web site.”

Those who are still not happy can return their phones for a refund, no restocking fees. “We are going to take care of everyone.”

John Markoff interjected a comment into the Times coverage:

Basically a Harvard Business School tutorial on how to turn a crisis into an opportunity. Theme song for the event? Brian Kramer suggests Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”

Jobs, Tim Cook, and hardware engineer Bob Mansfield took questions, and then the event ended.

Apparently a lot happened in that nearly 90 minute session, so you can take out of it whatever you want. TechCrunch has a sufficiently large readership that ensures that you can get a wide cross-section of comments - especially when three different TechCrunch writers cover the press conference. Mark was not impressed with Apple:

We have no fix, it drops more calls with the new genius antenna, we will give you a 1 $ piece of plastic to prevent you from noticing.

Mark then went to express his displeasure. But someone who started their name with a lower case i felt differently:

Few days back one of the Microsoft execs said, "iPhone4 is Apple's Vista"! How shameless!
3 million iPhone4s sold in 3 weeks, even after knowing certain issue ... and now even the issue will be fixed.
And that's no joking matter... while Vista CDs are headed to the landfill!

So now The Revision is over - and thankfully, Jim Gray didn't conduct the interview. I couldn't reliably predict what Apple would do during the press conference (sure I said that there would be no recall, but no one in Glen Campbell's unscientific poll thought there would be one). However, I think I know what's going to happen next.

First, there will be a lot of news when Apple or whoever is completely swamped by requests for bumper cases.

Second, everyone will forget about the whole thing and we'll move on to next week's topic.
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