Ok here's the background in short. Iphone 4 drops calls. People get pissed as their phones fail. I boldly argue -- and we probably have a firm grasp of the obvious here -- that making calls is pretty much a critical function for a phone. Apple says there's no problem but the media coverage around the problem gets so huge it's affecting Apple's stock price. Apple has to respond so they set up a press conference to respond and here's how it went.
Apple is not only the biggest but also the most fascinating tech company from UX point of view. Their products have been so great for consumers that as Mc Hammer would say, nobody can touch them. As many know, Apple hardware sucks in comparison to their competition but the experience of owning an Apple product has so far been pure magic. When owning a gadget is pure magic then nothing else matters. Now, for iPhone 4 owners, that magical Apple aura fades away with the famous antenna failure. Even if a phone looks, feels and performs wonderfully in overall, you've got to admit making calls (that do not drop out randomly) is the primary function of a phone. Even smartphones with all that "smart" extra stuff almost nobody cares about. Not so smart a phone anyway if one can't make a call.
Apple is the best when it comes to presentations and praising their own products (which is something other players should learn about). Even when they fail, they manage to turn things around so that somehow people end up feeling they need to buy 17 new call-dropping iPhones. That's all thanks to Steve Jobs' superior presentation skills. Knowing this, it didn't come as a surprise that Apple is not going to be sorry nor take in the phones for repair. Jobs is also very arrogant - he shamelessly bends things as much as he can to make everything seem ok. Somehow the major problem iPhones have is presented as everyone's problem. Apple puts the blame on the industry while it's clear that the problem is Apple's experimental antenna design. They could have absolutely nailed everything if they just made the antenna design different. They also could have bought the solutions from Nokia or any other player there who have way better understanding of mobile phone hardware solutions. But that's not how they want to do things. And business-wise, that's probably the right decision for them.
Innovation is not bad. People all around the world can thank Apple for raising the standards of user experience. Iphones are full of great innovations. Same with macs and iPods. To be innovative you have to take risks. And sometimes risks just don't pay off. If you're not innovative in tech business, there's no future for you.
On the other hand, if you think about it...
What would you do if you launched a product that has a big hardware issue in it? Do you take it back for redesign and lose your face (and a ridiculous amount of money in the process)? Or, do you try to handle the situation at the minimum cost but still try to keep your customers somewhat happy? Of course you go with the latter. And if you think about it for a while, what's there to do differently, (despite of the ridiculous self-praising, even at the very moment of an epic failure)? They promised a free case or full refund. Okay, that's gonna cost a lot of money but it's better than losing customers. Apple understands that their business depends solely on delivering great user experiences. They left people a bit cold but also saved a lot. I bet iPhone 4 is going to continue to be a superb sales hit. One thing is clear. Smart companies learn from their mistakes. The next time Apple launches a phone, they're surely gonna pay extra attention to the antenna design.