Can We Cut Out the iPhone Bashing Already?

By  |  Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 7:23 pm

iPhone SteamrolleriPhone bashing is the trend du jour among tech pundits. The phone’s flaws are being singled out as if they’re unique to Apple, and the condemnation arrives without one shred of quantitative evidence to support hyperbolic editorials that say it’s somehow ruining customers’ lives.

Initial delight over the iPhone has faded to complaints about Apple’s micromanaging behavior and propensity to create closed systems. Nothing’s changed–Apple’s been that way since day one, and no one has to buy anything from it.

In June, I wrote about an extremely hyped survey which suggested that the iPhone is more accident-prone than other smart phones–without including the damage rates for other phone models for comparison.

In a new story in Salon, author Amanda Fortini is guilty of a similar sin. She complains about how her iPhones have repeatedly failed–including the one she dropped in a parking lot–and cherry-picks comments from forums to support her feelings about its durability. Of course, the iPhone is not singularly vulnerable to someone’s carelessness. If you drive a Volvo straight into a brick wall, you will be injured, even though it’s a safe car.

My iPhones have been very resistant to damage: the screens have never scratched, and they survived being accidentally dropped onto my hardwood floors on a few occasions. I also protect my investment, and buy cases to guard the phone. When something did go wrong (my headphone jack contacts were touching, causing weird behavior), Apple replaced my phone free of charge.

An informal survey conducted by Technologizer last year found that a majority of people were happy with their iPhone purchases, and other surveys have similar findings.

The iPhone isn’t perfect, and neither is the AT&T network. But let’s be realistic–Apple is selling a great product that has forced the rest of the industry to innovate. There would be no Palm Pre without the iPhone. Can we please move on from the sensationalistic bashing?


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19 Comments For This Post

  1. drew Says:

    As someone who does not have a IPhone, but thinks they look pretty nifty, and would love to have one, it might be a case of over-exposure.

    Yes, the IPhone does all sorts of neat things, but some IPhone supporters act like there has been a massive sea change, as if nothing is ever going to be the same again, and the IPhone is the pinnacle of human achievement.

    When you get down to it, the IPhone is simply that, a phone. An impressive piece of technology and programming, to be sure, but that is all it is.

    Apple has always been, to me, a leader in design and function; as the leader of that, they are going to be attacked. It just goes with the being number one.

  2. Mike Cerm Says:

    People aren’t unfairly criticizing Apple and the iPhone. My iPhone actually did get worse reception than any other phone I’ve ever owned. In the 2 years since it’s launch, AT&T’s network went from “not any worse than anyone else” to “significantly less reliable than Verizon or Sprint”. As a result, my old Nokia worked fine on AT&T, and after upgrading to an iPhone, I would experience dropped calls on a daily basis. Many people have abandoned the iPhone for this reason.

    The reason that they’re getting so much negative press right now is because the iPhone has been marketed at as computing platform, but Apple is constantly doing things that undermine its message. How can a computing platform lock you out of installing and using the applications that you want do use? It’s not like Apple’s actions are defensible; of all the smartphone platforms out there (S60, WinMo, BB, Android, WebOS), none place the kinds of restrictions on 3rd party applications that Apple does.

    Apple isn’t getting bad press, they’re just getting what they deserve. They are being rightfully criticized, in the same way that Microsoft would be, if Microsoft were over-promising, under-delivering, acting in anti-competitive ways, and, this is a pretty big one, making false and misleading statements to the FCC.

  3. Daniel Says:

    David, I agree with this article. To many complaints from pundits and people who’s own expectations are overlly exagerated. For Amanda dietrabe article about her experience with the iPhone, before she bought the phone what were her requirments? To me it sounded like she was not clear what she needed.  A blackbery sounds more like what she should have bought, but of course since we have no context to her needs we are left to wonder. 

    @Mike, what did Apple over promised and under delivered?  What anti-competitve practice are you refering to?  Too many blogs people say this but don’t give examples other than anidoctal views.  Apple clearly said that they would decide what would get onto “thier” phone. This is not being anti-competitve, you don’t have to buy the phone. If you do, you can jailbreak it. No muss no fuss. Apple does not prevent you from doing this but once you do you break the warranty.

    I can’t comment on the over promised and underdelivered part as you don’t indicate what they are. 

  4. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    This article is a breath of fresh air.

    > Yes, the IPhone does all sorts of neat things, but some IPhone
    > supporters act like there has been a massive sea change

    There has been a massive sea change. Even the iPhone’s staunchest critics don’t deny that. Smartphones have all become iPhone compatible since it shipped, now it is standard to get a Unix core and HTML 5 browser on a phone, not WAP/WML baby Internet. RIM just bought a WebKit browser for Blackberry. WebKit is the OS X browser engine. Also appears on Nokia, Palm, Android, Mac. Before the iPhone, Web development was IE focused, but now it is HTML 5 -focused.

    > It’s not like Apple’s actions are defensible; of all the smartphone platforms
    > out there (S60, WinMo, BB, Android, WebOS), none place the kinds of
    > restrictions on 3rd party applications that Apple does.

    In the first place, none of those app platforms has succeeded like iPhone. The testing and many other things that Apple does are why regular people commonly buy hundreds of apps. I have a friend who never ever installed a native app on his Mac for 10 years yet has 20 iPhone apps. You can’t ignore the success of the platform when you compare the methodology. The other platforms are currently 10 full years behind. Selling apps as easy as movies or music requires extra security and testing because apps can steal your phone book. Until other mobile platforms provide what Apple is providing they won’t sell apps to consumers by the billion. Apple came in after 10 years of everybody else doing it badly and had the first success. Until somebody actually succeeds while doing it your way, I’m not impressed by the academic argument that you make.

    Secondly, you are factually wrong. The WebOS SDK does not yet allow a developer to make a native app. The one native app on the Pre is the WebKit browser that renders the whole interface. All 3rd party development is widgets that run in WebKit. Zero native access. There are issues on other platforms also. Mobile development was a train wreck before iPhone.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    > What anti-competitve practice are you refering to?
    >  Too many blogs people say this but don’t give
    > examples other than anidoctal views.

    The irony here is that Microsoft created a market called PC Operating Systems, and then monopolized it (100 out of every 100 dollars spent in that market goes to Microsoft) and then illegally used that monopoly to monopolize other markets, was found guilty in court of this, and then … the Bush administration let them off with no penalty.

    Yet now tiny Apple enters the Smartphone market and takes 14% of it over the first 2 years and people are literally calling for the government to step in? Get a grip! When iPhone appeared, Microsoft had 24% of smartphones with something called Windows Mobile and Windows is a monopoly.

    The stupidest part of this all is that there are literally 2 iPhone application environments. You can run in restricted CocoaTouch or in open HTML 5. With HTML 5 you have a better API than Windows Mobile.

  6. Joe Says:

    @Mike Cerm says "How can a computing platform lock you out of installing and using the applications that you want do use?"

    I guess it's sorta like trying to use a FORD engine in a Chevy chassis… but no one gripes about that sorta thing.

    Buy a Nokia and enjoy… I'll keep my iPhone. BTW, the dropped calls may be ATT's fault…

  7. DaveZatz Says:

    I do agree with Mike that AT&T’s network reliability for both data and voice calls seems to have worsened from my WinMo Blackjack and Treo 750 days.

    I have no complaints with the iPhone hardware other than the wimpy speakerphone (compared to say my fiancee’s Blackberry Curve 8900) and I’m kinda bored with the form. But my first gen phone held up great over 18 months with no case. I assume the 3GS will do similar despite the plastic back.

  8. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    My biggest disappointment is that apple choose to pair with the carriers and strengthen their grip on the phone-market. Subsidising of phones only makes them more expensive, and simlocks unnecessary cripple deviced.

    Apple’s iPhone is strong enough of a product to be successful WITHOUT carrier marketing support. I hoped Apple would sell the iPhone themselves without simlock and carrier plans.

    IT would still have been affordable: it would cost about 500$ (the price Apple charges AT&T, and it makes ENOUGH profit on this!) but you wouldn’t be required to sign up for an expensive 2year contract. Instead, you could just look for the best plan for your needs, thus being of cheaper than with the 70$/month AT&T plan.

    I don’t really blame Apple for this, just a bit disappointed. I DO blame the entire cellphone market for still clinging to this ancient system that rips of customers.

  9. drew Says:

    >There has been a massive sea change. Even the iPhone’s staunchest >critics don’t deny that. Smartphones have all become iPhone compatible >since it shipped, now it is standard to get a Unix core and HTML 5 >browser on a phone, not WAP/WML baby Internet. RIM just bought a WebKit >browser for Blackberry.

    But I would argue that is still evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. People could surf the web (poorly) on cell phones before the IPhone. Apple found a more elegant way to do so, and the industry has adopted it. The point, however, is well taken. The IPhone has changed the cell phone landscape.

  10. Mike Cerm Says:

    @Daniel: Apple promised a handheld computing platform, and direct from the original announcement, an “internet communicator”. They advertise the idea that, no matter what you want to do, “there’s an app for that.” However, Apple cripples VoIP, cripples Sling, rejects Google Voice and other apps for dubious reasons. That’s under-delivering.

    They’re anti-competitive because they cripple VoIP to protect AT&T, and most of their high-profile rejection had to do with apps “duplicating functionality”. However, most if not all of the apps rejected for that reason did not merely duplicate functionality, but provided more functionality, or addressed short-comings in the built-in apps. How is locking out superior apps to protect Apple’s own not anti-competitive? Having more than one way to do something is the essence of competition. High-quality 3rd party apps would encourage Apple to improve their built-in applications, and Apple doesn’t want to be pushed.

    Apple “does not prevent you from” jail-breaking? Why do you think it’s called that? It’s called that because you’re prevented from doing it. It’s technically possible, but it’s not a trivial process. Furthermore, with each OS release, Apple makes changes to the OS prevent people from jail-breaking. They haven’t been successful, but it doesn’t mean that they haven’t tried, and that, if they could, they wouldn’t lock out jail-breakers. They just haven’t come up with a good enough system yet.

    You’re right; Apple treats the iPhone as THEIR phone, at the users’ expense. They shouldn’t, and they should be criticized for doing so, especially when it’s harmful to the user-experience, and bad for competition.

  11. Brian Says:

    Yes, you CAN jail break your iphone, in just the same way you can kill your neighbor if he/she plays their music loud in the middle of the night. Both, however, have adverse results.

    If you kill your neighbor you will be arrested for murder. (hopefully)

    If you jail break your iphone, you will be ex-communicated from the church of Apple by Pope Steve the 1st. (Your warranty voided.)

    Additionally Pope Steve wants to then send you to the inquisition where you will be questioned and I assume ultimately executed or jailed for life. (Pope Steve’s stance is that jail breaking your iphone is an act of terrorism.)

  12. JDoors Says:

    Waahhh! Apple dominates a market segment, gets its products into millions of customer’s hands, and now has to put up with criticism of the product’s weaknesses (perceived or otherwise). Welcome to the world of market leaders of all stripes.

    Yes, the iPod also dominates its market segment, is in the hands of millions of consumers, and yet does NOT recieve the same amount of criticism. However, the iPhone is a FAR more complex product with additional complications (eg., the network is out of Apple’s control), so it’s BOUND to have additional problems — and complaints.

  13. Michael Brian Bentley Says:

    People appear to get paid bonuses to attract eyes (it helps the on-page advertisements), and saying bad things about a favorite product, particularly an Apple product, is a sure-fire way to attract eyes. This is stock standard Dvorak, and commonplace in a variety of circles. It will not go away.

  14. AdamC Says:

    @Mike Cern

    Stop using the iPhone if you are using one, if you don’t own one stop whining about what Apple is doing. Please remember it’s their store and they can do what they like. If you think you are better, produce your own phone and then create an app store and market them to the world..

  15. Daniel Says:

    @Mike thanks for responding, as I appreciate what you have to say. But the point of anti-competitive is what MS did with their OS. Hamranhansenhansen gives a great example of what this means. 

    Yes, it is true, more competition is better for us all. That is why Apple is not using it’s market share to prevent others from selling Andriod, WINCE, Symbian phones. If they did then you could have a legitimate argument. If you need further proof look at the iPods as an example.  Apple garners 80% market share in the MP3 players  yet they didn’t go to the retailers and forbide them from selling the Zune.    

    Mike to get to the second item, which is under delivered, you bring a quoat from Apple, “internet communicator”, how has this not true?  We are able to browse the Internet like we experience on our desktop. Not letting Flash, Google Voice, Slingbox are a small fraction of what makes the internet. So No I don’t agree with your assertion that Apple has under delivered.    

    Now I am clear on how Apple operates, and it is under these conditions that I based my purchase of the iPhone. The above items would be a nice to have but not including them does not take away from what Apple has delivered or from what they have said. Neither of thier actions have countered the message they continue to hammer, which is a tightly controled hardware and software make for a better experience.  You can agree with the message or not, but this is how Apple operates.

  16. iphonerulez Says:

    But iPhone bashing is fun. It relieves a lot of tension. It’s fun to try to take down a successful company with all sorts of complaints. Most complainers figure if they whine enough, either something will improve or, at best, make the company fail and disappear from view. The best gripe is by people that bought an iPhone with their own hard-earned cash and curse Apple for not allowing them to run one app out of 70,000. This automatically makes the iPhone platform the worst mobile platform ever and destined to fail within about a month. Apple is squeezing the life blood out of 99.9% of total iPhone users by blocking an app or two because of a maniacal and perverse obsession of total control.

    Many bloggers have put Steve Jobs up there with Mussolini, Hitler, Castro and Idi Amin because the iPhone was made a closed platform run exclusively by Apple. It seems nobody was told that before they purchased their iPhones and apparently, no business has the right to do that. Especially a successful business. The bloggers suspect collusion, illegalities and worse. Apple is singlehandedly destroying the smartphone industry. The iPhone platform is a couple of years old and holds a tiny 15% of market share and yet it has suddenly become a monopolistic evil empire threatening freedoms everywhere despite there are at least a half-dozen mobile platforms anyone can freely go to.

    It’s always been fun to curse at successful people or enterprises, hoping that they’ll fall down into the muck with the rest of the losers. Take that, you arrogant SOB. Join the muddy crowd.

    Android is the underdog’s favorite OS now and the up-and-coming king of mobile OSes. You’re allowed to do anything, run anything and change anything and therefore it is the perfect OS. All the underdogs love Android which can do no wrong. And so, within a few years because of its total openness, Android will control about 80% of the smartphone business leaving all others behind. And best of all, it doesn’t have Steve Jobs behind it and an Apple logo on it. Ooohh, Apple is so scared.

  17. Tim Conneally Says:

    “If you drive a Volvo straight into a brick wall, you will be injured, even though it’s a safe car.”

    This passage is quite hilarious. I read that Salon article earlier and thought the person who wrote it was expecting a bit much.

    She said: “I have been the owner of multiple iPhones…My starter phone lasted for a little more than a year, until the battery got old and the phone, which had never behaved well, really began to act up. The next one wasn’t around long: I dropped it; it shattered. My third, a fussbudget sort, got a little bit damp and refused to work. Now, I am on my fourth iPhone, whose screen cracked weeks ago…”

    I don’t know what she’s expecting…nobody has ever claimed the iPhone is shock- and waterproof.

  18. John Smith Says:

    Apple is selling a great product that has forced the rest of the industry to innovate.

    >>>>>>> Apple maybe a giant in innovation. But Apple iPhone App approval process woes always hit the top stories. App process is of course a closed platform. Apple has to restructure it processes to get rid of these frequent complaints.

  19. Duker Says:

    It’s time for Apple to sign up other carriers, that will solve the issue! AT&T needs competition!