In Which Case I’ll Happily Await iPhone 5

July 13th, 2010  |  Published in mac and iphone

Regardless of when the problem was determined, the peace offering of a bumper is far less damaging in the long term and is a better way to handle the situation than allegedly deleting mentions of the Consumer Reports findings in Apple support discussions or recalling the phone as some have suggested. For a company that’s built upon brand loyalty, Apple simply can’t afford to not offer free iPhone 4 bumpers.

Kevin C. Tofel, The Apple Blog

The very least thing Apple should do is offer bumpers, because they offer a way to ameliorate a severe design defect. Having offered the bumpers, which a lot of people will likely settle for just because they aren’t having the problem to begin with, Apple should also — if this proves to be a hardware issue — be doing a recall. The bumper is just pretty duct tape people can slap on their phones to buy Apple time.

When I bought my first iBook, I was experimenting with switching to Macs. I still had a regular Linux PC I’d built myself under the desk, and a second machine I could run Windows on. For a while, I led a dual existence. The iBook was pretty trailing edge (a 500MHz G3 that probably should have been running OS 9, and ran OS X’s earlier versions in a manner one could describe as “passive resistance.”) I replaced the iBook with another one (an 800MHz model), but still felt pretty on the fence about the whole thing. Then the new iBook’s logic board fried.

I’d bought the iBook as a refurb, but Apple extends the same warranty to its refurb gear that it extends to new stuff, and I’d had the machine for less than a year. I took it back to where I’d bought it, they bundled it up, and I had it back in a few days, seemingly good as new. That happened a couple of times, even after the warranty period expired. The whole G3 iBook line was horrible for me that way. But Apple kept expanding the support window past the warranty and I kept getting the machines repaired for free and returned within days. I think there were a total of four returns between the two iBooks I owned over four years.

In the end, Apple support — the company’s willingness to do right by people who bought its stuff, even after the warranty had ended — won me over and I started buying Mac desktops, too. None of the three eMacs or iMacs I’ve owned have ever had any problems like those iBooks, nor the two MacBooks we’ve got, any of the three iPhones that have come through the house, nor the numerous iPods and Airports we’ve had. My sense up until iPhone 4 was that Apple would make good if something went wrong with any of that stuff. In fact, one of the MacBooks did have a cosmetic problem: a cracked topcase that resulted from bad lid design. Apple replaced it within 24 hours.

That makes Steve’s “stop holding it that way” baloney deeply unsettling. It makes the whole “Oh … no … you really only have two bars and should expect to be disconnected for holding the phone funny” software switchup absurd. The bumper is something you give to customers while they wait for a replacement unit to be delivered to their nearest Apple outlet. Then you take the defective unit and its cheesy bumper back, apologize profusely, and give them a phone they can hold however they please (except underwater or in a Faraday cage) with the expectation it will work.

But just a bumper and a wink? No way.

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