Letterman, Top Gear, Microsoft poke fun at iPhone 4 antenna issue

So on one hand the hype surrounding iPhone 4 antenna issues has risen to the level of a David Letterman top 10 list and Top Gear joke (see videos after the break), and on the other it's got Microsoft COO Kevin Turner calling it Apple's Vista (which is a bizarre slam on Microsoft's own product):

It's beyond the looking glass. What is Apple going to do? What should they do?

[CrunchGear x2, Computerworld]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Letterman, Top Gear, Microsoft poke fun at iPhone 4 antenna issue


I feel like everyone is making a big deal out of nothing. I have an iPhone 4, I have seen a bar drop here-and-there, I'm a lefty, and I'm not complaining.

That's not a bizarre slam on Microsoft's own product. Every single rep from Microsoft has flat out admitted they F'ed up Vista and that the primary goal of Windows 7 was to fix that screw up. Some companies are willing to admit when they royally screw something up, hence why the Windows XP kill date was extended to 2020 now rather than trying to force businesses into moving to Windows 7.

I've been noticing NO dropping bars when I hold my iPhone 4 the "wrong" way lately. Did Apple or AT&T issue an over-the-fix within the last few days??

It's very much like a Vista problem. I don't think MS is slamming itself. They're saying Vista was a great product but a perception problem because of some early issues.
MS never could overcome that bad perception no matter what they tried and they did indeed try with Seinfeld commercials, blind OS tests, etc. Basically it came down to hurry up and get windows 7 out.
It won't be easy (or cheap) for Apple to turn this around.

@ Michelle
I agree. It is a classic case of making a mountain out of a mole hill. Do bars drop? Yes. However, most polls I've seen show that users have the same experience I have had. Bars drop, but it rarely actually results in a lost call.
Unfortunately, Apple gave everyone the opportunity to make that mountain. I think this would not have been as big of a problem if Apple hadn't let their pride turn into arrogance.
In response to the quote by Kevin Turner: Apple's Vista? Ha! There is a major difference between an excellent piece of equipment with a perceived problem that has been blown way out of proportion, and an entire operating system that was an actual problem.

what about holding it in your right hand..? any problems there? i'm a righty
wish i could get an iphone..

You know, if the iPhone were a car and was having this many "verifiable" problems it would have been recalled so fast it would have made your head spin.
True, the iPhone's issue can't kill you, but something like this that still warrants a recall to fix it... it can't be that hard to insulate the two antenna ends so this doesn't happen.

Get over yourselves people...I own an iPhone 4 and has had problems with both the proximity sensor and antenae. That doesn't stop it from being a great device just not a great phone. Letterman was HIGHLARIOUS.

u guys are amazing...
Apple sold u some junks with a big known problem and u are here praising them for taking a huge amount of money off your pocket.
I am incredibly annoyed every time I see the bloody signal bar drops when i took my phone out. I like to hold my phones on my left hand I think that's some basic habit they should have expect many people on the planet to have. Whether users adjust their habit or not to suit the phone is a different story. I dont understand why you lot getting mugged off my Apple like this, and yet warship them like they are the f8cking gods of the universe.
perhaps one of u would like to take iphone 4 off my hand? feel free to pay a premium for it since u guys LOVE this sh1t so much.

I DO have the problem! For all that think it's not true are fortunate their device doesn't! But do not think for one moment this is not a huge issue for a given % of iPhone 4 users. I have replicated the situation dozens of times in lots of locations right beside my 3GS so don't hand me the line that they are all the same!
Because Apple and Jobs have chosen to thumb their noses at us this whole situation is going to end up biting them 10 times as bad as if they would just admit there are some with the problem and replace them!
I love my iPhone, this is my 3rd one so you can't label me as an Apple hater.
And oh by the way I am an engineer and know quite alot about electronics, antenna technology, and radio wave propagation so don't hand me the lame excuse "...it's just the signal bar display issue.." because the freaking phone will not work when the phone is held on the lower left corner!
Word to Jobs: Own it, fix it, move on please! This device is too good in everything else it does to be dragged down by a problem that free phones don't have!

cardfan nails it. The antenna problems are real (I can reproduce them), but in day-to-day usage they do not have much impact for most users (none for me). The extent of Apple's screwup is not yet known, but it is indisputable that screwed up with a non-trivial percentage, perhaps only a few, perhaps all, iPhone 4s. After first denying and then releasing preposterous statements, now they need to contain the damage.
Vista's situation was similar. It had some very real flaws, but not nearly as bad as its reputation grew. (Most of them were simply due to Microsoft releasing ahead of 3rd party driver support, and near criminal underestimation of hardware requirements.) MS was slow and aloof in their response, and let their competitors (not least of which Apple with Justin Long/John Hodgeman) spoof and magnify each flaw until "Vista is a flop" was embedded in the public consciousness.
Apple's bumbling handling of the antenna flaw runs that same very serious risk, as blogs, mainstream press, and competitors jump on the bandwagon as eagerly as Apple did on MS 5 years ago. Apple's 2010 rep is better than MS's 2005 rep, so this generation of iDevices will not suffer at all, but not even Apple can afford a public perception of comically flawed engineering to get a foothold in such a competitive market.

Is anyone else tired of the hype? Mine works fine. If yours doesn't, take it back and get a Droid. I heard they're flawless.

@ Michelle
100% agree with you. this isn't that big of deal, I am waiting for my iphone to be shipped I am not worried, I have a couple friends that have it now and have not had one issue. Like apple said if you aren't happy take it back. I am sick of hearing about this.

The main difference here is choice. Windows rolled out a new (and fatally flawed) OS, then did the same with Office - which is FUBAR - with no real alternative options for the end user.
Now everyone's complaining about iPhone 4 issues that they could easily avoid by, oh I don't know, not buying one. Especially after so many people have said it's got signal issues - it's a phone! Don't go complaining that your car won't get you to work if it had no wheels when you bought it.
I'll be sticking with my 3GS for now, but I have faith that Apple will sort it out eventually. It's just the instability of iOS4 that's bugging me!

This top 10 list from Dave just proves that he is not funny any more. Dave became irrelevant back in the 90's when CoCo came on the air. CoCo is the definition of funny! Who else can create an iconic and unforgettable character such as the Masturbating Bear out of a crappy bear suit and a diaper!? NOBODY! And let's face it, when Coco comes out of hybernation, he will be bringing the FUNNY and put the 2 old farts Dave and Jay out of business! Dave and Jay are about as useful as the iP4's Yugo-esque antenna! Are there still people who sit through the opening monologue of Jay or Dave? I'm not saying that Conan's monologues were that much better, but the problem is that after Jay and Dave get through with their mouth diarrhea, they continue on with some other crap that they call a show by having on birdbrained morons talk about their fabulous lives and NO OTHER FUNNY~!
I'd rather peel back every one of my toe nails and dip my meaty blood-stumps into an alcohol bath while I hold my moist fingers in the nearest 110V socket, all while my head is encased in a glass box that is connected to a hose that pumps in fart directly from the lower intestine of a Sumo wrestler who ate one too many bean burritos from the nearest Taco Bell than sit through another Jay or Dave show. PLEASE RETIRE YOU OLD UNFUNNY A-HOLES!
PS - Rene, I'm sure you'll delete this much like Apple deleted any negative press, but if you loved your readership, you'd leave it on because it is funny and true.

Has there been some kind of over the air update or carrier update!? I was always able to make my iPhone drop two or three bars by using the "death grip", now I can't get it to drop a single bar for the past couple of days. I'm in the same location and have tried reproducing it multiple times even with wet hands!! I can't make a single bar drop. Has anyone heard about some sort of update???

David Letterman had jokes about Grey Powell weeks after it had already been blogged to death. It's impressive that it's gotten all the way to Top Gear LOL but I'm not even worried about it just send it to Canada already and we'll fix it LOL. So for the people who are able to reproduce the problem has any of them had their friend with a 3Gs stand right beside them and test it at the same time? to prove that the problem only affects the i4? also test call and data strength on both at the same time when the i4 reports no signal? this to me would really point that the problem is the i4.

If it weren't for the antenna issue, I wonder what at&t & apple would complain about? My guess, the lack of a 8-12 megapixel camera, no physical keyboard, no verizon. The list can go on & on. Of course, there's always something wrong with every new iPhone!! A.K.A.- haters who love Android or don't appreciate the Apple phone itself. Get it straight guys, seriously!!!

I've had all the iPhones all of them and besides the reception problems it's a great phone. I'm not an apple hater but I'm just dissapointed

Apple needs to send out bumpers and put this issue behind them. It would cost them a buck per phone.
Real or overblown, Brand Damage is setting in with a vengeance.
Their stock is down 7% since this news broke, and sales are probably slowing too, but we won't see any figures on that for a while, (if ever).
Maybe the Bumpers cause more Brand Damage, IDK. Maybe they need to rush a model change out with a Black ceramic bottom strip, in place of that metal piece.
But they need to do something, because their stubborn handling of this is hurting the company. Just fessing up would go a looonnng way to solving the problem.
A little bit of mea culpa buys a lot of forgiveness. Especially when most of the user base has an identity stake in the phone to begin with.

My iphone has death grip. Got a snappy bumper. Problem solved. Moving on. Yawn. Still a million times better than my BB that was perpetually on EDGE.

It's kind of ironic that Apple has the catchphrase 'this design changes everything'.
With the rumours going round they may be changing the design again ???

You're doing EXACTLY what people did with Windows, sticking with the previous working version (3GS for you and XP for them). Choice isn't the difference here, there really isn't a difference here. Apple released a product with some serious flaws that effects its functionality just like with MS and Vista.
Some people have been lucky to not have those flaws effect them, others have not just like with Vista. I ran Vista on 2 PCs and never had a problem with it but I know someone else that had serious problems with it on his PC, conditions do effect these kinds of issues.
I'd like to know general geographical locations of people that ARE NOT having signal issues to see if that might also correspond to carrier coverage strength.

The phone just came out I'm sure there's a fix on the way for people that have this problem. Apple is known for there service and support. Thank god I don't have any problems I would hate to have to return this bad boy.

Enough already on this issue. Everyone can return the phone at this point. If you have the issue, or it bothers you,take the phone back and wait for a new fix or get another phone.
BTW live in Dallas Area and have not dropped a call since activating on July 30. Coming from BB Bold and loving the iphone 4. Battery life is not up to BB but I carry my little extra battery around in case I need some juice!

Steve Balmer is probably running around the MS campus right now screaming and jumping up and down. It's not very shocking for MS to say something like that when they have stated the issues with Vista's release and the mistakes they made that ultimately was damage they could not repair even by making it much better down the road.

@ Macboy15 - I see you are a loyal Apple Trooper. Steve really have you brainwashed! Question for you and Rene: Do you guys all wear the same white plastic armor suits like Storm Troopers in Star Wars? Just wondering....
The top 10 lists are so 1990's Dave! I no longer watch your show b/c it lacks one key component....Humor! Coco dominates you and I can't wait until he gets back to the air! I hope Conan has an HTC Evo so when TBS calls him to begin taping his shows this fall, he will be able to have a nice clear phone conversation without his phone dropping the call.

Couldn't understand a damn word the guy in the second video said. How about adding some English subtitles at the bottom? :roll:

I think Microsofts COO has a lot more to worry about than iPhone 4 attennas... Maybe he focus on delivering Windows that even trys to compete with an iPhone (or Blackberry for that matter)... I don't know anyone who knows anyone with a Windows phone

Iphone4 user : Hello, police, i need help, quick. Come!
Police: where are you? We will send someone to you.
Ip4 user : i'm in &€?(;:())((;;.....pieeeeeeeep.
Police : OMG, he lost signal. Guess it was a iphone4 user....hmm, next.

This issue is pretty hilarious. I've been checking this blog for a while now, and watching most of the podcasts...and I've always seen one theme from both the hosts and the readers - people are willing to pay a premium for apple products because "they just work".
So now we have a product that doesn't "just work" and has a major flaw, and people are making excuses for Apple. Why should I keep buying Apple device (many times at a higher cost) if they will have all the same types of issues as other devices? I won't be upgrading my 3GS anytime soon, and most likely will be upgrading to an Andriod device if the issue isn't resolved (this coming after owning all versions of iphones and an ipad). "Hold it differently" doesn't cut it for me and really annoyed me. Sorry.

Dear tipb, I am sorry to report I will not be posting on this blog site anymore. I have decided to purchase an Android 2.2 phone because it is better than the iPhone 4 in everyway. Except for the battery life, I give that to the iPhone 4. I am sorry. Maybe next year when Apple comes out with a new phone I’ll buy that but I can’t make phone calls and my mom is worried. :-(

MacGirl - why don't you get a life and stop trolling around TiPb! If you like those phones so much go to android central?

Greetings Jeff I would have to agree with you on that. Not sure what is going on at TiPb. I am a little confused by your link? What does that link have to do with the iPhone? You post "something wrong with the people on this site..." then you post a link that means nothing. Take a look at the mirror Jeff. It is people like you that create issue.

What did Apple think, that this would just go away? I already returned my iPhone 4 for a full refund. I feel sorry for the rest of you that have decided to keep a flawed device. Hopefully Apple will come out with an iPhone 4.5, codenamed "OOOPS"

Apple screwed up royally. Namely the top head Steve Jobs who completely underestimated the impact. The immage they were so successfully building to differentiate themselvs is stained forever. On the long run this will cost them billions. It will not ruin them but it has ruined the most precious thing they had.
iP4 is just a product with ~2 year lifetime.
Apple's immage on the other hand is for many years. While iP4 anthena issue can be resolved, Apple's immage to be better then the rest is gone. Apple now is just another entry in a long list of huge skrewups like Toyota, Ford, BP, Microsoft, Nvidia etc. etc. And Steve Jobs is now just another selebrity skrewup.
Immage was very important differentiator for Apple brand. Now they are just one of the stupid looking ones. And … fanboys shouting denials just make this much worce.
It's not about the iP4 technical problem
, it's about Apple letting this flaw go to market and about how unprepared Apple was to handle it. How a less the a $1 fix was short term saved …and created multi billion damage. How stupid Steve Jobs was to be so sure this problem will die away by itself under the shouting of the fanboys.
For many years this whole issue will be studied as a shining example of arrogance, misjudgement and how "not to handle issues".