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Tough Love For The iPhone: Consumer Reports Takes Apple To The Woodshed

Apple notoriously ignores the tech blogosphere when it comes to product criticisms. Steve simply responds in a statement with something as crazy as ‘you’re holding it wrong’. Well a funny thing happened this week: the grandfather of product reviews is about to take ol’ Steve Jobs out to the woodshed. And this ain’t the friendly controlled-leak relationships with the New York Times or Wall Street Journal – this is white lab coat guys with solid test plans calling the Apple baby ugly. And it’s going to sting…

The bottom line is Apple has themselves a big-ass PR problem along with what’s probably an engineering defect. For a brand that relies on terms like ‘magic’ to describe their products, it’s a big deal when they don’t work. I mean, c’mon, the product labs guys at Consumer Reports just gave the device the highest rating among smartphones (higher than the HTC EVO 4G), but refused to recommend it due to antenna issues. They told readers to put DUCT TAPE on the phone to make it work! All the 720p video, double cameras and unified inboxes can’t make up for two words: Not Recommended.

So how did the golden child get here? How did Steve’s magic band of product ninjas ship something that actually has a flaw? All good questions given Apple’s been on a continuous tear for 4-5 years in the product management arena. Fanboys haven’t been able to stop themselves from flocking to products as radically different as the iPad, or something as bland as a new aluminum case on an iMac. The answer is simple: their hyper secrecy. If less than 25 people can be trusted to test a product isn’t it amazing that more stuff hasn’t blown up in their face? I’m sure every tester loved the improved signal strength, someone just forgot to palm it in their left hand.

But the good news is this is fixable. This is a moment of monstrous PR opportunity for Steve and gang. Stop selling a $29 bumper as a solution, and start giving it away immediately. Or if Ive and the product design guys have as much influence as I imagine they might, go deep and recall every phone for some crazy polyurethane coating fix. Or if there’s a software fix, kick it out already. The bottom line is Apple’s stellar reputation is at stake – a reputation Steve has fought tooth-and-nail to resurrect. Now’s not the time to let arrogance get in the way of pleasing customers.

Even the best kids need discipline sometimes. Let’s face it, Apple has become unchecked – even if they have built the most amazing phone in the history of phones. I, for one, am glad that Consumer Reports stepped in to call a spade a spade. Fix it, and all is right with the world again.

Thanks old school media.

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