Fallout – Apple & AT&T Investigate 3G Reception Issues

When will the finger pointing stop and the problems get resolved..?

Until recently, both Apple and AT&T were pointing fingers at each other indicating that [the other] was responsible for resolving reception issues on the iPhone 3G.  Reports are now coming in that both companies are looking into resolving the problems.  All I can say is, its about time!

I noticed on iLounge that AT&T spokesman, Mark Siegel said, “…while customer concerns were being looked into, it is difficult to know if they are widespread or related to individual circumstances.”How a device performs in individual situations depends on circumstances like where you are in the 3G coverage, how close you are to a cell site. Things like terrain and buildings all come into play," Siegel said. "I’m not denying that people are having a less than satisfactory experience, but overall, the phone is doing great."… Nomura analyst, Richard Windsor, has said in a note to clients that the problem may stem from an immature chipset from Infineon.

There are further articles related to iPhone 3G reception and connection issues at MacRumors; and C|Net has been monitoring this thread at Apple. It seems that Apple put in an untried and very new 3G chipset into the iPhone 3G, instead of a [perhaps more expensive] more mature, tried and true chipset/radio.  Ok… show of hands… Who here bought the iPhone because Apple’s stuff "just works?"  Who here bought the iPhone 3G thinking that it would be a more mature product than the original iPhone, because the iPhone has been around for a year already?

Yah… that would be me, too.

[Rant on]
Excuse me while I blow a little steam… Apple products come at a premium. You pay more (even for a used Apple device or computer. Try buying a used Intel based MacBook on eBay, and you’ll see what I mean…), and because you pay more, you expect the device to just work.  Like the chick who saved Christmas by plugging her digital camera into a Mac, I expect to do just that – "plug" the thing in, and have it immediately work as designed and intended. That’s what I want. That’s what Apple wants, too. It’s the main reason why they are so controlling. They want the "Apple Experience" to be a premium experience. Premium experiences come with premium price tags. Despite the fact that the iPhone 3G is subsidized (you end up paying $40 bucks more for it than the original iPhone over the life of the contract, remember), Apple can say no less with the iPhone 3G.

Yah…so far (for me at least) I’m not feeling the "Apple Experience" with the iPhone 3G. Stevie J. should be paying attention about now. He took the hit for MobileMe, and I applaud him for that, but he really needs to take the project team that designed this thing to task.  They screwed this device up, and didn’t test it enough, in enough places. The BOM should NEVER have included an immature radio, despite any production cost savings it might have gained them.

I had heard that the iPhone 3G was [primarily] tested by both Apple and AT&T in Cupertino and Atlanta, and that was about it. Now, that information may not be ENTIRELY accurate; but just go with me on this for a bit…  There are reports cited in the iLounge article (line above), that the reception issues with the iPhone 3G being reported ACROSS THE UNITED STATES, are also being experienced in Europe and other countries. Trouble shooting cell phone reception issues (you have to deal with hardware, location, environment (other radio signals, for example), weather, etc.) isn’t easy. There are many variables.  Apple wanted to keep the iPhone 3G hush-hush, and from what I’ve been able to dig up, didn’t do any wide spread testing, in multiple (domestic or international) markets to see how this thing would REALLY function in the field.

(Steve, are you listening, again??) Well, now based on that decision and the decision to go with the Infineon chipset, Apple’s reputation is suffering.  Many people are discussing the many problems that the device is having. I have written more articles on the iPhone 3G than not in the last 4 weeks. I can’t get a newsletter in my e-mail inbox without at least one iPhone article in it. Its made the local news at least 2-3 times here in Chicago, and is (obviously) all over the web.
Now, whether the problem is easy or hard to solve. Is quick, not so quick…what ever… from Apple’s point of view, does it really matter?  With as much bungling that has happened with MobileMe, Steve taking the hit (and the resulting reorg at Apple) do we really need any more?  And at the end of the day, when all of this is resolved, and they have answers to all of the, "why am I having trouble with my iPhone 3G?" questions, what are they gonna do?

If the problem is a Radio ROM issue, the solution is easy – release updated iPhone 2.x firmware to correct the problem.  It its a hardware problem (or a combination hardware/software problem, which is more likely…) How is Apple going to resolve the problem?  Are they going to recall 3 million iPhones and update them?  Are they going to recall them and issue updated hardware? Are they going to issue some kind of monetary compensation?  How is that going to work with AT&T..? And honestly, that’s the more important question…

I took an AT&T subsidy for this device on a 2 year service contract. In other words, unless I want to cough up a prorated $175 (now about $160 bucks), plus the cost of consumed service to return the device, I’m stuck with the device I have if the reception problems are in any way hardware related. Then what?  How does Apple address that? How much does that cost Apple (in either reputation or dollars); and in the long run, is it going to be worth it?
[Rant off]

I’d really like to hear from Steve Jobs and Apple on this.  What are the long term plans to resolve these issues? How are you going to address the damage to Apple’s, "it just works out of the box" reputation? More importantly, what are you going to do for me (and all of the other 3M plus iPhone 3G owners) who are stuck with this turkey, but don’t necessarily want to part with it just yet? Has anyone at Apple or AT&T really tried to address this; or are we simply sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring it, hoping that the issue and all the complainers will simply go away?
Plainly put, the iPhone 3G was a highly anticipated device. There was a lot of hype wrapped around it. Many people, myself included, paid a lot of money for it, stood in line a long time for it, etc. I wanna know if Apple is truly going to take responsibility for this and address the entire problem, or if they are going to continue to point fingers back at their carrier partners (if this is truly related to an immature 3G chipset)?

I bought an iPhone because Apple’s stuff just works.  This isn’t just working…far from it.  I WANT the iPhone experience, and I want my experience fixed. The 2.0.1 firmware update did a lot to increase device stability and improve radio reception, but not all of the issues were fixed. In fact, many of them still exist. I still have dropped calls, tower hand off issues, performance and stability issues, app crashes, etc.

Are you [still] having trouble with your iPhone 3G?  Join us in the discussion area and let us know what you’re bumping into, and what you’d like to see happen.

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