Thursday, July 15, 2010

Someone is trying to throw me under a bus

Suddenly now it’s all my fault that the iPhone 4 has antenna problems, which first of all, it doesn’t, and second of all, I’m not. But someone inside is leaking shit to the press and spinning the story to make it seem like the engineers wanted to do the right thing but kept getting overruled by Mean Old Steve and his groovy industrial design team.

First came the Bloomberg article saying our antenna engineers warned me and I didn’t listen to them. Now comes this piece in the Wall Street Journal saying that, basically, it’s all my fault. See this:

Steve Jobs’s insistence on strict control of Apple Inc.’s product-design process appears to have backfired with his new iPhone 4, leading the company to overrule internal concerns about antenna reception.

And this:

Apple engineers were aware of the risks associated with the new antenna design as early as a year ago, but Mr. Jobs liked the design it so much that Apple went ahead with its development, said a person familiar with the matter.

All I can tell you is that heads are going to roll on this but mine isn’t going to be one of them. No way am I going to be blamed for some shit design and crap engineering.

Meanwhile we’re working on hunting down the leaker. We’ve sealed shut all the engineering buildings, and Moshe and his team are scouring the phone logs and reading everyone’s email. More on this as it develops.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Behold the awesome power of our brand

Consumer Reports calls our product defective and says they can’t recommend it. And what happens? Some hack at Business Insider actually sides with us, and says Consumer Reports is just trying to pull a publicity stunt, bashing Apple to drive traffic to its Web site.

Friends, the power of our brand is like nothing that has ever been known to man. If you could bottle our brand, it would be more powerful than kryptonite, more valuable than gold. The guys at Toyota just sit there turning green with envy. Honestly, I’m just agog.

Of course other less honest journalists are saying we need to do a recall. Like Cult of Mac and CNET.

My response is simple and direct: We will never, ever, ever do a recall. No way. The stain of a few gripers we can deal with. The stain of a recall is something that takes years — years — to overcome. In our business it would be fatal. We would never recover.

So, no. We’ll keep shipping the fucked-up phones, and we’ll continue to insist that they are the best phones in the world with the best antenna that has ever been invented for any mobile device. We’ll keep running syrupy ads showing deaf mutes waving at each other over FaceTime.

If that’s not enough, maybe we’ll do a partial fall-back and agree to give out free bumpers to people who want them, and we’ll act like this is some huge deal and a big blow to our bottom line and blah blah blah so that will buy us a month maybe.

Then we’ll rush out iPhone 5 with a new design by Christmas season. It’s basically an iPhone 4 with a rubber wrapper around the outside. We’ve got the kids in China building them already.

Meanwhile, to all concerned, remain on message: There is nothing wrong with iPhone 4. It’s the best phone in the market. Even Consumer Reports admitted that.

If anyone mentions Android, say it’s fine if you’re a hardcore computer geek but too complicated for the average user. And it has the porn on it. Gross. Plus, iPhone has the bigger GBs.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Consumer Reports are lying liars who lie

First they said the iPhone reception thing was no big deal, and we linked to this on our official in-house fanboy blog.

But then CR had problems, and now they say they can’t recommend the phone. Are you friggin kidding me? First you liked it, now you don’t? And you expect people to listen to anything you say?

We’re asking Gruber and the rest of Team Steve to hold off on bashing this for now until we can craft a really good comeback and a set of powerful talking points. We’re hoping to have it distributed by end of day today. For now we’re just going with the trusty “they’re liars,” gambit. Meanwhile, fanboys are pouring into the CR comment string and bashing the hell out of these so-called “engineers” at CR. Well done, people. Keep up the attacks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I am so glad we’ve fixed this reception non-issue

So one of our young PR guys, whose name escapes me because I never actually learned it, was just in a meeting flipping out because he’s been reading comments on all the tech blogs all day and they’re pretty much all really nasty and negative and hating on us. Meanwhile Katie and I are just sitting there, totally Zen, drinking our smoothies and gazing out the window. The guy keeps going on about these blog commenters and finally Katie looks at me, as if to say, Should I explain? And I give her my Zen nod and she informs the guy that we don’t need to impress anyone on the tech blogs — the kind of people who post on those blogs are not our customers anyway. The people we need to worry about are soccer moms and fanboys. And this press release we put out today will take care of both of those groups perfectly. The young kid goes, Well, if I can be frank, that statement was utter bullshit, and everyone saw right through it. Katie just took a deep sigh and explained to him that sure, the blog geeks saw right through it, but once again, those freaks are all using Android anyway and we really don’t care what they think. The kid persisted so finally I cleared my throat and explained it to him myself.

I said, Young acolyte, have you ever heard of a novel called Anatomy of a Murder? If not, you should, because (a) it’s a good read, and (b) it contains one of the best pieces of advice about selling or marketing that you will ever get anywhere. The deal is this. An army guy gets arrested for murdering an innkeeper; he says the innkeeper raped his wife. The main character is the lawyer who defends the killer and succeeds in getting him acquitted. At one point he tells the defendant (or maybe it’s in the narration to the reader, I can’t remember) that the defendant is a guy that the jury is going to like. They want to acquit him. They’re looking for any reason, no matter how implausible, to find him not guilty. So all the defense has to do is give the jury an excuse to do what they all already want to do, which is acquit. It can be utter horseshit, completely ridiculous, and it won’t matter. The jury is just looking for permission to acquit the guy.

So it is with us and the fanboys. They want to buy our products. They just don’t want to lose face. Like that jury, they want to acquit us. All we need to do is throw them something they can latch on to so they can say, See? Apple recognized the problem and fixed it right away, what an awesome company, always looking out for customers, blah blah. So, as far as the Apple faithful are concerned, we’re done and done.

The soccer moms are slightly different. They’re not paying attention to any of this shit at all, and have just maybe kinda vaguely heard something from someone somewhere that there was some problem with the antenna. They don’t know what it is, exactly, or how it all works, and they don’t want to know, because they’re busy running to yoga class and picking up the kids after school and they’d really like to get that new iPhone 4 because it’s like really good or whatever and one of the other moms got it and she said it’s cool but supposedly there’s something with the antenna but she hasn’t experienced it. All we need to do for them is do something, anything, so that words gets around that yes there was some kind of problem but Apple did something, anything, and now everything is okay.

And if you don’t believe that there are consumers this clueless, trust me — I was visiting Apple stores when the iPad shipped (in disguise, of course) and I saw, with my own eyes, and heard, with my own ears, a woman say to a salestard, “Why does this one cost more than this one?” And the salestard had to explain that one had more gigabytes which meant it could store more movies and music. Then the woman said, “And do I need to get a contract with AT&T?” This was the first week of product shipment, when we were only shipping WiFi-only devices. Ahem. And yes, despite the fact that she had obviously done zero homework, and had likely never heard of any of these tech blogs that were foaming at the mouth non-stop for months about every tiny detail of the iPad — yes, despite her ignorance, she walked out with an iPad. The expensive one.

And yes, Virginia, there really are loads and loads of these technotarded people, and you know what? They are by far our best and biggest customers. Our whole business model is based on selling to them.

So take that, blog commenters. You can debate and argue 24-7 on this external antenna and the Anandtech investigation and how many dBs of attenuation you can get when you wrap an iPhone 4 in latex and shove it halfway up your butts. Have fun! Go wild! Knock yourselves out. But by Tuesday, when all the regular folks come back from the long weekend of cookouts and hanging out on the beach, this non-issue will have been eliminated by our non-repair, just wait and see.

Meanwhile, peace out and namaste. I honor the place where our bullshit and your need to believe in us become one.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We’re not going to give out free bumpers, so let’s all just move along

Gizmodo has started a petition demanding free bumpers. I will feel so much better when those guys are all in prison, honestly.

Would someone please send me an email about this Exchange non-issue so that I can send out a terse, cryptic response?

Hot on the heels of the yellow dot non-issue and the antenna death grip non-issue comes a new non-issue about Exchange not working right. Apparently some nerds at MIT experienced difficulties with iOS 4 and Microsoft Exchange. Now the story is just starting to gain some traction on sites like ZDNet. Some people say that they lose all their Exchange Calendar appointments when they upgrade. Others say that their mail doesn’t work, or the phone keeps going out trying to download messages and can’t get them and then your battery runs down. Or something. I haven’t actually read the reports.

The truth is, there is no problem with Exchange on iOS 4. It works great. In fact, Exchange works better on iOS 4 than on any other platform. It just flies. It’s amazing.

Unfortunately I can’t tell that to our customers until someone writes me an email complaining about it. Because this is now the only way I am allowed to communicate with the world outside Apple. Someone writes to me, and I write back, and then that person gives that email to a blog or something, and everyone passes it around, and this is how Apple does things now. Don’t ask me why. Katie says people like when the answer comes from me personally, even though it doesn’t really come from me personally, it comes from someone who works for me personally, and of course everyone knows this but they all pretend that they don’t know it because they want to believe that they live in a world where they can write to Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs will write back to them, personally.

So anyway, would someone please work up a quick email so that I can respond to it and tell everyone that there is no problem? Correct form on your complaint email goes like this: Start out by groveling, and saying how much you love Apple and how amazing the new phone is, then state the nature of your problem in a way that is both awkward and unclear, then grovel a bit more and ask me to fix it. I will send back a terse, cryptic response telling you that you’re wrong, and that there is no problem, and/or that you should just switch to a different kind of email, no big deal.

Namaste, true believers, and as always, thank you for your help in spreading the good word.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

There is no spoon

It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve seen “The Matrix.” And you may or may not remember the scene where a kid explains to Neo that the trick to bending a spoon with your mind is simply to remember that, “There is no spoon.”

So it is with marketing. One thing I learned very early in life, thanks to intentional overuse of psychedelic drugs, is that there is no reality. As a guy at the commune once put it: “The reality is, there is no reality.”

So some guy says his iPhone 4 is having reception issues. I say there is no reception issue. Now it’s his reality against my reality. Which one of us is living in the real reality?

There’s a two-part answer: 1, there is no real reality, and 2, it doesn’t matter.

The only thing that matters is which reality our customers will choose to adopt as their own.

Of course most people would rather live in a reality where everything works and there are no problems. And now, thanks to me, that reality exists. Because I’ve created that reality for them.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve taught the team at Apple is that people never know what they’re supposed to think about anything. This is true in Hollywood, in the book business, in the art world, in politics. And especially in technology.

So we put out a new phone and everyone is sitting there wondering what they should think about it. What I realized many years ago — and honestly, it still amazes me — is that most people are so unsure of themselves that they will think whatever we tell them to think.

So we tell people that this new phone is not just an incremental upgrade, but rather is the biggest breakthrough since the original iPhone in 2007. We say it’s incredible, amazing, awesome, mind-blowing, overwhelming, magical, revolutionary. We use these words over and over.

It’s all patently ridiculous, of course. But people believe it.

We demo FaceTime, and we say that nobody in the world has ever seen anything like this before. Jonny and I act stunned and gob-smacked, as if we ourselves still can’t believe that we’ve just invented video chat.

Again, this is utterly untrue, a total and absolute lie. But people accept it. They hoot and cheer for us.

The other strategy we use comes from Zen Buddhism. You ever study Zen koans? Most of them make no sense at all. You read them and you go away feeling confused and stupid.

We do something similar. We call it “clouding.” Right now, for example, we’ve sent out the following messages about iPhone 4 and the antenna issues:

1. All mobile phones have this problem.

2. Our mobile phone does not have this problem.

You see how this works? These two statements cannot both be true.

Yet we’ve said both of them. And now you don’t know what to believe.

Ask any psychologist what happens to people when they get confused. Their heart rate goes up. Their skin temperature rises. Adrenaline starts to flow.

They feel desperate, and scared, as if they’ve fallen out of a boat and now they’re getting tossed by waves and they’re maybe going to drown.

Now all you have to do is reach out with some kind of certainty, and no matter how obviously untrue it might be, people will latch onto it.

Every religion in the world knows this, from the Catholics to the Scientologists. It’s the oldest trick in the book. You create some uncertainty, you put people at risk — you tell them they’re going to hell, or whatever — and then you hold out the answer.

No matter how ridiculous your answer may be — like, the one about the galactic ruler Xenu, or the one where God turns into a bird and flies down to earth and impregnates a virgin — people will accept it.

Not only that, they’ll actually thank you for feeding them this horseshit. Because any certainty, no matter how crazy, is better than uncertainty.

Which brings me back to iPhone 4 and the antenna issue. Right now you’re confused. You’re worried. You don’t know what to believe. You just wish someone would come along and tell you that everything is squared away and there’s nothing to worry about.

Well, stay tuned for that. And remember: There is no spoon.

Pogue goes rogue, sort of

First for the good news — he says no matter how hard he tries, he can’t reproduce the antenna problem. But then instead of concluding, correctly, that there is no problem, Pogue does a 180 on us and says since other people seem to be having this problem and even making YouTube videos about it, then it must exist.

He suggests we created the bumpers because we knew about the antenna problem: “You know, I’ve thought that bumper was bizarre from the moment Apple introduced it.”

He suggests I’m an asshole for telling people to find a new way to hold the phone: “Avoid holding it that way!? Seriously?”

He arrives at a scary conclusion: “Considering the hysteria that surrounds the phone, combined with ignorance about the nature and probability of the problem, it could wind up being a huge black eye for Apple and the phone.”

You are on thin ice, David. Very thin ice.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I want to go on record saying this: There is no “antenna problem” on the iPhone 4, and we’re not going to fix anything, because nothing needs to be fixed

Well the extortionists at Gizmodo are working overtime to create the impression that there is a genuine problem with reception on iPhone 4. Check out this lame “article,” for example, which includes the photo at right. They’re suggesting people should do things like wrap a rubber band around the phone or paint some nail polish on the stainless steel band or put some tape there. And now, of course, some asshole (cough Google cough) has made one of those Hitler videos where Hitler is pissed about the antenna problem. And of course some other assholes have started a rumor that we’re preparing to send out a software fix for the problem, maybe this week.

Let me just say this again. There is nothing wrong with iPhone 4. Nothing. There is no antenna problem. In fact, reception on iPhone 4 is 10 to 100 times better than on iPhone 3GS.

All you need to do is hold the phone the right way, and you’re good to go. We are not going to put out any fixes, because no fixes are needed. I’ve already said this, but I just want to keep on saying it so that people will get the message: We are not going to “fix” the new phone, because there is nothing to fix.

I highly recommend that people check out what John Gruber has been writing on Daring Fireball, because, as usual, he’s getting it totally right.

Says John:

My best guess at this point is that the issue pops up in areas with spotty 3G coverage. With nothing covering the antenna, the improved reception of the iPhone 4 gives you more bars, maybe even up to 5. But when you cover the antenna in these areas with poor coverage, the phone is unable to get a strong signal. I’ve seen several reports from people who can reproduce the problem, but only from certain locations.

He’s exactly right. It’s all about your location, and the quality of the 3G signal there. It has nothing — nothing — to do with the phone.

Am I being clear on this? There is nothing wrong with the phone. Okay. This is all just FUD getting kicked up by Microsoft and Google and Gizmodo.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You assholes need to stop sending emails to me about this antenna issue

So everybody is up in arms now after it turns out that iPhone 4 can’t pick up signals when you’re holding it in your hand, because the band around the phone is the antenna and if you’re touching the antenna it screws everything up.

First of all, this is not a big issue. If you’re experiencing this, most likely it’s not the phone at all — most likely you’re just living in a place where there’s bad reception, in which case the solution is simple: you need to move.

Or maybe you’re living in a place with good reception but you just need to buy a bumper for your phone and/or wear latex gloves while holding the phone.

Or you can try going bare-handed and just learn how to hold your goddamn phone properly. Either way, it’s no big deal. As I’ve already told like a thousand fucking people who have written me personal emails today, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the antenna on iPhone 4. There is no design flaw. The phone is perfect. It is a magical and revolutionary device. It changes everything. Again. Just keep telling yourself that. If someone gives you shit because you stood in line for six hours to get a phone that can’t make phone calls when you’re holding it, just change the subject and tell them about the awesome retina display.

Anyway, for those who need a tutorial on how to hold a phone, just go to this page on Gizmodo, where they show you how to do it. And yes, it galls me to link to Gizmodo, but it also galls me that we have to teach people how to hold a mobile phone. I mean it’s not like we’re the only ones whose phone goes out when you hold it in your bare hand. All mobile phones do this. Have you never noticed?

Meanwhile we’ve got losers out there pretending they’re the dorks from MythBusters, conducting experiments on iPhone 4, like this:

And, worse yet, Katie says the dicks at the New York Times are working on a big scary story about this non-issue for tomorrow’s edition. We’ve reached out to Sully Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, reminding him of the very special relationship we have with the Times and assuring him that the last thing we want to see happen is for that relationship to be damaged in any way.

Meanwhile, others are piling on. Engadget says it’s “bad design” and we should give out free bumpers to everyone. TechCrunch says our suggestion that people simply learn to hold their phones differently is “a bit unreasonable.” AllThingsD says if it’s really true that all mobile phones have this exact same problem, “why haven’t we heard complaints like this about `every wireless phone?’ Why hasn’t RIM issued instructions for a proper BlackBerry handhold?”

The answer, of course, is that RIM doesn’t care about customers the way we do. Honestly, what other company has a billionaire CEO who will sit at his desk for hours and hours personally answering thousands of emails, one after another, telling people how to hold his product? And can I tell you how hard I am fighting the urge to suggest to people that they try shoving the thing up their butt and see what kind of reception they get then?

And then there’s the yellow screen thing. That’s a straight slap in the face from the bastards working on the production line at Foxconn. Don’t get me started, honestly.