The Bloomberg Story Steve Jobs Called ‘A Total Crock’

Peter Burrows and Connie Guglielmo, reporting yesterday for Bloomberg:

Last year, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer and antenna expert, informed Apple’s management the device’s design may hurt reception, said the person, who is not authorized to speak on Apple’s behalf and asked not to be identified. A carrier partner also raised concerns about the antenna before the device’s June 24 release, according to another person familiar with the situation. […]

Apple’s industrial design team, led by Jonathan Ive, submitted several iPhone designs before Jobs and other executives settled on the bezel antenna, said the person familiar with the company’s design. Caballero, the antenna expert, voiced concern in early planning meetings that it might lead to dropped calls and presented a serious engineering challenge, the person said.

Jobs called this story “a total crock” during the Q&A, and later said he’d “asked Ruben about it, and he says it’s total bullshit too”.

But if you watch the event video or read a transcript, I think what Jobs is disputing is the angle, or at least the implied angle: that Caballero, the antenna expert, recommended against the design, and Jobs disregarded Caballero’s advice for aesthetic reasons. Clearly there are trade-offs with this new antenna. Apple is arguing that it’s better overall than previous iPhone antenna, but it has a worse “weak spot” (to use Apple’s parlance). There can be no doubt that Caballero would have made this trade-off explicitly clear to Jobs. That he “voiced concern” and said it “presented a serious engineering challenge” doesn’t mean Caballero recommended against the design.

(And, for what it’s worth, Caballero personally led the behind-the-scenes tour of Apple’s mega-millions wireless testing lab that Apple offered about a dozen members of the press after the event.)

Friday, 16 July 2010