Jean-Louis Gassée on Antennagate

Jean-Louis Gassée on how Jobs could have headed off Antennagate with a slightly different pitch at the iPhone 4’s WWDC keynote unveiling:

Jobs stops… and after a slightly pregnant pause, continues: The improved reception comes at a price. If you hold the iPhone like this, if your hand or finger bridges the lower-left gap between the two antennae, the signal strength indicator will go down by two or even three bars. He proceeds to demo the phenomenon. Indeed, within ten seconds of putting the heel of his left thumb on the gap, the iPhone loses two bars. Just to make sure, he repeats the experiment with his index finger, all the while making a live call to show how the connection isn’t killed.

It’s a trade-off: Better reception in the vast majority of cases; some degradation, easily remedied, in a smaller set of circumstances.

As I wrote Saturday, “trade-off” was the missing word from Apple’s press conference.

Gassée also makes some astute points about the tone of Jobs’s ad hoc customer support emails. It’s endearing, in a way, that Jobs is so honest in them, but Gassée makes the case that “the customer is always right” makes for a better response than “honesty is the best policy”:

When Dear Customer calls, “Canon Law” dictates the first words out of my mouth: ‘This is terrible, how could we have let this happen to you!’. This forces the caller to concede: ‘Well, it’s not the end of the world, I just would like to…’ A cooperative conversation ensues.

However, if I argue that it isn’t the end of civilization, civility goes out the window. Dear Customer feels disrespected and insists things are awful.

Monday, 19 July 2010