August 8, 2007

I hate to say anything bad about Apple, and I love the iPhone... but...

My iPhone self-destructed in less than a week. The good news is that I went right over to the Apple Store and with absolutely no hassle whatsoever was given a new phone. Nevertheless, it's disconcerting. On about the third day of use I noticed that one area along the bottom of the touch-screen did not feel the touch, and the insensitive area grew over the next day until the entire bottom row of the screen had become numb. I followed the on-line troubleshooting, which involved resetting and reinstalling everything, to no effect. The woman at the "Genius Bar" in the store listened to that and immediately decided I should get a new phone. "Are you seeing this a lot?" I asked. No answer. A while later, I asked "Have you seen this before?" and got a "yes." Looking on line, I'm not finding anything about this problem. Maybe it was a complete fluke, but I thought I'd write it up in case anyone else is having a problem, and also to prove that I'm not just a complete pushover for Apple.

I still love the phone, though!

UPDATE: Apple Insider has an article on the problem.

40 comments:

Irene Done said...

Wow. The entire bottom row? That's pretty critical.

Roger von Oech said...

I'm happy Apple dealt with your issue promptly.

I drank the Kool-Aid as well, and I love my iPhone. Life right now, for instance, I needed a quick video fix of "Flight of the Conchords," and my iPhone satisfied me right on the spot!

NSC said...

I am not surprised by the problem and I am sure they have seen this before. It is great they replaced it quickly for you, but you have to wonder, will they be so quick to replace it say six months from now? Considering their history with the many iPod problems that happen at the six to 11 month point I seriously doubt it and that is a lot to pay for something that works for less than a year.

P. Rich said...

Apple is a form-over-function company with sub-optimal business practices (mostly to do with control), which is probably a reflection of Steve Jobs. Its products tend to get overly positive reviews from true believers, and the loyal herd rushs to buy the latest glitter. Company rating:

Marketing: A+
Product Quality: B-
Design: C
Packaging: A+
Innovation: B

Baa-aa-aa, Althouse.

Hucbald said...

P. Rich is FOS.

I moved from PC's to Macs years ago and got? Better designed, better built, and better functioning products. This resulted in increased productivity and a general "joy of use" increase as well (For a creative artist, a big plus).

Of COURSE Apple products cost more, because you get what you pay for.

I love my iPhone. A bit of an activation SNAFU because I already had an AT&T account which wasn't compatible, but I positively love this thing. Nothing like checking your email and the weather over an espresso at the local coffee shop.

Independent George said...

I'd like to take a moment and thank all you early adopters out there who make it possible for me to buy superior products for less money later on. You're the best!

Pogo said...

Boy, you guys are early adopters! I'm still waiting to buy a cordless phone.

The concept still seems fuzzy to me, and I am unclear on its compatibility with my Lisa..

JBlog said...

Another example of why there's little upside to being an early adopter of new technology -- you pay a premium price for stuff that usually doesn't have all the kinks worked out.

I'm glad they did the right thing for you though.

MadisonMan said...

I'm glad you got it taken care of, but what a pain. It reminds me when, at 1600 miles, our present car up and died. One week later we had a fixed car that has given us no problems through the subsequent 58000 miles, but sheesh!

Bob K said...

I dropped mine and cracked it, and similarly, they replaced it without hasssle. They did mention that they won't replace dropped ones forever, but for now, that's the policy.

I don't have a serious problem with the touch screen becoming "untouchable" or whatever it is that you describe, but I do notice some occasional symptoms of the touch screen not working quite right.

Love the phone, but I sold my stock last week. Sales since that first weekend seem pretty slow.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Do you call your screen Eliot Ness?

vet66 said...

I wondewr how much abuse these touch screens can take what all the hand cream and purell we are all using.

Do clean hands extend the life of the touch screen? Do products containing SPF affect the touchability of the object being touched?

Interesting...

Patrick said...

I think they're going to have a lot of these problems.

In the last two years I've been through two Nintendo DS's, both of which had touch sensitive screens that stopped responding.

The problem is so well-known that Nintendo has web pages with suggestions for troubleshooting the problem.

After that experience, I'm going to be waiting a while before shelling out *big* bucks for any device that uses this kind of technology. It's just not ready for prime time, IMHO.

Liam said...

I have heard nothing but good things about the "Genius Bar", and am glad that they extended the concept to iPhones as well.

Apple is rightly replacing iPhones with little or no hassle if for no other reason that this is a 1.0 product release and they need as little bad press out there as possible. Nothing will stick with a product line like a a bad initial release.

Apple is OEM'g these thru an unidentified Far East production facilities. Even Apple has problems with production and they will still be shaking out the bugs for a while. I would not be surprised if there is a "new" model released in the near future featuring bug fixes, improved features (the ones they left out of the initial release because they couldn't get them right in time), etc.

It's interesting to watch the opinions running around the web right now. Lots of people love it, some people hate it. Interestingly enough, the Mac heads I know (mostly hard IT types) like it, but are finding a number of design issues (mostly software) in the form of features or functionality left out really annoying them.

Fortunately for Apple, they have a hard core base that will vociferously defend them and buy just about anything they produce. God love'em.

P. Rich said...

Hucbald. nice comment, but then "creative artists" aren't noted for their ability to objectively assess technology companies. If it feels good, eh Pookie...

SteveR said...

Over the years, I've used Apple products starting with the IIe, but have never been a fan or detractor. My experience with the iPod (as related to what NSC said) has been quite negative. Just damn near anything is your fault.

mcg said...

Gotta agree that P. Rich is smoking something. To give Apple its lowest grade in design is flat proof of it. Look, even people who don't particularly like their design choices can't argue with the market response to it.

Having said that I'd have to agree that product quality is a concern---but it seems to be so for many of the laptop/CE brands out there these days. I can't help but think that cost pressures are driving down quality or something...

Ann said...

My boyfriend and I got our iPhones on the day they became available. By the next morning, he had the same problem you had -- the screen had totally lost its willingness to accept any input at all. I took it to the genius bar and had a great experience -- no hassle, new phone, no problem.

The genius dude I spoke with said he HAD seen it before and that in both cases, the glass had felt different, which I verified. The "bad" phone's glass was slicker whereas mine seemed a little tackier.

All has been well since, and we both adore our phones....and are proud early-Apple-adopters.

Ann Althouse said...

It must be built into the high price that the replacement phones will flow. You pay $500 for one phone because you're really paying for the replacement phones each purchase represents. I'd like to know what their prediction of failure is, so that you were always buying 1.3 phones or 1.8 phones or 2.7 phones... who knows? But it's bundled into the price.

mcg said...

Such is true for just about any product. Cars are a perfect example: you think that 7-year powertrain warranty is free? (Well, it might be, if the market can't allow Chrysler or whomever to price their cars high enough to make money on them!)

Pogo said...

im in ur iphone

rekkin ur tuch screen

Liam said...

mcg:

Correct, up to a point. Car manufacturers generally warranty the most robust components of the car for the longest. You won't find a warranty anywhere in the auto industry that says "bring it back and we'll give you a new one".

Apple is just doing good business here, in the context of how they think good business is conducted. If you know anything about the early iPods and the saga of the batteries, you'll know that it took Apple some time to learn how to be good to their customers. I suspect they learned something from that, but not enough to quell all the disatisfied customers out there.

Truth be told, Apple is a niche marketer (outside of the iPod market, which is slowing now), and they can't afford to tick off their customer base.

That being said, they also can't market the iPhone with a "bring it back if you don't like it" warranty (or even anything similar to that). What Apple is doing it implementing the "normal" double secret warranty clause where they know they have issues, and will weed out the units that either shouldn't have passed quality control or were designed improperly from the getgo.

I suspect that the units being sold now are marketedly diffrent from the units that were first sold at the launch - typical behavior and nothing out of the ordinary. Its just not terribly honest to have a secret warranty system.

samaBlog said...

insider addressed the problem just now:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/08/09/apple_addressing_dead_spots_on_iphone_touchscreens.html

Jay Reding said...

1.0 Apple products always have a few bugs in them -- they're still infinitely better than your average PC, but many Apple buyers like to wait for the first revision before buying.

Then again, I have the first-gen Intel iMac, the first-gen Intel MacBook, and a first-gen iPhone, and all of them work great provided you make sure to keep up with software updates.

Apple's retail stores are a godsend -- it's exceedingly nice knowing that you can go to a place, get official support, and not pay through the nose for it. Both issues with my MacBook were handled promptly and for free when I took it in -- once for a broken power adapter, the other for a battery recall.

I used to be the same anti-Apple PC snob as most, until I actually ended up having to sit down and use one (and this was in the early days of OS X, when it was still fairly buggy) -- after that, using a PC feels like taking a massive step backwards.

Nice to know that the iPhone gets the same service...

Christopher Taylor said...

Here's the thing. It doesn't matter if the I-Phone breaks apart, is vastly too expensive, doesn't deliver what it looked like it did on TV and is basically overhyped. Apple believers will buy and love it anyway, because it's primarily about the image and belonging rather than the specific products. There are better phones that do what the I-Phone does out there, for cheaper, but they aren't as cool so they get ignored.

It's sort of like cigarette smoking. You could call them Tombstone Sticks, put the warning label on the front in huge letters and require every single sale to have the vendor say "this will give you a horrible death by cancer" in a loud voice, and smokers will still buy them.

Fat Man said...

"Boy, you guys are early adopters! I'm still waiting to buy a cordless phone. "

Don't bother I tried it and it was not good. The batteries are too expensive and the handsets get lost.

What I really want in a phone is that it work as a telephone. I don't want a camera. I will not surf the net on a screen that is less than 1280x1024. And I don't need a portable game machine.

paul a'barge said...

...On about the third day of use I noticed that one area along the bottom of the touch-screen did not feel the touch, and the insensitive area grew over the next day until the entire bottom row of the screen had become numb...

Geez, I hope you don't have this effect on men!

Andrew said...

Having worked in a pizzeria we used saran wrap to cover touchphones to keep flour dust out of it, would that be effective on a touch screen.

. said...

here is a comparison of smartphones

Fritz said...

Ann,
You micro-economist you! Warranty is factored and will be reflected on the balance sheet (liability) to offset revenue. When 3rd quarter results are revealed we should have an idea whether they priced it right. If Apple warns during September, then it is greater than they estimated.

mcg said...

There are better phones that do what the I-Phone does out there, for cheaper, but they aren't as cool so they get ignored.

That just isn't the case. There are phones that do different things, there are phones that do some things better. (For instance, business users who depend on Blackberry or Exchange services are SOL, I think.) But the iPhone goes in unique directions, and as such it's not possible to make a linear comparison.

I'm not disputing that some people will consider the pros and cons of the iPhone versus another product and reasonably choose the latter. Nor do I dispute that many people might not care about the iPhone's distinguishing features. But it's simply not the case that another product exists that does everthing the iPhone does more cheaply.

dougz said...

"Apple addressing dead spots on iPhone touchscreens...A small number of iPhone users are receiving help from Apple after reporting that their handsets have permanently lost responsiveness to touch input across portions of the screen..." discussed at http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/07/08/09/apple_addressing_dead_spots_on_iphone_touchscreens.html

dougz said...

Blogger munged the URL in previous post. Must type in as fragments that user has to combine:

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles

/07/08/09/apple_addressing

_dead_spots_on_iphone_touchscreens.html

K T Cat said...

I don't really understand these PC-vs - Mac wars. My blogspot blog doesn't seem to care how I get to it and the quality of my blogging seems to depend more on whether I've got something worthwhile to post or not.

Content is more important than hardware.

P. Rich said...

For all you feeling types, here's an example of Apple 'design':

"Take, for example, the iPhone. The key to its simple interface is a screen that responds to several touches at once. It makes rapid text entry possible and allows keyboard-and-mouse-type navigation through Web pages and the phone's built-in applications. The screen is built by a German company called Balda, but the technology itself, licensed to Apple's supplier, is neither American nor European. It was originally developed to aid in the rapid input of Asia's huge, character-based alphabets. It comes from China."

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/technology/
e7e48a137b144110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html

Just as the vaunted Apple symbolic interface was actually developed by Xerox PARC. And of course, Apple has traditionally avoided direct performance comparisons, for good reason.

Wise up, Pookie. It's all about the packaging: not the technology, not the internals and not the feature set which collectively embody the design. And just because you haven't seen it before, don't assume it's an Apple innovation. It most likely is not. Like a product if you want; that's a personal choice. But don't let your ignorance spill over into generalizations you cannot substantiate.

Peter Palladas said...

My momma taught me never to touch strange screens. Worked out so far.

Paul Snively said...

"Just as the vaunted Apple symbolic interface was actually developed by Xerox PARC..."

Minor nit: this shopworn assertion, while having some historical basis, is more false than true; see here and, especially, here for further information. Basically, a great deal of foundational work was done at Xerox PARC—in fact, much of it by people who would ultimately leave PARC and go to Apple. But the Lisa and Macintosh development effort went well beyond PARC's work in many ways, while simultaneously being quite limited in others—remember that the famous Xerox Alto and Dorado workstations were Lisp and Smalltalk machines, which the Lisa and Macintosh regrettably couldn't be due to the resource constraints of the time (but see Macintosh Common Lisp and Squeak for blast-from-the-past-but-modern counterexamples).

Apple is much like any successful high-tech company, judiciously blending an appreciation of the tried and true with a level of cautious innovation. Their new-ish focus on consumer electronics and re-focusing on human factors seems to be serving them well and offers, IMHO, a very desirable counterpoint to Microsoft's products and services.

. said...

It's all about the packaging: not the technology, not the internals and not the feature set which collectively embody the design.

i always thought it would be nice to have a notebook with a risc processor, but i never had any real desire in owning a mac before OSX which is basically apple's pretty user interface running on top of FreeBSD (Darwin) ...this is why i became a mac user in my personal life.. i was able to purchase an affordable unix notebook without having to do anything to make it run properly.
i use microsoft daily at work and i feel that there's not much difference between the two platforms when they are both used for average consumerish tasks

Eric said...

I had this happen on my old Palm m500, so it's hardly an Apple-only problem.

mcg said...

he screen is built by a German company called Balda, but the technology itself, licensed to Apple's supplier, is neither American nor European. It was originally developed to aid in the rapid input of Asia's huge, character-based alphabets. It comes from China."

Whoa! Do you mean to tell us that Apple doesn't build its own hardware? That touchscreens existed before the iPhone? Well, maybe I'm lucky, having walked down Castro Avenue in Mountain View, CA and played with a few Chinese touch-screen devices, but... zzzzzzz. And most of us geeks were well aware of things like the LG Prada as well.

I wonder how many patents they have to file before people accept they might have put a bit of effort into designing this puppy. Will 200 do?

I think Paul Snively's last paragraph is spot on. The tired lines are the same whether they come from Apple bashers or Microsoft bashers: it isn't true innovation unless every last little piece is original. Well, balderdash. If you pick apart an invention into its constituent pieces then it can certainly seem like the innovations are incremental... a tweak here, a little improvement there, etc. etc. But in the very process of breaking it apart you lose the innovation present in their integration... and even so it's still more original work than your average whiner ever accomplished.