The resolution of offering free cases is what many people predicted. Apple wasn’t going to do a recall or a mid-year redesign, though iPhone 5 will probably have a coating or other modification to reduce the attenuation in the “weak spot.” The odd part was the tone. I was expecting something like the classy open letters that Apple has been posting from time to time. It could have been direct, businesslike, and brief. Instead, the event seemed to drag on forever, and it had an emotional and political flavor. This is more apparent watching the video than in most written accounts.
The event opened awkwardly with the iPhone Antenna Song, which includes lyrics like “the media loves a failure,” “the facts won’t ever matter,” and ”this whole damn thing is stupid.” Members of “the media” who flew across the country on barely any notice to sit in that room and hear Apple out; who were about to be trusted with relaying a message critical to Apple’s reputation; were greeted with sarcastic hostility. Customers who have seen their dropped calls double and triple—statistical minority or not, they exist—were mocked.
You really have to watch this quote to appreciate how the last line, “Okay. Great, let’s give everybody a case.” is dripping with disdain. Jobs seemed pretty forceful, even angry, during this whole presentation, but this part was exceptionally so. It’s like Jobs sees this “free case” response as a concession and certainly isn’t happy to announce it.
Instead, he sounded wounded and paranoid, as if we were all being ungrateful for not recognizing Apple’s contributions to the world. “We love our users so much we’ve built 300 Apple retail stores for them,” he claimed at one point. […] At another point, he asked a questioner, bizarrely, “What would you prefer, that we’re a Korean company? Do you not like the fact that we’re an American company leading the world right here?”
On Friday, Apple asked us to believe that the iPhone is just a phone. It’s just like the phones that Nokia and RIM make, or Samsung or Motorola. Nothing special about it. That may be the single most important thing they said, and I’m not even sure they know they said it.
It seems this is the end of the antenna story for now. I will be happy to move on. However, I can’t help wondering whether we’ve just witnessed a significant shift in the relationship between the company and its customers.
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