iPhone 4's Bi-Polar Dilemma - Louis Armstrong Meets Darth Vader!
How does one not feel uplifted when listening to the dulcet tones of Louis Armstrong singing, "Oh when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you"? How does one not feel frustrated as hell when they can't receive reception on their smartphone. Such is today's iPhone 4 dilemma, and whether or not Apple is a victim of their own success?
With professional talent the likes of Sam Mendes directing Apple's compassion-driven commercial, the company is relying on the iPhone's most endearing new feature - the ability to communicate face-to-face with loved-ones. Titled, "FaceTime" these commercial hit at the heart-strings and could melt ice cubes in Alaska.
From a military soldier tearing up over a sonogram of his unborn child to providing the deaf with a first-time opportunity to communicate via a cell phone, the collaboration of Sam Mendes and Apple is a Master Class in how to transform a commercial into a bite-size fable for the masses.
Juxtaposed to these warm-and-fuzzy visuals comes the stark reality of Consumer Reports dealing a devastating blow to the iPhone 4 when it declined to recommend the device to consumers due to its antenna reception issues. This followed Steve Jobs initially telling the public after the first day of launch that they didn't know "how to hold his smartphone properly."
So how does one process these bi-polar approaches to customer service? On the one hand, you're witness to a marketing campaign that relates to the pure goodness in mankind - on the other, you are exposed to the arrogance of a company blind to its own flaws.
As the week progressed, more commercials hit the airwaves. Perhaps not as touching as Mendes' inaugural piece - but nonetheless continuing along the same emotional path- this time - with a grandfather and father exulting in the birth of their joint progeny.
In tandem, more negative press mounted as well. Some talked about how ridiculous it was to apply 'duct tape' or Lance Armstrong's $29 "Livestrong" wrist bracelets to the iPhone 4 to minimize the antenna-reception problem, after spending several hundreds of dollars to purchase the device.
More severe were the recommendations to 'recall' the phone, an endeavor that would cost the company $1.5 billion, or 3.5 percent of its total cash on hand.
A CNET report highlighted more of Apple's 'dark-sided' behavior. In interviewing Toni Sacconaghi, a Bernstein Research analyst, she noted, "Perhaps the bigger, longer-term concern for Apple investors is the emerging pattern of hubris that the company has displayed, which has increasingly pitted competitors (and regulators) against the company, and risks alienating customers over time."
"Examples of its behavior have included its limited disclosure practices (Steve Jobs' health; plans for deploying its cash balance), its attack on Adobe's Flash, its investigation into its lost iPhone prototype (which culminated in a reporter's home being searched while he was away and computers being removed) and its restrictions on app development," she added.
So how does the Cupertino smartphone giant recover from what's perceived as its manic-depressive nature. In my estimation, they need to re-group and rethink what's made them one of the most beloved companies in the world today.
No one can deny that Apple produces excellent and ground-breaking products. Yes, perhaps that's been the cause of their current inflated ego. But it doesn't take away from all the fine work they have done to add to and enrich many of our lives. The simple solution, is for Jobs et al to swallow their pride, admit their mistakes, roll out a solution and apologize to the pubic - this to followed by - expelling Darth Vader to another planet while continuing to "FaceTime" us with more endearing commercials - and allowing Louis Armstrong to come shining through!
UPDATE: July 16 - Wall Street Journal - Apple addresses the issue. Anyone who buys an iPhone 4 through Sept. 30 will get a free "bumper," a rubber-and-plastic band that wraps around the phone. Customers who have already purchased a bumper will get a refund. AT&T Inc. (T) subscribers who want to return the device can get a full refund and get out of their contracts without penalties.
UPDATE: July 23 - YouTube - This video took Darth Vader's involvement with the iPhone 4 to whole new level. Enjoy Russell Arch's spoof here.