Talk Back: Apple, RIM, Nokia on iPhone Antennagate — Form Or Function?

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Ideally, a beautiful phone will work beautifully as well, but since we don’t live in a perfect world, are you a substance kind of geek who prefer function over form or a design geek where form triumphs over function? This question seems to be answered differently by Apple, RIM, and Nokia in response to Apple’s iPhone 4‘s reception woes.

Steve Jobs addressed the iPhone 4’s reception problems in yesterday’s press conference, mocking the term “Antennagate” in his remarks. Jobs says that Apple isn’t perfect and phones aren’t perfect, but the company is committed to pleasing its customers. It is doing it in a number of ways–by allowing customers to return their handsets within 30 days of purchase sans restocking fees, and also by either providing bumpers or free cases through an online application process for users. In his remarks, Jobs demonstrated that many phones suffer from a drop in reception if they are held in a certain way, and took point to demonstrate the issue on RIM’s BlackBerry Bold 9700. Of course, RIM didn’t take too kindly to Steve’s mockery and drafted its own statement, stating basically that the company has spent many hours researching antenna technologies and that they preferred form over function:

“Apple’s attempt to draw RIM into Apple’s self-made debacle is unacceptable. Apple’s claims about RIM products appear to be deliberate attempts to distort the public’s understanding of an antenna design issue and to deflect attention from Apple’s difficult situation. RIM is a global leader in antenna design and has been successfully designing industry-leading wireless data products with efficient and effective radio performance for over 20 years. During that time, RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage. One thing is for certain, RIM’s customers don’t need to use a case for their BlackBerry smartphone to maintain proper connectivity. Apple clearly made certain design decisions and it should take responsibility for these decisions rather than trying to draw RIM and others into a situation that relates specifically to Apple.”

Although RIM didn’t go out and explicitly state that it preferred form over function, the company did say “RIM has avoided designs like the one Apple used in the iPhone 4 and instead has used innovative designs which reduce the risk for dropped calls, especially in areas of lower coverage.” RIM’s competitor, Nokia, however, although not mentioned in Jobs’ address, was more explicit in saying that it prefers function over form:

“Nokia has invested thousands of man hours in studying human behavior, including how people hold their phones for calls, music playing, web browsing and so on. As you would expect from a company focused on connecting people, we prioritize antenna performance over physical design if they are ever in conflict.

So where do you stand between the geek and beauty divide?

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About The Author
Chuong Nguyen