/ Technology

Apple – has it all gone pear-shaped?

Apples and a pear

For decades Apple was the underdog. Now its following, which began almost as a cult, has made it the world’s largest tech company. But has Apple become a victim of its own success?

When I returned to my family last weekend even my mum knew about the iPhone 4’s reception saga – it was mainstream news. Would this have been the case if the issue had been detected on a Nokia handset?

Regardless, I doubt that ‘antennagate‘ will have a long-lasting impact on Apple. The pitch forks may stab around for a while, but soon they’ll be placed back in their respective sheds.

There’s a negative buzz around Apple

Importantly though, the Apple iPhone’s buzz score (a balance based on consumer’s positive and negative comments) has sunk from May’s 35.5 to a pitiful 2.2 in July. Even the number of people willing to recommend the handset has halved.

And it wasn’t the iPhone 4’s reported problems that really shook the brand – it was the way Apple dealt with them. Telling users to hold their phone in a different way and deleting negative comments from its forums began to turn Apple into the Big Brother company it once despised.

The company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, was seen as the Apple of so many eyes, but of late he’s come across as slightly defensive. Has the Apple turned sour? Sure, giving out free iPhone 4 bumper cases is a positive step, but it looks like the bigger Apple gets, the more villainous Jobs becomes.

Yet Apple’s profits haven’t changed – in fact they reached epic proportions in the company’s last quarter. And with the iPhone 4 being Apple’s most successful product launch, ‘hold it the wrong way’ comments will soon ripen into long lost fairy tales.

Love, hate, but never indifferent

There’s an old adage that says brands want to be loved, don’t mind being hated, but indifference spells disaster. Recent events might make some of us despise the brand, but at least we’re taking part. And although the iPhone assimilation may momentarily slow down, Apple’s loyal fans will always stand by.

At the iPad launch, Stephen Fry told me that the frenzy surrounding it was akin to a new album release from Lady Gaga. A duff single isn’t going to destroy the love affair – so I don’t doubt Apple’s recovery will be swift. Roll on the next Apple iPhone.

What's your opinion of Apple following its iPhone 4 issues?

I couldn't care less. (43%, 256 Votes)

I've always loved Apple and I still love it. (31%, 187 Votes)

I've always hated Apple and I still hate it. (15%, 91 Votes)

I used to love Apple, but now I hate it. (8%, 47 Votes)

I used to hate Apple, but now I love it. (3%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 599

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Paul Sangster says:
22 July 2010

From my limited experience (two ipod nanos, an iPhone 3GS and an iMac), Apple products are stand out because of their capability, packaging, reliability and style. That's what you pay a premium for over over brands. Hopefully, the recent issues with the iPhone 4 are exceptional and not a sign of things to come with the expansion of Apple as such a major part of the technology market.


On friends' recommendations I switched to an iMac and have had nothing but trouble with it. Despite having Applecare Protection, Apple offer all possible assistance, via remote call centres and Apple stores, without providing actual help to solve the problems. Although Apple says its running fine and there's nothing wrong, my iMac regularly crashes, freezes & then of it own volition loses my iTunes music library. It's generally lethargic accessing the internet and navigating websites and loads web pages you can neither read nor access drop-down boxes to enter info. A nightmare which I thought I'd left behind when ditching Microsoft Windows.

Jon Barber says:
23 July 2010

I haven't had any problems with the new iPhone 4, far from it. It is a brilliant phone and a marked improvement over all the weak areas of the 3G. The screen is outstanding and the pictures and video taken with this phone are excellent, even at night. The flash is a welcome addition as is the additional camera. With respect to the "dodgy reception", I have had no problems. I am on O2 and now have less dropped calls than I did with my 3G. My only grumble is that the Voice Control, whilst it could be so useful, only correctly understands me about 1 in 5 times. I can live with that.

On the otherhand, my iTunes account was hacked the other day and it is impossible to speak to their support on the phone, only over email to Luxembourg. iTunes haven't really done anything to help with this – it was my bank that reimbursed me the £100 and stopped the fraudulent transactions by cancelling my card. It took 3 days for iTunes to reply and they haven't apologised at any point or provided an explanation to the breach. I was not impressed that iTunes could be hacked so easily and am reluctant to store my new card details in their store in the future. Their support's attitude may be a consequence of their success?

richard gorrie says:
23 July 2010

i pray at the altar of no Tech Gods, be it Apple, Microsoft, BMW or Moulinex but…at 50 years of age i've realized that what matters isn't if a product breaks down or not – they ALL DO sooner or later,it's only a question of when… – what REALLY matters is how the company responds & takes care of it : takes care of YOU, the paying customer, the very reason for their existence/their profits, etc…
now, amongst many other brands in my life, i've a couple of Apple products :
an iPhone 3gs – simple to use, a screen i can see in daylight, nice multitouch interface, etc…
& a 27'' iMac i7 – more computing power than i'll ever need, super high quality display, again simple to use, etc…
& my experience about Apple's customer /after sales service is this :
i had a faulty wireless alu keyboard, one year old – took it back where i bought it & got a new one 3 days later + full warranty on it
had a 2 year old 17'' white intel iMac fry during a thunderstorm – one week later they gave me a check for the full amount & of course i went across the shop floor to the Apple counter & bought a better spec alu 20'' iMac for 40€ less right there & then…
so my conclusion is : i'm pretty happy with my Apple stuff & not at all afraid it breaks down. can we honestly say that about most manufacturers ?…hum….
products being designed /manufactured by humans, not GODS & humans being flawed, means that no matter what measures are taken, flaws WILL inevitably be passed onto those products. that's life & the only way to avoid it is to buy nothing….


Completely agree. My conversion to Apple came with the 1st generation iPod, followed a few years later with an iMac. Only ever experienced one problem – very minor, with the remote control – which they just swapped in store. No filling out forms, or sending for repair.

John MacLeod says:
13 August 2010

Most products do indeed break down. And they tend to break down in the most awkward of places.

Fine, if you’re in a big city and you’re prepared to pay the prices demanded by Apple for fixing. However, in the UK there are many locations hundreds of miles away from an Apple store and independent repairers don’t normally want to touch Macs, not least because of spare parts availability problems.

On the other hand, you’ll find it difficult to be much more than fifty miles from someone who can sort out a PC.

I’ve been using computers since the 1960s. All sorts of hardware and all sorts of software. And I do from time to time have to use Macs. To me, a computer is a work-tool. I want it to be built and configured to MY requirements. I want to be able to select software from as wide a range as possible — the wider the range available, the better the chance that someone has produced a program to meet my specific needs. I want to be able to get any problems, hardware or software, resolved as quickly and simply as possible. I want a system that’s as open as possible. I want as wide a range of peripherals as possible to be available and to interface as easily as possible. At this point in time, those parameters mean that it’s got to be PCs that I use.

Apple seems to me to major on image and cult status.Fine if the object of your exercise is to project a particular image and you’re well-heeled and you don’t have work collaboratively with the rest of the world and you live in a city. Otherwise, join the more mundane real world in which PCs predominate. And the same sort of principles apply with mobile phones — which for some of us, believe it or not, are used principally for receiving and making phone calls, often in locations around the world where reception is poor.

Grant says:
23 July 2010

I've had an iPhone 3GS, iPad and had the iPhone 4 before trading it in for an HTC Desire because of the antenna reception problem. The HTC is light years ahead of the iPhone 4 – faster, easier (more intuitive) and I can change the battery! The iPhone is good but Apple were asleep at the wheel when HTC launched the Desire. Apple – be afraid.

Alan Carmichael says:
23 July 2010

Poor "fusspot". My experience with the MacBook Pro has been quite the reverse.
My introduction to my Apple MacBook has been one of the best things that has happened to this 74 year old. I find it a fantastic product and so innovative. So far I have had 4 "One to One" sessions as well as 2 Workshops, all at my local Apple Store, and cannot speak highly enough of the help and support provided. It has been good fun into the bargain. My initial introduction was last year when I decided to buy an iPhone 3G which has been another excellent Apple product, and it was my experience with this which prompted me to buy a MacBook Pro.