The screw-ups at Apple keep on coming.
The company whose "philosophy's always been to be the best, not the first," as CEO Tim Cook said recently, is going through a rare period in which it just looks accident-prone. Apple's launch of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has been dogged by these unfortunate incidents:
- Apple has pulled the update to iOS 8, the mobile operating system that disabled some phones from making calls.
- In addition, users found a ton of smaller bugs in iOS 8, like keyboards that suddenly disappear.
- "#Bendgate": People discovered that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can get bent, and stay that way. None of its competitors do that. Apple is offering some people replacements.
- Some iPhone users got annoyed that Apple replaced the "camera roll" photo album on their iPhones with a "recently added" folder that is linked to iCloud, making it more difficult (or at least different) to delete photos permanently.
- Apple upset law enforcement officials by saying that "it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8." Cook added: "If the government laid a subpoena to get iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have a key. And so it’s sort of, the door is closed." Police believe this may help criminals hide information.
- Apple's launch in China, a market it hopes will become one of its biggest, has been delayed by bureaucrats in that country, causing bizarre fights among Chinese immigrants outside Western stores.
- The launch of iPhone 6 was marred when the video livestream crashed and was replaced, bizarrely, by a fuzzy test card image and a Chinese voiceover for the first 25 minutes of the show.
- Prior to that, hackers released naked photos of 101 celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence they had found on iCloud—a hack performed because of the way Apple handles account retrieval.
Apple will roll on regardless, of course. These are the kinds of glitches that any big company goes through. iPhone 6 will probably turn out to be the biggest, most successful launch of Apple's history, producing a record influx of revenues. (We asked Apple for comment, but its spokespersons were silent at the time of writing.)
Some of Apple's problems are mere optics. The warrant issue—in which cops believe that Apple's new security will prevent them from solving murders and kidnappings—is mostly just a PR issue. In fact, it's likely that Apple will actually respond to warrants and cops still have a way in to your locked iPhone, so this whole idea that it's not technically feasible for Apple to respond to warrants is simplistic at best and misleading at worst.
Others go to Apple's core: To release an operating system update that prevents a phone from being used as a phone, and then to retract it, is a shocker. It's a basic, fundamental, product-use error that causes users needless headaches. Consumers will have to hook their phones up to their laptops and reinstall an older version of the system from a backup. That's asking a lot from non-tech consumers (like your parents). It's the kind of thing PC users used to curse Microsoft for, back in the days when that company used to ship bug-filled Windows updates.
And the fact that Find My iPhone was susceptible to the most basic hacking technique—repeatedly entering new passwords until you get it right—also seems careless.
Apple is the company in which everything "just works," the brand that prides itself on being thoughtful and careful and obsessed with details. And its slip is showing.
We'll forget all about this in a month or two, of course. In addition to roaring iPhone 6 sales, there is one other thing that indicates the Apple ship is basically heading the right way: Since the new product launch on Sept. 9, the stock is up nearly 4 percent to $101.75.
See Also: The iPhone 6’s Manufacturing Costs