Is the iPhone 4 Becoming the Windows Vista of Apple?

Jul. 7.10 | About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

The latest word out of Apple HQ is that the iPhone 4 software update that’s on the way won’t do anything to solve that little antenna problem that’s been getting headlines in recent days.

Well, duh.

As Adrian Kingsley-Hughes pointed out in a post of his own this morning, the antenna problem on the iPhone 4 isn’t a software issue. It’s a design defect. And his advice is simple: either live with it or return it.

As the iPhone 4 bashing continues, I can’t help but wonder if the folks in Cupertino are getting a little taste of what Redmond must have been feeling when everyone was bashing Windows Vista - stuck between a rock and a hard place because there’s really no quick answer to give iPhone owners. Well, nothing beyond 1) scale down to a previous version, 2) buy from a competitor or 3) wait for the next update.

I understand the loyalty badge that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fans wear proudly. I’ve been wearing my “I’m a Mac” label for many years and would recommend Apple’s computer systems to anyone. I own an Apple TV unit and can’t wait to see what the company will do next with it. And I happily use Apple’s Airport wireless networking products to transmit the Internet wirelessly throughout my house.

But I won’t buy an iPhone - because I’m also a fan of spending my money wisely. Yes, it used to be an AT&T (NYSE:T) issue with me - why would I pay a monthly bill for phone service that’s hit or miss, at best? But now, my distaste for Apple’s iPhone has grown beyond that.

  • The whole control-freakery over the App store was getting to be too much for me, despite the reassuring words that the control process was to maintain the integrity of Apple’s app marketplace - but now there’s the issue of iTunes accounts and the app store being hacked. So much for that control process.
  • The death of AT&T’s unlimited data plan was also a turnoff. Frankly, I considered it a way of discouraging users from experimenting with any data-heavy applications, something that stifles innovation.
  • Finally, the open letter from Apple - you know, the one where Apple admitted to miscalculating how it registered signal strength on the iPhone - was a game-changer for me. All this time, as AT&T advertised “More bars in more places,” there were actually fewer bars in those places. Anyone else feel like they’ve been deceived?

It’s unfortunate, really. The iPhone was the pioneer, a company that redefined smartphones and single-handedly changed the entire ecosystem of apps as a business - just like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) did when it originally introduced the Windows operating system to personal computing.

Like Microsoft, Apple may have fallen into the trap of thinking that, as the market leader, it was untouchable. But just as Apple recognized Microsoft’s vulnerability as it tried to dig itself out of the Windows Vista fiasco, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and others may be the ones who are watching as the iPhone 4 takes a public relations beating. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were busy behind the scenes putting together a switch campaign of their own.

With all of that said, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see iPhone 5 sooner than expected.

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