Grading Apple's Snafus: Which Ones Are Major, Which Ones Will Blow Over

By some standards, Apple has had a rough two weeks. The media has pointed to these problems for several classic reasons: attention and money. But how bad is it really? Which problems are real and which ones will blow over?



I want to take a sober look at Apple's real and apparent woes over the last two weeks and size them up on a scale: 5 = Bad but fixable. 1 = Quickly forgotten

1. Bendgate. I think this was blown all out of proportion. It's one thing for a few, less than a ten, people to formally complain about a bent iPhone. It's quite another for bloggers to go overboard with videos of them visibly forcing a failure. If I pick up any electronic device and start to bend it with all my might, a calculator, a cordless phone, an electronic kitchen timer, it will quickly crack and fail. The iPhone is a thin, expensive electronic device with lots of glass. Still, serious testing is always done by Apple. Put a case on it and treat it with respect. You'll be fine. 1/5.

2. Apple pre-orders for iPhone 6/6 Plus. I think this was a disaster. While, in the end, it seems everyone who wanted an iPhone 6/6 Plus will end up getting one, in time, the pre-order process was frustrating and inconsistent. Why must one be up at 3 am Eastern Time to order a new iPhone? Is this any way to treat customers? Can there be allocation combined with a rolling window in the time zones and orders open at a reasonable time of day? I would like to see Apple put more thought into this maniacal free-for-all event. 5/5.

3. September 9 Event. Apple engineers tried to do something cool, and it didn't work out. It was a mistake that probably won't happen again. I'm not sweating this one because it isn't a symptom of anything deeper or more troublesome. In fact it's a credit to Apple that engineers are given the latitude to try things. Otherwise, Apple would just be a tired, boring company that never experiments and never learns. 1/5.

4. IOS 8.0.1 Update. This was pretty much inexcusable for a company of Apple's technical expertise. Apple says that only 40,000 people were affected. What they didn't say was how many customers, families and business people, were shocked and critically affected by that outage. An update that takes an iPhone out of service is unacceptable, and personnel changes will likely be made. Jonny Evans at Computerworld thinks Bendgate is a big deal while I do not, but certainly agrees that the iOS 8.0.1 update was "a disaster." See: "iOS 8 update fail and Bendgate: Heads may roll at Apple." 5/5.

5. iCloud Celebrity Hack. Celebrities generally don't have time to be astutely technical. (More of them should read TMO!) Backing up to a PC or Mac requires time and patience. Backing up to iCloud is fast and painless, so they went with the path of least resistance offered by Apple. Plus Apple had some less than robust security policies with a bad balance of convenience vs. security. It's being fixed. It's already forgotten. 2/5

There were some other kerfuffles, but nothing that could be considered critical.

6. Apple vs. Feds. Apple is protecting customer privacy so it can be successful as a business in the U.S. and in foreign markets. Foreign governments are rightly concered about the products their citizens buy. It makes great sense for Apple to promote security for its millions of customers. The U.S. Government will find its way, and the courts will strike a good balance. TMO's Bryan Chaffin, in his editorial FBI Cranky at Apple for Securing iOS, Only Has Itself (and NSA) to Blame put that issued to bed nicely. 1/5.

My take is that all these issues got lumped together as Apple's accumulating problems, as if there were some ominous trend. However, there hasn't been much analysis of which ones are critical and which ones are attempts to make money by blowing an Apple issue out of proportion for personal gain. Here's how to tell them apart. The critical events require Apple to make real fixes that put customers first. The blowhard events pad the media's pockets and can only be countered by an Apple PR campaign to get the truth out.  Watch for that.

I'll surmise that Tim Cook's number one task right now is looking at how iOS 8.0.1 got released. Number two, I hope, is making iPhone pre-orders less painful and arbitrary. The rest is business as usual for a high profile tech giant.

Next: the tech news debris for the week of September 22: A surprising new reason why Apple may want to offer its own UHDTV.

Page 2 - The Tech News Debris for the Week of September 22


I appreciate the Business Insider Chart of the Day because it often invokes historical data and put a trend in great perspective. Here's a good example: "Apple's Record Breaking Weekend In Context."

That chart reminds me about how one of the things I take Apple to task for is balancing outrageous success with measures to properly handle that success. It's great to become fabulously wealthy, but considerable insight and thought is required on how deal with the risks of great success. I mentioned two of those in the preamble on page one.

What else could be displayed here? Hmmmmm.....

The next two articles cover some current thinking about a next generation UHDTV from Apple.

From John Archer at Forbes : "Why The iPhone And Apple TV HomeKit Update Makes An Apple Television More Likely."

From my friend Rocco Pendola at Seeking Alpha ," Apple Will Do A Television Set."

I have argued in the past that developing its own UHDTV allows Apple to seize control of the video signal on the downstream side of HDCP. In addition, it could be that the conventional UHDTV, which is turned off for much of the day, could soon be pressed into dual service as a display hub for home automation, a status board, in addition to conventional TV viewing. I like that idea.

O'Grady's Powerpage," repports that iPad Pro rumors persist, and those rumors are getting harder to ignore. The larger, 12.9-ich iPad could become a platform for much more advanced graphics that we've seen in a tablet before, and that will get people very excited. See: "Rumor: Apple’s upcoming 'iPad Pro”' model could feature A8X processor, other improvements."

From time to time in the last few weeks, I've joked about starting a Kickstarter Project to develop a shoulder holster for the iPhone 6 Plus. Model 007, of course. Looks like I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines. See the products at

Image credit:

Finally, for those who are interested in the internal components and cost of the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, you'll want to check out this detailed article, especially the comparison chart near the bottom. " Analysis: The Apple iPhone 6 & 6 Plus."


School Grades teaser via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page 1) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.