Apple has recently suffered a rash of complaints from customers that the new iPhone 3G is more prone to dropping calls than other GSM phones, even on the same network. There have been various theories bandied about in the press. Richard Windsor of Nomura Securities blamed it on an "immature chipset" from Infineon Technologies. Claes Beckman, a Professor at the University of Gävle in Sweden was quoted that countries leading technology magazine, Ny Teknik as saying that tests from an anonymous testing laboratory revealed the phone's "nominal sensitivity" was below the GSM standard, probably due to consistency problems in manufacturing. Peter Burrows in Business Week surmised Apple's software may be at fault.
True to its usual Soviet-style PR philosophy, Apple was stonewalling on the issue. This attitude may be causing strains in the relationship with AT&T, according to an account in today's New York Times which reported that at the wireless operator there are "those who think Apple is too controlling with information and those who think Apple can do no wrong."
Perhaps the real clash is between the wireless industry, which no matter how good its technology must deal with the vagaries of RF propagation (e.g. people walking into buildings) and a manufacturing company which prides itself on perfection. The wireless operators have figured out they can't make people happy 100% of the time and have learned, as a Verizon executive put it, to offer refunds "or maybe toss in a free ring tone and a couple months of free service.” Apple's approach has been to preserve its image of perfection, even if it means denying the existence of problems long after they are visible to everyone. In a "PR 2.0" world where customers can band together and make themselves heard, how long can Apple hold onto its 1.0 ways?