A Byte of Apple : Apple pulls it off, in more ways than one!

If there was any doubt in our minds as to the outcome of the iPhone 4 ‘antennagate’ press conference, the digital Pied Piper of our generation brought his A-game to the event. And what a show he pulled off! It took a carefully crafted set of words – “We’re not perfect. Phones are not perfect. We all know that. But we want to make our users happy.” – for Steve Jobs to turn the event from a witch-hunt defense to a discourse on smartphones in general, and that they, much like the iPhone 4, have problems.

(image courtesy flickr user random_j)

In doing so, Jobs took the moral high ground about the challenge all manufacturers face with managing antenna issues, further driving home the point with videos demonstrating top smartphones suffering signal attenuation when gripped firmly. Add to this the carefully curated data around the lower rate of product returns and dropped calls the iPhone 4 had seen (compared to the 3GS). In effect, by the time he announced free bumper cases and a no-questions-asked 30-day full-refund return option, he’d turned the iPhone 4 around from being a potential buggy dud to pretty much the best smartphone around, albeit one that had an Achilles heel that was common to all smartphones! And ever so often, repeating the mantra of “keeping the users happy”, and before you know it, Apple walked out of the “antenna-gate” smelling of roses.

On cue, RIM, Nokia and HTC reacted strongly to being painted with the same wide brush, each shooting back strong missives in Apple’s direction for involving them in “Apple’s self-made debacle”. For Apple, the job is done – the iPhone 4 has come out of this (almost) squeaky clean, and the subject of antenna design decisions has been brought out so clearly into public consciousness for the first time.

And just as this was threatening to blow up, along came Apple’s Q3 earnings call earlier this week. In case you missed it, here’s the gist. The numbers look good, with a record $15.7 billion earned for the June quarter, right about when they shipped the hundred millionth iOS (iPad, iPod touch or iPhone) device. What’s important to note is that the iOS products now contribute two-thirds of Apple’s revenues, and this is in a quarter that saw 3.472 million Macs sold during the June quarter, up 33 percent year-over-year and easily outpacing the 20% growth rate PCs showed. Not surprisingly, the company is now sitting easy on $45.8 billion in cash, and with the iPad launching in nine more countries – Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore – as you read this ( on Friday, July 23), their next quarter looks set to do no less. If anything, Apple’s going to have to watch their suppliers closely, ‘coz at the rate at which they’re going, supply just isn’t going to keep up with demand. That’s a good problem to have, in any case.

As we wrap up this week’s A Byte of Apple, we couldn’t possibly close without a mention of Flipboard – A Social Magazine App for the iPad. As the name suggests, Flipboard creates a magazine out of a user’s social content, and early user response suggest this could be the way to consume Facebook, twitter and your other social feeds while fitting into the chilling-out lifestyle of iPad media consumption.

Now, a week full of controversy and hard numbers does have its light moments too – and this week’s humor is courtesy a thief who earlier this week made off with an iPhone snatched right from a woman’s hand in the San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, not knowing that the phone was being used in a demonstration of real-time GPS tracking. Of all the phones he could have whacked, he picked this one! What are the odds!?! No prizes for guessing what happened next – he was picked up by police about ten minutes later with the help of the location tracking. Talk about being a #fail at what you do!