Apple's iPhone Has Motorola's Razr Problem.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 7, 2008

Nearly everyone I know who has an iPhone is beginning to hate it. They love the applications, the music, the movies, the gps—but the basic cell phone function is terrible. I’ve been on Fifth Avenue in NYC watching a friend fume as her calls were dropped. I’ve been in Santa Fe and Portland recently and watched friends get cut off, call again, and get cut off. They tell me about their friends’ mounting frustration with the iPhones’ inability to connect them to friends, family—and business contacts.

One person changed her phone twice (I hear that many people are getting their iPhones changed) to no avail. She doesn’t know when her calls will go through or not. And when you exchange one iPhone for another, you often lose 5% to 10% of your data (music, photos, etc.).

One Apple Store person said “let me try and get one from a good batch,” implying that there are quality control problems.

Then there’s the email thing. Anyone used to a keyboard really hates the way iPhone digital keyboard works. You’re always making mistakes that the software doesn’t correct. It’s obvious that shifting the keyboard to a horizontal position would help enormously, but you can’t.
The thing is—lots of people are getting mad at Apple about the failure to provide basic funcationality with their iPhones. This is

what happened with the Razr. It was cool-looking, slim, light, so people bought millions of them. But it had old, clunky software so when you actually used it to make cell calls, the Razr worked poorly. People began to hate their Razrs because it didn't deliver basic functionality.

Apple blames AT&T for poor service. Maybe. But people look to Apple for quality. It has to make sure the iPhone works in the most fundamental way--phoning. It needs to be transparent, acknowledge the problem, and show the way to resolving it.

If it doesn't, the iPhone may well go the way of the Razr, with Google's Android winning the hearts and wallets of consumers.

Reader Comments

bcm

October 7, 2008 5:09 PM

This article looks like it was written by a 10 year old. It has bad grammar and makes a lot of opinion based statements presented as facts. "Anyone used to a keyboard really hates the way iPhone digital keyboard"??? REALLY? I'm used to a keyboard and love the iPhone keyboard. I guess I'm note anyone.

And you can turn it horizontal in some situations.

"It is doesn't the iPhone may well go the way of the Razr"??? What does that even mean?

Proofreading and fact checking would help this article be a little less worthless.
This article is infuriating .. I have no idea how this makes it on a site as reputable as Business Week.

Todd W.

October 7, 2008 5:15 PM

What makes you think Android won't face the same difficulties. Google has a network partner and a hardware partner, two areas for potential snafus that it doesn't control, but could be blamed for when quality suffers. And in Android, Google has emphasized the very same things Apple has - mobile Internet. It remains to be seen if they can also make a phone that simply works.

Stephen

October 7, 2008 5:37 PM

I am sure that this problem of dropped calls must be due to the AT&T network. Here in the UK we do not seem to be having these issues. 3G is fast, and I have not once had a call be dropped.

Azazello

October 7, 2008 5:43 PM

lame (thin on real information)...
(but you get the clicks)

Taylor Davidson

October 7, 2008 5:43 PM

Motorola was never able to evolve the RAZR: my bet is that Apple will figure it out.

Remember the competition isn't just the Android phones; Sony Ericsson and Nokia are steadily creating services to add to the phone functionality, and are much more popular outside the US than inside the US.

Greg Ayres

October 7, 2008 5:46 PM

Interesting that most (if not all) those having problems with reception are in the US. I've had very few dropped calls in the UK, even in some pretty remote areas and on a mixture of 2G & 3G. It's also worked well in France, Germany, Italy and various other european countries. It's not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with AT&T because I've not had problems with it when I've been in the US, but I just wonder if there's something with the network that means it won't play nice with the iPhone 3G?

Really?

October 7, 2008 5:48 PM

Given the number of typos in this post, perhaps you should be transparent about your editing process, acknowledge the problem, and show the way to resolving it.

Is this really on the BW website?

praneeth

October 7, 2008 5:57 PM

Agree that the iPhone has issues. But a couple of users who don't like it doesn't really give enough data for a consensus. I love my iPhone 3G. The one thing that would make it much better for me would be a slingplayer client. It's the only thing that I can't do on it right now that I could do with pretty much any Windows Mobile phone, which is not good.
Apple, please open up your software and allow innovation.

About the issues mentioned above.. yeah horizontal keyboard would be nice, I'm sure its in process (it works in safari),... but apart from that.. not too much to complain about.

anonymouse

October 7, 2008 6:04 PM


What the hell are you talking about? The iPhone works great as a phone, and the keyboard, although it may take a little practice, works well too. I used to use a phone with a slide-out keyboard like the Google Android, and with some practice I was able to type faster on the iPhone keyboard.

Thinking you can talk for "everybody" is sheer arrogance. This is just an anti-Apple smear article. The iPhone is a revolutionary piece of equipment...comparing it to the Razr is laughable.

Dimi

October 7, 2008 6:06 PM

I have to say that you must not have a lot of friends. I'm not an apple fan boy nor i like itunes and apple products. However the iphone is the best hardware/phone that i have purchased in my life and i wouldn't trade it in for anything especially for the low quality looking HTC that runs on android. There are other phones nokia,sony samsung that fare much worse in terms on call quality and droped calls yet you imply that it's an iphone issue. I had the moto razr when it came out and you are comparing oranges and shoes.

vassar

October 7, 2008 6:07 PM

Poor analogy. I still love my iPhone. Haven't had any problems and the updates have made it only better. Doubt Google's Android will match the sophistication and T-Mobile's network is certainly worse than ATT.

hotkey

October 7, 2008 6:08 PM

Exactly why I refuse to buy an iPhone. It probably is not the phone's fault. AT&T has always had horrible service. They say that they have the least dropped calls. Fact is, when you call someone on their AT&T phone, sometimes, you hear the ring back tone, but their phone never rings. No wonder they have the fewest dropped calls. They have the fewest connected calls too.

Elizabeth

October 7, 2008 6:32 PM

Until the iPhone becomes available through reliable carriers like Verizon, it will be hopeless. Contrary to their commercials, AT&T has the worst coverage and the most dropped calls. I ran screaming from AT&T years ago and will never go back, not even to own an iPhone.

pk de cville

October 7, 2008 6:59 PM

I'm using a 1st gen Edge iPhone and have no problems.

I've heard ATT has been shocked and unprepared by the iPhone rollout numbers. Might be ATT's 3G network doesn't have enough towers to support the iPhone adequately.

Whatever it is, I trust Apple and ATT will get it right sooner rather than later.

The iPhone opportunity is 40x bigger than the Razor and, realizing that, these companies will bust their hinies to make sure these problems go away soon.

Live in 3D

October 7, 2008 7:25 PM

I'm sorry, but this article is loaded with misinformation. I have had an iPhone since the original non 3g version came out and while I will agree that AT&T's service is terrible, the device itself has worked very well.

Saying that an iPhone loses 5% to 10% of its data when replaced is a flat out lie. Every single bit of data on an iPhone is backed up to your computer every time it is connected to it. Not to mention that your music is pulled from iTunes, so even if you had only backed up one time, you would still have all your music. And while the software is not perfect, old and clunky is certainly not how the majority of people seem to be describing the iPhone.

The iPhone has some legitimate shortcomings, but you do your readers a disservice when you publish made up rumors as fact.

bruce nussbaum

October 7, 2008 8:15 PM

Sorry, but the loss of data is based on conversations with several people. Whatever is happening in the transmission, something is being lost.
Bruce

bruce nussbaum

October 7, 2008 8:22 PM

Thanks for the grammar tips folks--I've made the changes.
Bruce

Jake Brown

October 7, 2008 9:41 PM

How would that unnamed apple "employee" know what was a good batch even IF there is/was one!

Also the android phone is going to encounter lots of problems with combatibility with hardware from the different phone makers and types, under powered, over powered, no camera, 5 megapixel camera etc. Its got no video player either.

"Nearly everyone I know who has an iPhone is beginning to hate it." - do you all your friends love windows too? (unlikely I know)

Blogging has its plus points and its negative points, this being one of the latter. Please do your research next time

Ross Rader

October 7, 2008 10:14 PM

I'm on my third iPhone (upgraded from the first gen, and then had to replace a 3g unit because of a cracked screen) and I've never had a problem with call quality.

I'm on Rogers in Canada, and I suspect that this is the key difference - not using AT&T.

/ross

Miguel

October 7, 2008 10:42 PM

HI! I'm hearing all this comment about their phones,that they are no good, dropped calls and others functions,what is it people want? some peoples think that some phone are like a video game, it's a phone for Gos say,some people put this phones like something out of this world,is a phone that's it some people are asking for to much from a phone,their imagination goes beyond the technology,all they have to do is use it properly some people have phone like a hammer or something and they dropped like dropping tools on the floor, I have a motorola Khzr and never had problem at all works beautiful no drop calls nothing like they complain and also a Razor no complaints so what is the problem? some people going have to buy phone from NASA.and Motorola is one of the best phone ever so Nokia just have to use it for what it's made for.Thanks.

Live in 3D

October 7, 2008 11:21 PM

Bruce,
Obviously you and your friends have no idea how iPhone data is backed up, otherwise you would understand that there is absolutely no possible way replacing an iPhone could result in missing music.

Music is not part of the data backup your iPhone creates. When restoring, it pulls music from the files already saved in your computer's music folder. For what you describe to happen, a new iPhone must somehow reach into your computer, select some random tracks out of iTunes and delete them.

More likely your friend failed to connect their iPhone to a computer before returning it, meaning any data that was accumulated since the previous backup was lost. I would love for you to name a single device that does not have this exact same "shortcoming"

Your article and reply implies that this data loss is somehow the fault of the iPhone itself, or rather that the backup loses data in the transmission from computer to phone and vice versa. This is absolutely not the case.

You took your friends uninformed assumption and published it as fact. Not a very good sign of journalistic integrity.

Dan Saffer

October 7, 2008 11:37 PM

The problem with the Razr wasn't a technical issue; it was a design problem. The phone technically worked and the industrial design was beautiful, but the interaction and interface design was not good. People liked the form of the phone, but not using it.

This doesn't seem to be the iPhone's problem. People enjoy using it and it has a beautiful form. But the technical issues have been tripping people up, especially in the new 3G phones.

Dan
http://www.kickerstudio.com

Ruth Westervelt

October 8, 2008 1:32 AM

Other than the fact that I've experienced none of the service problems listed in this post, the biggest issue I have is the generalizations and references to many, anyone, and lots. It's all a bit vague and unfounded.

To the contrary, lot of my friends aren't having any problems at all with their iPhones and this is first I've heard of a dropped call issue.

Susan

October 8, 2008 4:49 AM

Nearly EVERYONE you know... hates
their iPhone?

Huh?

I wonder if the other 10,000,000 iPhone
owner agree with you.

I still can't even use my in public,
without someone saying "wow! Is that the Iphone? Can I see it?"

(I have had a grand total of *ZERO* dropped calls over the life of my iPhone.)

mONAi

October 8, 2008 6:13 AM

Wow the person who wrote that article really has some issues with apple and I really don't understand why... Firstly how in the world can you compare it to the RAZR? What is wrong with you??

Second I don't get what you are going on about the keyboard. The keyboard works perfectly fine, I think its you not the keyboard. Figure out how to use it buddy before you go rambling on. The keyboard on the iPhone was and is a great Idea.
Yes the iPhone has its problems but find me one device today in the market that does what the iPhone does and the way the iPhone does it... Ne possible pas!!! There is no one phone in the market that does all this while looking like that.

With regards to the Phone capabilities puleez no one phone in the market lets you reach your contacts that easliy or conference in someone else or for that matter any of the features you need while on a call. Yes the one problem I have for phone calls is the speaker volume but that has been improved on the iPhone 3G.

To sum it up, yes you can rake up a list of issues blaming the iPhone, but its all moot points, you can live happily without them.
I wouldn't trade my iPhone for any other phone today well maybe the iPhone 3g :-)

Laurent Maertens

October 8, 2008 11:02 AM

This article is retarded. It's definitely due to AT&T's network that calls are dropped, and that you can't use the digital keyboard is surely because the average american's fingers are too thick.

CP

October 8, 2008 11:16 AM

I think the BW site got hacked...this cant be quality material!

Critiques are always welcome..but how can you be so cavalier on the way you write your article..

NOT an apple fan boy

October 8, 2008 12:33 PM

Come on Apple fan boys, you are so defensive!

anon

October 8, 2008 3:26 PM

"I have no idea how this makes it on a site as reputable as Business Week."

agreed. this column is by far the worst thing in BW (online or in print).

felix

October 8, 2008 4:39 PM

Funny...everyone I know with an iPhone (I myself do not have one), loves them, and can't take their hands off them.

FatBoy FUD

October 8, 2008 9:11 PM

FUD FUD glorious FUD.

Nothing quite like it for boiling the blood.

Randall

October 10, 2008 8:36 AM

I wonder if this is a regional issue? I had pretty good service in NYC and DC, but in my home in San Francisco - the iPhone is the worst phone I have ever used. Honestly it drops 4 out of 5 calls within the first twenty seconds, sometimes more like 9 out of 10. I restart the phone every other day. I had the first generation version and it didn't drop as many calls. The 3G version with this latest software update has certainly shown me less service, I don't know what was behind that upgrade, since it has been a downgrade for me. To all the apple fans, simmer down. The phone is a problem. I've used apple products for ten years, am typing this on my black macbook and at work tomorrow I will be surrounded by more macs. All this means is that I'm merely reporting the news, not making it. Don't kill the messenger. This phone is terrible.

Nick dePlume

January 5, 2011 8:03 AM

It's hilarious revisiting this article and the associated comments two years later, with the iPhone a continuing success.

FUD indeed.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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