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07. 14. 2008

Why iDidntGetScrewed Friday


Last Friday's iPhone 3G launch is being called a number of things, among the most clever "iPocolypse" as coined by Apple's own fan-boy Robert Scoble. My good friend Meg Fowler, proud owner of a non-iPhone, however, decidedly proclaimed her word-of-the-day as "iDidntGetScrewed." Meaning, most everyone racing to the software and hardware upgrades did get screwed. How can a brilliant company deliver such a bad experience? Are we just suckers to Steve Jobs to have not seen the debacle coming?

Pre-game Excitement
In anticipation of iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 upgrades, Apple launched the App Store, and the internet lit up with buzz, building excitement for the subsequent d-day upgrade and download. I spent the night among colleagues at new iPhone-focused startup. We wrapped breakfast gift bags to pass to the people waiting in line all night for first dibs and hacked into Apple's new App Store analyzing streams of background data. So, how did Apple screw its loving all-nighter-pulling, waiting in line for too long, doting, recession-spending user-base?

Poor Planning
Clearly, early adoption of new technology comes with the disclaimer of the imperfect; you pay a higher price and deal with growing pains. Last year's iPhone lines wrapped around city blocks and there was a lot of frustration two months later when Apple dropped the price by $200. I'd like to say iLearnedMyLesson when it comes to jumping on the Apple bandwagon, because the brilliant design company continues to storm when it comes to delivering this particular device smoothly. Apple's market strategy for large-scale adoption and its delivery is a failure on a grand scale.

Last year's sticker price $599 reduced the size of the user-base, the ability to activate outside of the store, and a simple proprietary software platform delivered a great launch day. How could Apple not have foreseen or planned for a business and tech crisis that will forever be called: iPocolyspe, iBrick, iFAIL.

Four Reasons Why Users Got Screwed

1. App Store release 24-hours to launch day

2. iPhone 2.0 software upgrades to iPhone & Touch on launch day

3. Activation of new 3Gs (AT&T shares the blame)

4. Server strain, crash, fail (Bad load-balancing strategy)

It begs the question, "How much good technology can a company launch at once?"

The launch of the App Store one-day ahead whet appetites and incited a race to upgrade from Apple 1.0 to Apple 2.0 software. As App-hungry users simultaneously upgraded to 2.0, servers crashed, and that combined with the activation of an entire new population of iPhone 3G (combined with an unacceptable level of forced-in-store AT&T activation) was nothing short of crazy, stupid, madness. Steve Jobs should be ashamed of the chaos that ensued, the data that was lost, and the damage done.

Remarkable Community
Out of the chaos remarkable things happened, when Apple and AT&T customer service didn't. Twitter, of all online communities, became a place of support and instruction for the thousands of iBricks (iPhone 1.0s that froze during the upgrade to software 2.0). Friends and followers shared news openly. Updates could be found for any number of Apple stores (lines, service, and major breakdowns). Apple failed, but the tech community rallied to help one another find answers, fixes, and share in a little humor and therapy. More than the great apps (Super Monkey Ball), that's been my favorite part of the epic upgrade experience.

At the end of the day iDidntGetScrewed. Apple can do much better. Seeing the mighty fail, makes me wonder how so much greatness can end up in such a mess.

Follow me on Twitter: chrissieb.

Posted by chrissie    Category: cell phones | current affairs | portable media
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