Ay yi yi phone

Poor Apple: from everybody’s darling to the butt of Letterman jokes. Only time will tell how much of an impact iPhone 4 Antenna-gate will have on Apple but it goes to show that even the most well-run companies with the best products are not immune from making headline-grabbing mistakes.

The question on everyone’s lips is whether Apple knew about what seems to be a design flaw. If they did know, that of course makes us question their PR/marketing approach to sweep the problem under the rug. (You need a case! It’s the algorithm!! It’s not me, it’s you!)

But if they truly didn’t know, it makes us questions more fundamental things about the company: Why did nobody discover this potential problem until the phone was released? What part of their testing process failed? Why did no one at any point say, “Is it wise to put the antenna there?” Apple needed someone to shout The Emperor Has No Clothes! (As an aside, so too did the movie Grown Ups. If only someone had had the courage to say: “I know it is basically impossible that this many screamingly-funny guys can be in a movie that is so unfunny, and yet it’s true.”)

The things will still sell like hotcakes because, in the end, Apple — even with its flaws — still makes a great product. But seeing a company as great as Apple fail even a little tends to spook us a bit. What safeguards can we put into place in our own businesses to ensure that we do not have our own Antenna-gates?

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