Why Apple can't keep the iPhone 4S on the shelves

Users in this age of personal IT know quality tech and are too smart to fall for bull from vendors or the press

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Then there's Windows Vista -- a deeply flawed product that took years to supplement its ancient predecessor Windows XP because customers didn't want it. Compare that to the much stronger sales of the much better Windows 7. Unlike hotcakes, junk simply doesn't sell.

We in the media are all too quick to look for a negative story and inflate it as much as possible. That's not to say we don't have a responsibility to warn the buyers of technology when a vendor drops the ball -- of course we do.

On the other hand, fawning, hype-filled coverage is repellent and unprofessional -- and there's much too much of it. But simply trolling forums for complaints is a cheap and lazy way to do your reporting. Much more admirable is the example set by our colleagues at PC World -- and a few other publications -- who actually tested the iPhone 4 carefully and confirmed the antenna problem that garnered rightful indignation 18 months ago.

It's sadly not surprising that a finding by Consumer Reports that those problems are not an issue for the iPhone 4S didn't get much attention. It feels like yesterday's news, I guess, and probably doesn't generate enough page views.

For the record, Consumer Reports also said, "These pluses were not enough, however, to allow the iPhone 4S to outscore the best new Android-based phones in our ratings. Those top scorers included the Samsung Galaxy S II phones, the Motorola Droid Bionic, and several other phones that boast larger displays than the iPhone 4S and run on faster 4G networks."

One reason the iPhone 4S got a lukewarm reception in the press was the fact that it wasn't the iPhone 5, which many pundits were convinced was coming despite a good deal of evidence to the contrary. When Apple delivered what should have been seen as an upgrade, not a brand-new product, the pundits took off their fanboy hats and became savage critics. No wonder readers are getting so cynical about the tech press.

Much more important, though, is the recognition that many users believe the snarky "stupid user" libel you hear so much about from certain IT quarters. Users, both the home variety and the professionals, have a pretty good track record of picking technological winners -- and losers.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "Why Apple can't keep the iPhone 4S on the shelves," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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