Editorial: On What to Expect From iPhone 3GS Reviews, And Why | iLounge Article

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Editorial: On What to Expect From iPhone 3GS Reviews, And Why

With the release of the iPhone 3GS now only days away, and reviews likely to appear very soon, we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes information that might help you to better understand media coverage of this device, as well as other Apple products that have been released in recent times.

For years, iLounge has been proud of the fact that we’ve actually purchased the iPods and iPhones we’ve reviewed here. In order to get the full experience of what it’s like to be Apple’s and AT&T’s customers, we’ve stood in the launch day lines in various cities, endured the same activation failures and customer service problems you’ve dealt with, and chronicled them in news stories, reviews, and occasional event reports on iLounge. We buy a lot from Apple, and that’s the reason we can tell you when the eco-conscious company has, for instance, shipped nine iPod nanos from the same place in nine separate FedEx boxes. It’s also part of the reason we actually care about the prices and durability of Apple’s products, like you do. When you buy something, you really care how long it will last, and how much it costs.

Since the launch of the iPhone two years ago, and particularly since the iPhone 3G’s release last year, a lot has changed at Apple. Steve Jobs fell sick and took an extended leave. Some of the company’s key people, including everyone from PR to engineering staff, left to join Palm. And others, including the “father of the iPod,” have walked away from the company. During this same period, noteworthy lapses in Apple’s marketing and execution started to undermine its credibility with fans. When it was sued over its “twice as fast, half the price” iPhone 3G marketing, Apple at one point claimed, stunningly, that “no reasonable person” should have actually believed its “statements as claims of fact.” Now the company has made similar claims about the iPhone 3GS. Buyers of iPods and iPhones discovered that Apple had quietly broken new device compatibility with accessories it was selling only weeks earlier in its own stores, and hiding post-release changes to the devices rather than disclosing them openly to consumers. Those who speak too much truth about these and related issues are threatened by the company, as the BBC learned this week. That’s the BBC, for God’s sake. For customers and longtime fans like us, watching these sorts of things happen at the same time as Apple products have hit new peaks of popularity has been truly sad—it’s like seeing an indie rocker hit it big and lose his soul in the process, alienating the fans and media who helped him succeed in the first place.

What compelled us to write this article was another oddity that we discovered in the past week: without explanation, the web site Gizmodo abruptly retracted an iPhone 3GS hands-on it posted during WWDC—an event where Apple told us specifically that no one save broadcast journalists was getting hands-on time with the phone. A reliable source told us yesterday that Apple had quietly given Gizmodo an iPhone 3GS in advance under embargo, and told it to yank its hands-on, photography, and video content because they were too early; Gizmodo allegedly complied. Another source added that “Apple went ballistic and they… now are banned from attending Apple keynotes going forward,” a claim that we have not been able to verify. We twice offered Gizmodo the opportunity to comment—once before our story, once after hearing from these sources—but it hasn’t.

To be clear, Apple’s practice of giving certain people advance access to its products is done for a specific reason: it has selected writers who it believes will say positive things about the products, and then will feature their quotes on its Hot News page and in its keynotes. (We pointed out the almost amusing nature of those gushes here; they continue today.) But if you think that there’s nothing more going on here than people simply receiving Apple’s products early and writing nice things about them, you’re in for a surprise. After receiving advance review units from Apple, writers then receive marketing-driven phone calls from the company, in which they’re told the various things Apple wants to see spotlighted in the reviews. Those who participate in Apple’s calls have no obligation to parrot the marketing pitches back to their readers. But some of them do.

We can’t speak for others, but we can tell you this: we have never participated in a pre-review call like that with Apple. We don’t do it with other companies, either. And we won’t. Our impressions aren’t necessarily the most positive you’ll find on the Internet, but we promise you that they are always—always—honestly reached, without any interference from marketing people or executives trying to tell us what we should tell you. Thus, even if our review of the iPhone 3GS isn’t the first one you see, and it surely won’t be given the embargos Apple has gotten people to sign, you can be sure that it wasn’t written with input from Apple.

In an ideal world, other writers would join us in taking a stand against overaggressive product marketing tactics and the dangers of coziness between the media and the subjects of its coverage. We invite and strongly encourage like-minded people to do so. But if they don’t, we’ll gladly stand alone, and continue to bring you the objective, independent coverage you’ve come to expect from us over the years. Thank you, as always, for your continued readership and support.

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Comments

1

Hey guys - thanks for the article and thanks for your objective and honest reviews.  Your observations of Apple are spot on, and I for one am getting sick of companies that browbeat the blogosphere for positive reviews.  If your product can’t stand the heat, keep it out of the kitchen.  Keep up the great work - your site and your articles are things I keep in mind when I create posts for the gadget site I write for.

Posted by Jay on June 16, 2009 at 1:42 PM (CDT)

2

Thank you, ilounge.  Thank you.

Posted by Jared on June 16, 2009 at 1:42 PM (CDT)

3

It’s great to have coverage from people who just like iPods but don’t have any real loyalties to it’s manufacture. I get the impression that if you guys really liked the new walkman as much as the nano you would say so.

Posted by Fanman on June 16, 2009 at 1:50 PM (CDT)

4

I ALWAYS come to you guys first for a review of something, mainly speakers and the like and so far you guys are always spot on! Thanks!!

Posted by mike on June 16, 2009 at 2:11 PM (CDT)

5

...which is why is and always will be my #1 source for product/software reviews.  The objectivity of the information keeps my trust in this site that it’s reviews will at the end of the day, generally be the views of most customers.  An honest opinion is to be regarded highly and (thankfully) keeps readers properly informed for their personal future decision making.  No one has displayed this more than ilounge, and I am grateful for that.  If you don’t believe me, see ilounge’s review of the iPod Shuffle 3G.

Posted by Victor Evans on June 16, 2009 at 2:11 PM (CDT)

6

Wow. It’s always nice to have a friendly reminder like this that you can have one thing said to your face and another done behind your back like Apple does. They make good products; why do they need to do underhanded tactics like “paying off” critics?

iLounge may not have the latest rumors and Apple gossip, but they have true, honest reviews and news. With all of the junk floating around on the internet, especially about Apple, it’s refreshing to be able stop here and get real honest reviews of Apple products and accessories, especially ones that I know I can trust. Thank you very much, Jeremy and iLounge, and please keep it up. Your readers could never give you credit for the information you provide.

Posted by Dave on June 16, 2009 at 3:19 PM (CDT)

7

From a fellow reviewer you guys are great for telling it as it is and it’s a very respectable practice in comparison to a lot of websites. What I do not like is Apples policy on reviews of late it seems very similar to another computer company starting with the letter “A”, if I remember correctly it was rumoured they had a similar practice. What concerns me more though is apple ruining their reputation of late and instead of rectifying the situation they are just digging themselves a deeper hole.

Posted by Johnathan on June 16, 2009 at 3:38 PM (CDT)

8

Nice one. Thanks for being so honest. Would like to hear what Gizmodo have to say.

Posted by Danny on June 16, 2009 at 3:39 PM (CDT)

9

This is exactly why I don’t buy an iPhone/iPod accessory until I read the review from iLounge. I, for one, greatly appreciate the fact that there is an unbiased source out there reviewing things. The lucrative (and some would say Machiavellianly smart) thing to do would be to participate in those pre-reviews. This is why iLounge is on my favorites list. Thanks guys and girls. Keep up the good work.

Posted by JW008 on June 16, 2009 at 4:07 PM (CDT)

10

Just what has happened to Apple? They seem to be going out of their way these days to make themselves the villain. My perception began to change when they locked the video out on the iPods and, since then, they just seem to have gone from bad to worse.

They can still make great products and should let them stand for themselves rather than playing mafia with the press.

That’s if they are actually still interested in making great products.

Posted by BeefJerky on June 16, 2009 at 4:18 PM (CDT)

11

Yeah, what’s the deal iLounge? I saw a few flames on here earlier…I know they might be ridiculous, but why would you filter your own comments for content? Seems very counter-iLounge and even goes against the principles you’ve laid out in this article.

Posted by Dave on June 16, 2009 at 4:19 PM (CDT)

12

#11: Comments from fake IP addresses, and ones with offensive content, are closed by our moderators automatically. We are always glad to permit discussion of different viewpoints, but trolls aren’t welcome here. That’s been policy for a long time.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 16, 2009 at 4:25 PM (CDT)

13

Remember the famous Apple “Big Brother” commercial?  Who is acting like Big Brother now?

Posted by NewMexiPod on June 16, 2009 at 5:13 PM (CDT)

14

Thank you iLounge.  I too have noticed apple has gotten the short end of the stick recently and haven’t made anything of it.  If you really look at it, all they have done is put a big band-aid over mistakes.  3.0 is a big “well here are the features we forgot about” and snow leopard is just refinements.  The 3Gs is just internal enhancements and a good camera.  When they try to innovate, they come up with the new ipod shuffle (nuff said).  The only thing innovative they have done is the unibody macbooks which add almost no new customer improvements, but instead just manufacturing improvements.  What is going on in cupertino.  Maybe they are working on so something big it will blow our minds, and I have a feeling their slump is almost over.  Look at plam.  They have had decent phones, but nothing really new, but with the pre they have reclaimed everyone’s attention and done something really different from old products to put them ahead of the competition. Apple will need to do the same and have a big bang across their entire product line to advance.

Posted by Dan Lipson on June 16, 2009 at 5:38 PM (CDT)

15

amazing! nothing as beautiful as been honest and true! blessings guys @ iLounge…!

Posted by Fernando Castro on June 16, 2009 at 5:49 PM (CDT)

16

great editorial. i have always trusted ilounge, and i think you’re doing a great job telling everybody this things. I love apple products as many out there, but apple isn’t the only one making great products, i love my logitech anywhere speakers, and my vmoda earphones,  all of those i bought beacuse i saw a great review here. Part of the innovation from a product not only comes from an idea, a great part comes from reviews from users, and ilounge is not only a site, it’s another user, it’s one of us.

Posted by EP on June 16, 2009 at 5:53 PM (CDT)

17

Thank you ilounge for consistently providing consumers with your unbiased views. I love Apple’s products and it saddens me to see them take these ill-advised business tactics at the expense of customer satisfaction and loyalty (well, at least, personally). Unlike some, I don’t have disposable income to keep pace with their “upgrades” which shouldn’t be the case to begin with.

It’s reassuring to know that I could continue to count on your objective views on Apple.

Posted by Julian on June 16, 2009 at 7:26 PM (CDT)

18

Thanks for the reality check….
Saludos desde Chile

Posted by Hernan on June 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM (CDT)

19

Thank you for doing what you say and saying what you do; from filtering trolls to your unbiased reviews, you are truly appreciated. m(_ _)m

Posted by Cereal in Okinawa Japan on June 16, 2009 at 8:12 PM (CDT)

20

Great article. I’ve been preaching about Apple’s nazi-like consumer-controlism for years and get nothing but pushback from all the Applytes I know. It seems like if you show any loyalty toward product design, create a ‘brand culture’ that makes people feel cool for buying your product that you can get away with anything. The thing that always amazes me is that the heart, the core, the BASE of Apple loyalists over the years have traditionally been the folks that should be way, way more aware and immune to these tactics. Apple has the right formula: Slightly better product SOME of the times + the Devil’s own marketing team = success.

Posted by Radioscooter on June 16, 2009 at 10:14 PM (CDT)

21

great going guys! keep up the good work and keep on resisting on any pressure from the Apple Marketing execs and all…

sure Apple is a great company, and iphone is a nice product but at the end of the day it is only average when compared to other similar products in the market…for god’s sake, Apple gives MMS and “cut-copy-paste” facility in the third or is it the fourth generation of its product and fans greet it with joy like they have announced the future! cmon, Apple fans, most of the updates in OS 3.0 are sooo 2006…the fanboys need to stop lapping up the marketing hype and open their eyes and ears!

for me, the best thing about Apple is not the iPhone but the App Store…of course when fans proudly claim it has some 100,000 products, i ask how many of them are actually useful??? and won what basis are they getting shortlisted in the Top 25 or so? sometimes i see products/apps which have 5 reviews or 4 stars but when i click on the reviews it shows nothing???

Posted by Anup on June 16, 2009 at 11:19 PM (CDT)

22

Thank you from Puerto Rico. I’ve been visiting this site on a daily basis for a couple of years now. I’d like to meet Jeremy someday… =)

Posted by iLly on June 17, 2009 at 12:43 AM (CDT)

23

The reason I always come back to iLounge is the very reason you outlined above. You are not afraid to speak your mind (if a product is bad, you say so).

I’ll keep returning here for the reliable reviews, news and opinions. I’ve been a reader of this site since my 3rd Gen iPod and I’ll carry on being a reader of this site for years and years to come.

Thank you for your honesty and professionalism.

Posted by Dan Nicholls on June 17, 2009 at 4:31 AM (CDT)

24

And that is why I come here for all my Apple product reviews and accessories before I buy them. You honest in a dishonest world. Thank you!

Posted by viper09 on June 17, 2009 at 4:59 AM (CDT)

25

Hi guys. I love iLounge and it’s one of my first stops every morning. I’ve been reading your site since it was called iPod Lounge. I’ve noticed recently (within the past year) that your relationship with Apple seems to have soured. What’s happened? It seems like something specific turned you guys off of the Cupertino Corporation that we all grew to love. Did we miss something or is it simply that Apple has disappointed you over the past year?

Posted by urbanslaughter on June 17, 2009 at 12:17 PM (CDT)

26

#25: It’s the latter. We’re not turned off to the company, but by a wide variety of previously chronicled activities that have crossed the line and damaged the trust people (including us) have had in Apple. No one deserves to be misled, threatened, or hurt economically by a company that holds itself out as a good and responsible corporate citizen. Unfortunately, the recent examples of these sorts of problems are too numerous to ignore, and too serious to merely wish away.

We speak up in part because other people are either too afraid or too tied into Apple to do so. Just one of the “insider” e-mails we received yesterday thanking us for the piece noted the brutal, seven-figure economic impact of some of the company’s recent actions on its business - the sort of thing we have been hearing from developers for years. Ideally, Apple would have learned from these concerns years ago and addressed them, but as the recent App Store problems have illustrated, the issues persist. As fans of the company’s products, we still continue to hold out hope that it will do better by its customers and partners, sooner rather than later.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on June 17, 2009 at 12:54 PM (CDT)

27

You guys are awesome, keep up the great work. I distinctly remember the controversy over the video out and Apple authentication, you guys were the only one that got to the bottom of the issue and gave us accurate information (cough! Roughly Drafted!)

Posted by madmaxmedia on June 17, 2009 at 4:59 PM (CDT)

28

I agree wholeheartedly that the marketing strategy(or whatever people call it these days) at Apple is without a doubt, amazing. Yet it’s marketing has clouded many consumers such as myself. I am glad that there is “ilounge” to steer the boat to more realistic reviews. Thank you ilounge!

(should I or should I not buy an iphone 3G S)? LOL

Posted by alextsou in Vancouver, BC on June 17, 2009 at 5:11 PM (CDT)

29

Thanks for the post, Jeremy. I think it is important
to remain objective. Just because I enjoy Apple
products & recommend them to friends and family,
I still WANT to know about the bad updates, removed features, etc. Without all the B.S. and
“gushing” as you put it. Keep it up!
BTW, keep us informed on OS 3.0 update issues for
the Touch if you can!

Posted by ArtJ on June 17, 2009 at 5:33 PM (CDT)

30

Way to go iLounge this is why I visit everyday and buy products based on your coverage. I have never been surprised by reading a review and then receiving the product. I ordered a UE 10 based on your review and they have been awesome cans. Please write a review on the regular beats by Dre I am trying to decide on them or the Bose QC2’s. Thx as always Jerry

Posted by Jerry Clifford on June 17, 2009 at 11:24 PM (CDT)

31

Just one more comment here… Apple would not have such great products and software if not for honest and tough love coverage (ie “fat nano”, early iphone adopter penalty $200, screen issues,firmware tweeks ect.) they do listen and respond so keep it up. If more reviewers were like iLounge the products would be better sooner, so crack the whip!

Posted by Jerry Clifford on June 17, 2009 at 11:35 PM (CDT)

32

Your are absolutely true on your statements, I just learned that today. I was banned from the gizmodo blog because of a comment I made on what I think is a biased review:
This is what I wrote:
“Read Engadget’s review, much more informative and less biased
It is indeed a fast device, not super duper ultra mega fast as this review implies. Furthermore, unless you are an obsessed application opener, you may not find any difference at all, face it. I already own an iPhone and the only thing I’m still in love with is the App store… Hardware based it’s a mainstream device and trending entry level, reason why Apple do not want to disclose any hardware specs.

There are better hardware equipped devices coming as soon as this year, so, don’t get your self rushed by the words of Apple lovers.

I’m personally waiting for the Zune HD as Mobile entertainment thing, I thing it is potentially a better handheld device, But I’ll wait a couple of months before any decision. “This is what I received from Jason Chen (Gizmodo Editor):
“@runner50783: Calling us biased is a sure way to make sure you don’t comment again.
But to address your concerns, how do you know it isn’t fast? Have you used it? Did you even watch the video? And the Zune HD, while it is a great device, isn’t a phone, so it’s not in the same category. I don’t see why you would wait for that when you’re making a phone purchase. “
————————————-
I was even banned before I could even respond, making me look like I just decided to shut up. I made my allegations based on the same videos they posted, I’m not amazed by the iPhone 3GS, it is great right now, but in the upcoming months, we will have a better product offering from other makers.

Thanks iLounge

Posted by Runner50783 on June 18, 2009 at 9:43 AM (CDT)

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