Apple's biggest 5 blunders of 2010

Apple screwed up big time in 2010 despite its phenomenal success.

From the lost iPhone to Antennagate to recent white iPhone speculation, 2010 has been a year of tears and jeers for Apple. There's no doubt that Apple had several victories mixed in with its year of pain such as the iPad launch, which sparked a revival in the one-panel tablet computer. The iPod Touch took several steps closer to being the iPhone without the phone, and the iPhone 4 was wildly popular with users despite its reported problems.

But for all its triumphs, Apple flaws were prominently on display in 2010, which really shouldn't be all that surprising. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs said earlier this year, "Apple is human, and we make mistakes." Here's a look at some of Apple's most notable human blunders from 2010.

The Lost iPhone

An Apple engineer set off a firestorm when he lost his iPhone 4 test unit in a Redwood City, California bar in March. The phone eventually found its way into the hands of gadget blog Gizmodo resulting in a series of blog posts about the device including a detailed teardown. The fallout from the lost iPhone debacle read like something out of a tabloid magazine with news of a paid informant, a late night police raid, and a mysterious hit squad sent to search the home of the man who found the iPhone 4. In the end, Apple got its iPhone back, but don't expect to be seeing Gizmodo attending Apple press events any time soon.

Antennagate

Shortly after the iPhone 4 launch in late June, users started reporting call reception problems when they held the iPhone in a way that covered the lower half of the handset.

At first Apple tried to downplay the issue, but the firestorm over iPhone 4 performance continued and even a few class-action lawsuits were filed.

The iPhone 4 antenna debacle reached a turning point when Consumer Reports announced it could not recommend buying the iPhone 4. Two days later Consumer Reports blasted Apple again, prompting Apple to call a press conference to discuss the issue.

To quell user complaints Apple announced it would offer free bumper cases to all iPhone 4 owners who requested one until September at an estimated cost of $175 million to Apple.

The free bumper case program is now over, and the furor of the antennagate scandal has passed. But Apple continues to sell lots of iPhones despite the antenna debate. Apple announced in October it had sold more than 14 million iPhones worldwide between July and September, a 91% increase compared to the same time last year.

White iPhone

During the iPhone 4 launch Apple announced it would be selling a white model alongside its traditional black version. But the white iPhone wasn't ready in time for launch and was delayed until the second half of July. Apple cited manufacturing problems as the cause of the delay.

July came and went, but the white iPhone never materialized on store shelves, and users began to pine for the elusive device. White iPhones were later spotted in New York and in the hands of British actor Stephen Fry. The white iPhone 4 became so desirable that a cottage industry of DIY solutions popped up. A teenager in Queens, NY got into trouble for selling white iPhone 4 conversion kits out of his parent's home after it was discovered he was making $130,000 off his home-based business, according to The New York Post .

Now the white iPhone 4 is said to be coming next spring, but many wonder if Apple won't scrap the white iPhone 4 altogether and try again with a white iPhone 5 next summer.

AirPrint

When Apple released the beta version of AirPrint, a feature in iOS 4.2, the company said it would enable users to print from the iPad or iPhone to any network printer. The AirPrint feature would be able to send a print job to an AirPrint-compatible printer or to non-compatible printers through a Mac or PC.

At the time, Apple told PC World there would be "no difference between the way AirPrint would work on a printer that supports Apple's new AirPrint printing architecture (like ePrint printers from HP) or one that is connected to a Mac or a PC."

But shortly before iOS 4.2's release in November, Apple quietly pulled shared printer support from AirPrint. The company also scrubbed most of its Website of any mention of shared printer support, and didn't release a statement about why it had decided to pull the AirPrint feature. Some developers said shared printer support worked perfectly, and were surprised to see it pulled from iOS 4.2. The reasoning behind the fate of AirPrint shared printer support remains a mystery.

iPhone 3G vs. iOS 4

Apple's iOS 4 update wreaked havoc on unsuspecting iPhone 3G users in August. Shortly after the new iPhone OS came out, people using the second generation iPhone complained of general sluggishness, unresponsiveness to screen taps and poor battery performance. Apple's support thread for the iPhone 3G with iOS 4 was 118 pages long at the time of this writing.

For the most part, the update to iOS 4.2 has solved the iPhone 3G's problems. In fact, iOS 4.2 may have even given the phone a performance boost, although there are still complaints coming in.

The most recent comment on Apple's support forum, left on Tuesday by a user named powerstack, complained that his phone was now slower than a "64K dial up connection." When he took his phone into an Apple Store to seek help, Powerstack claims an Apple Store employee suggested buying "an Android phone." The iPhone 3G on iOS 4 problems also inspired this parody video.

iOS 4 on iPhone 3G parody:

There were other woes for Apple in 2010 including the sloppy iPhone 4 launch, the debate over the iPad's mute /orientation lock switch and the perennial AT&T hatefest. Next year promises to bring a new iPad, a next-generation iPhone by the summer, and a Verizon-friendly iPhone rumored to launch in January. With so much Apple-related stuff set to launch in 2011, next year promises to be another 12 months of triumph and tragedy for Apple.

Connect with Ian (@ianpaul) on Twitter.

This story, "Apple's biggest 5 blunders of 2010" was originally published by PCWorld.

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