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Does Consumer Reports really matter to Apple’s bottom line?

updated 07:50 am EDT, Fri July 16, 2010

Editorial on CR and iPhone 4 before the event

(Editorial) In the run-up to Apple's press conference, all the talk in the Apple world recently has revolved around Consumer Reports deciding that it couldn't recommend the iPhone 4 because of its alleged antenna flaw that is causing some consumers to lose reception when they cover the antenna lines of the side of the device. According to Consumer Reports, it was able to recreate the problem in its testing, and has said that it doesn't believe the issue has anything to do with poor signal quality and the way in which iOS calculates signal strength, as Apple has said over the past couple weeks.

Admittedly, Consumer Reports is a vastly important property. After all, the service is one of the places that consumers look when deciding to buy a product. In fact, in some cases, it's the only resource that consumers consult before they run out to the store and pick up another tech goody. Apple has a chance of ignoring the publication at its peril.

But as the report keeps swirling around the web, maybe it's time to take a step back and examine if Consumer Reports is really all that important to Apple. Yes, it might be a little disappointing for the organization to not recommend the iPhone 4, but does Apple really have to care? Since the iPhone 4 was released, the company has sold millions of devices, even though talk of the product's antenna troubles continues to circulate the media and discussion forums across the web. The Consumer Reports opinion is just another item in a growing list of discontent. And so far, all that discontent has done little to Apple's iPhone sales.

According to Apple's own store, the company won't be shipping the new iPhone 4 to customers for another three weeks. Does that sound like a company that's really hurting from a poor rating in Consumer Reports? Not exactly.

Apple is one of the few special companies in any industry that can ignore Consumer Reports and its ratings as customers continue to jump into long lines just to get their hands on the most coveted smartphone money can buy. Apple has already come to that realization. Perhaps now it's time for us to come to that same realization, even though there's legitimacy to the complaints.

Yes, Consumer Reports is important to some who use the service as the go-to resource before buying a product, but Apple's success has shown that it might not be as damaging to the company's smartphone as some folks want to say.

Is getting a poor Consumer Reports rating a good thing? Of course not. But it's not that big of a problem either. Apple's iPhone 4 sales are proof of that, and even if not, the company looks set to address complaints soon enough.

By Don Reisinger

by MacNN Staff



  1. Tanker10a

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumer Reports Reliability

    For as long as Consumer Reports has been around, I have never used it as a resource for my buying decision. As far as I am concerned, an average consumer such as myself with an average education "should" be able to read product features in order to determine whether or not that product will fulfill my desired need. I am currently on my second iPhone 3Gs and not to mention all the previous smartphone products that I have owned. I have never consulted CR.
    Consumers today have given their abilities to interpret information because they need someone to do the thinking for them and ultimately blame that resource. I have seen their videos and yo could not have watched a more subjective video.
    Technically, I think the antenna is a different problem because some iPhones show signal loss and some don't.
    I have the new iPhone4, it is still in the box and I am waiting for the announcement along with my "invisibleshield" cover before deploying it. Simply, CR does not influence my buying decision and I doubt that will influence that of Apple Inc. and Apple will do the right thing...

    Comment buried. Show
  1. freebrian

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If someone calls you a horse

    Look, Apple can get away with their typical arrogance of "well it's not us, it's you or the network or the software, or well anything but us" for just so long. If Steve Jobs and Apple PR want to well, basically insult their customers who are telling them the device seems to have a problem by ignoring them or deflecting, that's one thing. When a scientific study is done and proves the device has a problem, that's something else entirely.

    It's not that a bad review from consumer reports will cause a sales problem, it's that it gives proof and credence to all of the existing owners to complain louder.

    So SJ, if someone calls you a horse, punch them in the nose;
    but if CR calls you a horse, perhaps you should go shopping for a saddle.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Consumer Report did it for the sake of protecting their credibility. If they can simulate that problem, then they have to say so. The same goes to Toyota's brake problems. It's the product companies (Apple and Toyota) that are needed to be straightened out. They already knew the problems and they took a chance.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Credibility 2

    Consumer Report doesn't effect my decision. I would still go out and buy iPhone 4 once my Verizon contract is over.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    He's wiDth=0 H

    freebrian is correct in that CR's report more than anything lends credence to those who've had issues. It shows, thru a well-respected resource, that there is some kind of quality issue with certain iPhones that has not been the case with others.

    I finally returned my iPhone 4 this week for a refund after 3 or 4 issues with the 3 separate phones Apple sent me to help. As a 2G/3GS owner, I can say that my phone habits are not the root of the problems my iPhone 4 had.

    Still, I commend Apple/AT&T for being thorough and respectful in trying to resolve my issues as well as the refund process. It was never a hassle on their part other than the time without the phone (which was negated by my still having my 3GS, now my permanent phone again). I just wish Apple corporate took the same tact to this issue overall. Perhaps today we will see that type of sincerity and support.


  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Within a month, all the furor will have died

    down, most of the millions of iPhone 4 purchasers won't even remember there was anything wrong and the iPhone 4 will probably become the hottest selling iPhone of all time. Most likely many iPhone 4 users will buy cases as they usually due and won't even be aware there was ever a reception problem. The iHater bloggers will have to go looking for something else to enrich their pathetic and unhappy lives. In a month, Apple shares should be sitting at around $280 or so. The iPad will continue to sell like gangbusters and maybe the bloggers will have to go after some fault with that device. Like that it shuts down when overheated in the sun. They'll say that's a dangerous flaw or something.

    Steve Jobs will attend the press conference and calm the media so well they'll end up apologizing for annoying him over a bunch of FUD. The loyal Apple fans will be satisfied, but nothing will satisfy the iHaters. They'd probably want every current iPhone 4 crushed in a landfill and new iPhones issued to everyone. Even to those millions of users that haven't had any problem with their iPhone 4s.

  1. ScottG

    Joined: Dec 1969


    CR did Kill off SharperImage

    When CR call the Ionic Breeze that SharperImage sold, a dangerous product. They lost 70% of their business. Then it took just 8 months and they were out of business. I'm not saying that could ever happen to Apple, but lots of people trust and follow what CR says. This is just not helpful for Apple when they clearly show there is a hardware problem, when Apple still says it's software related.

  1. whackjob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE:CR did Kill off SharperImage

    Sharper image/Apple? very different even though you see it outwardly as another store front.
    CR will not and can't kill off Apple- it's really that simple.

    Apple survived the pre-iMac days and it's not just a bloody mobile device that will kill off Apple,
    obviously (partly Apple's fault) it's over zealous focus on mobile devices makes people forget that there's a huge amount of Mac sales current and past that the company os fine.

    But I see your point and honestly I don't take ANY advice from CR although the average consumer does and that's the same consumer who probably shouldn't even have an iPhone or a Droid for that matter. THAT consumer has an iPhone coz some friend has it or it's just cool for them to have yet have no idea what to do with it.

    That simple- no gray zone here.

  1. B9bot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumer Reports has 0 credibility

    There a bias organization and have been all along. They give poor ratings on trucks because the ride is like a truck. Huh??????? That's why I give them no credibility what so ever.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Consumer Reports is more critical than ever

    The problem was REAL, its was obviously real to me. I've blogged about it over and over again - these are iPhone fans - these are iPhone 3gs owners that just upgraded. They know they weren't getting drop calls before, and they are getting them now.

    But, that had little traction. On the internet, the story was the 'death grip' - poking fun at those who were frustrated by this faulty product.

    Consumer Reports all but silenced the 'death grip' narrative.

    We need an authority more than ever. Why this is not killing Apple? It isn't that large a mistake - let's not exaggerate, this isn't a Pinto bursting into flames - we just wanted Apple to own up to the real problem, and fix it.

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