Mr. Jobs, tear down this phone!

John Shinal · August 14, 2008 · Short URL:

Mounting evidence of 3G reception problems points to iPhone, not networks

 Two people I wouldn't want to be this week: the product engineer at Apple who signed off on the iPhone's 3G chipset and software, and that person's counterpart at chip maker Infineon.

Can you imagine the tenor of the call from the mercurial Steve Jobs to the Apple guy?

"Yeah, __________, this is Steve Jobs. I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday to fix this iPhone 3G thing. In fact, I want you to work on this 24/7 until you get it solved. Yeah, and when you're done, you can clean out your desk, because you're done here, you stupid sh#t! What the f*@k is wrong with you, you moron? Don't you know how to test an antennae chip, you stupid d#$*%#!"

Of course, the cynic in me wonders if Jobs might have signed off on the phone even if he knew the chipset was bad, knowing that it would encourage -- nay, force -- more people to access the Web over WiFi connections rather than AT&T's 3G network.

The man has no love for wireless operators, whom he once referred to collectively as "sphincters". Everyone in Silicon Valley know he's just using them until he can figure out a way to go around them completely.

That is, after all, the plan of Google, which has been pushing WiFi and trying hard (but as yet failing) to get its hands on some wireless spectrum of its own.

Perhaps this is Jobs' sinister way of tarring and feathering AT&T's 3G network. 

But the problems, as documented in this iPhone user discussion board, are happening with carriers around the world, which would get AT&T's network off the hook as the main culprit. And with some of the posts reporting that other phones are working in 3G spots where the iPhone is not, a preponderance of evidence now points to the handset's chipset.

One Wall Street analyst speculated as much earlier this week.

We won't know for sure until someone does a tear-down of the device to test the chip set. My guess is some independent shops are racing to do that very thing. 

And of course it's likely that Jobs won't let that iPhone product engineer lead out of his locked cage until the problem is isolated. 

With Apple rumored to be readying new laptops while also fixing problems with its MobileMe service, the man's got to get something out of his inbox.

(Image courtesy of Getty Images by way of the New York Post).

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