Too Little Too Late for Apple? Maybe Worse…

Amid the excitement and chaos surrounding the release of the iPhone 5, many customers noticed that there were some problems with their brand new devices. Issues ranged from strange noises coming from the device to “leaking light.” ‘Whenever a new product is released by any company, it is never going to be perfect the first time around. However  as we have seen with CEO Tim Cook, customer satisfaction is king.

When customers complained about the new “Maps” app that replaced the Google Maps app, Tim Cook wasted no time writing a letter apologizing to customers. So it makes sense that when customers complained about Apple’s newest release, the iPhone 5, Tim Cook called for stronger quality control. But was what he asked for too much?

At the Foxconn production plant, workers, many from the quality control section, have gone on strike. From the China Labor Watch, we hear, “factory management and Apple, despite design defects, raised strict quality demands on workers, including indentations standards of 0.02mm and demands related to scratches on frames and back covers. With such demands, employees could not even turn out iPhones that met the standard.” Obviously, when it becomes impossible to do your job, strike is imminent. These standards led to fights among workers and quality control inspectors which ultimately halted production at times. This will delay shipments for iPhones for weeks.

The question I raise is how important is quality control? In my opinion, if Apple had shown more care about the quality of the design in the first place, then perhaps Apple wouldn’t have had to raise their standards so high. If anything this whole ordeal shows the importance of quality control from the beginning. Apple was most likely relying on the strength of their brand name and felt that strong quality control was not as important as getting as many iPhones out in a short amount of time to meet the record setting demand. And maybe they were right. The iPhone 5 had one of the biggest releases in smart phone history. People camped out for days just to get their hands on one. And even though there have been numerous complaints about the design, many are still lining up to get the phone. The other day I went to the Apple store to get my phone (the 3Gs) repaired and asked about the iPhone 5 because I was thinking about purchasing one. They told me they were out and had no idea when the shipments were going to come in because the employee described the deliveries as “random.”

So back to my original question. How important is quality control? One piece of data that I would like to see is out of all these people who complained about the phone, how many actually returned the phone? Apple possesses one of the strongest brand names with large amounts of customer loyalty. I would also be interested to hear how many people would take an iPhone 5 now that leaks a little light than an iPhone 5 that is perfect in five weeks. I’m sure the data would shock us all as many people prefer immediate gratification as opposed to high quality.

I would like to hear your thoughts on whether you believe in the highest quality control standards in relation to the phone or whether you believe that Apple should start churning out these phones like hot cakes and drop the price.