Bumper to Bumper, Part I: e-Lessons Learned from Antennagate

BumperCar_Front If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I used to post frequently about relationships between techies and management and how successful interaction between them is critical to the success of an undertaking; internally and externally.  As you can see from the headline, I'm using Apple's response to the iPhone 4G 'debacle' as a teachable moment.  Some will take issue with my use of the word debacle, but I'm speaking in terms of the negative press this issue has generated.  Caveat: I own an iPod Touch (but you already knew that).

If your initial thought is to wonder how any of this applies to eDiscovery, read on…


Make no mistake.  Steve Jobs knows his customers – and so do I.  My first real exposure was when I was tasked with managing the only MAC network at Hughes Space and Communications (this goes back to 1993-94).  I quickly learned about the culture of MAC users.  As often happens to me – and many of you, I suspect – once that item was on my resume, the MAC element became a regular part of many of my future projects.

Stevie and I had a convo and we agreed on several points: 1) There's a hardware issue (not that we'll admit it), 2) the problem affects a relatively small number of customers, 3) a plurality of dedicated customers will back us, no matter what we do, 4) if we're forced to issue a recall, it could cost billions, 5) we know that a bumper/case/duct tape will solve the problem (not that we'll admit there is one) for most customers, so 6) let's go that route and offer a free bumper/case/duct tape (sorry, couldn't resist that last one).

The cool thing about #6?  We know that a lot of customers who do have the problem won't act.  On the other hand, we also know that others who don't have the problem will; in the end, probably a wash.

If you've perused articles on the issue – and read the accompanying comments – you'll probably note that the scenario has played out the way Stevie and I thought it would.  Overall, reaction has been favorable, and every time someone posts an article or comment critical of the solution, they're usually swamped with 'the faithful' calling them whiners and defending Apple, usually making the effort to express how much they love their iPhones.

So, was it a good decision from a management standpoint?  And where's the eDiscovery tie-in?  I'll bring it all home for you in "Part II: Steve Jobs is Wrong"…