The China Post news staff
Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4 descended upon Taiwan amid much fanfare and elation, with over 50,000 of the high-tech, pocket-sized gadgets sold since the Sept. 17 launch. However, the pockmark that was the notoriously faulty antenna has metastasized into a full blown claim of discrimination against Taiwan buyers. The Consumers’ Foundation (CF) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate for Taipei City Council Kao Chia-yu separately railed against Apple on Wednesday for failure to follow through with the company’s promise to provide cases to users willing to download a free app. Corroborated user reports revealed that the company’s site rejected any and all emails sent from the Taiwan region. Could it be that Apple Inc., with the stringent and willful chief operating officer Steve Jobs (the “best CEO in America,” according to media mogul Rupert Murdoch), purposely excluded the island from the full benefits of the Apple experience? Is our i-Market too small and our adaptation too laggard to be included in the cool, hip and dare we say, elitist circle of all Apple products? Is Taiwan being discriminated against? And if so, has it been done out of spite or competition? Taiwan is, after all, home to Next Media Animation, the company responsible for the “Antennagate” news video depicting Jobs as Darth Vader, whose solution to the iPhone 4 reception problem is to slice off two of your fingers with his light saber, as well as another animation showcasing the Apple CEO’s concealed ninja skills. The tongue-in-cheek vilification has received widespread attention from popular U.S. websites like Gizmodo, Salon.com and the Huffington Post. Now we don’t know if any of this is reason enough or at all to eschew Taiwan consumers from receiving free iPhone 4 cases. We do know that Jobs does occasionally respond to random letters sent to his email address (email@example.com). Just ask Long Island University senior Chelsea Kate Isaacs, who wrote the CEO in jest after receiving no response from Apple’s PR department regarding a question on iPads for her journalism assignment. After a brief exchange deflecting her questions, Job’s final response was, “Please leave us alone.” City Council candidate Kao has started a protest campaign along the same vein — every iPhone 4 owner who has yet to receive a free case should write one letter of protest to Jobs. How well could this go? When the iPhone 4 reception issues first arose, the official Apple statement was equal parts terse and matter-of-fact: “Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance … This is a fact of life for every wireless phone,” read an official Apple statement back in June, concluding with advice to avoid gripping the phone on the lower left corner, or “simply use one of many available cases.” Less than a month later, Jobs realized the problem was not going away and attempted to rectify it by issuing free “Apple Bumpers” to help mitigate the issue. We in Taiwan foresee bumps ahead with few viable solutions on the nation’s part, aside from letters of protest. Should Taiwan convince Apple of its market profitability and try to beef up the company’s local presence? Should we switch and support our domestic smartphone manufacturers on the basis of such discrimination? Should we follow Jobs’ earlier advice and just hold our new iPhone 4 in a special, coddled way? Apple consumers in Taiwan were at once elated and deflated, ebullient and let down. With Jobs’ already overflowing inbox on the cusp of further inundation, we hope the official Apple statement, if one is so inclined to come forth, would offer a just explanation of the matter. Until then, it might be a little hard to just leave Apple alone.