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One for the Bucket-List, I Witness a “Scandal” Being Born

Today I had the privilege of witnessing something rarely glimpsed in the wild. An event so rare it’s akin to seeing a snow leopard (the cat, not the operating system) perform a back-flip. For the first time in my career I was present at the exact moment that a New Media Douchebag attempted to start another lame Apple “scandal.”

Apparently I’m on the mailing list for the gdgt newsletter. For those unaware, gdgt is the site that Peter Rojas and Ryan Block (formerly of Engadget) started. As stated on their about page, gdgt’s mission is:

gdgt is all about providing you with useful, contextual information — both from here and around the web — to help you get more out of the products you already own, as well as help you discover that next great device to add to your collection. We hope that gdgt will be the last personal technology destination you’ll need, and the place to call home for you and your gadgets.

Thursday I received an email from said list containing an essay with the precious little title: With Antennagate over, is Glassgate next for the iPhone 4? Fortunately the essay was also posted to the gdgt website, so follow the link and you too can read it there.

Now, before we begin I want to be completely up front here. I absolutely loathe Ryan Block. I think he’s a pretentious little tool. I seriously debated even drawing attention to this shitty screed. In the end I decided that, on the off chance that the rest of the blogtards run with this, it needs to be documented. Having said that, let’s look at the essay.

Ryan begins with a typically fantastical recounting of “Antennagate” and how Apple bamboozled all of us chumps.

Whether or not you’ve experienced the iPhone 4’s famed death grip, or even believe it’s a real phenomenon (and based on extensive personal experience I can assure you that it is), the whole Antennagate scandal undoubtedly left a deep scratch on the iPhone’s squeaky-clean sheen. As we all now know, the story ended with a semi-contrite Steve explaining how all cellphones have “weak spots” and that iPhone 4 customers upset with their device’s wireless performance would be entitled to a free iPhone case. The offer has since expired, but it had the desired effect: people pretty quickly shut up about the issue, and Apple got back to the business of selling a LOT of iPhones.

I take exception with Ryan’s portrayal of the episode, but whatever — haters gotta hate. Ryan quickly moves on to paint a new, ominous picture of a scandal brewing deep in the heart of Cupertino:

But there’s another issue brewing behind the scenes that’s sent Apple’s iPhone engineering team back into the bunker for preemptive damage control. If you’ve been into an Apple Store (or visited Apple’s site) recently, you might have caught a hint while browsing iPhone 4 cases (or lack thereof). Although Apple has just this week reestablished a wide variety of cases for sale, as of only a couple of days ago the only iPhone 4 case Apple even so much as mentioned on its site was its own first-party Bumper — and still conspicuously absent from its lineup are slide-on cases. As it turns out, was by no means a cynical ploy to maximize profits.

What could this horrible secret be that Apple is trying to conceal by not offering every single cheap-ass Chinese iPhone case in the world for sale? After another three paragraphs of pointless babble about the iPhone case market Ryan reveals all:

According to my sources both inside and outside Apple, after Antennagate the iPhone engineering team identified another potential design flaw that appears to have sent them into a quiet lockdown, and has them working behind the scenes in what’s been described to me as something of a quiet panic to preempt any further tarnishing the iPhone brand. Apple has apparently found that non-bumper style cases — specifically those that slide onto the iPhone 4, which are occasionally prone to particulate matter getting caught between the rear of the phone and the case — can cause unexpected scratching that could quickly develop into full-on cracking or even much larger fracturing of the entire rear pane of glass. To put it another way: Apple is afraid you might buy a standard slide-on iPhone case, put it on your phone, and then discover the next time you take it off that the entire back of your device has been shattered by no fault of your own. So before things escalated out of control and they had “Glassgate” on their hands, Apple swiftly moved to block sales of nearly all third-party iPhone 4 cases from its stores (which it just this week reversed, but only online — physical retail stores still aren’t yet stocking cases). Internally, I’ve heard the iPhone team has grown to be very concerned by this issue with slide-on cases, and has created a lab and large new test program specifically to investigate this further. (If the bumper seemed like kind of an odd concept for a case when it was announced, now its design, which doesn’t come in direct medial contact with either of the iPhone 4’s glass surfaces, seems to make a lot more sense.)

I’m going to go on record with my assessment of Ryan’s story: Absolute fabrication. Note that Ryan cites not one single actual person with an iPhone 4 that has been damaged in this manner. For all that the DeathGrip bullshit was blown out of proportion by idiots in the media, at least there were actual examples of the phenomenon happening. All we get here are the ubiquitous anonymous “sources,” which is blogger code for “pulled out of my fucking ass.”

More to the point, I cannot imagine any conceivable way that a “slip on” case would be more prone to the accumulation crud that snap-on cases. Perhaps if someone is slipping the damn thing on and off constantly it might be more likely to get scratched, but I posit that doing that would scratch the fuck out of any device.

I could go on, but it’s not worth it. This story is utter bullshit. If the rest of the New Media Douchebags echo it; it will still be bullshit. Nonetheless, I’m privileged to have finally witnessed the genesis of an invented Apple scandal. Cross that one off the bucket-list!