Apple iPhone 4 Problems Show that Innovation without Execution Fails

Last Updated Jun 24, 2010 4:33 PM EDT

Apple (AAPL) has begun to ship the iPhone 4 to the delight of customers -- unless they find lines or spots on high resolution screens, scratches on the super-hard glass back, or poor reception when they hold the iPhone's case. The variety of complaints that have greeted the product release has been impressive, but not surprising. That's because, for all its supposed innovative prowess, Apple has historically failed in one vital aspect: execution.

There have been some decided, if sporadic, disappointments as those outside the Chosen Early Recipients and Reviewers (CERRS -- the influential few who can drive additional sales) have received their iPhone 4s:

Apple couldn't even ship white versions of the product on time because they proved "more challenging to manufacture than expected."

This shouldn't surprise anyone, because Apple has a long history of delivering hardware products with major flaws:

And that's just in the recent past.

You can't innovate if you can't deliver, and as Apple shifts from its traditional fans to a broader consumer market, this becomes a bigger and bigger issue. People don't want to hear excuses. They want to purchase something that works the first time. Why buy Apple if it's a hassle?

I'm not giving a pass to any other company in high tech. The high tech industry has a terrible habit of delivering first generations of products that are buggy and flawed. It's one reason that I refuse to purchase dot oh versions of anything. But why? Being first may be good, but as Google (GOOG) has shown with Android, being second -- or third or fourth or fifth -- doesn't mean that you're locked out of the market. It's time for all these big companies to grow up and ship products that work from the start. Or at least for some of them to get smart and market on proven reliability.


  • Erik Sherman On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.