WASHINGTON, September 25, 2014 – As if Apple’s latest problem with nude movie star pix were not enough of an issue, the company and its stock were hit today by the company’s latest pair of blown-out-of-proportion new product issues. Apple (AAPL) stock was down $3.88 today on fairly heavy volume, although shares are experiencing a slight bounce in after-hours trading on Wall Street.
To wit: A minor bug fix rev to iOS 8, the latest version of Apple’s mobile software was quickly pulled due to a range of instabilities. Affected customers apparently have little choice but to dial back to the original iOS 8. But reportedly, this is tough to do, leaving affected users in a pickle.
In addition to that aborted iOS 8 rev, reports that the new, bigger iPhone 6 Plus has too much flex in the case and can be literally bent out of shape if you stuff it in the wrong pocket and then sit down.
These latter claims instantly aggregated and went viral under the Twitter hashtag #bendgate. The resulting umors and likely associated trollery on the topic have gotten crazier than the most salacious episode of “Girls Gone Wild.” Apparently, the iPhone 6 Plus bendability flap has been aided and abetted by the following Squarespace video on YouTube. (Note: you’ll get a commercial at the end.)
We’ve watched this video carefully and note one interesting thing. It’s obvious that Apple took great care in formulating the iPhone 6 Plus’ aluminum case, actually hardening it at key bend points and stress-testing the case extensively.
In the video, however, the narrator, who does indeed bend the phone out of shape, admits that the phone did not bend in its midpoint where he was clearly trying to bend it. In fact, it bends in the vicinity of the device’s external buttons on the side, a likely default weak point given that button holes are cut in the metal case at that point, giving it somewhat less resistance to the stress.
Further, as is easily seen in the video, the narrator’s hands actually tremble at one point, illustrating the extreme pressure he’s applying to the case even as he moves his thumbs to probe for any weak point at all. Whatever it takes, he’s determined to make his case to gain the maximum amount of eyeballs for his controversial video. In this at least, he has proved to be wildly successful. As for his purported “scientific” effort, perhaps not.
One stock analyst, Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian J. White, views the decline of Apple’s stock today as a result of the iPhone’s two current issues as “an opportunity,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
‘With the release of an online video that demonstrates applying excessive force to a new iPhone 6 Plus can result in a bending phenomenon, a media blitz has ensued, and this has driven concerns around returns of the new iPhone. Described in the media as “bendgate,” we believe the concern around an average person bending an iPhone 6 Plus with typical everyday use is irrational,’ said White.
‘After taking both new iPhones for a spin at Apple’s Special Event, and again this week in Hong Kong, concerns with bending the iPhones never crossed our mind as both felt very durable. As such, we believe this concern offers investors an opportunity to take advantage of this media-hyped situation and participate in what we believe is the next super cycle for Apple.’
White also pointed out that several Asian data points predict that the new iPhones will sell like gangbusters in China, something that the latest negative frenzy is overlooking.
In a related item, Business Insider reports today that Apple is offering to selectively replace bent iPhone 6 Plus models. However, the article cites unidentified Genius Bar contacts as its source, not an authorized Apple spokesperson, so don’t go trying to trade in that bent iPhone just yet.
Futhermore, the Prudent Man has to question why anyone would abuse a fairly large device like the iPhone 6 Plus by sticking it in a pants pocket and then sitting on it. Even serial laptop and notebook computer users generally don’t subject these tools to such an absurd amount of stress. They are, after all, electronic devices, not baseballs.
Users can destroy almost any electronic device if they don’t at least take reasonable care of them. Why should roughhouse iPhone 6 Plus users treat these devices any different? No word, BTW, as to whether bending the iPhone 6 Plus out of shape also puts it out of commission, there’s been no word in any of the reports we’ve reviewed, a curious omission.
Our view: the iOS 8 mini-fiasco was a dumb mistake, likely caused by Apple’s rushing of its bug fix release. They should have learned what happens when you rush things bad a couple of years ago when the idiotically bad Apple maps app sent everyone back to Google Maps. But bug fixes to bug fixes are usually generated quickly and the next fix will likely put an end to this irritating but not uncommon OS issue.
Meanwhile, we’ll see how the #bendgate story—and Apple’s stock—play out over the next few days. We predict that neither issue will be enough to stem the tide of iPhone 6 new purchases and upgrades over the next few months, a cycle that is already achieving record-breaking numbers of new owners.