Why Apple Needs to Pay More Attention to Product Reliability

News Analysis: Reports of exploding iPhones, overheating batteries and hard drive noises are raising concerns about Apple's reputation for quality and reliability. The problems reported so far aren't enough to shake the confidence of Apple's fans. But such problems could end up spoiling even Apple's brand reputation if it doesn't improve product quality down the road.

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Exploding iPhones, overheating, Bluetooth problems, hard drive noises. What is going on at Apple? The company that provides a premium product at a premium price has experienced so many hardware issues over the past few weeks that it's becoming a real concern.
The iPhone 3GS is becoming a problem child for Apple. Multiple iPhone 3GS explosions have been reported around Europe, though Apple claims those explosions are isolated events. The iPhone 3GS is also overheating, causing discoloration. Even worse, its battery life isn't living up to Apple's promises.
Apple's troubles don't end there. On Aug. 19, Apple announced several fixes for its MacBook Pro. The Bluetooth Firmware Update 2.0.1 improves Bluetooth functionality for users who have experienced interaction issues between peripherals and their Macs. The Hard Drive Firmware Update 2.0 reduces the noise users have heard from the MacBook Pro's data storage disk. Apple said the noises were "infrequent" and they didn't cause harm. That said, the company did admit that the noises were annoying and needed to be addressed.
Although it's nice to see Apple addressing all these problems, it's difficult to see why users were forced to experience them in the first place. Apple provides premium products. It offers those premium products at a premium price. When users go to the store to buy a MacBook Pro or an iPhone, they expect a superb product for the amount of cash they need to lay out. They don't expect to deal with the various hardware issues that have cropped up during the past few weeks.
Admittedly, Apple isn't alone. Early adopters are all too aware of the perils that come with new hardware. When tech companies release products on the open market, those products sometimes haven't been tested as well as they could have been. Issues that the company missed stay in the final product. They're only witnessed when users start getting their hands on the respective devices. It's a common issue in the tech space. Apple isn't unique.
But exploding and overheating iPhones are serious problems. They're not simple design issues. They're not battery problems that can be easily fixed. They're not even loud hard drives. Explosions shouldn't happen once, let alone multiple times. And overheating can be extremely dangerous to the person holding the iPhone.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...