iPhone hysteria drives me round the bend


With reports that Apple iPhone 6 smartphones are bending, Ian White explains why all the noise made about it is proving to be too much

Islamic State hordes are at the gates of Baghdad, Ebola is rife in Africa, and Phones 4u has gone bust. Could there by any more distressing news?

There certainly could. It has emerged that if you take a large piece of aluminium and fold it with your hands – it bends.

Thus the world’s media and internet last week collectively lost their marbles after around nine people stuck their iPhone 6 Plus phones in their pants and bent over, proving that when a fat waistline meets a tight pocket there can only be one winner. And it’s not necessarily the phone.

And to prove what most of us who did basic physics already knew, aluminium is not the world’s hardest substance, a man with a beard made a YouTube video about it. He tries very hard to bend an iPhone 6 Plus and, lo and behold – it bent. Not in a mystical, Uri Geller, mentally-manipulated, melting-spoon kind of way.  More a tiny bit of distortion as he really tried to pull it apart. It remained intact, and certainly usable.

Last time I looked, around 18 million people had watched this video. That’s nearly five times the entire population of New Zealand. And very nearly as many sheep. The best coverage of the story came from satirical website “The Daily Mash” with the faux Apple statement:

“Anything bends if you f**k about with enough, says Apple.

“If you don’t want it to bend then don’t f**cking sit on it.

“How’s about that? Tell you what, shall we just put a sticker on the front that says ‘not for sitting on’? Would that help you f**ing idiots?”

The Mash’s made-up comedy story was probably what Apple’s real-life response should have been.

If Steve Jobs was still with us he would have doubtless laughed the whole thing off and told complainers, “You’re using the wrong type of pockets,” as rolling coverage from the mainstream media continued at an intensity not seen since 9/11 and a thousand gadget blogs expended millions of words and bandwidth telling us the bleedin’ obvious news that  aluminium casings are not as strong as steel.

This entire “Bendgate” (stupid name – nothing to do with a cover-up) started life as a small story and comment thread on the estimable Apple-fan website, MacRumors.

Within 24 hours it had gone global.

Sensible MacRumors commentators noted the iPhone 6 Plus is a fairly large device and that most users possessed of normal intellect would carry it in a shirt or jacket pocket.

However, it seems a couple of them  stuck the device into their tight jeans and bent over – with predictable results for their expensive new phablet.

This is nothing new. In pre-iPhone days, I cracked and bent a few phones in the same way.

It was my fault, not that of the design team. After a week or so of non-stop bendy iPhone coverage, the story shifted, with other websites doing more tests and revealing the iPhone 6 Plus is not such a wimp of a phone and is actually  “tougher than first thought”.

There is a reason for media hysteria about iPhones. Insert “new+iPhone+revealed” or “iPhone+problem” into your online output and marvel as Google’s search engine delivers undreamed of stats to your site in traffic, page views, viewing figures and readership.

Last week Google returned HALF A BILLION results for “iPhone+bend” (a problem Apple says has AFFECTED NINE PEOPLE). Meanwhile, “Galaxy+5+flimsy+plastic” garners just 351,000 Google results.

This only happens with the iPhone. News of other Apple products (iPad or MacBook Pro) barely registers a blip.

This is how tech blogging and journalism is now being driven by fanciful iPhone stories to inflate web traffic.  Like a body-builder injecting Human Growth Hormone, the effect is artificial.

Much as we’re tempted to drop an iPhone from an aeroplane and video the results, we’ll stick to real news.  We’d hate our reputation to get bent out of shape.