The Silicon Valley Distortion Field

Friday was a busy day for me. I had two meetings in the morning surrounded by telephone calls, and then more calls in the afternoon. In total, I spent somewhere between 4 and 5 hours on the telephone, all on my iPhone 4. I had one dropped call but that is because I wandered into a dead spot near the couch in the family room, not because of the iPhone. At the end of all my phone calls, after using the phone for Internet connections and hours of calls, I still had 75% of my battery remaining.

The events of the last few weeks surrounding Apple’s iPhone 4 and the antenna problem have bordered on hysterical, at least if you are in the Silicon Valley distortion field. There are various distortion fields around the country — movie industry in LA, media in NYC, politics in Washington — but it seems over the past 15 years the Silicon Valley field has grown to rival these others in size and depth and influence.

Here’s the reality: no one cares about this problem except Silicon Valley and those of us who are connected to that world but live outside it. And I think this Valley distortion problem has gotten worse. A decade ago there were strong technology companies outside the Valley: Microsoft dominated the northwest, Dell dominated the south, IBM dominated the northeast. Sure, Apple, Oracle, Cisco and the bulk of companies were in the Valley but at least there were outside voices.

Now these three behemoths have faded in importance and Google, a Valley company, has risen in its place. As if the epicenter of tech activity wasn’t squarely in the Valley before, not it really is.

Watching Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, berate John Gruber of Daring Fireball and MG Siegler, a TechCrunch writer, on air brought this problem front-and-center for me. It seems to go like this: If it doesn’t pass mustard with the technorati in the Valley than, by God, it must be lousy technology. Unfortunately the screwy nature of the Valley is as likely to render good tech bad as bad tech good, at least in how the rest of the world views it.

Arrington, if you missed it (video here if you have 20 minutes to waste), road rough-shod over Siegler and Gruber again and again, proclaiming loudly that he can’t make a phone call with an iPhone 4 while in the heart of San Francisco, a place where you couldn’t make a phone call on ANY AT&T phone, period. The entire time he does this while holding a Sprint Android-based EVO, a device that Arrington uses and admits gets 20-25 minutes worth of battery life. Not exactly a strong leg to stand on there, Michael.

What the world really thinks of the iPhone 4:

  • Apple has sold 3 MILLION iPhone 4’s in three weeks.
  • Only 1.7% of those phones have been returned.
  • Apple has a 3 week wait, if you order an iPhone 4 today.

And Apple hasn’t even shipped the white iPhone 4 and will add 7 new countries in the next few weeks.

For some reason, I don’t think the antenna problem is as much an Apple weakness as a Valley one.

One thought on “The Silicon Valley Distortion Field

  1. I live in TN, and I’m an avid Android phone user and programmer. I don’t think I’m in the Distortion Field but I am in the same industry.

    The iPhone 4, in my opinion, does seem to have an issue specifically related to the innovative antenna design, but I think it is not nearly as big a deal as the original iPhone not having an app store.

    I think the antenna issue is about the same level as the iPhone not having copy and paste until recently.

    Is it a issue? yes. It is a deal breaker? no.

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