iPhone 4 Antenna problems, world of analog in a digital space

I last wrote a blog post on June 17, 2010, and I have tons of ideas to discuss, but sometimes it is easier to get back into writing by starting on an esoteric subject.

iPhone 4 antenna problems. 

Here is a post on Apple hiring 3 antenna engineers.

Three Apple job postings for iPhone / iPad antenna engineers to "Define and implement antenna system architecture to optimize the radiation performance for wireless portable devices." All three were posted on June 23rd, the same day that we started seeing widespread reporting of the left-handed reception issues. Coincidence?

and media is starting to cover Apple's discussion of known iPhone Antenna problems.

Leaked Docs Show Apple Knows About iPhone 4’s Flaws [REPORT]

According to documents leaked to Boy Genius Report today, AppleCare representatives are being given a strong company line to deliver to unhappy iPhone 4 owners who complain about reception issues.

Employees are told to say that the device’s reception performance “is the best we have ever shipped” and that itscritical antenna flaws are “a fact of life in the wireless world.” They are told not to perform service on iPhones with these problems and instead to give customers a PR-driven recitative instead.

In a nutshell, Apple knows the phone has problems but will insist that users are simply “holding it wrong.”

How can this happen?

Simple.  Being an engineer at Apple working on analog technologies is not sexy.

When I worked at Apple (1985 - 1992), part of time I worked with a team where analog was a big part of the job - Macintosh II and Mac Portable - Power supplies and CRT Monitors.  Some of these people had worked on the Apple II, original Mac and Lisa, and analog technologies were known as a must have skill to support the processing of bits.  Thinking about signal waveforms, shielding, testing, trade-offs, and FCC Part 15 class B and A certification was part of every product development.

In a world of digital, few think of analog engineers.  It is part of the communication problems between IT and the data center.  Data Center people have analog experts.  IT people can't see digital to analog issues.

But, there are a bunch of Apple people now learning about analog and antenna issues.

Can Apple make analog sexy?  No, but they've helped increase the visibility that analog engineers are a critical part of a digital system.