Apple Goes On The Offensive Over iPhone

Apple Inc. shoots down two of the biggest criticisms of its upcoming iPhone, and does so with gusto! Not an easy trick since the iPhone is still almost two weeks away.

But that hasn't stopped critics and pundits from taking on the technology inside what some are calling the "Jesus Phone" because of the universal hype surrounding the product. A kind of "Second Coming" for technology brought to us by the High Lord of Cupertino. Well, you get the gist.

Nonetheless, the two biggest criticisms swirling around the iPhone are battery life and screen durability. There were reports a couple of months ago that battery life was next to nothing. The story gained momentum after tech pundit John C. Dvorak made an appearance on the incredibly popular podcast "This Week in Technology" (TWIT) hosted by my former TechTV colleague Leo Laporte (Hey Leo!) and said--he had spoken to someone who tested the iPhone and told him that it only had four hours of talk time. Critics were off to the races. Four hours of talk time? That would be disastrous. Who was Dvorak's source? We don't know. He never said. I think he referred to him as "some guy." Ugh.

Critique #2: That because the iPhone featured a 3.5 inch touch screen with no keypad, that if anything happened to the screen, you'd be dead in the water. Same could be said for your BlackBerry or Treo too, but that hasn't stopped the critics from going after this "design flaw." Maybe they're building on the knocks on the early iPods, which did suffer the problem of easy-scratch screens that led to a torrent of customer complaints. The worry was that iPhone would feature the same kind of lack of durability.

So, that's the background that leads us to this morning and a surprising press release from Apple. Apple typically doesn't answer critics; choosing instead to let its products speak for themselves. But, the company releases a statement this morning not just answering those criticisms, but obliterating them.

The company announced significantly longer battery life that experts had expected: up to 8 hours of talk time, 6 hours of internet use, 7 hours of video playback and 24 hours of audio playback. Not to mention the 250 hours of standby time.

As far as the screen is concerned, the company has upgraded from plastic to optical quality glass that Apple says will "achieve a superior level of scratch resistance and optical clarity."

"With 8 hours of talk time, and 24 hours of audio playback, iPhone's battery life is longer than any other 'smart phone,' and even longer than most MP3 players," says Steve Jobs in the statement. "We've also upgraded iPhone's entire top surface from plastic to optical-quality glass for superior scratch resistance and clarity. There has never been a phone like iPhone, and we can't wait to this truly magical product into the hands of customers starting just 11 days from today."

(In a separate post, I'll examine the risks and rewards facing Apple as the company prepares to release what some call the most important product Apple's history. This may not be the slam dunk you think it is.)

But nonetheless, Apple is on the offensive. And it's about time. The company has been playing this game of hide and seek with this product, constantly pumping up expectations, and fueling the rumor mills. At some point, the criticisms for this product (from so many people who have never even held one!) reached a kind of fever pitch and Apple responded.

And so has the company's stock. Check out the action in these shares, once again knocking up against an all-time high. This is going to be a fascinating 11 days until iPhone's release. Strap in for what could be a rocket ship ride.

Questions? Comments?