Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but I wanted to briefly revisit Apple’s “Antenna-Gate” fiasco to drive home a very important lesson for companies of all shapes and sizes: Rely too heavily on “lab-testing” and you are virtually guaranteed to get burned.
We recently learned about Apple’s “Top Secret” design and testing lab thanks to MG Seigler of TechCrunch, who was given access to the state-of-the-art facilities just days before he mysteriously disappeared (kidding).
For some, the futuristic lab has conjured up images from the movie Star Gate, although I think it looks more like the Senate floor from Star Wars (episodes I through III). Here’s Seigler with a more technical description, as well as some insight into how Apple actually uses it:
Inside Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA, there are a collection of rooms that house 17 giant anechoic chambers. Basically, they’re rooms where no waves (sound or electromagnetic) can reflect off of anything, so there is absolutely no interference when it comes to wireless testing. Apple places their devices from iPhones to iPads in these chambers to ensure the performance is up to their standards.
So how do they test it? There are four stages. The first is a passive test to study the form factor of the device they want to create. The second stage is what Caballero calls the “junk in the trunk” stage. Apple puts the wireless components inside of the form factor and puts them in these chambers. The third part involves studying the device in one of these chambers but with human or dummy subjects. And the fourth part is a field test, done in vans that drive around various cities monitoring the device’s signal the entire time (both with real people and with dummies).
So where did Apple go wrong? And what can this controversy teach us about the difference between in-the-lab-testing vs. in-the-wild testing? Below the jump are four critical lessons that companies ignore at their own peril: