Monday, October 15, 2012

SNL 'Tech Talk' skit points out who should really complain about the iPhone 5

A brand-new "Saturday Night Live" skit from Oct. 13 compares how the problems that iPhone 5 consumers to the problems faced by the Chinese workers who build the device. There is no contest.

The show's "Tech Talk" skit showed a mock talk show panel, hosted by Christina Applegate playing Caitlin Owens. Among the guests were CNET's "Josh Savage," Wired's "Adrienne Trerzoli," and Gizmodo's "Dennis Metcalf."

Owens asked the bloggers / reporters for their complaints about the iPhone 5.

Savage began the discussion by slamming the iPhone 5's easiest target (though it's really an iOS 6 issue): the new Apple Maps app. The Maps app has been a headache for many, and as we've covered here, it's so bad it's had a meme created for it and has even been called dangerous by the Irish Minister for Justice.

Then, Trerzoli brought up the "purple haze" or "purple flare" that some users have complained about in their photos. Apple recently acknowledged the issue, but said that it is something that happens to many cameras (not just the iPhone 5 and not even just phone cameras) when the user shoots photos with bright, out-of-scene light sources.

Finally, Gizmodo's Dennis Metcalf claimed the iPhone 5 was "... just too thin and too light. I mean, I know we asked for a phone that was lighter and thinner, but this is ridiculous. I mean, I feel like I'm holding three pieces of paper stapled together, not a smartphone."

He added that,

"Whoever built these iPhones, I don't know that they were thinking."

At that point, Owens declared that they should ask the people who built them that question (which elicited a nervous and blank look from Metcalf). A panel of three Chinese (Foxconn) factory workers appear on stage to offer their own opinions.

"Can I leave?" asked Metcalf, to which Owens answers, "No, you may not."

Savage then asked, "Can we withdraw all our earlier complaints?" to which Owens answered "Absolutely not, this is a trap."

To be frank, the Apple Maps problem cannot be attributed to Foxconn, as it's a software issue (including server software and data, naturally). However, it's that complaint, which was offered earlier by Savage, that Owens brought up to Mr. Chow.

He answered in an obviously sarcastic tone, "You want Starbucks, it take you to Dunkin' Donuts; that must be 'so' hard for you." To that a second worker added, "You want Macy; it take you to J.C. Penney. Oh (shaking head), how you deal with that?"

The third worker then added, "Oh, I guess we just lucky we don't need map, because we sleep where we work. But thank you for pointing out problem."

When Owens brought up a complaint about apps loading too slow, Mr. Chow said, "You can't play Angry Bird? I have an Angry Bird, too. A chicken at factory try to steal my lunch."

The second worker added, "Oh, Twitter go slow, you can't read Kardashian tweet about handbag? My brother have handbag, too. He lose hand, keep in bag until he can afford to reattach."

Owens then read a quote from C|Net attributed to Savage, which said "I can't believe I waited in line six hours for this piece of crap."

To that, Mr. Chow, who seemed to be the spokesperson, said that his co-worker waited 21 days in line for baby formula. He added, "Very similar, yeah."

The send-up was hilarious, but pointed out how spoiled not just the U.S., but other industrialized nations are. We complain about bugs in software when Foxconn workers sleep in communal housing where (as they said in the sketch) the best bug (best!) they can get is lice (once again, best).

When asked if they would like to complain about an American product, the Foxconn workers could not think of one that was still manufactured in the U.S. Mr. Chow asked, "Does diabetes count as a product? If not, we have to get back to you."

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