How to Turn a Bug into a Butterfly


Summer greetings, dear readers. Now that the heat waves have passed, it is a good time to return momentarily to the amazing world of software testing and defect control.

This summer I have followed the heated discussion around the antenna problems of the smart phone frontier. To be more exact, iPhone 4’s problem and its solution. As it happens, touching iPhone’s bottom right edge drops the bandwidth to non-existing levels, as you can see from the following video.

 

 

This is clearly a bug, which seems to have crept past several quality assurance levels, all the way from hw-testing to end user tests. A professionally handled testing process would not permit a bug such as this to pass. Not at Apple, not at elsewhere.

I declare that this particular bug was caught at exactly the right place in the product development life cycle. The bug reached markets because of defect control process. I have seen far too often when clear bugs get assessed and filed as “works as designed”.

People say that a bug is a feature. This is how it was meant to work!

Apple knows its marketing, though. Product demos are bursting with superlatives. The products are amazing and wonderful. In iPhone 4’s case, Apple has decided to fix the problem by handing free covers to all the people who reported the bug. When the cover is between the hand and the phone, the hand won’t be able to press down on the critical spot in the phone. By acting this way, one can read between the lines that:

We have acknowledged the bug, but we don’t know how to fix it. The bug is in the hardware.

Yet, the marketing message is more powerful:

We are human and we can make mistakes. We love our users and want to compensate our error by giving out free phone covers.

This is a good way to kindle sympathy and compassion in the end user. This is how a bug turned into a butterfly.

Yet, most of the time addressing a bug as a feature is a dangerous gamble. A gamble, which can endanger both your product’s reputation, and your company’s.

If your marketing does not function like they have it at Apple, think twice before you even attempt it.

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