Tip #150: Your bad network is not my problem

Steve Jobs to bloggers: Shut it down, we need your WiFi. Credit: James Martin/CNET

Our reporters just got back from the WWDC Stevenote. They say that when Steve Jobs said, “All you bloggers need to turn off your notebooks,” to free up WiFi bandwidth, Apple PR reps aggressively demanded that reporters comply.

This is not how the press works, people. You don’t get to shut us down to make your demos work better.

And not like it should play a part in this conversation, but I’ll say it anyway:  No reporter worth his or her paycheck relies on either public WiFi nor AT&T’s pathetic data network to cover events that matter. We have EVDO (Verizon or Sprint) for that. You don’t own those. And you don’t own us.

See CNET Reporter Erica Ogg’s story, Even Steve Jobs has demo hiccups.


Filed under Common sense

18 responses to “Tip #150: Your bad network is not my problem

  1. Joe

    Oh here we go again Rafe, it’s big bad Apple oppressing the people of the free and civilised world.

    ” You don’t get to shut us down to make your demos work better.”

    Shut [the Press] down! Are you for real. No, Apple did not “shut down” the press, they “demanded” the people and journalist within audience to shut down their wifi devices during the demo so Jobs can show you what he had planed.

    This is not shutting down the press!

    Secondly it’s not like the “journalists” couldn’t have written what went on while the wifi were down right after the demo.

    But no, you have to go on as usual make some bull cra9 up about Apple like you always do. Because you’re biased against Apple blinds you of any reasoning.

    Oh, an can you PLEASE learn the difference between ‘Open Standards’ and ‘Open Source’. Because then you will realise what Apple means when they say they are “Open” and you won’t have to keep banging on about how they are not ‘Open Source’.

    It’s not Apple’s fault your too intellectually challenged to understand the difference. Also the reason you couldn’t get your head round when Apple said they’ll make FaceTime an Open Standard.

    • Travis Reitter


      As someone who’s done a number of software presentations (almost always including demos), I know it’s completely on the presenter to sort out network issues ahead of time.

      Need to access a server? Run one locally.

      Can’t run it locally? Video record the demo and be done with it.

      It’s cool to be able to do a fully-live demo, but you’re running a number of unnecessary risks, and sometimes they bite you.

    • WeibDeutschr

      Well said… people dont start crying when they see signs saying “No Flash Photography” or whatnot during a presentation…maybe because it interrupts the demo?…Hmm… I see a trend here… Eliminating things that ruin a demonstration… maybe this is a forth-coming sign we will start seeing if this gets out of hand…

  2. “No reporter worth his or her paycheck relies on either public WiFi nor AT&T’s pathetic data network to cover events that matter. We have EVDO (Verizon or Sprint) for that. You don’t own those. And you don’t own us.”

    That’s fine, Rafe, but so many of us access those networks via MiFi mini-routers that create their own WiFi networks — that’s part of the congestion problem.

  3. Jive Turkey

    I’m curious to know, are Mi-Fi routers really that common? I’ve never even seen one, although I’m not in the right industry or country for them to be common. Also, how many other people in the room had Wi-Fi connection issues? Was it just the demo Iphone?

  4. William

    “This is not how the press works, people. You don’t get to shut us down to make your demos work better.”

    *cue dramatic, evil music*

    Yes, because asking you to temporarily free up bandwidth so he could make a demonstration is “shutting down the press.” People were at his demonstration of his product and hogging bandwidth. So, temporarily, you were asked to back off a little. Big freakin’ deal.

    *cue new dramatic, but hero fighting the villain theme*

    “You don’t own those. And you don’t own us.”

    Get over yourself.

  5. Tony

    I do wish people would get their facts straight. Even if Apple did set up their own wireless network (I’m sure they did) this problem occurred because the bandwidth was saturated.

    500+ base stations, all attempting to create wireless networks will use up all the available channels and then try to “share” channels with other base stations. Devices figure out which network they want to be on using the SSID (Eg “attwireless, tmobile etc. as you would see in Starbucks.) But once they have the SSID they are then at the mercy of how much time sliced air time they can get. With 500+ devices there isn’t enough available and you start to get problems. There’s no way for Apple, or anyone else for that matter, to sort out that problem other than making some of the base stations go away.

    Of course, there is ONE thing that would have helped… Most people were using wireless routers that then hopped onto the cell networks. If tethering were allowed they wouldn’t NEED to use Wifi bandwidth to get on the cell networks… Hearing this AT&T? :)

  6. Keith

    I don’t understand why you are so angry about Steve Jobs asking the audience to turn off their devices for a few minutes so he could finish his demonstration. Need you kick up such a big fuss over a few minutes without an Internet connection?

    He needed the bandwidth to do his demo and the audience was taking it all up. He requested for some bandwidth to be freed up so he could get the demo underway. Let me point out also that if the audience refused to turn off their devices, Steve Jobs would not have been able to conduct the demo and the audience would have missed that part of the presentation. Who misses out, Steve Jobs or all the reporters hungry for the latest scoop?

    This angry post is totally unwarranted, and it does not reflect well on you, Rafe. At all.

    • Unfortunately, covering an Apple keynote in real-time is a highly competitive and lucrative event for news organizations and bloggers. Asking writers to shut down is asking them to give up pageviews, money, and the competitive advantage to others who do not. Also, a demo failure at an Apple keynote is news unto itself. It is similar — not identical, but similar — to a newsmaker asking reporters to put their cameras away when he or she doesn’t like the way the news is going.

      I maintain that demonstrators should have their own private networks for shows like this, and that it is up to them to solve the technical problems of creating such a network. And yes, I understand that it’s a non-trivial challenge to do so when there are 500+ hotspots set up by MiFi users in the house. But the iPhones Jobs used during his demo weren’t exactly stock: they were hard-wired to the video system. Why couldn’t his engineers run network over those wires as well?

  7. Apple apologists aside for the moment, the real embarrassment was that Jobs had to nerve to pick on Google for having to ask people to shut down their Wi-Fi at I/O and then has to return and do the same.

    A private wireless-N router could have solved this since many of those devices were all running on 802.11g on a different band.

    But of course it is easier for the minions to believe that The Apple Gods are never wrong.

  8. The clear solution to this problem is to ban Mi-Fi’s and similar devices for future keynotes, instead providing a high quality free public wi-fi network for attendees and another high quality closed wi-fi network for the presenters. Reporters can still use GSM or CDMA sticks/cards if they like, that should be fine, but unfortunately the wi-fi spec doesn’t suddenly allow for more then 11 or so channels on 2.4 GHz just to allow for good PR.

    • That sounds like a reasonable compromise. As a journalist, I’d accept a ban on mobile hotspots if there were reliable and fast-enough WiFi provided by the venue host. But I’d have an EVDO device of some sort with me as backup, in case the WiFi were to fail or to be shut down during the demo for any reason.

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  10. Reebert

    Soooo, here’s what I’m reading into all of this. An utterly arrogant CEO of a iron fisted, multi-BILLION dollar company does a presentation that they know will be seen by millions of people….and they don’t have a back up plan in case there’s a glitch? Wow, that -IS- arrogancy at its finest, if not just flat out stupidity.

    Maybe he should’ve called India for some tech support and resumed his demo after he got a ticket number.

  11. Aly

    What I want to know is how did the PR reps aggressively try get you all to shut down? Did they walk up and down the aisles like flight attendants telling you to turn off your electronics?

  12. Pingback: Tip #150 (FROM PRO PR TIPS) : Your bad network is not my problem !

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