Manufacturing flaws in early production happen to everyone sometimes. The company previously known as RIM has the resources to iron out the process for the next batch. The instability was likely caused by the defect so a proper review was not possible. It's still embarrassing as hell.
Have the afflicted tried the IT Crowd solution: Have you tried turning it off and on again?
A couple of times, over years and different iPhones, I came across similar behavior which power cycling fixed. Could have been any random combination of OS behavior and apps, but nothing frequent or predictable.
It's 100% the result of actions by market participants, for better or worse, reasonable or emotionally driven. Call it manipulation if it makes you feel better. If you have evidence of actual crimes, please forward that to the authorities. I have a hard time believing in wide conspiracies for a stock under as much scrutiny as AAPL.
Your opinion on "behind" seems to boil down to Android does some things differently or includes features of questionable value (NFC). I assume from your opinion you prefer the Android way. It's like saying the iPhone is "behind" because it does not have a 5" screen. If you do want a 5" screen, then Apple is certainly "behind" in that sense.
It will be interesting to see the results of the competing forces. On one hand you have the usual strategy of drowning the company with debt used to pay back investors with a profit. On the other you have Microsoft looking for another captive "partner" like Nokia.
Samsung knows this could be interpreted as a swipe at Apple and that is intentional. Like Samsung's previous commercials trying to tag Apple products as "for old people", the focus of the advertising is someone else's products instead of Samsung's. Maybe that's effective for everybody, nobody, who knows?