iPhone 4 keynote plagued by high-tech Wi-Fi meltdown

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
An abundance of Wi-Fi hotspots inside the Moscone Center on Monday caused technical difficulties for Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, which resulted in some frustration for the showman, renowned for his usually polished presentations.



Jobs' keynote in San Francisco, Calif., came to a halt while he was attempting to show off the new, 326-pixel-per-inch display of the iPhone 4. As part of the presentation, Jobs attempted to go to the website of The New York Times to compare text readability, but the site wouldn't load.



"You know, you could help me out if you're on Wi-Fi, if you could just get off, I'd appreciate it," he said to laughter from the audience. "We're having a little problem here."



Unable to access any Web content, Jobs then pulled up photos on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS side-by-side to show off the screen improvements. But the chief executive was unsatisfied by the demonstration, which he felt did not adequately show off the new display.



Issues continued throughout the presentation, and Jobs revealed that there were 570 Wi-Fi base stations within the auditorium. Wi-Fi pollution occurs when there are too many wireless networks in an area, and the overlapping channels can cause slower speeds or dropped connections.



Jobs asked those in the audience liveblogging the event to turn off their base stations and put down their notebooks, though many refused.



"Wait, Steve is really asking everyone to stop liveblogging?" Ryan Block of gdgt wrote. "They're serious!"







"If you want to see the demos, there's no way to do it," Jobs said. "Set them on the floor."



Clayton Morris of Fox News, appearing live on the TWiT network after the keynote, said Apple employees began to come around the auditorium to ask people in attendance to turn off their devices.



"Yes, we're still here," Block wrote at the time in his liveblog of the event. "Sorry Steve."



Later in the presentation, Jobs was showing off the multitasking capabilities within iOS 4. As he streamed music and checked e-mail, he noted that he would "find out" if people in the audience had turned off their Wi-Fi devices. When the connection was successful, it earned cheers from the audience.



For his trademark "one more thing" at the end of the keynote, Jobs unveiled FaceTime, a new video chat service available over Wi-Fi for iPhone 4 owners. There, too, the connection stuttered, which inspired Jobs to complain about MiFi portable hotspots within the Moscone Center and note that the video chat "never" freezes up.



"I'm doing OK, except for these guys who aren't turning their Wi-Fi off," Jobs told designer Jony Ive through FaceTime. The irritated executive also remarked that Star Trek-style communicators, previously a creation of science fiction writers, are "real now, especially when people turn off their Wi-Fi."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 93
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Which demonstrates that there is nothing like a wire. Long live EtherNet.
  • Reply 2 of 93
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,127member
    Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.



    Love the new iPhone updates, just a shame that no other product lines were shown some love, 27" Cinema display, Apple TV, Mac Pro etc etc.
  • Reply 3 of 93
    mbsmdmbsmd Posts: 34member
    He shoulda pulled out his Verizon iPhone and tried again.
  • Reply 4 of 93
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post


    Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.



    Love the new iPhone updates, just a shame that no other product lines were shown some love, 27" Cinema display, Apple TV, Mac Pro etc etc.



    Did you not read the article? They had their own dedicated wifi connection. When you have 570 other networks operating in the same room it uses up all the available spectrum and leads to problems.
  • Reply 5 of 93
    mbsmdmbsmd Posts: 34member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saarek View Post


    Surprised they didn't get their own dedicated wifi connection for the demo rather than relying on the centres internet.



    I think it was more due to wifi pollution - too many hotspots in the same area competing for limited RF spectrum.
  • Reply 6 of 93
    kawaikawai Posts: 10member
    second that.
  • Reply 7 of 93
    \\Steve Jobs' inability to make the iPhone 4 work on the Wi-Fi network at MacWorld should come as no surprise. Trade shows are demanding network environments, typified by a high density of client devices concentrated in small areas, and high throughput requirements especially when video is being services. Consumer-class Wi-Fi networking gear- including AirPort Extremes - are not appropriate for these environments. Trade shows demand enterprise-class networks that include features like airtime fairness (prevents slower 802.11b devices from limiting network access by 802.11n devices such as iPhone 4), load-balancing (to ensure that no single access point is overwhelmed), band steering (to force high-speed 802.11n devices to operate in the faster 5GHz band instead of the congested 2.4GHz band), and overlapping access point coverage (so there's no chance of a single point of failure). Streaming video is particularly challenging for Wi-Fi networks, and requires that the network be aware that video traffic is present and then provision quality of service mechanisms to ensure reliable delivery. If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.
  • Reply 8 of 93
    chronsterchronster Posts: 1,894member
    Like really, is it SO hard to just disable your connection for a few minutes while he shows off some websites? FFS people.



    I'm not like some dork who was hallway monitor in school or something, but if Steve motherf**king Jobs tells you to take a break from live blogging so he can show off a feature of the latest iphone, YOU TAKE A BREAK.



    It's like when you're at the movies and they have that big 90 second long reminder to turn off cell phones, then halfway through someone's phone starts going off. They think it's their world and we're just living in it... "Sure Jobs just politely asked for everyone to turn off wifi for a few minutes, but that doesn't mean ME."
  • Reply 9 of 93
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,294member
    Ah well, Apple did not adequately plan for THAT inevitable risk/issue...



    Shows some of the problems with wireless in great population density.
  • Reply 10 of 93
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The irritated executive also remarked that Star Trek-style communicators, previously a creation of science fiction writers, are "real now"



    Somebody really should buy a license from Paramount to make and sell hardshell cases for the iPhone that look just like oversized communicators, complete with an app providing authentic sounds and a flip-up mesh screen protector. And while they're at it, how about an iPad case that looks like an oversized version of the original tricorders, with a narrow leather shoulder strap.
  • Reply 11 of 93
    drdbdrdb Posts: 99member
    It would have been funny if he'd just turned off all the wifi spots except his own special presentation one.
  • Reply 12 of 93
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I vote for Gizmodo using an RF jammer. It wouldn't be the first time they did a "prank" at a convention.
  • Reply 13 of 93
    dr millmossdr millmoss Posts: 5,403member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chronster View Post


    Like really, is it SO hard to just disable your connection for a few minutes while he shows off some websites? FFS people.



    I'm not like some dork who was hallway monitor in school or something, but if Steve motherf**king Jobs tells you to take a break from live blogging so he can show off a feature of the latest iphone, YOU TAKE A BREAK.



    It's like when you're at the movies and they have that big 90 second long reminder to turn off cell phones, then halfway through someone's phone starts going off. They think it's their world and we're just living in it... "Sure Jobs just politely asked for everyone to turn off wifi for a few minutes, but that doesn't mean ME."



    This is a classic example of basic human behavior. Game theory at work. If everyone has to give up something so that everyone will benefit, chances are nothing will happen since nobody wants to be the only person giving the thing up. See "the prisoner's dilemma," etc.
  • Reply 14 of 93
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    I read Google had this problem when introducing Google IO, Andy Ihnatko was poking fun at Google for their problems dealing with the crowd's WiFi devices.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mtennefoss View Post


    \\Steve Jobs' inability to make the iPhone 4 work on the Wi-Fi network at MacWorld should come as no surprise. Trade shows are demanding network environments, typified by a high density of client devices concentrated in small areas, and high throughput requirements especially when video is being services. Consumer-class Wi-Fi networking gear- including AirPort Extremes - are not appropriate for these environments. Trade shows demand enterprise-class networks that include features like airtime fairness (prevents slower 802.11b devices from limiting network access by 802.11n devices such as iPhone 4), load-balancing (to ensure that no single access point is overwhelmed), band steering (to force high-speed 802.11n devices to operate in the faster 5GHz band instead of the congested 2.4GHz band), and overlapping access point coverage (so there's no chance of a single point of failure). Streaming video is particularly challenging for Wi-Fi networks, and requires that the network be aware that video traffic is present and then provision quality of service mechanisms to ensure reliable delivery. If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.



    It's not just client devices here, it looks like the MiFi has gotten very popular with the crowd that would go to a dev conference. How well is that enterprise-class gear going to work when there are 500+ consumer grade portable access points in the mix too? That has to be an immense amount of EM pollution to deal with when the standard only allows for using a sliver of an RF band.



    It looks like Apple isn't supporting 5GHz band with their iPhone 4 WiFi.
  • Reply 15 of 93
    icebox_bricebox_br Posts: 18member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mtennefoss View Post


    If you want bulletproof performance, you need enterprise-class gear.



    You sound like a skilled wireless technician and I agree with everything you say, but...



    Even with a properly designed and implemented wireless network in place, nothing can save you from interference.



    Let's say they had a Cisco wireless-controller-based network in place. Even then, you can only have three non-overlapping channels in the 2.4GHz band and 19 in 5.2GHz band. So, you could have a total of 22 access points in that room without any problem.



    It's quite obvious that the number of access points in the room was far beyond that and co-channel interference was killing the networks. (EDIT: clarifying, the excess AP's were stuff like MiFi and ad-hoc networks operated by atendees.)



    Since the bandwidth is shared between devices connected to the same access point, most of the people (if not everybody) in there would be at the very basic rate: 1 megabit.



    Like one of the first posters said, long live wired Ethernet (Wi-Fi is Ethernet too), at least for the fixed stations.





    Cheers,

    Flavio
  • Reply 16 of 93
    formerarsgmformerarsgm Posts: 191member
    In my experience, this won't be an issue for the next presentation. Expect to see that mobile devices and MiFi will not be welcome in the auditorium. And can you blame Steve? It must have been frustrating when he couldn't demo a feature because who knows how many bloggers are providing feeds. My suggestion - much like the White House press corp, these sites need to proactively team together and approach Apple - offer a solution where 1 or 2 folks provide the feed for all.



    Or, Apple could provide their own feed!!! <--- novel idea, eh?
  • Reply 17 of 93
    lineyliney Posts: 10member
    It's Apple's own fault there's so much wireless traffic in the room. Cut out all of the live blogger's feeds to the outside world and all will be well again. And that can be done by WEBCASTING the keynotes like they used to.



    We all want to know what's going on, so If Apple lets us in via a webcast, we have no need for the live bloggers.
  • Reply 18 of 93
    wattsupwattsup Posts: 38member
    Couldn't they just have used an enhanced MicroCell which would have isolated them from complete reliance on WiFi? That could have given them reliable, several megabits per second downloads, fast enough for most of the demos. I guess one of the problems with AT&T's MicroCell is that the upload speeds are limited (in software) to something like 56Kbps, although I've seen test results up to 2Mbps for downloads.
  • Reply 19 of 93
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,240member
    Thou shalt turn off thy motherfucking wifi. Thus spake the prophet.
  • Reply 20 of 93
    dluxdlux Posts: 666member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It looks like Apple isn't supporting 5GHz band with their iPhone 4 WiFi.



    Pretty much: "802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi (802.11n 2.4GHz only)"



    http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html
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