Fair enough, still a pretty big boner on their part at the time.
It was a fairly surprising mistake: Apple has an extensive RF testing facility precisely to test those sort of things. I suppose they assumed people would hold it a different way and it slipped their minds that hands might bridge two antennas.
I just don't see it in the hardware design of the iPhone though. It's a brick, very clean lines, but a glass back? That's like covering a phone in contact explosive and saying, "Well just don't drop it and you'll be fine." They finally dropped it with the iPhone 5, but now the anodized aluminum is having scratch issues. A nice high impact plastic or carbon fiber if they wanted to be very fancy, would have been the smarter choice.
Apple doesn't want to be "fancy". They like minimalist modernism in their design and with minimal weight. Their present unibody construction pretty much demands use of aluminum - which has the tradeoff of anodizing scratches, as you note. Glass was an interesting and good-looking choice that, unfortunately, did not stand up to every day use.
That's not say other materials are no good, but I can't see Apple using them. Nokia's use of colored polycarbonate is quite striking, for example.
And just now, in their sixth itteration are they realizing they've made the most uncomfortable headphones possible. Then there's the form based choice to have the sound come out a tiny speaker right next to the dock connector. Means you can't hear anything if it's dropped into an upright charger. Did Steve Jobs hate speaker grilles that much? I have full stero on my HD7, above and below the screen, and had they painted them black instead of left them unpainted you'd never notice them.
They probably figure that if you're going to put it in a dock you'll use proper speakers (alarm dock, line-out, bluetooth, airplay, whatever).
And finally the sheer criminality of not having an end user replaceable battery. Just flat out design arrogance. Ending is better than mending, indeed.
No, that's a design tradeoff. A non-user-replaceable battery has greater capacity and lighter weight than one that needs the structure for user handling (both battery and receiving connector). On their laptops, Apple got something like a 40% increase in available volume on the same case (early unibody MacBook Pro vs. later versions). And you can get Apple to swap the battery, anyways!