Apple’s iPhone 4 has the highest resolution for a smartphone and offers an easy method for wireless video calling, but it’s failing for some in a basic phone function — voice calling. The situation is causing outrage around the web and on Twitter: depending on who you ask, the innovative stainless-steel frame that doubles as an antenna is either the best or the worst feature. Apple claims the antenna offers the best reception ever, yet Consumer Reports testing confirms what many consumers are finding out firsthand: touching two specific parts of the frame simultaneously causes signal degradation.
Surprisingly, Apple isn’t handling this public relations challenge very well. Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly emailed a complaining customer saying, “Just avoid holding it that way.” And just prior to a holiday weekend — possibly in an attempt to bury attention — the company issued a press release pushing much of the blame on U.S. carrier partner AT&T (t). Apple claims that all iPhones have been incorrectly overstating signal strength and that a software fix will address the problem soon. Clearly, the software update will fix the visual problem, but it’s highly unlikely that the antenna problem will be affected.
At this point, the negative press shows no signs of abating over the iPhone 4 antenna issue and, for that reason, the fastest and simplest solution should be considered — Apple should simply offer a free bumper to every iPhone 4 customer. While Apple would lose out on the $29 sales of such items — and the high profit margin they likely involve — the company could negate the bad press and make things right with its customers. And the fact that Apple never made iPhone cases or bumpers before isn’t lost on me. I have to wonder when Apple actually realized the potential antenna issue.
Regardless of when the problem was determined, the peace offering of a bumper is far less damaging in the long term and is a better way to handle the situation than allegedly deleting mentions of the Consumer Reports findings in Apple support discussions or recalling the phone as some have suggested. For a company that’s built upon brand loyalty, Apple simply can’t afford to not offer free iPhone 4 bumpers.
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