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Apple Speaks Up Over Snowballing iPhone 4 Concerns: Free Cases, No Recall

Apple can no longer stay quiet about claims that a faulty antenna structure is leading to more dropped calls and connection issues on the iPhone 4 and has gone on the offensive today in a last-minute press conference at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters. CEO Steve Jobs said the iPhone 4 is perhaps the best product we’ve ever made at Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). We’ve sold well over three million since we launched it three weeks ago.

Is it too late?

Besides a bizarre statement about how a software glitch led to artificially high number of bars being displayed on a phone’s screen, Apple’s kept tight-lipped about criticism that has come from the likes of Consumer Reports. This could go down in history as Apple’s major flub that gives its competitors, such as Android, a window to pull significantly ahead of the pack.

Given the late notice about the press conference, we decided to stay at home for this one. Live blogs from Engadget and Gdgt are doing a great job on keeping up with what’s going on right now. As some reports have suggested, Jobs is admitting the company knew that if you gripped it in a certain way the bars would go down a little. He’s saying that they aren’t perfect, but that no one else is either. He uses a BlackBerry and an HTC device to show how if you hold them in certain ways, the number of bars drop as well.

Apple is trying extremely hard to downplay the issue and is hoping it all blows over. Conceding some problems, they will give everyone a free case starting late next week. Jobs says it

4 Responses to “Apple Speaks Up Over Snowballing iPhone 4 Concerns: Free Cases, No Recall”

  1. justme

    I think this is less about Apple falling to earth, and more about Apple finally running into the reality that is mobile phone production. Sure other phones have some of these issues – but they are also not positioned as the next coming of all things great and good – a message delivered in the most obnoxious “our way or the highway” fashion. Other phone manufacturers push out dozens of phone models a quarter so issues with their equipment are less relevant or noticeable than a company who pushes out one mega-anticipated device every 6-12 months.

    Mobile phone production is also very different from Apple’s core business of computing. Consumers expect and tolerate glitches and issues with computer equipment. They do not with mobile phones where every reboot, every call drop continually reinforces a negative image. I suspect Apple seriously underestimated this reality when it approached this problem from their pre-existing consumer management position.

    Lastly – making mobile phones that work well in today’s world is actually quite difficult. Many companies are great at certain things (Motorola makes the best radios/antennas in the industry for example) but few combine all aspects you need today to be successful for the long haul: great design, excellent functionality, a great OS, a well populated, consumer-friendly store, display, haptics, etc. etc. Nobody can nail all of this – and the part that Apple has consistently failed at, is building a device that makes great phone-calls. That was never a priority, and frankly, that hasn’t hurt them.

  2. contentnext

    I can’t see how Apple really failed on this. I personally still can’t recreate the problem even when I was on the coast of Oregon in what has typically been a bad reception area for me. And I’m not alone there.

    I think Jobs called it in that it’s just more obvious an issue on this phone versus others because the spot to attenuate the antenna actually has a mark on it basically showing you exactly where to push. And then combine that with typical Apple product hysteria and you have this completely blown out of proportion issue.

    Does the issue exist? Obviously it does. You can watch it happening on multiple Youtube videos. But then you can watch it happen on Youtube with other phones too. Even other bestsellers like BB phones. Are we expecting Rim to hold a press conference over it and recall every phone they’ve ever made?

    And, Apple is offering to take back your phone for a full refund if you still are convinced the problem is unsolvable for you. I fail to see the failure in their response. If it doesn’t work for you, take it back.

  3. frankz00

    The biggest tell in this fraud of an issue is that no one is really returning these so-called “broken” phones. I’m glad Steve called their bluff. I own one and have had no difference in reception from the 3G. Other owners I know aren’t having issues either. The nerd frenzy is overblown!