Blog Post

iPhone 4 Press Event: You’re All Getting Cases

Apple (s aapl) today sent out the big guns (read: Steve Jobs) to disarm the potential PR disaster that is the iPhone 4’s highly publicized PR issues. It held a special press event, possibly the only one it’s ever had that hasn’t been a product announcement, to address the rising number of concerns and complaints, which culminated in Consumer Reports’ removal of its buy recommendation for the iPhone 4.

So what did Steve do to try to make things right for its users? Well, he actually took the advice of popular opinion on the Internet. Apple will be giving away free cases to all iPhone 4 customers. Even ones who’ve already bought cases. Starting late next week, you can fill out a form on Apple’s website to either request a new case, either a Bumper or one of Apple’s officially selected partner cases, or apply for a refund for your already-purchased case.

You can also get a full refund within 30 days of purchase if you’re not happy with the iPhone 4, or with the free case solution Apple’s offering to the problem. Regardless of your opinion of the iPhone 4, you have to admit, there isn’t much more it could do beyond that except for a full product recall, which would be costly, annoying to users, and arguably unnecessary, since the iPhone 4 isn’t actually dangerous.

Before Jobs announced what steps it was taking to remedy the problem, however, he went to great lengths to explain just why Apple is confident there really isn’t a problem to begin with. The rhetoric was clear: All our data says this isn’t anything unusual among smartphones, but we love you so much, we’re going to give you free stuff anyway! While some of this might have to do with Jobs’ inability to admit that his company can make a huge gaffe, it’s much more likely that Apple is preemptively trying to cover its tail in terms of legal liability. Suits will have a harder time sticking if people can’t demonstrate that it’s not a problem common to all smartphones.

Personally, I’m happy with what Apple did to remedy this situation, but I’m not thrilled about the way it went about it. The approach taken in the press conference today was incredibly defensive, and it’ll probably leave customers having real issues with the iPhone 4 feeling belittled and talked down to. Whatever the approach, at least Apple’s making good out of its own pocket. I know I’ll be buying an iPhone 4 when it comes to Canada again, even though I’d previously decided not to.

Other announcements at the event included a solid release date for the iPhone in the next 17 countries it will come to. That’ll be July 30, as many speculated. The white iPhone 4 is also on track for a late July release, presumably for all countries in which the iPhone 4 will be available.

16 Responses to “iPhone 4 Press Event: You’re All Getting Cases”

  1. Alejandro Perez

    I just realized has anybody ever thought that this could be AT&T problem, I live in mexico, and have never experiences problems with my 3G in reception but when I travel to the US it automatically uses roaming on AT&T towers and I have crappy reception there. Telcel IS the largest cellphone company in all latin america and is owned by Carlos Slim the Richest Man on Earth i could be that he gives better maintenance to his cel towers?

  2. I’ve been chomping at the bit for iSkin to release the revo for the iPhone 4. I certainly hope that it’s one of the partner cases Apple chooses. I am in that 1% that does have reception issues (I’m left-handed and hold the phone with my left hand – no problems when I hold it in my right hand but it feels unnatural and awkward). Otherwise, the iPhone 4 is flawless. If I can get a freebie iSkin case to solve my reception issues, I’ll be very happy indeed.

  3. “The only one that made an ass of himself is you on these comment boards. Watch the video at Apple’s site. Steve Jobs had command of the stage as he always does. He oozes with class in stark contrast with you troll.”

    +1. Well said. I watched the video on the Apple website last night (UK time) and I was very much impressed by how Jobs dealt with it. I own an iPhone 4, and have not once experienced the fabled ‘antennagate’ – even without a case on. As it is, I bought a Incipio Featherlite for my iPhone on the advice of a support man from Natwest (kudos to him, and to them in general) and I’m delighted with it. I don’t need a free case from Apple, but I’m impressed by the length their willing to go to (yes, 50cents a case. Multiply that by 3.something million case. And the third party ones won’t be that cheap. Plus; loss of retail with the cases, and refunds of $29/£25 per case already sold.)

    And I’m not an Apple fanboy. They do many things I disagree with. This isn’t one of them.

  4. ” an ass of himself.”

    The only one that made an ass of himself is you on these comment boards. Watch the video at Apple’s site. Steve Jobs had command of the stage as he always does. He oozes with class in stark contrast with you troll.

  5. yumjay

    Yeah, the issue was so insignificant that the company’s CEO had to set up a press conference, apologize to his customers and basically make an ass of himself.

  6. Alejandro Perez

    At least they do something about it. When was the las time Microsoft apologized for all the errors in Windows XXX? (fill in the blank) I thing it shows just how much apple cares about its mistakes and to if not completely at least try to solve them one way or another. AppleCare 100%

  7. “There was nothing “generous” about Apple’s offer. It gave away a 50 cent bumper and all the iGoofs fall for it?’

    Whatever those bumpers cost certainly reflects the magnitude of the real issue – namely that the issue is insignificant and has been totally blown out of proportion by know it nothings like you.

  8. I have no problems with my iPhone 4, and I will NOT be milking Apple for a free bumper. It was very generous of Apple to do something so unnecessary, and I will not be taking advantage of them and their kindness.

  9. “Personally, I’m happy with what Apple did to remedy this situation, but I’m not thrilled about the way it went about it. The approach taken in the press conference today was incredibly defensive, ”

    Were you there?
    are you basing your “defensive” on following the live blogs and the interpretation provided by the bloggers. My read of the blogs was that Jobs provided an engineering approach in discussing the issue, how few users are affected and how the Apple haters have blown this completely out of proportion.

    Were you there?

  10. Mohamed

    TAB, any ideas on a case that will work with the Apple iPhone 4 dock? I find it perplexing that Apple’s own bumper doesn’t work with the dock. Any cases out there (a la the Contour Design Flick) that are dock-compatible?

  11. Another thing–Jobs doesn’t have an “inability to admit when his company’s made a huge gaffe.” Apple didn’t make a gaffe. LESS THAN 1% OF THE USERS HAD THE PROBLEM. Clearly the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

    • Joshua

      “Less than 1% of the users had the problem”.
      No, Steve Jobs said less than 1% actually bothered to *call AppleCare about it*.

      God forbid those who don’t have AppleCare, those who don’t bother calling AppleCare, those who don’t care/notice (a lot of people don’t get the iPhone to make calls), or savvy users who know about the problem and don’t bother calling AppleCare because they know AppleCare can’t do anything about it.

      It’s people like you who let Apple get away with this. Apple does make really cool products which dominate the market quite well. I think Jobs let that get to his head.

      • Joshua, for the record, anybody can call AppleCare under their warranty…meaning every single person with an iPhone 4 could have called AppleCare about this and had any necessary work or replacements done under their warranty. So whether they purchased _extended_ AppleCare for the iPhone or not doesn’t matter here because _everyone_ has AppleCare for a full 12 months after purchase.

        Jobs can’t control users who are too lazy to call and say something is wrong with their product and frankly that’s not his problem.

  12. No. You can’t be the media and say that Apple’s denying that there is a real problem with its product, then when Apple admits they have a problem and says that they’re going to fix it say that their PR was ineffective. Apple just gave you data that proves something known for years: covering a smartphone’s antenna will reduce it’s reception. Saying that the approach taken today was “incredibly defensive” is ignorant–Apple is a company and if you don’t like their product you don’t have to buy it.

    Buyer beware.