Steve Jobs: There's No iPhone "Antenna-Gate," But Here's a Free Case

By Joseph Calamia | July 16, 2010 5:10 pm

iphone4Earlier today on Apple’s Cupertino campus, Steve Jobs held a press conference regarding the iPhone 4 reception saga, which he said is not “antenna-gate.”  The overall gist: Jobs says the iPhone 4’s reception isn’t perfect, but not any worse than other phone’s, and Apple will give out a free “bumper” case to iPhone 4 phone buyers.

The cases are meant to reduce the dropped reception problem that can occur if a person’s hand covers a crucial bit of the antenna. The bumpers will be free until September 30th, and buyers can return their phones for a refund if still unhappy.

We’ve rounded up opinions of Jobs’ conference, which you can catch a video of through Apple’s site, here.

Jobs started the meeting by showing other phones (BlackBerry Bold, Droid Eris…) also dropping signal strength depending on how they’re held. But some think that comparing the iPhone 4 to other devices isn’t a valid excuse when you have a brand built on exclusivity (and expense).

It didn’t matter whether Jobs thought complaints about the reception problem were overblown. Nor did it matter if other phones had similar problems–if you set yourself up as a premium brand generating fanatical loyalty, the last thing you want to do is say “but others have the same glitch.” [Computer World]

Others think Jobs kept his cool in a situation that might have had some executives pressing the recall button, a reflex that will at least make investors happy.

Journalists are howling. Customers are complaining. Late night comics are cracking wise. Drama, however is Apple Chief Steve Jobs’ thing. . . . The master showman didn’t flub any of his lines Friday as he sought to reframe the discussion about problems with the new iPhone’s antenna, which wraps along the outside edge of the phone to form an integral part of the smart phone’s shell. [Forbes]

If the phone is no worse than others, then why the apparent reception debacle? Jobs implies that it’s a matter of perception; in part, the phone has gotten too much bad press and not enough cases (which improve reception). But if the dropped call ratio is in fact worse than the previous 3G model (Job says less than 1 more dropped call per 100), some argue, you can’t blame the phone’s problems all on image.

Like Mark Twain’s death, reports of the iPhone 4’s reception problems have been greatly exaggerated, Jobs insisted. A mere 0.55 per cent of iPhone 4 users have called AppleCare about reception problems, he said. Only 1.7 per cent have returned their phones, under a third of the six per cent returns of its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS. That 1.7 per cent, by the way, apparently didn’t include the unfortunate phone of TV talk-show [the View] host Whoopi Goldberg, who instead “murdered” her malfunctioning iPhone 4, according to CNET. [The Register]

Though originally some customers called for nothing short of a recall, Andy Ihnatko at the Chicago Sun-Times empathizes with Apple, defending the device which he happily purchased after testing, despite knowing that it “sporadically” lost its reception.

It’s a demonstrable and repeatable problem, but mostly it’s being experienced by people who are actively trying to make it happen … folks like me, who write about technology and review new hardware. “There’s yet to be any video of a baby dolphin coated in spilled iPhone 4’s, adorably drowning,” I said in a morning blog post. So in the end, it was the trickiest kind of PR problem imaginable: the kind in which the company can do way more damage by responding poorly than they might by simply letting events take their course. A massive recall of the iPhone 4 would have heaved the phone on the scrapheap next to the G4 Cube, a desktop Mac design that was just as innovative as the new iPhone, but which was never heard from again. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Do you have an iPhone 4? Did you see Jobs’ speech? What are your thoughts on Apple’s response?

Related content:
80beats: The iPhone 4: Snappy Visuals and Shiny New Video Chats
Discoblog: Lefties Cry Discrimination Over iPhone’s Faulty Antenna
Discoblog: Shoot it, Blend it, Burn it: 3 Ways to Destroy Your iPhone 4
Bad Astronomy: Resolving the iPhone Resolution

Image: flickr / William Hook


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