“Some area residents who stood in long lines last week to be among the first buyers of Apple Inc.’s new iPhone 4 might soon be lumped into another group: plaintiffs,” Mark Glover reports for The Sacramento Bee.
“The Sacramento law firm of Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff LLP is soliciting feedback from consumers who have had reception problems with Apple’s sleeker, more-powerful, fourth-generation iPhone, which rang up unit sales of 1.7 million in three days,” Glover reports. “Firm attorney J.R. Parker would not comment on online speculation that a lawsuit is being planned and declined to use the words ‘class action suit’ in a phone interview. Instead, he said: ‘We are looking to see what problems people are having with their iPhones. We are looking to see what remedies may be available to consumers.'”
“Since the phone went on sale last Thursday, some buyers have reported weak signals or dropped calls as a result of holding the phone a certain way in their hands,” Glover reports. “Apple cited a stainless steel band around the sides of the phone. The band contributes structural integrity, but also serves as an antenna. Cupertino-based Apple has advised users to hold the phone in a way that doesn’t block the band or to buy a ‘bumper’ case, starting at about $30.”
“Angry consumers have lit up message boards on some websites, criticizing Apple’s recommended fixes for a new phone that costs $199 for a 16-gigabyte model,” Glover reports. “Parker said he understands public frustration:’You’re holding it the wrong way… I don’t think that’s an acceptable response. And spending $30 for this rubber bumper has upset (consumers).”
Read more in the full article here.
Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff’s online statement reads, verbatim:
Our Statement about the iPhone 4 Investigation
Apple is, without question, one of the most sophisticated and successful consumer electronics companies in the world. Since Apple entered the retail smartphone market and introduced the iPhone in 2007, it has seen ever-increasing financial success. People really want iPhones.
We think that the iPhone 4 is a remarkable device. But it is inherently flawed.
When the iPhone 4 was officially announced on June 7, 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the public that the new design for the iPhone 4’s antenna would provide better reception than previous versions of the iPhone. The new iPhone features a metal antenna that encircles the entire outside edge of the phone, but it turns out that this antenna often does not provide better reception. Touching the antenna with your hand will limit its effectiveness, making it difficult for the phone to send and receive data and phone calls.
There also appears to be evidence that this issue was known to Apple before the iPhone 4 was released, and was the subject of internal debate between engineers and industrial designers at the company.
Most disturbing, however, has been Apple’s reaction: tell customers that it is a “non-issue”, that customers should hold the phone differently, or they should pay $29 for a rubber case (or “bumper”) that Apple is selling (which is the first time Apple has ever sold its own case for the iPhone, as opposed to a case produced by a third-party). This is the party line from Steve Jobs down to Apple customer support.
So consumers appear to be left with a phone that has a significant design flaw, which the company was aware of prior to launch and never disclosed to the 1.7 million people who purchased the phone — namely, a phone that does not work very well when you hold it in your hand. At present, consumers’ only remedies are to pay for a case that may fix this problem and make their phones usable, on top of the premium they are already paying for the phone, or to return their phones and pay a 10% restocking fee (or more). We are looking to see what other remedies may be available.
More info here.