“Apple Inc. said Wednesday that it will hold a news conference Friday concerning its iPhone 4, which is facing mounting criticism over reception problems tied to antenna design,” Yukari Iwatani Kane reports for The Wall Street Journal. “An Apple spokesman declined to give further details, including whether the conference will address reported reception problems or Apple’s response to those problems. Apple plans to hold the conference at its headquarters, the spokesman said.”
“Apple watchers speculated that the company will offer a solution,” Kane reports. “‘Given the intense pressure and scrutiny Apple has come under on the problem with the iPhone 4, it’s going to be about some kind of fix or compensation for the owners of the phone,’ speculated Ed Snyder, an analyst with Charter Equity Research.”
“Even as the phone has continued to sell well at stores, it has been plagued with user complaints about dropped calls when the phone is held in a way that covers part of the antenna,” Kane reports. “Antenna-design experts have said that the phone design, while cutting-edge, was risky because it exposes the antenna to touch. While this problem can occur in all mobile phone devices, the design of the iPhone 4 makes it more susceptible than others.”
“What started out as a small number of users complaining about reception has now ballooned into a full-scale public-relations issue, potentially threatening to hurt the brand image Apple has so carefully built up,’ Kane reports. “Apple’s ability to maintain the brand image it has worked to hard to build will depend on how it addresses the issue going forward, said Allen Adamson, managing director for Landor Associates, a branding firm. ‘If they bury their heads in the sand, and don’t engage in conversation and act in an arrogant way they’re going to erode a bit of their brand,’ he said.”
Kane reports “A recall of the device is unlikely, because since the problem doesn’t affect safety and only occurs for some users in certain situations. But financial analysts said Apple could give away its $29 rubber ‘bumper’ case, which they said would solve the antenna reception problem. Analysts estimate that such action would cost Apple $1 to $5 a phone.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: A few points:
• If those Bumper cases are costing Apple $5 each, they need to renegotiate with their Chinese supplier(s).
• Apple needs to act because at least some (maybe all) iPhone 4 units can clearly be attenuated by placing a thumb or part of your hand over the lower left “gap” – especially in low signal coverage areas (where you can knock the iPhone 4 off AT&T’s oh-so-luscious network with your thumb). Place your thumb over the iPhone 4’s gap, wait 20 seconds or so and watch the bars. According to many reports, iOS 4.1 beta changes the signal bars display. It does not, of course, remove the ability to attenuate with your thumb. The negative PR debacle won’t stop until Apple provides adequate perceived recompense. Better than adequate recompense might even generate net positive PR for Apple after all is said and, most importantly, done.
• iPhone 4 does not attenuate in the same manner with an Apple Bumper case. We’ve tried multiple iPhone 4 units in Bumpers with all available iOS versions and cannot knock it off the network with the same thumb or hand placement as on a naked iPhone 4.
• As we’ve been saying throughout: If the iPhone requires a Bumper or some addition to the unit in order to operate normally when held in the hand, then Apple should provide a means for iPhone 4 owners to acquire said solution free of charge. Customers bought iPhone 4 units with the assumption that they would work when held in the hand; especially as Apple’s many promotional and demo videos, TV commercials, and their CEO have demonstrated holding the iPhone 4 in ways that cause attenuation on iPhone 4 units.
• Customers who have already purchased cases for their iPhone 4 units should be offered Apple Store credit or a rebate from Apple. We’ll see if Apple goes that far, as some people obviously bought cases for other reasons (cosmetics, protection, etc.), they might have an issue with the concept of paying for Paris Hilton’s Swarovski-encrusted iPhone 4 case.
• Apple should explore a hardware revision for future iPhone 4 units; clear non-conductive coatings, etc.
• There is no need for a recall. Apple’s iPhone 4 is the best smartphone on the market, bar none.
• If and when Apple does right by their iPhone 4 customers, the unscrupulous can start looking for another issue to overhype for their short and distort schemes.