Since the iPhone 4 was released, there have been persistent reports of signal issues, especially when one held the phone a certain way. Early on, Steve Jobs himself seemed to blame the user by saying ‘you are holding it the wrong way.’ Since then, Apple acknowledged the issue and, today, they had a press conference to explain it all away and let the world know what it was going to do.
Now, before I go on, I have to say that the solution surprised me and kudos to Apple for doing so. Having said that, and after watching the press conference, I have to say it felt a bit disingenuous. Steve Jobs himself handled the conference and sounded a bit perturbed, a bit whiny and a bit humbled…all at the same time, though I have to think the perturbed Steve Jobs is what came out the most.
Jobs started out by saying that all smartphones have the problem. He then showed three videos of three good phones-he even said something similar to that, shocking in itself since he derided similar phones in the past. Each phone was shown being held the ‘wrong way’. Each, apparently, lost signal as the bars decreased. Personal aside: I tried holding my Palm Pre the same way and, surprisingly, my Pre exhibited the same behavior, though I don’t ever recall it dropping calls.
After the three videos, he went on to explain that Apple had spent $100 million dollars in testing facilities for iPhone. He also shared some statistics about return rate, complaints and dropped call info. I don’t have a problem with them presenting facts, I do have a problem with the sources cited. For the complaints, he cited AppleCare. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I had an iPhone and had reception issues, AppleCare would not be my first choice. I would be calling AT&T. He did not cite those numbers, and they are the ones that should matter the most.
Once the spin was complete, he announced what Apple was going to do. They are going to give everyone who purchased an iPhone and who will purchase one through Sept. 30, a free bumper or case. The user will have the choice of cases beginning next week. They will also refund anyone who purchased a bumper case from Apple. While this is a good start, they need to further address the problem. You should not have to worry about losing a call just because of the way you hold your phone.
While other phones may show decreasing signal, I have not read about any phone dropping calls because of the way it was held. Except iPhone 4. Apple is ‘working their butts off’ trying to solve the problem. The will reevaluate in September the need to continue the bumper/case program. They also said if you aren’t satisfied, bring your phone back for a full refund. All fees are being waived.
I’m sure the apologists will spin this into the greatest thing that Apple has ever done. While the curmudgeons-like me-will just poo poo it as disingenuous. Like I said, I applaud them for admitting a problem and then actually giving away a thirty dollar accessory (why are most of the accessories 29.95?) which is a lot more than I thought they would do. I do believe Jobs when he says ‘we just want our users to be happy.’ That is just good business. However, I have to believe that they weighed the cost of losing the thirty dollar accessory versus losing even one percent of the users. It was probably far cheaper to just give those cases away.
Jobs also acknowledged another issue with the devices: the proximity sensor does not work correctly for ‘a small percentage of users.’ That will be done in another software update.