Despite the calls for a recall of Apple’s newest smartphone, the iPhone 4, Steve Jobs had this to say to all of the people who have bought the device, and to those who have critiqued it: “There is no Antennagate”.
Over the course of a 40 minute press conference today at Apple’s headquarters in California, Jobs outlined what he and his team believe to be the issue with the iPhone 4 after analyzing all of the available data. The bottom line: there is no issue.
Or at least, there is an issue, but it’s the same issue that plagues all smartphone – an assertion that Jobs backed up by playing demonstration videos of 3 competing handsets from 3 different manufacturers with 3 different mobile operating systems. Each handset appeared to exhibit the same drop in signal as the iPhone 4 when gripped a certain way.
He reinforced this point with some other facts relating to customer experience:
- Only .55% of all iPhone 4 customers have called Apple to complain about the phone’s reception. That’s less than a percent.
- In the period that the iPhone 4 has been available, AT&T has received 1/3 of the returns that they experienced with the iPhone 3GS during the same period
- The iPhone 4 drops 1 more call per 100 than the iPhone 3GS
Though Jobs acknowledged that this last point was not acceptable to him, he shared a theory (not backed up by any data) as to why it it’s happening: Many more people who bought iPhone 3GS’s walked out of the store with a case designed to fit the phone. Since putting an iPhone 4 in a case effectively solves the reception problem, he believes that this data point has more to do with case use, than with any inherent flaw in the iPhone 4’s design vs. the 3GS.
He further acknowledged that given some of the data available to them, there must be a problem, but it only appears to affect a very small percentage of users.
At the end, Jobs provided the one measure that Apple was prepared to take in order to address an issue that they essentially feel isn’t an issue at all. Until September 30th, all iPhone 4 buyers can received a free case that will be sent to them if they order it from Apple’s website. The free cases will not be available at retail. People who have already bought Apple bumpers will get a refund.
Jobs finished his explanation with a sort of “Stop picking on us” rant. According to Engadget‘s coverage of the event, he said:
“We think this has been so blown out of proportion… it’s fun to have a story, but it’s not fun on the other side.”
During the Q&A that followed, Jobs continued to express dismay at how Apple has been treated by the press over the last 22 days since the antenna issue became apparent. According to Mobilecrunch.com‘s coverage:
“I guess it’s just human nature: when some group or some organization gets successful, there’s always a group of people who want to tear it down. I see it happening with Google, and I think to myself: why are they doing this? Googles a great company, and they make great companies. And now they’re doing it to us. I ask myself: why? Would you rather we were a korean company, instead of an american company? Would you rather we werent innovating right here? […] Just to get eyeballs for these websites, people dont care what they leave in their wake. I look at this whole Antennagate thing, and I say: Wow. Apple has been around for 30+ years; haven’t we earned the credibility and trust from the press to give us the benefit of the doubt? I think we have that trust from our users, but I didn’t see it from the press”
These words are showing us a different public side of the man who leads what is arguably the most successful and innovative consumer tech company in the world. Apple isn’t used to having to defend itself and Jobs’ remarks about being American rather than Korean had a disturbingly xenophobic ring to them – at least to my Canadian ears.
So readers, now that you know when the iPhone 4 will be available here, and you know how Apple has responded to the question of reception problems, are you more or less likely to buy one than you were before today?
Update 3:58 p.m.: Reactions are beginning to trickle in around the web to Apple’s annoucement and, predictably, there are as many people defending Apple as there are those who find Jobs’ explanations lacking.
Let’s put this to a poll and find out what Sync readers are thinking: