blog Apple and the Australian telcos set to offer the iPhone 4 at the end of this month must prepare to minimise any controversy in Australia over the well-publicised antenna issue.
An iPhone 4 with a rubber bumper (Credit: Apple Store)
Apple moved to placate angry iPhone 4 owners in the US over the weekend, with Steve Jobs announcing all owners would be offered a free rubber bumper to put over the iPhone 4 to prevent the reception from dropping out when it was held a certain way. He even went further and said any owner who was unhappy with the deal would be able to return their iPhone for a full refund, provided it was still within 30 days of purchase, and, according to BusinessWeek, customers will get out of their phone contract with provider AT&T with no penalty.
Jobs also announced that the iPhone 4 will be available to a number of other countries, including Australia, on 30 July. Unless Apple hastily fixes up the problem in the iPhone 4, we can expect that the phone keen Australian punters will receive in 11 days will be the exact same model that has caused Apple so many headaches over the past few weeks.
The logical conclusion we can draw from all of this is that Apple will probably offer similar rubber bumpers to all customers at the Australian launch. Although Apple did not confirm whether this was the case when queried by ZDNet Australia, handing out free bumpers to every customer from the launch day will, if nothing else, immediately disarm any queries customers might have as to whether the antenna is a problem for them.
You'd also have to assume that as this is now a well-known fault that is publicly acknowledged by Apple, it will be a case of "buyer beware" and — outside of the standard regulations that apply to consumer purchases and telecommunications contracts in Australia — no special treatment will be given to Australian customers who complain to Apple or the telcos about the fault. We may even see a clause in telco contracts surrounding it.
Optus declined to comment on whether this would be the case, and both Telstra and Vodafone Hutchison Australia had no information available at the time of writing in regards to contracts for the iPhone 4.
Jobs said at the conference on Friday that just 0.55 per cent of iPhone 4 customers had actually lodged a complaint with Apple about the reception issue and I don't expect that this issue alone will deter any die-hard Apple fans lining up to get the iPhone 4 on day one. So maybe the launch will go entirely smoothly.
Provided it's held the right way.