Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

Summary: Dear Steve Jobs: You can go cheap and hand out bumpers and still hear the jokes. You can do some in-store modifications to the iPhone 4 and annoy your early adopters. Or you can suck it up and do the full recall. Door No. 3 makes the most sense.

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An open letter to Apple...

Dear Steve Jobs:

In about 24 hours, you can either tarnish Apple's brand or lock your already rabid fan base in for life. And you can probably do it 15 minutes during your press powwow on Friday.

It must be odd for you to be the brunt of so much non-flattering hubbub over your iPhone 4, which looked like a dream device just a few weeks ago. The iPhone 4 was your best launch ever---and that's saying something given the debut of the iPad---but an antenna reception issue, Consumer Reports and now numerous jokes have turned things around.

The pundits can talk form over function and worry about the long-term hit to Apple's brand, but there's really an easy fix. Do a total iPhone 4 recall. Issuing a bunch of bumper cases that cost you about $1 to $5 (maybe less) is a lazy man's fix. Apple doesn't do lazy and shouldn't start now.

Sure there's a semi-heavy financial hit to a full recall---a $1 billion or so charge according to Wall Street types---but remember Apple is a company with no dividend, a penchant for small-ish acquisitions and more than $23 billion in cash, equivalents and short-term marketable securities. Simply put, you can afford the hit to ensure the lifetime value of an Apple customer.

Bottom line: If you go with the bumper case fix Apple will still be selling a defective product. The antenna issue is real and Apple shouldn't rely on a case and tell customers to hold the iPhone 4 correctly. The case has a role though. You should hand that puppy out to hold customers over as the supply chain gets retooled. You know you're going to have to pause sales for about a month. Hey, stuff happens. There's a balance between art and engineering. You went a little too artsy with the iPhone 4. It happens.

Meanwhile, you have a great opening to do a full recall. Every analyst says that a recall is "highly unlikely" so customers aren't expecting a massive goodwill gesture. You know the expectations game. People going into Friday's press conference expect bumper cases and an apology. Give them a full recall and Apple can show they love their customers as much as they love the company's products. Wall Street analysts will spin things your way no matter what you do.

You know the options. You can go cheap and hand out bumper cases and still hear the jokes. You can do some in-store modifications to the iPhone 4 and then fix the problem for future buyers---ruining relations with your early adopters. Or you can suck it up and do the full recall.

Just because you have iPhone 4 sales at your back doesn't mean you shouldn't do the right thing. Recall those iPhone 4s and don't half-ass it.

Related: Apple was warned about iPhone 4 antenna issues

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Topics: iPhone, Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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176 comments
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  • Apple will handle this

    First, I don't think Applie being at the brunt of so much non-flattering hubbub is odd at all, or new to Steve Jobs. Apple gets bashed incessently by the dyed-in-the-wool Apple-naysayers. Every new Apple product and announcement is met with negative predictions despite the fact that these predictions are always wrong.

    Second, even this antenna debacle won't have a long-term or significant effect on Apple's reputaton. People that love Apple will forgive them. People that hate Apple will vilify them. As usual!

    And whatever anyone's response may be, Apple will fix this, one way or the other. Period.

    I am an iPhone owner. It is the best cell phone (if you can even call it that) ever produced. I am THRILLED that Apple screwed up the antenna on the 4, for a reason that nobody else seems to realize.

    The thing that everyone should recognize and celebrate is this will take Apple down a notch, or two, maybe even more. With the recent announcement they are now the big-dog on the block, their giant heads must be approaching planetary-sized dimensions. I'll bet their cockiness played a substantial role in this antenna mess. Dealing with this problem should serve up a nice chunk of humble pie and that is just what this Doctor would order.

    When the dust clears on this, and it will, we'll be left with the biggest, most powerful tech force on Earth that takes pains to carefully serve its customers. Sure, they should have always done so in the past. But we're talking humans here and humility is an all too infrequent, fragile and fleeting trait of ours.

    One tiny gap in an otherwise ingenious antenna will bring the King a little bit closer to his subjects. And this subject says, long live the King.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/
    Steve Romero
    • No, this is new

      @Steve Romero
      [i]First, I don't think Applie being at the brunt of so much non-flattering hubbub is odd at all, or new to Steve Jobs.[/i]

      Apple has [b]never[/b] been reported on negatively by the mainstream media. This is brand new. The press was always careful to treat Apple like the underdog. People like the underdog.

      Now that Apple is the biggest tech company in the world (market cap wise anyway), the gloves are off. People hate the king of the hill. They [b]want[/b] to see the king of the hill fail. They are getting what they want. They are seeing Apple "fail". I put that in quotes because Apple isn't failing any more than MS was "failing" when the press would report on viruses that affected 0.01% of North American computers. Still, people want to think that the king of the hill is failing.

      It's only going to get worse for the people who have an unhealthy emotional attachment to the multi-national, multi-billion $$$/year mega-corporation that is Apple.
      NonZealot
      • I guess you weren't alive in the late 80s and early 90s

        @NonZealot

        <i>Apple has <b>never</b> been reported on negatively by the mainstream media.</i>

        You don't seem to know your history. Apple-as-Media-Darling is new, and didn't really hit full swing until after the success of the iPod.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @NonZealot ,
        If the iPhone 4 was a defective device by design, then I would be clamoring for a recall for mine....however, mine is just fine....no reception problems naked or with case on....That doesn't square with a defective design.
        Brich
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @Brich

        You do realize that a car that blows up only when crashed at a 45* angle is still defective by design. That doesn't mean that everyone who drives the car has their car blow up. The fact that it works for some is no proof that the design is sound.
        Tiquor
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @NonZealot

        Good lord You never give up do you. If anything all phone manufactures have this problem.

        Dang you zealot.
        Info4Sherlock
      • king of the hill

        @NonZealot ((( "People hate the king of the hill. They <b>want</b> to see the king of the hill fail." )))

        Why write in the third person? If you were intellectually honest (heh... as if), you would have written: "People like me hate the king of the hill. We <b>want</b> to see the king of the hill fail."
        buddhistMonkey
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @NonZealot - where were you when the original iPhone was released??? Apparently not reading the mainstream media reports about everything lacking and all the problems with the original iPhone. How about when the developers found out the only apps permitted would be webapps? How about when the app store was released and since then, with constant media complaints about the Apple censors? And even before the iPad was released, the mainstream media was bashing its design noting all the things it wouldn't be. And on and on . . . This is nothing new as the previous commenter correctly stated. I have owned every iPhone since the original, obtaining every one on launch day. Yes, there have been some problems, but Apple fixed each one, everytime. Personally, I have had zero problems with iPhone v4 and its reception is better than my 3gs, with fewer dropped calls and failed to connect. AT&T is a problem - perhaps this is good news, maybe the masses will all abandon iPhone and release some much needed bandwidth to those of us who appreciate the iPhone. But I doubt it. Most of the naysayers, just like with the original iPhone, don't own one. The simple answer for them is to not buy one. For those that are unhappy, another simple answer - return it. If you don't like a brand of car, do you buy it anyway, and then rant and rave about your decision. And if you own something else, do you spend your time telling others how bad their decision was to purchase that brand? This is crazy. J
        jbkendrick@...
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @NonZealot <br><br><i>It's only going to get worse for the people who have an <b>unhealthy emotional attachment to the multi-national, multi-billion $$$/year mega-corporation that is Apple.</b></i><br><br>Oh man, the irony in the above comment is comical. The Zealot has been on these same boards damning Apple and anyone who supports them for over 10 years now. Doesn't it seems like the Zealot is the one who have an unhealthy, emotionally attachment to Apple? ;-)
        dave95.
      • jbkendrick, with that post I am simply mystified why I"ve not seen you.....

        jumping all over the army of ABMers who don't use Windows, esp the NT 6 versions, yet spend most of their waking hours telling us how awful it is and the company that makes it. Why do they care if they don't use it and why haven't I seen you busting their ba*ls about that?

        Here is the typical Apple zealot response to someone asking them why they are worried about MS and it's software: Freedom of speech. Nobody can tell me I can't express my opinion, so step off.
        xuniL_z
      • jbkendricks. comment removed

        <i></i>
        xuniL_z
    • I prefer a republic (nt)

      @Steve Romero

      nt
      Economister
    • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

      @Steve Romero
      This subject says, "you better fix my iPhone, and fast, or you'll lose me for life - you have 8 days and counting"
      boone51
    • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

      @Steve Romero I think the story is a lot the the Emperor's New Clothes" ,,,only written By Hans Christian Jobs".
      Feldwebel Wolfenstool
    • an otherwise ingenious antenna?

      @Steve Romero

      Right! Other than the fact that it doesn't work, it's ingenious!
      trickytom2
    • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

      @Steve Romero "It is the best cell phone (if you can even call it that) ever produced."

      Unfortunately, I can't call it that, because it drops so many calls!
      trickytom2
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @trickytom2 not ONE drop for me. And I'm not the only one.
        atari_z
    • Does the apple koolaid taste different after the 100th Tanker?

      @Steve Romero.... come on dude! Try the red pill, reality is always better in the long term.

      Apple goes out of their way to be the greedy stupid company whenever they think they can.
      They treat their commercial production clients like lepers. You will receive no support nor help no matter who you are... Why would apple support help... their products never have a problem therefore why would you waste their time calling... it "must" be your problem.

      apple need to seriously wake up, their products aren't that great, nothing more than a decent intern could come up with, given some resources.
      Reality Bites
      • RE: Dear Steve: Give Apple customers a total iPhone 4 recall

        @Reality Bites
        <i>Apple goes out of their way to be the greedy stupid company whenever they think they can.</i>
        So in other words they are a for profit organization. How is that different from most companies in the USA?

        <i>their products aren't that great, nothing more than a decent intern could come up with, given some resources</i>
        Which is why we saw so many consumer-successful smart phones before the iPhone, why the MP3 player took over the market long before the iPod, why Xerox chose to sell the PARC GUI research to Apple since GUIs were doing so well before the Mac.

        Look, there's no doubt that Apple munged this up pretty badly but the PC in every home is a direct result of the GUI which it took Apple to popularize. Xerox was ready to give up on it (much to the reported rage of the PARC group) because they deemed it a no-win proposition.
        There were dozens of MP3 players of all stripes - flash based, CD based, hard drive based - before the iPod and yet CD was still king until the iPod went to Windows. You may not think much of Apple products but he history of tech marketing and success to the masses disagrees.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • @macadam: Apple didn't popularize GUI, Microsoft did

        [i]the PC in every home is a direct result of the GUI which it took Apple to popularize[/i]

        MS put the GUI in front of [b]way way way[/b] more people than Apple did. Therefore, by [b]your[/b] definition, MS popularized the GUI.

        Cue the double standards...
        NonZealot