When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

Summary: As criticisms go mainstream over the iPhone 4 antenna flaw, it's unclear how bad things must get before Apple PR's team kicks in for some crisis management.

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TOPICS: iPhone, Apple, Mobility
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Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall in the meeting rooms used by Apple's PR team this week? I mean, really, what's going through their heads today?

The story about how Consumer Reports dissed the iPhone 4 over its antenna hardware flaw got plenty of attention yesterday - and not just in tech blogs, but also in mainstream news. The Cult of Mac blog touched base with some PR crisis management experts who say that a recall of the iPhone 4 is inevitable. And Apple has been quietly deleting forum threads about this issue on its support site.

Also: Apple's bizarre PR strategy: delete unflattering threads

It's not often that mainstream press chime in on Apple's woes. Instead, it usually devotes a few minutes to Apple's big announcements, putting experts on camera who talk about how innovative and revolutionary the company's products are and how Steve Jobs is a technology genius. For the most part, it stands clear of the criticisms that are normally reserved for tech blogs.

This is a big deal and, so far, the only public comments made by Apple came in the form of an open letter that basically threw AT&T under the bus. In it, Apple blamed the problem on a software miscalculation that makes the display of signal bars on a phone show that the signal is stronger than it really is. Criticisms about the hardware design were pretty much dismissed.

But now that Consumer Reports disputes that claim, doesn't it seem that Apple should come back with a statement that either 1) further disputes CR's findings, 2) acknowledges the problem and says that it's looking into a fix, 3) offers a free case for iPhone 4 owners or 4) issues a recall.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who is regularly bullish on all things Apple, has issued a note saying that this antenna issue is being "overblown" and that it won't affect sales. He further noted that most customers buy a case anyway, so this isn't really a problem that affects them.

Also see: Dudes, put the Bumper on the iPhone 4 and move on

I think that's sort of a cop-out explanation. This antenna thing is a legitimate flaw, enough of an issue for Consumer Reports to note it. It's not about whether Apple will SELL you a case to fix this problem. This is about Apple selling a device that clearly didn't go through the company's rigorous testing process - or maybe just missed one of those tests - and then blaming AT&T, a software glitch, users who hold it incorrectly and so on.

A recall would be huge and might not be necessary. At this point, the public would probably be receptive to a "we're looking into it" reply from Apple. Instead, the only thing Apple has done publicly in the last 24 hours has been to censor (I mean "delete") comments on the Apple site that have critical of the device and company.

Of course, on the Internet, nothing really ever goes away. A cached version of the deleted thread is still alive and accessible.

Hopefully, the PR team is meeting as I type this and brainstorming exactly what it is they will say about this problem. I hope they issue that statement soon. The silence coming from Apple HQ is deafening.

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Topics: iPhone, Apple, Mobility

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32 comments
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  • PR is already in crisis mode

    Haven't you noticed a dramatic increase in astro-turfing here on ZDNet? Don't kid yourselves, those astro-turfers are a huge part of Apple's PR strategy.
    NonZealot
    • You beat me to it!

      @NonZealot: I was going to say almost the same thing.
      ye
    • Chris Crocker Will Cry

      @NonZealot This is sure to get the Flaming Queen of YouTube "Chris Crocker" crying over people picking on Apple like he did with Britney Spears; "Leave Apple Alone ... sobbing ...tears"! ...it'd get him so upset. Maybe that's why he's shaved his head? Maye it's over people picking on Steve Jobs, his new hero. Which is more than he ever did for Britney!<br><br>That's all Apple would need... to have bad PR degenerate down to hilariously hysterical levels! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/grin.gif" alt="grin"> .....then Steve could let him know how to hold it properly to make a call!!!
      i2fun@...
  • Misleading

    The posts deleted from the Apple forums were removed because users were posting news articles (and nothing help related) in a Mac OS X support forum, not because they were about the antenna issue. Get your facts straight before you start posting blanket accusatory statements.
    blyan
    • Hi astro-turfer!

      We don't believe you, sorry! Run back to Apple and gather more instructions.
      NonZealot
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @NonZealot I don't work for Apple, have never worked for Apple, and will never work for Apple. I DO however, use common sense, rather than posting misleading articles to get more hits.
        blyan
      • The evidence is linked in this article

        @NonZealot
        Read the cached version linked in this article . It's 10 posts about Consumer Reports.

        Then go to http://discussions.apple.com and search for "iPhone4 antenna" . I just did that and got *88* threads about the problem and what will/will not help with it.

        Sorry, but the facts are not on your side. Apple's TOS for the discussions area state that posts NOT relating to Apple products and/or troubleshooting are not permitted. Discussions of Consumer Reports don't meet the criteria.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @macadam Thank you. Seriously, since when did common sense become such a rare commodity?
        blyan
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @blyan<br>Common sense has nothing to do with NonZealots. Take a look at his reply to the story about Apple's recent stock price drop here on ZDNet. He's practically tumescent over the possibility that Apple investors might have lost around $7.00 a share. In the meantime any of those stock holders who bought at this time lasts year are still more than $100 up per share. But tell that to the trolls and see what happens.

        Update: As of 3:15PM EDT the stock is at $252.87. Down about 1 to 1.5 percent.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @macadam Haha fair enough. Crazy Apple haters are even more pathetic and desperate than crazy Apple fanboys. Blindly hating something for no reason is even more idiotic than blindly following something (albeit only slightly).
        blyan
      • True that

        @blyan
        You definitely have that right. FWIW I used Apple's stock widget to get the current pricing but wrote the post on the Asus running Windows 7 that I do most of my work on.
        Pick you tools wisely for the job at hand and STFU if you don't agree with someone else's choice.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @NonZealot <br><br>OMG your a putz and you are the pot calling the kettle black. You can relay your message which 99% of the time is non factual or just shows your hatred for Apple. Your a moron say something constuctive or go back to your momma or mircosoft .<br><br>The facts are that Apple deserves everything thats coming their way with this whole antenna problem.I saw the C R and I was happy to see it brought to everyones attention, its good to give a company,and that means all companies, a swift kick in the rear end and wake up call when they put products out there that do not function thet are supposed to.<br>The price we(the consumer) pay for things such in this case a iphone the consumers should not be the guinea pigs.They should solve the problem and recall all the iphones for a replacement or repair.<br>I am a happy imac owner but do not the like Apples attitude when it comes to problems or defects with there products, or any other manufacturer out there who operates like they do and there are many.
        reefsalt
      • Whoa!

        @NonZealot Holy crap, you mean countering the endless stream of flaming horse manure here on trusty ZDNet can get me paid by Apple? Where do I sign up?
        paferg
    • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

      @blyan So... you work for Apple... how much does Stevo pay you to lie? I've had comments deleted, not off topic or insulting. Just the ones they don't like about any subject.
      EDIT:
      Sorry, I read you don't work for Apple... but you're a Fanboy.
      Master Skywalker
  • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

    Sam: Do you have an iPhone4? Do you use it? I have an iPhone 4, I'm left-handed, and I haven't used a cover...and I haven't had a problem. (I did just buy a cover for protection and not to cover the antenna.) I don't tend to grip my phone that tightly or at the bottom. How much of this reporting is actually warranted and how much of it is just journalists trying to get attention and build traffic? The grapefruit mentality: milk it until interest wanes and then move on to the next grapefruit.
    kurber
    • Just because you don't have the problem doesn't mean it's not a problem

      @kurber
      I tried to reproduce the issue on a coworker's phone and couldn't. I then gave the phone back to him and within 20 seconds in <i>his</i> hand the phone dropped off the network. He wasn't squeezing it either, in fact he was holding the phone rather loosely. The problem doesn't effect everyone in the same way, but it is real enough and Apple is handling it very poorly.

      For the record, I am a 30+ year Apple user, been using Macs since '84, and loved my former job as a Mac Genius in an Apple retail store. I have no hate here. These days I use 10.6, Windows 7 (90% of my work is on Win7) and Ubuntu.
      use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: When will Apple PR go into crisis mode over iPhone antenna issue?

        @macadam

        Great, actual data !

        Was the room air conditioned?

        Compare your hand to your colleage. Is it bigger?

        Do you eat more or less salt than average?

        I'm looking for support for a theory why most people don't have the problem but some do.
        Jkirk3279
      • Exactly

        @macadam Thank you. What's maddening is all this extraneous blather about who's better windows or mac or android or iphone. They all have pluses and minuses, but the "fight" for supremacy is childish and almost grade school like. In the end, this is about a PHONE that is giving some customers problems with its PRIMARY function as talking device.

        Every company makes mistakes and Apple has made a mistake here, not the end of the world, no evil intent. What IS bothersome as you say is the fact that Apple is silent about it OR think their consumers are stupid enough to believe the excuses they are providing when questions arise about a legitimate problem, a 600 dollar phone that for some, not all, cannot stay connected to a wireless network because someone is holding it. What is also troublesome is this venom toward those who are raising the issue. I would venture to guess that some, not all, who belittle those with antenna problems or who dare complain about Apples lack of response are the same ones who throw fits when a .99 iTunes app doesn't work or isn't updated enough or worse crack apps from developers instead of paying (but this is another issue).

        Also, just because it's selling doesn't mean it's working as intended or there isn't a problem, it just means that some users don't put value or the same priorities as others for the device's main function or they use it more as a portable gameboy or ipod or worse, just to say they have one, I'm cool. That explains the contradiction in Consumer Reports seemingly dual stance on the issue.

        I DO have an iphone 4 after upgrading from a 3gs that my spouse now uses. My 4 has little to no signal when resting on a table or desk, while the 3gs in the same house has 5 bars, my 4 is also IN Griffin's black reveal case and when I pick it up I lose signal or get searching for service. So a bumper doesn't fix all of the problems and I now wait for my replacement from Apple and hope I get lucky and get one that works and completes my other iDevice and mobileme activities.
        Golf11
    • What?

      Why are bloggers not allowed to give their opinion and report on the news?@kurber
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • For once I agree with you

        @NStalnecker
        Well said.
        use_what_works_4_U