Jobs: "There is no Antennagate"

So, after days of rumor and speculation, there was no recall, no offer to paint on lacquer onto the antenna, and no hand out of gift certificates to iPhone 4 owners.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

So, after days of rumor and speculation, there was no recall, no offer to paint on lacquer onto the antenna, and no hand out of gift certificates to iPhone 4 owners.

According to Steve Jobs: "There is no Antennagate."

That's right. Bottom line, according to Apple, the whole issue with the iPhone 4 antenna has been "blown so far out of proportion."

Watch the press conference here.

So, what's the upshot?

  • Apple suggests all users install the new iOS 4.0.1 update, that is supposed to fix the signal strength bars.
  • Free bumpers and cases. Apple can't make enough bumpers, so will give iPhone 4 owners the chance to pick a third-party case.
  • Refunds to all who bought bumpers.
  • A reminder that users have 30 days to return the iPhone if they are unhappy with it.

Note: Refunds and cases will be available on the Apple website early next week.

And that's it.

Well, Steve Jobs did go on (and on, and on) pressing how this issue is not an iPhone issue, but one that affects all smartphones:

"We did our own testing. Let me show you an example of some other smartphones. First, Blackberry Bold 9700, perhaps the most popular business smartphone ... [video shows it being held a certain way] ... Pretty much identical to the videos on the web about the iPhone 4."

There was more demos, but the upshot was simple:

"This is life in the smartphone world. Phones aren’t perfect."

Jobs also threw around a lot of data:

  • Complaint rate on Applecare for antenna or reception issues: 0.55%
  • iPhone 4 has 1/3rd of the return rate of the iPhone 3GS
  • The revelation that while the iPhone 4 drops more calls the 3GS, this is less than 1 in 100 more.

He also went to great lengths to say how much he loved customers:

"We love our users. We try very hard to surprise and delight them. We work our asses off, and it’s great, and we have a blast doing it, and we make some pretty interesting products for them. Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPods, the Apple TV ... we make some pretty great products."

The love just keeps on coming:

"We love our users so much we’ve built 300 Apple retail stores for them, the best buying experience in the world,"

Jobs was also keen to dispel the "style over function" argument, with more love:

"We’re an engineering company. We think like engineers, and we think it’s the right way to solve real, hard problems. I don’t think the fact that we love our customers is going to change at all. I don’t think we could run any faster. We’ve had cots in the labs, cars in the parking lots all night. We’ve been living here."

But it's clear that this episode has left Apple feeling unloved. Jobs again:

"I guess it’s just human nature, when you see someone get successful you just want to tear it down. I see it happening with Google. Google is a great company. Look at everything they’ve created. Would you prefer if we were Korean companies? Do you not like the fact that we’re an American company leading the world right here? Of course we’re human, of course we’ll make mistakes. But sometimes I feel that in search of eyeballs for these web sites, people don’t care about what they leave in their wake."

It also seems that, more than anything, it was the coverage in Consumer Reports that had the most effect:

"One thing is how much we love our customers and how we are going to take care of them. We were stunned and upset and embarrassed by the Consumer Reports stuff, and the reason we didn’t say more is because we didn’t know enough. If we’d have done this event a week and a half ago, we wouldn’t have had half the data we have today."

So is this enough to put out the fire? I'm not sure. Bottom line though, there are two issues here:

  • Will consumers be happy with what's on the table (free case, refund)?
  • How badly has this damaged Apple reputation?

I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens ...

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