Apple Event: New Cases, Full Refunds Offered

I think Apple have done a great job of handling and hopefully diffusing the antenna situation today. As I predicted the other day in my last post, they did decide to hand out free bumpers or other cases to all owners and have admitted a problem. They are also emphasising a full refund offer for people who still have problems after receiving the free case. I suppose they just want to cover themselves from lawsuits but I’m sure someone’s going to try it.

Smartly though, they made sure to provide some context and demonstrated how essentially all other smart phone suffer the same kind of reception drops when held tightly. They also noted that because the iPhone has slots in the case where the antenna are, they were a prime target for people trying to force the dropping of calls. Other smartphones don’t have an obvious weak spot that you can see like the iPhone 4 does. The data they had seemed to back their case up nicely and I think they’ve been unfairly ganged up on by the press.

Hopefully Apple can repair the damage to their reputation with these new measures. What they’ve basically said is that the phone is fundamentally ok and that there are no major design flaw that ruin the phone. However they will still do all they can to make customers happy by offering these options. I definitely think it was the right thing to do, especially as those bumpers were far too overpriced for what they are.

I think from what the data showed, there is a problem, but it has been blown way out of proportion. In reality the dropped calls are only slightly higher than with the 3GS. Steve Jobs put that down to the fact that there were more cases available at launch for the 3GS because of the design being almost identical to the 3G model. Because the 4 is so different in shape there were practically no cases at launch and therefore less being used. This probably meant that any antenna problems were lessened. Hopefully now the dropped calls will lower to below the levels of the 3GS when everyone gets a case, and in future Apple can iron out the possible issues a bit better than they have this time around. I’m sure they’ve already learned lessons from this and they don’t want to repeat them, but such is the price when you push the envelope as Apple are renowned for doing.


iPhone 4 Antenna Problems Thoughts

It seems at this point that the bad publicity surrounding the antenna we all thought was incredibly smart and a great idea at the time isn’t going to subside. I think Apple have taken their innovative nature too far here and really made a huge mess of something they didn’t even need to bother changing. I’m not sure whether they could have used the glass materials on the back of the device and still used a more conventional antenna but I’m surprised something like this wasn’t picked up earlier.

Perhaps Apple are not putting enough focus on making a great phone that doesn’t lose calls and instead over-focusing on the other aspects of the device, which is a bit ironic considering its name is simply the word phone with an i in front of it. A recall has been mentioned in the news but because it would cost them so much money, and because the device is perfectly fine otherwise, I think the best course of action at this point would be to bite the bullet and stop selling the bumper cases and instead offer them for free to any owner who requests one. Then of course refund anyone who payed the ridiculously high price for one in the first place. I think they are charging £25 for what is essentially a piece of plastic and rubber that costs absolutely nothing to produce in the grand scheme of things.

I think what they might end up doing is changing the packaging for the phone to include a bumper or just keep it as a request only offer. Whether or not they go that far depends on if the phone is labelled as fundamentally flawed or not.

Either way it’s a huge mistake that Apple have made here on something that should have been a simple cash cow with no issues. However, it has happened and it’s another reminded of how even the biggest, more seemingly bulletproof companied can have one aspect of a product bring down the whole image of the device in the press. How these things can slip through the cracks of rigorous testing before launch will remain a mystery but it may have had something to do with the fact that Apple employees were using a special case to disguise the new model as a 3GS. This may have papered over the cracks of the antenna issue for a large number of people, but you would have thought that at least some people would have been testing calls at various levels of reception quality without using a case, but apparently not.

This whole situation all rests on if Apple can get through the hailstorm of criticism without having to surrender and give away free cases, or even worse, recall the product. We’ll all find out soon so keep your eyes peeled to the tech blogs, not that it won’t be in the mainstream news shortly after.