News Analysis: Apple's Steve Jobs admits mistakes, but blames everybody but his company or the design of the iPhone 4 as the cause of persistent reports about dropped calls and spotty signal reception.
Apple's Steve Jobs, in a hastily called news conference,
announced July 16 that the iPhone 4 really doesn't have any problems. The
issues with the external antenna are a product of the imagination of the media.
The complaints of dropped calls are minimal and no worse than any other phone.
Then he conceded that Apple makes mistakes (although he
didn't mention any) and said he'd give iPhone 4 users a free rubber bumper if
they'd just go away and shut up.
The production, of course, was exactly what you'd expect
from Jobs. He arrogantly absolved himself and Apple of all guilt; he said that
other smartphone makers were worse; and he pointed to a fairly small return
rate and a small set of complaints to Apple's help desk as proof. He also
showed us pretty photos of an anechoic chamber that he said proved that Apple
tests its phones as a way to refute Consumer Reports.
It was quite a performance. There probably hasn't been
that much spin in one room since the last Republican and Democratic National
Conventions. Never mind that Apple was being skewered by a usually fawning
press corps. Never mind that an anechoic chamber is used to keep sound
interference to a minimum, but doesn't do anything for radio waves. And never
mind that, as eWEEK's P.J. Connolly points out, Apple never did any field
testing without encasing the phone in a rubber disguise
The fact is, the press conference didn't do anything for
anyone except Jobs and his PR staff. The stock has already taken a hit, and
Jobs pointedly said that he wasn't going to apologize to investors. Confidence
has taken a hit, and Jobs attempted to deflect that criticism. The only thing
left that Jobs could criticize was other smartphones. He claimed to show that
a BlackBerry Bold 9700 would lose its signal when held a certain way. Then he
tried the same thing with an Android device and a Windows Mobile device.
I tried the same Jobs Death Grip with a BlackBerry Bold
9700, and I was not able to duplicate the results, despite being in a weak
signal area. I tried every Android device in the lab, and I couldn't duplicate
the results there, either. I also tried a couple of Windows Mobile devices,
but, well, they couldn't detect a signal with or without the Jobs Death