Apple has found itself in an unfamiliar position. A company that has built a reputation for delivering outstanding hardware that it does right the first time is being forced to answer questions about reception problems iPhone 4 customers are experiencing. So far, Apple has said little.
In an e-mail released June 24, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said users just need to hold the device differently. That was later echoed by Apple in an official statement. The company said antenna issues are "a fact of life for every wireless phone" and users should avoid holding the iPhone in a way that covers the antennas or "use one of many available cases."
It's a shame that Apple has handled user antenna woes like this. The company had the opportunity to do the right thing and start making good on its promise of offering the world's best smartphone.
But it's failing right now. And until it finds a way to address the problem, some folks will be thinking twice about buying an iPhone 4. Yes, it has a nice display and is arguably the most capable iPhone the company has ever released, but until Apple starts treating customers fairly and addresses this problem, who would really want to get involved with Apple or its products?
1. Offer the case for free
Currently, Apple offers a case called the Bumper, which is designed to keep the iPhone 4 safe. According to the company's statement, the case is one of many that will keep users from experiencing antenna problems. The only problem is, the case is currently retailing for $29. To make this right and save itself from a potential PR crisis, Apple should offer all current iPhone 4 customers a free Bumper case. Yes, it will cost the company millions of dollars, but it's a better solution than losing revenue on all the iPhone 4 units consumers don't buy. It's a small price to pay for making this right.
2. Update iOS if it's a software problem
Speculation abounds over what the exact causes of the iPhone's signal problems are. Although the company advised users to stop holding the device in a way that cuts down on signal strength, some reports have suggested that it's actually a software problem and Apple will be addressing it in the iOS 4.0.1 update. If that's true, then the company should be getting to work on addressing the problem sooner rather than later. The longer this goes on, the worse it looks for Apple.
3. A public apology would be nice
Apple isn't one to admit when it's wrong, but this is a case where the company should issue a public apology and reassure current customers that it will do whatever it can to address the problem as swiftly as possible. Too often, tech companies like to sweep issues under the rug in the hope that customers will simply forget. Apple is in danger of becoming one such company. It needs to do the right thing and apologize. It might be just one step of many that Apple needs to take to fully fix this problem, but an apology will go a long way toward setting things right with customers.
4. Stop the 'death grip' nonsense
Some people are taking personally the idea that Apple is tutoring them on how to hold a phone. Yes, cell phones have antenna problems, but customers shouldn't be forced to hold a device a certain way just to use it. This isn't the 1990s when antenna problems were par for the course. Things are different now. And Apple's insistence on telling people to stop with the "death grip" is becoming more and more insulting by the day. It's not the user's fault that the iPhone 4 is having antenna problems; it's Apple's.