Apple claims that an e-mail exchange between CEO Steve Jobs and a customer over the iPhone 4's reception issues is a fake, according to the company. The conversation had originally been printed July 1 on the blog Boy Genius Report, and features Jobs trying to placate an irate, self-described "Mac fan."
An Apple spokesperson "emphatically" denied to Fortune magazine that the exchange between Jobs and the customer had ever occurred.
"You are getting all worked up over a few days of rumors. Calm down," Jobs allegedly wrote to the customer, whose original e-mail accused Apple of being "arrogant and rude" concerning reported reception issues tied to the iPhone 4.
The customer's next e-mail detailed how his friends had also experienced dropped-call issues with their iPhone 4s, leading Jobs to supposedly reply: "You are most likely in an area with very low signal strength."
That drove the customer to new rhetorical heights in his next e-mail, where he accused Jobs of "jackass comments" and ended with, "Geezzz I hope [this] is not really you."
Jobs-or fake Jobs, if you believe Apple-then sent a follow-up e-mail: "You may be working from bad data. Not your fault. Stay tuned. We are working on it."
In the same blog posting that reprinted the e-mails, Boy Genius Report wrote, "We have verified the email headers and information, and believe this exchange to be 100 percent legitimate." In a subsequent update, the posting suggested that the last e-mail in the conversation- "Retire, relax, enjoy your family. It is just a phone. Not worth it"-came from the customer as opposed to Jobs, as had been erroneously reported by some Websites.
In response to Apple PR's assertions, Boy Genius Report updated its posting yet again with screenshots of the e-mails' headers and footers.
In a July 1 posting, the blog Apple Insider detailed an offer by an Apple customer to sell an e-mail exchange between him and Steve Jobs.
Jobs has developed a habit of responding to customers' and developers' e-mails with pithy one-line notes of his own, a habit that has sparked praise from certain circles for his forthrightness and transparency. Given the early-morning timestamp on some of these exchanges, one can presume that Jobs is writing most, if not all, of these missives himself, with minimal oversight or back-checking from Apple corporate; there is always the possibility, however, that Jobs has never been the actual writer of some or all of these same messages.
That being said, there now exists the possibility that Jobs-once burned, twice shy-will now assume the position of most other tech CEOs and stop responding directly to customer e-mails.
Within hours of the first customers receiving their iPhone 4 June 24, the first day of general release, reports began to emerge of a technical issue: Touching the device's metal antenna band, which runs along the outer rim, seemed to reduce certain users' reception to zero. Tech blogs such as Gizmodo quickly began posting video of users touching the smartphone's rim and making its on-screen reception bars disappear.
Apple has started insisting that the problem is software-related, despite the fact that it can apparently be solved by enclosing the iPhone 4 in a rubber or plastic bumper.
"Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong," Apple wrote in a July 2 statement posted on its corporate Website. "Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength." In the company's offered example, that means an iPhone is liable to display four bars' worth of signal strength when it should be displaying as few as two bars.
The company promises a software fix within the next few weeks.