Analyst: Don’t Expect iPhone 4 Production Changes

Don’t expect to see changes in Apple’s production plans for the iPhone 4, according to Gleacher & Company analyst Bryan Marshall. Instead, Apple will more likely offer an apology to customers experiencing antenna-related issues, and may also offer them a free Bumper case or US$30 gift card.

Reports that holding the iPhone 4 with the lower left corner covered causes the signal strength bars to drop have been coming in ever since the combination iPod and smartphone was released. Apple said the problem was software-related and issued a patch on Thursday that replaced the forumla used to calculate cell signal strength.

“We believe this scenario is extremely difficult to recreate and we estimate it impacts less than 1 percent of the current iPhone 4 users today,” Mr. Marshall said.

Consumer Reports, however, said its own research showed the problem was hardware related, but that Apple’s Bumper case fixes the problem by keeping user’s hands from touching the external antenna bands.

Apple followed up by announcing a press conference for Friday morning to talk about the iPhone 4, although the company isn’t offering any other details about what it will say.

“We believe this topic has already garnered far too much attention, but the important part now is how Apple reacts from a public relations perspective,” Mr. Marshall said.

He added that if during the press conference Mr. Jobs ” adopts a humble approach (we estimate 75 percent probability), our view is the investment community will react favorably sending Apple shares materially higher.”

Mr. Marshall is maintaining his “Buy” rating and $370 target price for Apple’s stock. Apple is currently trading at $249.94, down 1.51 (-0.60%).