Apple’s iPhone 4 Press Conference Disappoints

| Editorial

On Friday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went into enormous technical detail to justify their position. The problem is, those technical details will be lost on the non-technical press, and the free case from Apple isn’t a great solution.

I am accustomed to Apple exceeding my expectations. Today, the company did not.

In a curious sequence, Mr. Jobs admitted that a bumper solves the reception problem, admittedly shared by many smartphones, but then diverted everyone to a case. The problem is that the case must be purchased online, and people are fussy about the size, weight, texture, sturdiness, color and feel of their cases. I believe that this solution is not going to make all his iPhone 4 customers insanely happy.

Mr. Jobs went into considerable technical detail, but the one technical detail left unmentioned was why, if a bumper works so well, why wouldn’t a non-conductive coating? Yesterday, I went into some detail about why this would be the preferable solution, but it was never mentioned. If Apple couldn’t find a suitable coating that could be applied properly, it would have been nice to hear about that.

To reiterate, I suspect that Apple would love to solve this reception issue down the road. After all, with a $100M investment in an antenna facility and 18 Ph.Ds, one might suspect that, if any company could, Apple will find a better solution. If that’s rolled into later production, then early iPhone 4 customers will feel that their iPhone is damaged goods. No different than and no better than the current competition.

In terms of the technical details presented by Mr. Jobs, I fear that it will all be lost on the non-technical press and TV news. They have no hope of conveying all that information in a digestible way to readers and viewers. How they’ll absorb all that and present it presents further dangers for Apple. In fact, I’ll suggest a general rule: don’t try to engineer your way out of a PR disaster.

Apple has only hit a double. To have really hit one out of the park, Apple needed to simplify the presentation. Sure, only a small percentage, 0.55 percent, of AppleCare calls complained about reception. But AT&Ts own statistics showed that the iPhone 4 suffers more dropped calls than the 3GS. So, in my opinion, it would have been smarter for Mr. Jobs to make a grand gesture even if very, very expensive, that could capture people’s imagination. Simple, enthusiastic sound bytes are better than the frustration Mr. Jobs showed.

The solution presented by Apple seemed hurried. Apple was backed into a corner. Not enough bumpers would be forthcoming. No coating would, apparently solve the problem. Possibly no engineering solution, internal or external to the iPhone4, at all would be possible. So if Mr. Jobs really were looking out for his customers, he would have moved heaven and earth to provide the one universally accepted solution, a bumper, even if customers had to wait beyond the current quarter. Instead, the proposed solution for a case seemed rushed and is unlikely to make all the current case manufacturers happy — let alone the customers.

Mr. Jobs could have been more dramatic as he dispensed with defensive technical minutiae. He might have said that Apple is determined to solve the problem and, if they do, Apple will make it right with current customers. Instead, he said, essentially that it’s not a problem worth solving. Get over it. That’s the message that will end up making headlines.

The net result of this is that Apple has learned a lot about being a consumer electronics giant. Their public relations people can’t stonewall. The company can’t both claim that their product is superior to all others, a perfect object that’s droolworthy, and then later admit that it has the same reception problems as all other smartphones. Customers will also need to calm down a bit and learn not to stand in line for hours and hours for the iPhone 5.

This whole affair should be a coming out party for Apple, a seasoning for the hugely successful, wealthy and powerful company. I am left wondering whether this experience will change the way Apple operates or whether, now that the company believes that it’s all behind them, it’s back to business as usual.

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In terms of the technical details presented by Mr. Jobs, I fear that it will all be lost on the non-technical press and TV news.

The presentation was a very clear and direct engineering description and solution to what has become mostly a PR problem.


It’s not all behind them at all. It’s ahead of them. Cases/bumpers can’t be ordered or refunded until the end of next week. The non-technical press as you have dubbed them have gone well out of their way IMHO to be malicious in their coverage considering the actual percentages. Why is a small problem with an antenna on one telephone the focus of so much national and even international news when so many OTHER things are going on of much greater importance? It seems ridiculous that the two largest news stories in the US right now are the iPhone 4 antenna and Mel Gibson’s alleged abuse of his baby mama.

I live in a state with real problems, you know, the one with oil that for the last three months has been spewing into our coastal waters and ruining our coastal marshlands, destroying the oyster reefs, killing birds, turtles, and every other form of life that make up the food chain for the nation’s seafood industry. So, pardon the pun, but the nation needs get a grip and get over the phone issue. It’s been put to rest.

I put my iP4 into a case immediately when I got it so that it wouldn’t break if I dropped it. Hmm. No dropped calls, no problems. Glass is slippery. Anyone and everyone runs the risk of dropping it or worse, throwing it like people did with Wii remotes.


Well put Tiger.


Best post of the day award to Tiger.
Well said.


John, on this one I’ve come to a different opinion. What Apple did today is not only sufficient it makes sense. They have given customers two choices: a free case or a full refund. And this is to deal with an issue that has been blown out of proportion.

Perhaps there is or will be some sort of clear coating at some point, although that isn’t exactly bullet proof. Won’t this coating get scratched and possibly wear off enough so that the problem returns? Of course, then you could just put the phone in a case to deal with an unsightly and worse problem. Oh! That is what Apple is offering. And free.


Thanks y’all. I know ‘duck because we post here all the time.

Nice to have another sane person here as well Flip. There often seems to be so much insanity.


John Martellaro is a moron. What does he expect Apple to do over this minor issue, recall ALL the phones, restart the iPhone 4 program in its entirety?

The free bumpers absolutely address the issue. They should have been offered on day one. The argument that Apple wanted to get the facts does however make sense.

Much ado about NOTHING coming from the ranks of the Apple Haters.


“The problem is, those technical details will be lost on the non-technical press, and the free case from Apple isn?t a great solution.”

This is like saying an article on the gulf of mexico would be lost on people without any sense of geography.

Apple, I’m sorry, you can’t use technical details to explain technology, because we’re stupid. Please use haiku with small words, I’m a writer.

Doctor, please don’t use biological terms to explain my illness, because I’m too stupid to understand them. Please use literary terms, I’m a writer.


I’d accept Mr. Martellaro’s argument, if the iPhone 4 had a hardware defect.  But Apple’s contention, which it supported with ample data, is that the iPhone 4 does not have any hardware defect. The iPhone 4’s only “defects” are in the way that used bars to represent signal strength, a problem that it corrected yesterday with a software update, and that the iPhone 4’s antennas makes it obvious where you can touch it to attenuate reception.  That second problem is just a result of the placement of the antenna and does not present any problem that isn’t true for all cell phones, for they all have a spot, where bring human skin into close proximity with that spot will cause attenuated reception, as Apple demonstrated by showing the same attenuation when touched and to approximately the same extent for several competing smartphones and for the iPhone 3GS.  Thus, there is no hardware defect to correct.

I agree that this technical getting down into the weeds will be a hard sale for the public and the technical press, which, Mr. Martellaro excepted, doesn’t general have much technical, scientific, or engineering expertise.

So, if Apple wanted to make a grand gesture, it was constrained in what it could do.  Since there is no hardware defect to fix, it could not make any grand gesture without undercutting its position that there is no defect to fix.  Beyond giving Bumpers to those users so annoyed by normal attenuation that they find it intolerable, it is hard to see what Apple could do to fix a nonexistent problem.

Apple’s evidence is powerful.  First, it knows that this evidence will tested at trial by plaintiffs’ counsel and experts, so that any inaccuracies will be revealed and will prove to be highly prejudicial, if not fatal, to Apple’s defense.  And the evidence itself is quite impressive.  Against Consumer Reports three phones in a lab, which is so far from statistically significant as to be invisible, Apple opposes a comparison of dropped calls between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS that must comprise nearly the entire populations of those two phones in the U.S.  The result is that the iPhone 4 drops less than 1 call per 100 calls than the iPhone 3GS; that is almost certainly statistically insignificant, even at 99% confidence level.  Ditto for customer returns and complaints.  These data sets, which are based on nearly the entire population of iPhone 4s and iPhone 3GS in the United States, overwhelm Consumer Reports paltry three iPhone 4s and provides clear and convincing proof that the iPhone 4 does not have a hardware defect.

Now, the trick will be for Apple to transform those data sets into a convincing sound bite for the public.


I was just happy to hear say “bullshit” to Bloomberg.


“The company can?t both claim that their product is superior to all others, a perfect object that?s droolworthy, and then later admit that it has the same reception problems as all other smartphones”

And never has Apple claimed that its superiority with the iphone was due to wonderful reception. They’ve claimed it was due to superior software and applications, none of which have anything to do with phone calls. Although they do make using the phone itself better than anyone else does. Sadly, they can’t make up for the fact that all cell phone service sucks in some way.


I wonder what Senator Schumer’s insightful response is going to be?


his is like saying an article on the gulf of mexico would be lost on people without any sense of geography.

Good comparison. I’ve talked to so many people that did not understand the BP Blowout issue BECAUSE they don’t understand geography. The non-technical press shows a dead bird but people don’t understand how much oil and how big the area is. I even talked to someone that thought we “should let the arabs solve it’  (didn’t know that the Gulf of Mexico and the Persian Gulf were different.)
In this case the solution is correct, but the perception is that ALL iPhones are dropping most calls on their own. The non-technical press is doing nothing to alleviate the fear. I see it as being very similar to how they jumped all over Toyota for selling “Prius Death Traps” and then not following up with the NHTSA study that showed the vast majority were due to people standing on the accelerator when they were on the brake and most of the rest were due to interference with non OEM floor mats. 

AsI said at the beginning Apple has presented a great engineering description of the problem complete with charts and numbers and stats and a great engineering fix. Unfortunately it is a PR problem. I don’t see this going away for a while as long as there are hits to be made on web sites for keeping the disinformation going. What to do about it? Beats the heck outta’ me. I’m an engineer/scientist at heart. Apple’s response made perfect sense to me.


John Martellaro has been dissapointing for some time now


The result is that the iPhone 4 drops less than 1 call per 100 calls than the iPhone 3GS;

Could someone explain that to me? I found that stat confusing. Are they saying iP4 drops <1 per 100 calls? 1 call in 100 calls less than the 3GS? I found that phrasing, (which is how they put it in the press conference)  to be difficult to follow.

Mike in Las Vegas

I am a new iPhone 4 customer and wanted to post re: the general reaction to Apple’s resolve, or lack thereof, relayed in today’s presentation. In what seems to be it’s biggest mistake amongst so many remarkable gifts they have given us, my recent experience says this is a trend. I’ve been a MacBook User for a little over a year and have purchased the extra support through AppleCare protection. The level of knowledge, accountability, and customer service has been very inconsistent & generally disappointing. Most surprising has been the general attention & customer-centric feeling that is very much lacking. In short, any consumer business we deem exceptional, displays that invited attention to their customer, their livelihood. It is frustrating to see, from my experiences, that Apple has generally come up short. Maybe they missed an opportunity today to prove their “focus on their consumer”, and it will hurt their Brand. I guess I have slowly become an unenthusiastic customer of Apple, and I’m open to other solutions for the first time. Unenthusiastically, Mike H.  of care for the lifeblood of THEIR company customers who feel neglected this is short of the mark for Apple


So if Mr. Jobs really were looking out for his customers, he would have moved heaven and earth to provide the one universally accepted solution, a bumper, even if customers had to wait beyond the current quarter. Instead, the proposed solution for a case seemed rushed and is unlikely to make all the current case manufacturers happy ? let alone the customers.

I’m confused about what you’re saying, here, John. Are you saying that SJ did NOT “...provide the one universally accepted solution, a bumper, even if customers had to wait beyond the current quarter…” and instead told iPhone owners to accept some other case?  If that’s what you’re saying, where did you get that information (which contradicts what I’ve gathered from other sources)?  AFAIK, you’d be wrong to say that’s what he did.

As far as I can tell, he did exactly what you said he should have done to “...provide the one universally accepted solution, a bumper…” (given that your “4th Solution”, a field upgrade or mail in to apply a special non-conductive coating to the stainless steel ring, apparently will fail to solve the problem, despite what CR reported).


I live in a state with real problems, you know, the one with oil that for the last three months has been spewing into our coastal waters and ruining our coastal marshlands, destroying the oyster reefs, killing birds, turtles, and every other form of life that make up the food chain for the nation?s seafood industry.

Absolutely Tiger.  But BP and Apple have one thing in common. A PR disaster at the top - Tony Hayward and Steve Jobs. As Geoduck said - Unfortunately, it is a PR problem.

Steve said “I?m not saying we didn?t make a mistake ? we didn?t know that it would have these issues, we didn?t know we were putting a bull?s eye on the phone? but this has been so overblown.”

Well, IMO, Steve should lie down in a darkened room, alone, and figure out exactly why this has been so overblown.


Lancashire-Witch:  I’ve viewed the video of the entire press conference and you are taking what Mr. Jobs said out of context and, in so doing, misrepresenting it.  Mr. Jobs was referring to the fact that Apple knew that the iPhone 4, as is true for every smartphone, has a spot, where, if you touch that spot, you will attenuate the iPhone 4’s reception.  Apple didn’t think that was going to be a big problem, because that problem is exist for every smartphone and is no worst for the iPhone 4 than it is for any other smartphone.  Jobs was no saying, as your comment suggest, that Apple was aware of some defect in the iPhone 4 but did not think that it would be a problem.  That is not what Jobs said and is a compete misrepresentation of what he said.


I’m tired of reading about how Apple isn’t doing enough to fix things.  Guess what, it is a choice to purchase the new iPhone as it is to keep it.  If anyone is disappointed, they are welcome to a refund and can go back to their prior phone till things improve.  I just don’t understand why everyone feels so entitled to having their cake and eating it to.  This issue is unfortunate but I’m sure it’s not intentional.  No company is perfect and neither is any person.  How many people can honestly say they would conduct a multi billion dollar recall because of a half percent failures.

Chuck P

Poor John Martellaro. The iZombies are going to eat you alive.  For the mindless morons buying Apple products, Apple can do no wrong and Steve Jobs is in fact Jesus.


Steve hit a home run today in my humble opinion. I live in Canada. I,ll happily accept any returned iPhone. hopefully some of the White House staff watched this conference so they,ll be able to spare President Obama further embarrassment when he confronts a crisis. such as ,we all make mistakes!


John Martellaro: I’m too stupid to understand these things, therefore it’s Apple’s fault.

If those technical details are lost on you, shut the **** up! Let the grown-ups talk now.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Steve Jobs just spewed out more hate. There is a strong incentive for the press from smallest blogger to largest grey lady to kick Apple in the nuts. They’ll just continue to do it. Anyone want to guess what August’s PR disaster will be? Because there will be one, just as the sun will rise in the morning.


Hate is a bitter pill to swallow, Bosco. And you seem to be relishing every opportunity to gloat; which is a sure sign that your pill is stuck in your throat.

It was a great new conference; the NYT deserves to be put in its’ place. The trash can of journalism.


Are they saying iP4 drops <1 per 100 calls? 1 call in 100 calls less than the 3GS?

At the 22:24 mark in Apple’s posted video, the slide says (and Jobs’ words are clear about it):

                < 1
Additional calls dropped per 100 calls
    compared to iPhone 3GS

Jobs said the actual numbers are confidential, so we don’t know if its 2 per 100 or 50 per 100 that are dropped, but if the number is, for example, 10 per 100 for the 3GS, then the number for the iPhone 4 is less than 11.


OK I think I get it now.
The rate for the iP4 is less than 1% higher than the iP3GS
Thanks for clarifying


Steve Jobs did exactly what I said he would do.  Which is what Apple does: they hem and haw while they’re studying the problem but they’re generally open and up front, even self-critical, about it once they’ve done their homework and have crafted a solution.  Believe the guy when he says that he wants Apple’s customers to be happy.  That is the primary thing that drives Apple.  They want to build the best devices they can and the only validation is customer sentiment.  They are not like Microsoft who even if the product is crappy will be perfectly happy if it makes tons of money.

All those who say Apple will just lie and weasel their way around this latest brouhaha just do not understand this company or the man who built it.  He is a perfectionist, and even if no one else can see the defect in their product, a perfectionist will not get any peace of mind if they know there’s a flaw embedded somewhere deep inside their handiwork.  Even if it doesn’t affect the device’s performance, just knowing that it’s there is enough to drive a perfectionist up the walls.

Mr. M., this is the rare occasion where I will disagree with you.  The proffered solution is perfectly calibrated.  Furthermore, I read somewhere that the problem is not one of conductivity but capacitance (of human tissue) and the solution is not insulation (provided by a nonconductive coating) but distance (which a bumper/case would provide).  But I’m no engineer so don’t hold my feet over the fire on that.


@ Nemo.

I picked that quote from the ZDNet site. I could just as easily picked it off a BBC website.

I interpreted “overblown” as relating to the press coverage; not a defect or quality problem with the phone. Maybe I have that wrong - And I’m not implying there is, or is not, a defect.  In any case it demonstrates my point ( ... my only point) about this whole thing being a PR disaster.  Regardless of what is good or bad, right or wrong with the phone - Steve just gives the likes of Bosco more and more ammunition. Sorry Bosco, but you are the best example of what (IMO) is wrong with Apple as a Company. 

I have bought lots of Apple stuff over the years and been very happy with their products 99.99% of the time incl. my iPhone. But the continual bad press really disheartens me. 

Apple shareholders should take the Apple management to task - they should stop using Shareholder meetings to pry info on future products and start to hold the management accountable for past performance.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Lancashire-Witch: Don’t apologize to me. Apologize to the fanboys. All I ask for is an Apple that is honest and not picking fights all over the place. While the rise of Apple’s belligerence coincides with a meteoric rise in its market value, I don’t think it’s a causal relationship. I think the belligerence is a tumor that is amassing a reservoir of ill will commensurate with Apple’s behavior.

The whole line on Flash was utter bullshit, and it affected many more people and companies than those involved with Flash. That’s when I stopped giving Apple even the slightest benefit of doubt. If they’d said it was a “business decision”, fine. But they went out of their way to make false statements about software stability, methodologies, and tools. In a fair world, that has to bite them in the arse.


@Bosco. Sorry Bosco. I should have said “Sorry Nemo, but Bosco is the best example…”  wink


I say kudos to Steve Jobs for having the balls to tell it like it is.

Loved the callout of Bloomberg as well.


Apple has said what it needed to say, and done what it needed to do. Really, there was only one good way to play this, and the right play has been made.

I hated the funereal pall over this event. A better attitude would be ironic good humor, because all the antenna furor is so RIDICULOUSLY uninformed and out of proportion. Apple just took a surprise pie in the face. As the butt of the joke, the only thing to do is smile while mopping off the banana cream.

There is no need for Apple to eat crow about this phenomenon. Just make the people happy, and be glad that it’s pretty easy to do. 

But SJ cannot laugh off a media pile-on, so therefore the choking atmosphere of wounded vanity after a spanking. Too bad, but that’s his personality. Everybody has one…


When I saw the launch, and the case made out of the antenna, I said to my wife “that phone is going to have reception issues unless you get a case for it”. Now, I don’t have a PhD or an antenna lab but I did take a high school physics class and have a technician amateur radio license. Pretty basic conclusion to me. I’m happy to have my prediction vindicated but the issue is a tempest in a teacup. Just wish more of the mainstream press actually payed attention in school, or at least hung out with somebody with an engineering undergrad. And no I will NOT teach a lesson on solar corona interaction with the planetary electromagnetic spectrum. At least not tonight.


And no I will NOT teach a lesson on solar corona interaction with the planetary electromagnetic spectrum. At least not tonight.

I did a show on that when I worked at the Minneapolis Planetarium.


a comparison of dropped calls between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS that must comprise nearly the entire populations of those two phones in the U.S.

I haven’t watched the video, nor have I seen what was done, but I know that on my 3GS, I know how I can hold it to both kill my reception, in particular, 3G, and to sort of “help” it (probably create less interference). And I’ve learned in the past how not to hold my Nokias and SE phones that I’ve owned. In fact, the only phones that have not caused me problems were ones with external antennas. The problem is that with internal antennas, and the desire to not project radiation toward the head, manufacturers are forced into compromising situations. I’ve tried explaining this to friends for years how this works, with varying degrees of success. wink


One point that I have not seen mentioned here is that Apple/Steve must walk a fine line here. If he claims too much responsibility, then the lawyers will be all over Apple, and they will have difficulties defending themselves in court. So, Apple is forced to this situation where they have to _not_ admit a problem, while at the same time, “fixing” it. Sadly, it is the sharks that, IMO, are putting Apple to this situation. Sure, blame Steve, but you are looking to the wrong people. Look at the parasites instead—the lawyers who get rich suing companies for trivial matters. This is _not_ a trivial problem, but one that is tearing apart the fabric of our society at its basic level—trust, honesty and integrity. When lawyers can twist peoples’ statements out of context, and sue for millions if not billions, people become afraid to speak.


?The problem is, those technical details will be lost on the non-technical press, and the free case from Apple isn?t a great solution.?

What a laughable comment from the non-technical press.  I think Apple showed they understood the very common problem, proposed a reasonable fix,  and since they didn’t choose yours they’ve come up lacking. I’m glad your own research centres are able to determine the proper fix. 

Well, Jobs did imply a timeline for addressing what appears to be a shared issue with pretty much all smartphones, which is by end of September.

Regardless, I’m looking forward to buying what has now been proved to be a phone with better signal capture than its predecessor! 

And thanks to everyone, I know where the particular weak point is on this phone.  For work, I also have the Blackberry 9700 that Apple showed at the press conference, but our trusty online investigative reporters didn’t bother to let me know about why I was dropping calls with that phone.  Thanks to Apple for doing the real legwork…

Non Kool Aid drinker

Wow nothing but fanboys.
Article was great and made good points. Jobs has serious victim issues and I have a feeling the PR department wasn’t as thrilled with the press conference as you Kool Aid drinkers.
iPhone 5 will be covered differently because of this.
Jobs took a liability (an exposed antenna) and made it sound like an asset.
I am so glad I stuck with my 3GS.


Dear Non Kool Aid Drinker:  Mr. Matellaro’s article starts from a false premise, that there is a defect in the iPhone 4’s antenna, and proceeded from there to argue that Apple didn’t do enough to correct a nonexistent defect.  Mr. Martellaro’s article fails because its premise is false, not because many, who posted here, are fans of Apple.  Mr. Martellaro’s article is unpersuasive, because Mr. Jobs successfully made his case that there is no defect in the iPhone 4’s antennas.

Now, it may be that the iPhone 5 will have a different antenna system.  After all, Apple is among the very few companies that are constantly bringing successful innovation to market, so the iPhone 5’s antenna may benefit from Apple’s future innovation.  However, if Apple abandons or is forced to abandon the innovative design of the iPhone 4’s antennas, which has many benefits, because of the false perception that it is flawed and regresses to a more conventional antenna design, that will be step backward in the progress of technology, not a step forward.

And for those like you, who found unpersuasive the overwhelming evidence that Mr. Jobs presented in his presentation to show that the iPhone 4 has no defect in its antennas (, Apple still sells the iPhone 3GS, and for only $99.00.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Good try Nemo. PR is about perceptions and managing perceptions. From a PR point of view, Friday’s press conference probably wasn’t a big winner. There is doubt about the antenna. It’s quite similar to back in Newton days when Doonesbury latched onto the handwriting recognition problems some people were having and the perception stuck.

If you fail to see why the media is piling onto this issue, you should at least concede the irony of Apple getting bit by overblown negative perceptions of its technology when it directed its own campaign of overblown negative perceptions against Adobe’s Flash technology just a few months ago. Of course, if you appreciate the role that Flash plays in the media and will continue to play in the media regardless of Steve Jobs’ opinion, you’ll recognize that this episode is simply cause and effect, not irony.

Also, this is a battle of spin, so be careful how you evaluate the sources you trust. There is a very interesting interview that Michael Arrington did with Jonathan Gruber after the press conference. Gruber admits a very interesting, but overlooked thing. Essentially, it’s his job to support Apple. That’s what pays his bills and makes it possible for him to hop on a plane from Philly to Cupertino on a day’s notice for a spectacle like the Apple iPhone 4 antenna press conference. He later cites examples where he’s been objective and not bought the Apple line and told his readers, but he also says that he can’t switch to Android (for example) because his living is dependent on the iPhone.

And by the way, I don’t think that Gruber’s admission makes him a bad guy. It’s obvious to anyone who has given it any thought and goes for all Mac fan sites, all Android fan sites, etc. That’s what makes perspectives posted in comments so interesting. Very few false allegiances in the comments of most blogs. Nobody gets paid for their opinions in comments, snide or otherwise.


Bosco, I readily admit that Apple has badly handled the perceptions on this phantom issue of the defect in the iPhone 4’s antenna.  That Steve Jobs is correct that this is an industry wide problem and that the iPhone 4 attenuation of reception is no worse than other smartphones can readily be seen from how RIM and others responded.

None of their responses deny Jobs’ statement that their smartphones experience the same problem of attenuated reception as the iPhone 4 under the same or similar circumstances.  And the reasons for that is straightforward:  (1) Jobs’ statement that the problem of attenuated reception, when a smartphone’s antenna is in close proximity to human skin, is a common problem for all smartphones is true; and (2) If any of the smartphone OEMs were to deny the truth of that statement, the plaintiffs’ product liability bar would soon have them in court, suing them for selling a smartphone with defective reception, because by their representations, their smartphone isn’t suppose to experience attenuated reception but, in fact, dose experience attenuated reception when its antenna is in close proximity to human skin. 

That is why none of the smartphone OEMs have denied Jobs’ statement that the problem of attenuated reception is an industry wide problem, though RIM certainly expresses the industry wide belief that it was unacceptable for Jobs to publicly make that statement.

But Apple has mishandled the perception.  Had Jobs made the statements and offered the proofs at the iPhone 4’s introduction that he offered in his recent press conference, there would be no controversy on this nonexistent hardware defect in the iPhone 4’s antenna.  And see my other post, supra.

As for Adobe, you and I have had that discussion.  I think that Apple’s position on Flash is well supported on the merits, and I think that Adobe’s position is without merit, but I shall not debate that argument again here.

As for Gruber’s statement, it is an irrelevant statement of the obvious.  It is probative of nothing regarding the iPhone 4 and is, therefore, irrelevant.  So it is Gruber’s job to cover Apple and its products and its services.  So what?

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, perception management is closer to psychology than geometry. Well, actually it is pure psychology. Rigorous proofs don’t mean squat if the opinion shapers don’t buy into them or they don’t actually address the issue at (left) hand.

For example, consider a refutation of the “Adobe is lazy” meme that notes that:(1) Apple made huge changes to development models no fewer than 4 times in the last decade while Microsoft kept its development model pretty consistent over the same time period, or (2) that to support browsers on the Mac back to 10.4 now requires 5 distinct graphics models while supporting browsers on Windows back to XP requires exactly 1, (3) Windows has roughly 10x the number of users as Macintosh on desktop and laptop systems. A more accurate thing to say is that Adobe doesn’t care enough about the Mac to jump every time Apple says jump within the time allotted by Apple. But those facts don’t change the perception among Mac fanboys that Abode is lazy and Flash deserves to die. Even if you add an additional fact that Flash won’t die, so the malicious crusade is just poking at windmills at best, it doesn’t change the fanboy’s mind. That’s just where Apple is with a widening and deepening pool of detractors that have formed in the past couple of years.

There are a couple of things you don’t ever do if you want to change people’s perceptions. In fact, if you do these things, you’ll just cement perceptions and egg on detractors:

(1) You don’t call people stupid for not seeing it your way. Steve Jobs did this implicitly by drawing attention to the testing facilities and the number of PH.D.s working on his antennas. I’d be willing to bet that some of the people who you call “stupid” are actually pretty friggin bright themselves and know it. You have a difference of opinion with them. Be respectful of that.

(2) You don’t say that your competitors have the same problems. Your problem is the problem, and it’s your problem, not theirs. Steve’s problem is that when this was first noted by customers, he told them they were holding it wrong. Steve did not apologize for that. That was much more of a problem than they limitations that physics enforce on his device.

And as to Gruber… No, it’s not just his “job” to cover Apple products and services. It’s his “job” to be mostly supportive. Those are entirely different postures. Nothing wrong with either, just know what you’re parroting. That’s all.


Dear Bosco:  In reverse order:  Though I am sure that Mr. Gruber, who I know has been highly critical of Apple in the past, would reject that his job is to be supportive of Apple, but let’s say arguendo that is his job.  So what?

When your are proving that your smartphone isn’t suffering from a defect but is simply experiencing a common industry problem, the only way to prove that point is show that problem is a common industry problem.  So Apple exposing that competitors have the same problem to approximately the same extent was both necessary and justified, not merely by the necessity of the argument, but was justified because those same competitors,HTC, RIM, Nokia, et al, were laying into the iPhone 4 both directly and through their agents with the claim that iPhone 4’s problem was unique to it.  Under those circumstances, Apple was fully justified in pulling up their skirts and showing everybody what is underneath.

Apple did not call anyone stupid.  It was both rebutting the charge that it hadn’t properly tested the iPhone 4 by revealing its state-of-the-art antenna testing facilities, and it was showing that it knows a thing or two about how to design a good antenna systems.  Again, that was completely justified and necessary to the argument.

Bosco, I am not going to take up the Adobe/Flash argument again.  But I will say this.  Anyone that signs on to Apple’s model as a developer, partner, or customers knows that Apple will run forward with useful innovation as fast as it possible can.  The only promise that it makes is backward compatibility for a limited time, but Apple expects that its partners and especially its developers will accept its evolving and sometimes revolutionary innovations and keep up or get the hell off the platform, if they don’t think that the effort is worth it.

As for Adobe, let’s say that I am wrong in arguing that Adobe is wickedly trying to maintain its near monopoly in Flash content on client computers and extend that monopoly to mobile devices by, inter alia, controlling proprietary standard and hindering any innovation that threatens its standards, and that you are right in your view that Adobe just doesn’t want to keep advancing with Apple’s innovations, because [Adobe doesn’t] “care enough about the Mac to jump every time Apple says jump within the time allotted by Apple.”  Well, that is a perfect justification for Apple to tell Adobe that it is done on the iOS platform.  Since Adobe doesn’t want to keep up with the new standards that Apple promulgates for iOS, Apple has every right to tell Adobe that Apple won’t allow it to block or even hinder the innovations and future direction of the iOS, so it, Adobe, is fired. 

And since Adobe doesn’t “care enough about the Mac to jump every time Apple says jump within the time allotted by Apple,” it shouldn’t matter to Adobe that its proprietary standard, Flash, is now excluded.  Why?  Because it doesn’t care.  In fact, Adobe should be relieve, because it is now free of that pesky, bothersome, pain in the ass Apple iOS.  Adobe should be shouting from the roof tops that it is free.

Now, perceptions are tough, but I’ve faced tougher jurors and won them over.  Apple has what it most needs:  It has the facts on its side: there is no hardware defect in the iPhone 4; it has a fantastic product in the iPhone 4, and—I know that you will have a hard time believing this—millions who love Apple and its products.  Those three things, along with candidly and cleverly educating the public, will, I think, win the day for Apple’s iPhone 4.

Roger M

I read several articles and watched a couple of videos on the iPhone 4 before I watched the press conference and I have to agree with Steve Jobs that this problem has not garnered as much attention from other phones as the iPhone.

I also agree with him about the whole case situation, I don’t own a iPhone but you can bet if I did I wouldn’t leave the store without a case if one was available for it, heck the first thing I bought for my Envy Touch was a Body Glove case!

The other problem is that anyone who likes or supports Apple products is a fanboy therefore their opinion doesn’t matter, because they are brainwashed and support Apple regardless of the situation or perceived problem.

What some fail to realize for a great number of people Apple’s products enhance and improve their everyday lives and many people have a positive experience with most of their products and trust Apple to resolve the problem and improve the product over time.

Just compare the early iPods to todays, or the first iPhone to the iPhone 4, you have to admit they are constantly making their product the one all other products are compared too!  I wish I had a dime for every time I read the line “iPhone Killer” or “iPod Killer” in print I’d be able to buy a boat load of iPhones.

One last thing when have you ever heard a CEO with the recognition like Jobs admitting they screwed up for all the world to hear???  Not many for me that’s for sure.  I think by this time next year people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Anyone that signs on to Apple?s model as a developer, partner, or customers knows that Apple will run forward with useful innovation as fast as it possible can.? The only promise that it makes is backward compatibility for a limited time, but Apple expects that its partners and especially its developers will accept its evolving and sometimes revolutionary innovations and keep up or get the hell off the platform, if they don?t think that the effort is worth it.

Actually Nemo, that is what Steve Jobs himself would call “bullshit”. When Mac OS X came along and developers were in full revolt over having to spend years reimplementing products that worked well, Apple stated unequivocally that Carbon was an equal peer to Cocoa. To later revise history and say that Adobe dragged its feet in the last decade because it only recently shipped Cocoa based apps is beyond ridiculous.

The funniest damned things about all this innovation on the platform in the last decade is that as of today, the decision between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard is a wash. When you ask people who are open to both options they’ll say choose whichever you prefer. Windows 7 has some stronger points like printing, and the menu bar in the window works a lot better in multi-screen environments than the global men bar of the Mac. On the Windows side, the API has evolved but remained mostly the same. Developers could make an investment in core product once and build on it. And yet the latest versions of the respective OSs are about the same on whatever scale you want to measure. Very strange…


What I’m really tired of is people saying that if you don’t feel like a victim when you view apple products, you’re a fanboy. Well, guess what? I don’t feel like a victim when I think about Apple products.

Clearly the phone has a location that causes attenuation of the signal. And clearly so do a lot of other phones, which their makers are not denying while raging against Apple for pointing out.

As for Windows 7, Bosco, I use it at work, we are a windows centric company and have been since the beginning, and all I see is people getting irritated with it. You can rave about APIs all you want, APIs are not user experience. Anyway, I’m kind of tired of your brand of anger. Really. I know you think you’re right and that Steve Jobs is killing your children, but in reality, this is a press issue for the most part. The owners of iphone 4s are not the ones complaining. The people like you who are happy that the blogs are attacking apple are.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

You can rave about APIs all you want, APIs are not user experience.

I didn’t say they were. And I didn’t say the Mac was worse than Windows 7. I said what every long-time Mac user has argued since the mid 90s. It ought to be a matter of personal preference, because that’s about how little the two platforms differ.

The thing that makes you a fanboy is that you can’t even imagine the ill will that Saint Steven has created. You can’t imagine why piling on what’s probably a minor issue is sport. You can’t imagine why this same thing will occur next month and the month after ad infinitum over issues none of us has imagined yet. Apple’s been bloodied in this skirmish. You can’t imagine why a press that has been told by Steve to retool their processes for niche platforms at costs in the tens of millions of dollars might want to retool him.


Scoreboard is all that counts, not how happy FanBoys are:

In a Reuters online poll, 213 out of 373 respondents—57 percent—said the entire controversy made them less likely to buy an iPhone. But just 43 out of 253 respondents who owned an iPhone said they would return it.

Just 43 out of 253?  A return rate of 17%.  Or 510K or 3M.


You’re right Bosco, I missed all that in the noise of constant record earnings every quarter. I guess those people who want to retool him are voting with their dollars ? Not. But I’ll believe you because I want to worship at the altar of your non-existent objectivity along with you. Because you’re not biased. Never. Only people who disagree with you are.

Everyone who uses the term fanboys in an argument should automatically be disqualified. It just proves where your head is at, and it’s not in a place where you’re listening to reason or facts. You’re dealing in emotion, not reality.

Juicemonkey, I’ll believe those numbers when sales plummet and returns skyrocket. And don’t you understand that, just like on forums it’s the whiners posting and complaining while the happy people are out enjoying the sunshine, that poll is skewed towards the negative because the negative care more about that poll? But the poll means nothing until, as I said, sales plummet and return rates skyrocket. Until then, it’s data from people who are emotional about this horrendous DISASTER of engineering, like you, and not from typical apple customers. The kind that keep Apple generating massive profits every quarter.

Apple may sell just a percentage of smartphones, but they’re making most of the profits. And the same goes for the Mac sales. They seem to know what they’re about, while you guys sit here and talk about what a horrible job they’re doing.


Let’s see Windows 7 and OS X are a wash today with not much to pick between them.

Steve should resign or be fired.

Apple must hold Adobe’s hand by hanging on to a boatload of legacy code like Microsoft’s bloatware.

Sounds like a winning business plan to me. Love it when my friend with a brand new PC with the latest MS has to offer calls for help to this Mac user. Makes me want to run right down to get my own to trouble shoot.

Let’s not forget Apple was a lot better off before Steve came back. Sure they were near bankrupt; but the press loved them back then. Never a negative story on Applet’ill the brute CEO started pushing everyone around.

I just love Flash. I play exactly one online Flash based game. I am so happy that this is the only piece of software that will bring my iMac to its’ knees. The game’s server gets taken down too; so it must be some xServe from Apple.

Microsoft is a dinosaur. Flash is the worst thing on the web. Is it any wonder that Adobe can keep up with Microsoft and not Apple? Slow down Apple; you’re getting these relics mad. Fire Jobs because he is not nice to these people. Steve should have promised them to keep Cocoa and Carbon equal for ever. Not!


In a Reuters online poll, 213 out of 373 respondents?57 percent?said the entire controversy made them less likely to buy an iPhone.

Dear juicemonkey:  Your quote, supra, is really what this phony controversy is all about:  Apple’s competitors and their agents on the blogs and mainstream tech press using a false controversy about the iPhone 4’s reception to depress sales of the iPhone 4 and, thus, increase sales of their competing products.  And its been cleverly done so as to make a commercial defamation suit very difficult, for what do they say:  Touch the gap causes attenuation of the iPhone 4’s reception.  Well, that is true, but they neglect to say that is also true to approximately the same extent for every other smartphone.  In fact, many Nokia phones come with a label instructing users not to touch or hold the phone in certain ways to avoid attenuation of reception.

While I think that stating the fact of the iPhone 4’s common attenuation of reception out of context is actionable defamation per quod, Apple’s better strategy for now is, I think, to do what it is doing:  Put up a web page that shows the same problem on other popular smartphones.  However, if the libelous statements continue, in that the press doesn’t place the iPhone 4’s reception issue in the larger context of this being a common, industry-wide problem, Apple might have to consider legal action against certain high profile targets, starting I think with Consumer Reports.

A word about Consumer Reports (CR).  CR should know and, perhaps, does know that their statements about the iPhone 4 have two major flaws:  First, their lab test was incompetently done (people and equipment where in the testing area, when they should have been isolated outside of the lab for at least part of the testing, as Apple showed with its own testing facilities); and (2) The reception problem that they identified on the iPhone 4 is a common problem that is no worst on the iPhone 4 than it is on other smartphones.  Yet, CR declared on that basis alone—attenuation of the reception when you touch the gap on the lower left corner of the iPhone 4’s antenna—that it refuses to recommend the iPhone 4, even though it has routinely recommended other smartphones that have the same problem to approximately the same extent.  Well, it could hardly not do so, because the problem is common to smartphones.  That is incompetence at best and defamation and perhaps, even intentional defamation at worst.  If CR made an honest mistake, they know it now but have failed to timely correct their mistake.  As a result, I, for one, will not be using CR again for any evaluation of a product or service.

Frank Lowney

The thing that surprises me is that Consumer Reports hasn’t changed their fundamental conclusion that the antenna is defective in its (external) design.  They stick to their story despite ample evidence to the contrary by Apple and dozens of consumers posting video to YouTube.  They seem hung-up on the free case offer as if it were an admission of liability.

The free case offer only really only helps those .55 % or whatever small proportion of people who can’t help gripping the phone in a less than optimal way or whose stress level is so high as to produce a Galvanic Skin Response that interferes with reception.  Rather than get into the sticky business of deciding who really needs it, Apple wisely extended the offer to anyone who bought the iPhone 4.

Perhaps the folks at CR are simply “stuck” with this conclusion feeling that they have to be loyal to and consistent with what they wrote previously.  “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

There may also be a little “lab envy” at play here as well.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo, Apple’s competitors were fine with sitting back and taking clever but mild pot shots at Apple’s situation. It wasn’t that these pot shots were carefully crafted legally vetted statements. They were just poking fun at the obviously red faced fat kid whose pants couldn’t stay up. RIM’s CEOs don’t have to respond until Apple calls them out. HTC doesn’t have to present conflicting data until Apple calls it out. While they are surely enjoying the spectacle, Apple’s competitors don’t want anything to do with it and don’t want to be dragged into it.

Again, this kerfuffle has very little to do with antennas and everything to do with a critical mass of people and organizations willing to kick back at a bully. It’s like your wife shutting you out tonight for something you did 4 months ago and didn’t think was an issue because she didn’t tell you. But tonight, she’s telling you she’s shutting you out because you mixed a spoon with the forks in the dishwasher, and you know there’s got to be something deeper. The right thing to do is accept both your mistakes—the major one from 4 months ago and the trivial one today—and don’t let either of them ever happen again.

There’s another storm brewing. It would be funny if this one—censorship of an app based on end-user behavior—could rise to the level of storm that the antenna one did. Because there would be nothing more hilarious that for Steve Jobs to call an emergency press conference to discuss other dudes’ junk. This one just has to morph a little bit to raise plausible fears about FaceTime and kids, and it could do that.


In a Reuters online poll, 213 out of 373 respondents?57 percent?said the entire controversy made them less likely to buy an iPhone.

So I searched for this survey on my iPhone and found the page, but the page won’t even load on an iPhone!

Poll: Did Apple get it right?

Totally useless and meaningless information.


The correct quote from Emerson is “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. ? ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ ? Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”  Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841. 

We must not forget that is a foolish consistency, not consistency, that is the hobgoblin of little minds.  The great souls changes his position as his understanding of the truth changes and, hopefully, becomes greater.

Roger Harris

Something that bloggers and whiners have over looked is that almost all cell phones are crap. All of my non Apple phones cannot be touched or answered without taking a photo of my pocket lint or starting some function that I don’t want. I have not been able to hold any of these phones without using absurd caution. Apple has solved most of these problems buy eliminating almost all buttons. The BIG question; Who is going to buy a $700 glass phone without getting a case?

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