Commentary

IPhone 4: 'The Solution' Meets 'The Decision'

duct tape/iphone4

At least Steve Jobs didn't announce today he's taking the iPhone 4 to Miami. In his would-be blockbuster sequel to "The Decision," the Apple CEO today unveiled "The Solution": Apple's fix for antenna reception problems with the latest version of the company's iconic device.

The announcement of free rubber bumpers for disgruntled iPhone 4 owners was almost as anticlimactic as LeBron James' massively hyped disclosure that he would switch allegiance from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat after a lengthy and media-saturated courtship of teams including the Knicks, Nets and Bulls.

Did anyone really think Jobs was going to get down on his knees and beg forgiveness from the Apple faithful for the most celebrated hardware design flaw since the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Forget it. In the eagerly anticipated press conference rolling out "The Solution," Jobs was as feisty as ever, arguing that smartphones from HTC, BlackBerry and Samsung all have similar problems -- the corporate equivalent of the "All the other kids are doing it" defense.

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He also went through a series of other mitigating factors -- including that the antenna problem has only affected a small proportion of iPhone 4 owners, has led to fewer initial complaints than the iPhone 3GS, and had only one dropped call per 100. The fact that Apple is giving anything away for free is notable in itself, a tangible admission that, however minor the problem in its view, something had gone wrong with its state-of-the art creation.

And no doubt it pains Jobs that the sleek stainless steel band which doubles as the antenna and had been the signature design feature of the new iPhone will now have to be covered with a rubber casing. With the bumper giveaway, wireless analysts were confident that Apple had put Antennagate behind it.

While acknowledging Apple's response had been defensive and inconsistent, "a case solves the actual issue and should begin to dissipate the PR fiasco as well, allowing Apple to focus on the real problem with the iPhone 4: the company cannot make enough of them to meet demand," stated Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis, in a research note Friday.

"I think what they did was toss a lot of water onto what was turning into a pretty nasty fire," agreed Michael Gartenberg, a partner at digital consulting firm The Altimeter Group. Of course, some thought Apple's previous announcement of a software update to solve the signal strength issue would calm the controversy, but it flared up again after Consumer Reports declared it was indeed a hardware problem.

But if both "The Decision" and "The Solution" have turned out to be flops and tarnished the images of their stars, neither is likely to suffer in the long term. James walks away with a six-year $110 million contract and is bound to sell plenty of tickets in Miami. Jobs revealed the iPhone 4 has already sold 3 million units since last month and is about to kick off its international rollout. Maybe Apple can even sign up James to sport a Heat-customized version of the phone. With a bumper thrown in free.

1 comment about "IPhone 4: 'The Solution' Meets 'The Decision'".
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  1. Karen Dorst from Dorst Marketing Consulting, July 16, 2010 at 7:41 p.m.

    I am thinking it is time to migrate back to Blackberry. what arrogance.

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