Last Friday, Apple held a press conference during which Steve Jobs addressed the antenna issue on the iPhone 4. Customers had been complaining, and then the phone was dealt a blow when consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports said they couldn’t recommend it. That was especially damaging since, just a year ago, Consumer Reports called the iPhone the best smartphone on the market. So toward the end of that press conference, when Jobs announced all iPhone 4 users would be getting free bumpers, customers breathed a sigh of relief, and so did Apple stockholders. But before Jobs started talking about free stuff, he got quite defensive about the antenna issue, and attempted to explain why it was an issue in the first place. Part of that explanation entailed a demonstration of how all smartphones have reception problems, and he named names. Now those names are firing back. In order to illustrate the supposed antenna issues that all smartphones supposedly have, Jobs chose three handsets made by other companies—a BlackBerry, the Samsung Omnia II, and the HTC Droid Eris. During his presentation, he showed how holding the phones a certain way would affect antenna reception. The goal of this was to basically deflect blame from Apple for the iPhone 4 device’s problems, and offload some of it onto other devices and companies. The thing is, it wasn’t exactly a scientific test, so the results can’t really be taken seriously. What the companies are taking seriously, though, is Jobs badmouthing their devices. The chief financial officer at HTC, Hui-Meng Cheng, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying “the reception problems are certainly not common among smartphones.” In addition, a spokesperson for Samsung stated that the company “hasn’t received significant customer feedback on any signal reduction issue for the Omnia 2.” We can look at Jobs’s “demonstration” in a couple of ways. It was either a savvy, albeit misguided attempt at spin to make the iPhone 4 not seem as bad as everyone was saying. Or, it was a childish, lame finger-pointing session designed to drag a few other companies and their handsets down into Apple’s current PR nightmare. But the success of such an attempt relies on the audience not being bright enough to see through it. There’s a saying that goes, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bulls**t.” Nice try, Apple. All of that aside, here’s the thing. It’s an iPhone. It’s from Apple, the company that is supposed to be on the cutting edge of technology, coming out with products and features ahead of everyone else. Their own ad campaign tagline for the iPhone 4 was, “This changes everything. Again.” Well Apple, if you were going to change everything, why didn’t you change this antenna issue that, according to you, every smartphone has? That really would have been a change, wouldn’t it? By the way, those bumper cases are only free through September 30, so if you have, or plan on buying an iPhone 4, be sure to get yours before then, or you’ll have to pay the retail price of $29.
Steve Jobs ruffles handset makers’ feathers
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