Just over a month ago, the iPhone 4 was officially announced. Since its release, there have been complaints about the functionality of the new antenna design. After telling people they were simply holding it wrong, and that it was partially a software issue, Apple held a press conference today to make an official statement on the issue, starting with this:
After the video, Steve Jobs came on stage and announced that Apple was not perfect, its products were not perfect, and all Apple wanted was to make its users happy. He would get around to addressing this, but first he wanted to present some data:
- “The iPhone 4 is perhaps the best product we’ve ever made at Apple.”
- We’ve sold well over 3 million since we launched it 3 weeks ago.”
- “It’s been judged the number 1 smartphone (Wired, Engadget, PC World, Consumer Reports).”
- “It has the highest customjer satisfaction rating of any iPhone and any smartphone out there.”
Steve then addressed the main antenna complaint, called ‘Antennagate’. After 22 days of heavy research and in-house testing, Apple determined that the issue was not unique to the iPhone 4, but is evident in a variety of current smartphones. With a demonstration involving smartphones held at normal and abnormal positions , the following chart was populated with other smartphones reception issues:
He followed up this demonstration by mentioning the algorithm error they discovered which displayed the actual reception bars inaccurately. This issue is supposedly solved iOS 4.0.1 by modifying the visual display of the signal bars. Insight was also given into Apple’s testing facilities:
Moving forward, Steve announced that of all iPhone purchases, only 0.55% have called in with complaints about the antenna or reception, less than one percent of 3,000,000 phones. He then showed a second metric, AT&T return rates. The iPhone 3GS early shipment return rate was 6.0% while the iPhone 4 is currently at only 1.7%. Another metric showed that the iPhone 4 does, in fact, drop more calls than the 3GS. However, according to AT&T’s dropped call logging information, the iPhone 4 drops less than 1 call more than the iPhone 3GS out of every 100 calls. The final comparison to the 3GS was in the change in form factor. The 3GS didn’t change the form factor from the 3G, so cases were already readily available, and often-times already in possession. Apple, however, is unable to make enough bumpers fast enough to cover the demand, and this lack of casing is amplifying the antenna issue. His solution?
Additionally, if you’re unhappy with the iPhone 4, a full refund policy, with no restocking fee, is now in place.
Steve addressed the proximity sensor issue as well, stating that an upcoming software update is being developed to solve it. He wrapped up the important stuff by announcing availability of the white iPhone 4 by the end of July. He closed his presentation with this to say:
In ending, I’d like to talk about how we make decisions. We love our users, we love them. We try to surprise and delight them… and we work our asses off. We have a lot of products that are pretty great for them, Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads… So we love our users. We also connect users with great apps and developers, and great content through iTunes, and really bring content creation and our users together. We love our users so much that we built 300 Apple retails stores for them to give them the best buying experience in the world… with Genius bars, and seminars. We had 60m people through our doors last quarter.
We do this because we love our users, and if we screw up, we pick ourselves up and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying our users. We take this really personally. Maybe we should have a wall of PR people keeping us away from this stuff, but we don’t, we take it really personally. So we’ve worked the last 22 days on this trying to solve the problem. And we think we’ve gotten to the heart of the problem.
So the heart of the problem is, smartphones have issues, and we made it easy to exploit the issue by showing people where to hold the phone to cover the antenna. But the data supports the fact that the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the world, and there is no Antennagate… there is a challenge for the entire smartphone industry to improve its antenna technology so there are no weak spots. So today we’re going to try and take care of our customers.
Free cases/bumpers will go a long way towards solving the public relations issues that have arisen as a result of the antenna issue, and acknowledging the proximity sensor issue, as well as announcing the upcoming software fix, are sure to put iPhone 4 owners’ minds at rest. Hopefully they can hold the end of July availability for the white iPhone 4 as well, because I’m really jonesing.
-[insert iPhone here]
Thanks to Engadget for the images and live feed.