Has Apple jumped the shark with its iPhone 4?
Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, facing growing criticism of the signal problems with the iPhone 4, today said that people at large are blowing the whole thing “out of proportion”, even as the company promised to provide free cases to each iPhone 4 owner to help alleviate the problem. When users of the phone hold it a certain way, known as the ‘death grip’, they cover part of the antenna, which is a band that wraps around the phone. Most phones have their antennas inside the phone, but Apple put it on the outside in order to save room internally. It is said that the case, which normally retails for $29.00, will alleviate the problem.
Jobs said today that the iPhone 4 is “perhaps the best product ever made by Apple”, and that the percentage of iPhone 4 owners who have actually called to complain about reception is about 0.55%. He went on to say, “You know, we’re not perfect,” Jobs said, according to Macworld. “And phones aren’t perfect either. But we want to make all of our users happy. And if you don’t know that about Apple, you don’t know Apple.”
The reaction by Jobs is an uncharacteristic of Apple as the problem itself. From the beginning, Apple has been all about ease of use and the highest quality products in the industry as much as it has been about innovation and excitement. The fact that the company initially said that the solution to the problem was for users “not to hold it that way”, that is, in the so-called ‘Death Grip’, is stunning.
Apple’s stock has fallen about 7% since the release of the iPhone 4 on June 24. After today’s statement by Apple that it would provide free cases to all customers, the stock rallied and is one of the few positive, albeit slightly, today in a very bad day for the overall stock market. (AAPL quote on Yahoo)
While Wall Street and investors may be bringing the stock back a bit today, Apple’s general reaction to the problem with the iPhone 4 has been awkward, even arrogant, and could be one of the very few chinks in its armor. Asking customers who have paid nearly $600 for the phone to simply ‘hold it differently’ is beyond poor judgment…it’s downright arrogant. While the product has met with largely rave reviews, any phone that has to be held a certain way in order to function properly is a non-starter.
Will Apple survive this crisis? Surely it will continue on and innovate and profit. But it will be interesting to look back on this chapter in its history some years from now and see whether or not this the iPhone antenna problems marked the beginning of a long decline of the company and Jobs.
Source: AppleInsider Staff, “Apple says just 0.55% of iPhone owners have reported antenna problems”, appleinsider.com