iPhone’s flaw is less about antenna, more about PR

July 13, 2010

The iPhone’s flaw is less about its antenna, and more about public relations. Steve Jobs’ newest handset seems to have a minor glitch with its antenna band. No big deal. The bigger problem is Apple’s tendency toward secrecy and denial — which has turned a potentially routine product glitch into a full-blown investor concern wiping out $5 billion of value.

Apple’s response to users who complained about the antenna — a metal band that wraps around the phone — has been poor. It first suggested users hold the handset differently. Apple then blamed a software glitch which showed the phone was getting better reception than was actually the case.

All of this may be true, but Apple failed to address the central claims of dropped calls. Given Apple’s evasion, Consumer Reports, the respected independent product review firm, said its tests called into question the manufacturer’s explanation. It therefore can’t recommend its readers buy the device.

That seems extreme. The phone is far better than the handset it replaces. Everything from the screen, to its software, to how fast it draws up web pages is improved. And signal reception is on par with, or even better, than rival phones — provided you put a case on the phone to prevent sweaty fingers from touching the exposed antenna.

Apple could, of course, simply tell customers: “If you experience problems with reception, please use this free plastic bumper.” For a company that prides itself on sleek design and flawless technology this would be a come-down, but one that its customers — and probably shareholders — would respect it for. The stock fell more than $5 a share Tuesday.

Trouble is Apple has never done humble or open particularly well. When Steve Jobs became sick, the company first said he had a virus, then a hormone imbalance. He went on medical leave and received a liver transplant before shareholders were informed.

Having a cutting edge phone that every once in a while drops calls when held in a certain wonky manner is, thankfully, a miniscule issue in comparison. But Apple could have minimized investor concerns by handling both in a more forthright manner.


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I hardly think Apple has a PR problem! They have users whose word of mouth is the strongest referral network in the world. Their products are the best and they do everything they can to keep it that way i.e. not using Flash which is certainly prone to crashing on my desktop PC.

Posted by abkisa | Report as abusive

Since Apple invented the PC but had the rug pulled out from under them by Microsoft, then bounced back with the iPod, you can see the resultant paranoia in the way they do business. Apple’s Horatio Alger-esque rebound is both a blessing and curse.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

Nice one. Apple is getting rotten because of greed.

Posted by svbsuresh | Report as abusive

Thank you for finally shedding some light on the issue. Apple has responded more than poorly to the situation, which has caused bloggers and major websites (such as consumer reports) to give Apple’s new product a negative review. The facts are that the iphone 4 is a fantastic product with a slight design flaw, and Apple needs to hire a new PR director.

Posted by jeps | Report as abusive

cool, this is what I’m saying.

the i phone4 has many flaw but people don’t mind

because apple is a love mark.

Posted by linus.k | Report as abusive

I bought a Mac several years ago and got rid of it in less than one year with a very significant financial loss. Apple only wanted to support me for $50/hour and their support documentation was basically a comic book. I finally dumped it after realizing that to get the software I wanted from Apple, I have to buy a new operating system, and a new drive to install the operating system. They may make good products (most of the time), but dealing with a monopoly has it’s drawbacks. They were arrogant and overpriced.

Posted by actnow | Report as abusive

I have had my iPhone 4 for about a week. No dropped calls, no signal issues, and the phone is fantastic. I really have no idea what all this controversy is about. It seems to me like some in the media wanted to create an interesting story by blowing a minor technical issue (which, again, I personally have not even experienced) out of all reasonable proportion. I agree with the jeps above — this is purely a PR issue that even a mediocre professional could have resolved immediately.

Posted by Ziptang | Report as abusive

If Apple was so smart, they would never have gone with AT&T as their only source of air time. AT&T is a very lame cell phone carrier. Dropped calls, rude and indifferent customer “service” staff are just a few of the many reasons one should not spend a dime with AT&T.

I’d be surprised if AT&T is still in the cell phone business in 3-5 years. Their system is way behind the times, they are NOT spending much if any money to build up their infrastructure. If they’d spend only half of what they do to try to fight Verizon in their ads, they might be able to try to make improvements in their system. But they won’t. AT&T is that incompetent.

Apple/Jobs attitude towards it’s customers is awful. Think back about the crap that Apple/iPhone has done to customers since iPhone first went on the market.

If there are idiots out there willing to put up with extremely bad service by AT&T, and Mr. Jobs arrogant attitude to his iPhone customers, so be it.

Posted by donbsea | Report as abusive

Apple created the PC where does this guy get his info LoL

Ive liked apple products for years do i own any NO
Reason for this Apple is too proprietary to closed mouth and way over priced, Always has been always will be unless something severe happens.
This has been a company that has been on the brink of disaster since the day they decided to hide problems decades ago.
They misinform mfgs, customers and the markets they sell there products.
Is it hard to believe that they attempted to deceive all of there iphone customers the way they have
absolutely Not!

Posted by Street14 | Report as abusive

It is a minor glitch on a superior product. I couldn’t agree with the article more. Apple missed the PR boat this time around. And at a time competitors are itching to get an edge.

Posted by SeaWa | Report as abusive

its about time…people look beyond the issues cuz they are apple fans, and the looks.

Posted by Tkdcorp | Report as abusive

Ive been an Apple afficianado since mid 90’s…

Never thought Id say it but Im getting turned off by Apple. The rotten Apple metaphor is true.

Im dissappointed. I also wont get on the iOS iPhone band wagon after such a poor experience with my iPhone(s)

Posted by donniedarko | Report as abusive

“Having a cutting edge phone that every once in a while drops calls when held in a certain wonky manner is, thankfully, a miniscule issue in comparison.”
Really? I would imagine that device which drops calls because of the manner in which it is held isn’t exactly “a cutting edge phone”. Besides, what is the point of having a state of the art phone which is unable to fulfil its most basic function effectively.

Posted by VyRuS | Report as abusive

keep the flaw. im loving my Evo!

Posted by Dahc | Report as abusive

there seems to be a lot of good and “not”good about apple,i’ve used it for many yrs,and all i can say is that ,everybody can’t be perfect.

Posted by Rudkie | Report as abusive

When Apple is back to under $20 per share then let’s revisit their “little blunder.”

Posted by DisgustedReader | Report as abusive

I agree with some of the others on here. I have used Apple products for many many years, but i am slowly gravitating away from them. I am really loving Droid. Apple is just way too expensive and yes is it turning into a monopoly which is beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I was going to get an iPad, but im gonna wait and see what others are going to come out. i would LOVE to get my hands on Germany’s WePad with Droid OS! Its just the same ole song with Apple. You go buy a product. You spend your savings on it. They re-release the same product a month later with faster this, and faster that and more this and more that, when all they had to do was to release that in the first place! They’re laughing all the way to the bank with my money. Most folks end up listing their apple product online to sell, just to get the next model. Waste O’ Waste of money!!! Just tired of the game. I’ve actually started using Windows 7, although i still use my older macs..hahahahahahaaa!

Posted by Dahc | Report as abusive